Bobby Everson and the story of SnowFest! at North Lake Tahoe
March 1, 2012
TAHOE CITY, Calif. andamp;#8212; More than 30 years ago, a young, dashing Alpine Meadows marketing director by the name of Bobby Everson looked around and saw an opportunity.According to local ski history, the warm temperatures and verdant fields of March kept would-be skiers at low elevations, where they tooled about in sail boats on the San Francisco Bay or peddled bicycles through the flower-lined pathways of California’s wine country. Let’s get the word out, Everson urged the Tahoe community, about the region’s fabulous spring skiing.andamp;#8220;I can still remember when Bobby called me up and said we need to have a winter carnival,andamp;#8221; said long-time Tahoe City resident Judy Friedman. Friedman moved to Tahoe in 1972 to be a lifeguard, and like so many people who come for a just a season or two, she never left.Were the Tahoe-area slopes wide-open bowls of sparkling corn back then?andamp;#8220;Well not exactly,andamp;#8221; said Friedman, laughing. andamp;#8220;But we didn’t have the heavy, heavy tourist trade.andamp;#8221;It was June of 1981 when Everson summoned a meeting of the minds. According to a brief history of SnowFest! andamp;#8212; written by today’s Executive Director, Ruth Schnabel andamp;#8212; representatives from local service organizations, ski resorts, merchants and lodging property owners all convened for a brainstorm.andamp;#8220;Everyone had ideas and nothing was off the table,andamp;#8221; said Friedman. andamp;#8220;It was just all these people with all these ideas from all different walks of life.andamp;#8221;The committee agreed to get back together mid-July, but Everson wouldn’t be at the next meeting. On the Fourth of July, he was tragically killed in a boating accident on Lake Tahoe.andamp;#8220;There are two types of people in this town,andamp;#8221; explained Jim Kass, owner of Barifot Photography in Tahoe City, andamp;#8220;You either go across the street to avoid them or you go across the street to go say hello to them andamp;#8212; Bob Everson was one of those guys you say hello to.andamp;#8221;Voted most dependable in the Truckee High Class of 1969, Everson was wholesome, all-American charm. He was charismatic, energetic and quick with a smile. andamp;#8220;Bobby was in all our lives,andamp;#8221; said Friedman andamp;#8220;We were all so young.andamp;#8221;The next winter, the first SnowFest! parade was held, when a group of paraders hardly larger than the group of spectators marched around the Squaw Valley parking lot andamp;#8212; twice.Within a few years, the celebration grew to include street dances, fireworks, laser light, ski races, dog pulls, Clydesdales, elephants, cold-water swims, napkin-hat folding contests, ice carving and the infamous Mr. Lake Tahoe Pageant.andamp;#8220;Not all of them were as buff as they thought they were,andamp;#8221; recalled Friedman, andamp;#8220;but you know, with enough shots in them…andamp;#8221;Schnabel, who served then and is currently serving, after a hiatus, as executive director, brought corporate sponsors and cultivated the support of many local agencies. Today the largest supporter of the event is the North Lake Tahoe Resort Association.And the festival could not have happened without the volunteers. In late 80s and early 90s, 125-155 volunteers helped organize the event, recounted Friedman, who also served as the SnowFest! executive director for 10 years. andamp;#8220;It was so innocent,andamp;#8221; said Friedman. andamp;#8220;It was so fun.andamp;#8221;Though Everson would never see the winter carnival he envisioned, his festival lived on in the community. Over the last 30 years, the event has had its ups and downs, but through it all, SnowFest! continues to be a wacky, zany celebration of mountain town life.
Some SnowFest! events are classics. The Gar Wood Polar Bear Swim is 22 years, and the Homewood Patrol Race and Taco Feed is pushing 30 years. And of course, don’t forget the ever-popular, long-running River Ranch Annual Snow Sculpture Contest and the Tahoe City Golf Course Dog Pull.And then, there are some of the more recent SnowFest! events andamp;#8212; simple, crazy activities such Mamasake’s Extreme Food Challenge, Wacky Winter Bowling, the 3rd annual showing of andamp;#8220;Hot Dog: The Movieandamp;#8221; at Cornice Cantina, Arbor Care’s Tahoe Man Contest, and the 3rd annual Snow andamp;#8220;whatandamp;#8221; Building contest, just to name a few.SnowFest! events coordinator Pam Pokorny s always working with businesses who want to join in the festivities. This year a few newcomers are making their debut. In Truckee, the Truckee River Winery is offering an Ice Carving Extravaganza, and Downtown Truckee will host its debut poker walk and pub crawl.And Kings Beach will be hopping with three new events. Adventure Risk Challenge and the North Lake Tahoe Family Resource Center will be hosting the 2012 Snow Fiesta with tamales, tostadas, tacos, live music and more from 6-10 p.m. on Saturday, March 10, at the North Tahoe Event Center.And over in front of the Chevron Gas Station, New York Hot Dog Stand Nick andamp;#8220;He’s-got-the-sauceandamp;#8221; Colavito will host a hot dog-eating contest, with contestants trying their stomachs at devouring two-pound, dirty water, natural-casing, 100 percent hickory smoked beef, non-kosher-but-gluten-free dogs topped with classic spicy mustard and NYC authentic push-cart onion sauce delivered straight from the Bronx-based Sabrett purveyor. The contest is March 10 at 12:30 p.m., and the entry fee is $10. Winner takes the pot. Pre-register online or stop by the stand outside the Kings Beach Chevron.The Grid in Kings Beach will also be joining in and hosting a few parties of its own. Be a part of western history and watch the Renegade outlaws rob the bar during the Kings Beach parade, or dance your heart out at the Glow in the Dark Blacklight or Neuroweapon Mutant Vehicle DJ dance parties.For times, dates, locations and more information on all these events and more, check out the full calendar within this guide, or visit http://www.tahoesnowfestival.com.