Nevada city plans festival to celebrate blue jeans

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

RENO, Nev. (AP) — Nevada tourism officials are planning a three-day festival in Reno next fall to celebrate and promote the city as the birthplace of what became modern blue jeans.

Reno tailor Jacob Davis created riveted denim jeans in 1871 in a downtown shop.

Two years later, he and Levi Strauss & Co. patented the pants with the rivets to the corners and pockets that made them the sturdy favorites of miners, loggers and cowboys who helped tame the West.

The "Blue Genes Jam" next Oct. 2-4 will celebrate the iconic trousers' impact on popular culture with concerts, fashion shows, a retail marketplace and a mini-festival of films that were milestones in the history of blue jeans, such as James Dean's "Rebel Without a Cause," officials announced on Wednesday.

It also will include scholarly presentations on the "Jeaneology" of the pants.

"Those of us fortunate to live and work in Reno-Tahoe USA now like to brag, 'We have copper rivets in our genes,'" said Chris Baum, CEO of the Reno-Sparks Convention and Visitors Authority.

Interest in Davis' role in the birth of the jeans grew in 2001 when the San Francisco-based Levi Strauss & Co. purchased what it said then was the oldest known jeans in the world — a pair dating to an 1880s mining town in Nevada that sold at auction for $46,532.

Baum moved from a tourism job in Detroit in 2012 to take over as boss of the RSCVA. He said he had never heard of Reno's connection to Levi's until a resident telephoned him with the story about a year ago.

Baum said he was fascinated and started doing research to see if they could find a way to use it to help promote the region.

He said the October event helps fill a void in the tourism calendar just before the Sierra ski season opens and after a string of popular special events including the National Championship Air Races.