By Garrett Estrada
Ely Times Staff Writer
The annual Rural Roundup Convention began in Ely on Wednesday afternoon, drawing in people from all over the state or farther to listen to speakers, explore the city and learn something in the process. According to White Pine Tour and Recreation Board Member Meg Rhoades, the convention also set a record for number of attendees to register.
“The event has been a huge success. We almost broke the record of number of attendees to register, falling just about 10 people short,” Rhoades said, though she added that some travelled quite a distance to be a part of the event. “We have representatives from Germany and France as well as from around the US.”
This is the third time Ely has played host to the popular convention, and the first time in over a decade. During the two day convention, attendees will get to explore the sights and unique experiences of Ely, such as the Nevada Northern Railway. Rhoades said for as much as there is to see outside, there is also a lot to listen to and learn inside the convention space, with talks and workshops.
“Workshop titles include Innovative Marketing Strategies, Building Agritourism, German and French Markets and Rural Nevada, and Event Sponsorship development just to name a few,” she said. “The speaker doing the Event Sponsorship Development session is Matt Bowers who is bringing the 2016 National Speleological Society Annual Convention to Ely in June of 2016.”
Lorraine Clark has travelled to all but one of the Rural Roundup Conventions in its 24-year history. She sees the event as a “great networking tool” and a way for different parts of the state to begin to work together.
“I’ve been coming to these for years and they are always wonderful,” Clark said. “You get a chance to meet people from all over the state, which is important in rural communities because we can’t afford to not work together.”
The registrants that will fill most of the hotel and motel rooms in the city for the two-day excursion are mostly comprised of business owners, community volunteers and a variety of just interested tourists. It is that kind of variety, in combination with the speakers and workshops that makes the event worth coming back to each year according to Clark.
“It is just fun,” Clark said. “The whole town really gets highlighted. The speakers are great, the workshops are great. It’s just a blast, and it’s cheap, how can you beat that?”