Over the years I have probably attended hundreds of dinners/fund raisers. Most of them have been overly long and somewhat onerous, the chief culprit being the long and windy silent auctions.
Such was not the case on Saturday, April 23, when I was present at Virginia City’s third annual “Big Bonanza Kings” event. It was held in an intimate convention room at the Silverland Inn and Suites. The evening’s honorees were Scott Jolcover and L. Lance Gilman. U.S. Congressman Mark Amodei was the presenter and was at his comedic best as he jousted verbally with everyone who came to the mic.
The event is an annual affair and this year’s charity beneficiary was the Comstock Foundation for History and Culture. Since the foundation was first begun by Comstock Mining Inc., the president of that company, Corrado de Gasperis, acted as master of ceremonies, replacing Hugh Roy Marshall, who was ill. Marshall is the owner of Silverland and donated the facility for the evening. Entertainment for the evening was provided by singer Jakki Ford and musician Larry Elliott. Their opening number was a rousing rendition of the official Nevada State song, “Home Means Nevada.” Copies of the lyrics of the song were placed at each table and attendees were invited to sing along.
Coordinator for the entire event was advertising executive Jim Webster. One of Amodei’s first introductions was to Pamela Abercrombie, who is the executive director of the Comstock Foundation. She gave a brief overview of the various projects the Foundation is currently working on, the majority of which are to restore and renovate some of the crumbling historic structures in Virginia City, Gold Hill and Silver City. She also announced the winners of the silent auction and took several verbal donations from the audience. All told, the event was a smashing success that raised in excess of $20,000 for the Foundation.
The highlight of the evening occurred when Amodei presented the awards to Jolcover and Gilman. The latter is more famously known as the co-developer of the Tahoe Reno Industrial Center, which is on track to be the largest business park in the United States. The most famous of the more than 200 businesses presently located at the eastern Storey County industrial center is the Tesla Gigafactory. Gilman is also a Storey County commissioner. During his remarks of appreciation, Gilman called upon six of his grandchildren to come forward and he presented each one with a vial of gold dust to mark the occasion.
The other recipient, Scott Jolcover, is a long-time Nevada resident and is the owner of extensive property in the Comstock region who presently serves as the Business Development Director of Comstock Mining Inc. He is also the chairman of the Virginia City Tourism Commission. He thanked the committee for the award and actively participated in the silent auction.
The ambiance of the convention room created an atmosphere more akin to a large family gathering rather than a stuffy conclave of strangers.
The current Big Bonanza Kings celebration is a throwback to the original Bonanza Kings: James G. Fair, James C. Flood, William S. O’Brien and John W. Mackay. Of the four, Mackay is most noted in Nevada circles as a great benefactor of the University of Nevada, Reno.