34th annual North Tahoe SnowFest! in ‘dire straits’ after setbacks | SierraSun.com

34th annual North Tahoe SnowFest! in ‘dire straits’ after setbacks

Margaret Moran
mmoran@sierrasun.com
James "JC" Krise — who died at age 79 on Dec. 2, 2014 — served as SnowFest!'s Old Man Winter for more than two dozen years. Here, he's seen in the 2011 Tahoe City SnowFest! parade.
Courtesy Ruth Schnabel |

How to donate

Write a check to SnowFest! and mail it to North Lake Tahoe SnowFest! PO Box 464, Tahoe City, CA 96145.

Drop a check or money donation off at the SnowFest! office at 531 North Lake Blvd., Suite B, in the Big Tree Center in Tahoe City.

Become a sponsor. Call SnowFest! at 530-583-7167 to learn more.

TAHOE CITY, Calif. — With this year’s loss in sponsorship contributions, SnowFest! officials are looking to the community to help fund the 34th annual event next February and March.

“SnowFest! is in dire straits financially, and we need people to make a donation or call for sponsorship information,” said Ruth Schnabel, who’s serving as current executive director of the North Tahoe winter festival.

This year, one major sponsor cut its financial contribution, while another decreased its amount, Schnabel said, leaving a $12,500 shortfall as of Dec. 12.

The North Lake Tahoe Resort Association will not be providing monetary support this year, said Special Events Programs Manager Judy Laverty.

“It’s unfortunate we can’t support it this year, but the money is just not there,” she said.

Laverty said the resort association’s budget — which is funded in total by Placer County Transient Occupancy Tax — is “flat” for fiscal year 2014-15, impacting not only its contributions to SnowFest!, but other sponsored local events, such as the Wanderlust Yoga & Music Festival.

Last year, NLTRA provided $10,000 to SnowFest! along with in-kind marketing services, Laverty said. This year, it will continue to offer in-kind services.

“We will always support SnowFest! in-kind because we know the value of SnowFest!,” Laverty said. “… We think it’s a great community event and gives visitors a great festival to go to while they are here.”

As for the other sponsor, Schnabel declined to reveal a name, since she is working with the business in hopes of securing the amount it provided last year. This year, its contribution is about 25 percent less.

“We’re really disappointed in losing these sponsorships,” said Schnabel, a longtime Tahoe City resident and the original executive director of SnowFest!.

‘HEADS ON BEDS’

If the money can’t be raised by Jan. 15, 2015, out-of-area advertisement of the festival would be impacted, Schnabel said.

“It just means that we’re not going to be able to do nearly as much publicity as we’ve done in the past, which affects the number of people that come and visit, and it affects the number of heads on beds,” Schnabel said. “If we don’t have the money to get the word out, then nobody will know about it.”

Fewer people could impact the amount of money raised for or by local nonprofits that put on events during the festival, she said.

The Ladies’ Bunco Bash event last year allowed for a donation of more than $5,000 to the Gene Upshaw Memorial Tahoe Forest Caner Center patient programs, said the event’s chair, Carol King.

Yet, if SnowFest!’s advertising is less this year, King said, “it won’t affect us at all because we do all of our own advertising.”

An employee of Pete ‘n Peters, which puts on two SnowFest! events, gave a similar response.

“I’m not worried because social media is so expansive, so the word gets out no matter what, especially for people who know what’s going on,” said Mandy Duarte, manager and bartender for the Tahoe City business.

Duarte said Pete ‘n Peters will promote its events — the ever-popular post-Tahoe City SnowFest! parade party and its Bar Olympics — through its website, Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram.

“Tahoe City businesses gear up for this event every year, and it is a big boost to our local economy,” said Stacie Lyans, executive director of the Tahoe City Downtown Association. “Less publicity could lead to fewer visitors and less business over this 10-day period.

“We are hopeful our community will come together this year to pitch in and make SnowFest! a huge success.”

‘WE ARE SCRAMBLING’

A 2010 economic impact study on SnowFest! found that it generated $3.44 million — including $150,500 in sales tax — for the North Shore economy, Schnabel said.

“When it is a drought year, there aren’t as many skiers here, which affects the economic impact to the community, so events like SnowFest! that bring additional heads on beds and just get the locals out spending money are important,” she said.

The 34th annual SnowFest! is scheduled to take place Feb. 27 to March 8, 2015.

However, event production is running behind due to SnowFest!’s recently hired executive director not accomplishing much before resigning Dec. 1, Schnabel said.

According to a previous report, Sean Nelson was the event’s executive director.

“(He) turned out to not be a good match,” Schnabel said.

“We are so far behind,” she added. “I would say we are probably at least a month behind, maybe more, so we are scrambling.”

Tasks to complete include securing additional sponsorships, booking new and several returning events, securing raffle prizes, planning both parties and parades, and advertising the event.

Helping make the event happen this year is SnowFest!’s board of directors, with each board member taking on the responsibilities for a portion of SnowFest!

“The board and staff members will see to it that it’s a successful event,” said board president Gary Furumoto.

Visit tahoesnowfestival.com to learn more about SnowFest!, which was first held in 1982 due to Bob Everson’s vision a year earlier.