By Garrett Estrada
Ely Times Staff Writer
The Rural Roundup convention is coming to Ely for the first time in over a decade on April 30-May 2.
Featuring guest speakers and talks about rural issues in Nevada, the convention is expected to bring hundreds of people to the city in what is one of the biggest conventions the Bristlecone Convention Center is expected to host this year.
“I would not be surprised if the event drew a large number of people due partly to the quality of the location and also to the quality of the speakers,” said Bethany Drysdale, public relations manager for the Nevada Commission on Tourism.
The three-day convention aims to be more than just educational talks. According to the convention’s agenda, registrants will be given tours around town to see the things like the Nevada Northern Railway or the White Pine Public Museum.
While Ely residents will already be plenty familiar with the different historic spots the convention goers will visit during their trip, people can still register for the convention online at www.ruralroundup.com to get into the various talks that will cover ongoing rural Nevada issues.
The fee for registering is $65.
While the convention should provide an economic boost for the city of Ely, it’s just one of dozens the Bristlecone Convention Center will host this year. A convention put on by the Nevada State Bar recently at the convention center was another largely attended conventions. Several hundred lawyers gather for their annual conference.
“The month of March this year has seen the convention center in use basically every business day,” Meg Rhoades said of the busy time of year.
Since she started working for Bristlecone in 2006, Rhoades said the convention space has become central to city of Ely, and oftentimes provides a healthy economic boost to tourism, especially during this time of year.
Funded solely on room taxes, the space has more versatility than most other meeting rooms in town, and according to Rhoades is the only option for some larger events
“Anything that is over 250 people, we are the only place in town that can handle it,” Rhoades said.
The convention space is often book at least a year in advance by a variety of different groups or organizations. Everyone from the mines and the Bureau of Land Management to local parties looking to host dinners, such as a benefit auction that was recently held for Ely resident Monte Robinson, can use the space.
Parties looking to use the venue even receive a hefty discount if they bring in 50 percent of their attendees from out of town and have them spend the night in the city, such as the University of Nevada, Las Vegas’s football team that uses the space as a makeshift cafeteria for the large roster.
Longtime Bristlecone employee Ed Speer said such efforts help attract organizations like the Rural Roundup back to the city. He added many people in the community don’t realize that the convention center also offers over $100,000 in grant money to support non-profit organizations.