North Tahoe SnowFest! readies for 35th year with 30-plus events | SierraSun.com

North Tahoe SnowFest! readies for 35th year with 30-plus events

Margaret Moran
mmoran@sierrasun.com

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — SnowFest!, the ever-popular North Lake Tahoe winter carnival that pays homage to the region's deep ties to winter activities and our love of snow, is just about ready for its 35th annual run of fun.

Similar to previous years, the festival will run for 10 days and feature multiple events and activities throughout North Shore/Truckee region.

It kicks off Thursday, March 3, with opening ceremonies and queen coronation in Carnelian Bay and wrapping up March 13 in Tahoe City.

"As always, we hope that SnowFest! events bring smiles and joy to our community and to visitors to our community," said John Haines, executive director of the event. "SnowFest! is a time that brings all of us together in celebration of Lake Tahoe and all our community has to offer."

Among the more than 30 scheduled events this year are, as usual, some new ones, including Willard's Wine, Cheese and S'mores; Homewood Winter Wonder Film Festival, where submitted short films with a winter theme will have a chance to win cash prizes and be shown at Homewood; and Skidafilmiddag, featuring Nordic skiing at the Tahoe City Winter Sports Park, followed by a movie at the Art Haus in the Cobblestone Center.

Meanwhile, many fan-favorite events are returning, including the Tahoe City and Kings Beach SnowFest! parades, the North Tahoe Public Utility District and Tahoe City Fire pancake breakfasts, the Dog Sled Pull — and, of course, the Gar Woods Polar Bear Swim.

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35 YEARS STRONG

This year marks the 35th anniversary of the winter festival, and appropriately enough, this year's theme is "SnowFest! Through the Years," celebrating the people and places that make the event possible and successful.

The idea for SnowFest! originated from Bob Everson, former marketing director at Alpine Meadows Ski Resort, after noticing that area drew visiting skiers in the months of December, January and February, but not in March when there is spring skiing to be had.

In the spring of 1981, Everson approached the Tahoe City Chamber of Commerce and the Visitors and Convention Bureau with the suggestion of holding a winter carnival the first week of March.

At a June 1981 meeting, Everson presented his idea to members of the community ranging from ski resorts to local service organizations. It was well-received and a follow-up meeting was scheduled for mid-July.

Sadly, before he could attend that meeting, Everson died in a boating accident on Lake Tahoe on July 4.

When the meeting was held, it was determined that community would move forward with a winter carnival called SnowFest in Everson's honor, with it taking place for the first time in 1982.

A TAHOE TRADITION

The event has continued since with the help and support of nonprofits, businesses and individuals, either through in-kind or monetary contributions or by putting on SnowFest! events.

"It's held on because people here like tradition, and there are some very loyal people here," said Haines, who last year replaced Ruth Schnabel as executive director of SnowFest!

Schnabel had served as the on-and-off executive director of SnowFest! since its inception.

"It's the individual businesses and nonprofits that have really embraced it over the years and continue to support it," Haines said.

Part of the aim of SnowFest! is to encourage tourism to the area during a traditionally shoulder season of the year, thereby giving the local economy a boost, something Haines said he hopes to further foster.

In an effort to do so, Haines said he's trying to transition the event into "a digital era." This year the marketing of SnowFest! involved more social media and a new website to help reach those out of the area, he said.

Beyond that, he said he's looking at what can be incorporated into SnowFest! from other held winter carnivals in order to keep it fresh and inspire visitation, while also maintaining classic events that so many have enjoyed over the years.

"SnowFest! is a valued tradition, and after 35 years, it is clear that this event has room to grow and thrive," Haines said.

If you go

What: SnowFest! 2016

Where: Various locations on the North and West shores of Lake Tahoe

When: Thursday, March 3 through Sunday, March 13

More online: Visit tahoesnowfest.org for a full list of events