Five tips for navigating the 8th annual Sample the Sierra
South Shore’s largest farm-to-fork festival returns to Bijou Community Park on Saturday, Sept. 16. From noon to 4 p.m., enjoy more than 15 food samples paired with a wine, beer or spirit — all of which are from the region.
The event ends at 5 p.m., giving you one final hour after a day of indulging to peruse the vendor booths and sober up prior to leaving the venue. With the Sierra Nevada’s top culinary offerings at your fingertips, follow these tips for success when attending the eighth annual Sample the Sierra.
1. DON’T WEAR WHITE
Trust us — trying to balance a plate of food and a glass of red wine at the same time is no easy feat. Walking, eating and drinking simultaneously is too much for even the most accomplished multi-tasker to handle, so make it easy on yourself and wear all black so no one notices how much you’re spilling.
A good back up is to have a dependable Tide to-go pen at the ready. Just be aware that you might need to replenish your supply once the event is over.
2. KNOW THE ROUTE TO SUCCESS
If you’ve attended Sample the Sierra in the past, forget everything you think you know. Tahoe Chamber organized the event in a slightly different layout this year, and the booths are arranged in a loop.
It’s recommended patrons start at the entrance and follow the path to complete the circle. All wine-paired foods will be at the beginning, and you’ll conclude the event at the booths featuring beer and spirits. Let’s hope you still have room to sample it all.
3. ATTEND THE SIERRA CHEF CHALLENGE
This event, which showcases the skills of four chefs, enters its sixth year with a new format. It now resembles a layout reminiscent of “Chopped” — the three-round competition includes appetizer, entrée and dessert sections, and one contestant will be eliminated each round.
Chefs compete with a box of mystery ingredients, making it a challenge that they are unable to prepare for. Come ready to watch masters at work — and maybe get a sample in the process.
4. RIDE YOUR BIKE
The Lake Tahoe Bike Coalition offers a free bike valet, which means you won’t have to deal with the hassle of parking across the street at Lake Tahoe Community College — the site is currently under construction, so the lot is limited.
Plus, riding to the event has the added bonus of burning off all the calories you’re sure to gain over the four-hour tasting period.
5. THERE’S MORE THAN FOOD AND DRINKS
While Sample the Sierra is a farm-to-fork festival, it also celebrates the work of local artisans like Lovin’ Lake Tahoe, Sierra Essentials, Sweet Spokes (and over 20 others). The marketplace booths feature everything from regional jam, honey and olive oil to soap, fine art, jewelry and more.
This year an official Sample the Sierra after-party also takes place for the first time. Held at Benko Art Gallery, the event includes live art, fire dancers, local wine and much more. Learn more about the after-party on the gallery’s Facebook page (@BenkoArtGallery).
Additional information about Sample the Sierra is available online at http://www.samplethesierra.com. Bijou Community Park is located at 1201 Al Tahoe Blvd.