By Garrett Estrada
Ely Times Staff Writer
After two full days of tours around Ely and talks geared at increasing tourism and marketing power to small towns in Nevada, the annual Rural Roundup Convention officially wrapped up on May 1.
Attendees began their two-day excursion through Ely with a murder mystery themed ride along the rails of the Nevada Northern Railway. As per the convention’s yearly tradition, a false murder was announced at the end of last year’s Rural Roundup in Pahrump. Through a series of clues released online, attendees guessed who they thought was the murderer aboard the train.
Though the list of suspects included prominent Ely residents such as Mark Bassett, Dany Feinstein, Wayne Cameron and Ed Spear, the suspect was found to be Don Newman, the Executive Director of Elko’s Convention and Visitor’s authority. Upon the train being brought to a halt, members of the convention were treated to a show as an old-western sheriff hauled Newman off the train to the gallows, only to be interrupted by a shootout.
Following the dramatic train ride, the railroad hosted a dinner for the attendees.
Talks from travel journalists, online travel booking companies such as Expedia and a seminar on how to improve rural Nevada tourism website comprised most of the second day of the event. After the seminars, the record setting group of 279 attendees got to take in more of Ely’s downtown offerings, venturing off to the Art Bank and Postal Palace for a wine tasting from Nevada vineyards.
Finally, the guests were treated to a catered dinner by the Hotel Nevada in the Bristlecone Convention Center.
Though the official convention ended on May 1, many tourists from out of town stayed through Friday to take a guided tour through the Lehman Caves at Great Basin National Park.
With 279 registered attendees, the 2014 Rural Roundup Convention in Ely broke the event’s previous record of participants. It had been over a decade since the convention was held in Ely and the third time overall.