SOUTH LAKE TAHOE — The “Best Lake in America,” as recently designated by USA Today readers, revs up for Labor Day with a food and wine festival, Great Lake Tahoe Sternwheeler Race, mountain run, outdoor and casino showroom concerts and fireworks spectacular (tahoesouth.com).
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The 20th Great Lake Tahoe Sternwheeler Race churns through the lake’s clear blue waters as the South Shores’ two paddlewheelers, California’s Tahoe Queen and Nevada’s M.S. Dixie II, are pitted against each other, Saturday, Sept. 1 at 10:30 a.m.
This “battle of the paddle,” sponsored by Korbel California Champagne, is a four-mile race along the shoreline. Whistles toot while spectators on the beach and boats cheer the victor across the finish line and to a year’s worth of bragging rights.
The M.S. Dixie II holds an 11-8 lead over the Tahoe Queen. This distinctly Tahoe experience invites passengers to celebrate on either boat while enjoying brunch and drink specials.
Tickets are $25 for adults and $15 for children. zephyrcove.com/play/cruises.aspx
Sample the Sierra heralds the best of regional food, wine, and the arts. Held on Ski Run Boulevard, between Highway 50 and Pioneer Trail and reserved for booths and pedestrian traffic instead, the annual farm to fork event is Sunday, Sept. 2, 1 to 5 p.m.
Award-winning wineries from Tahoe South’s El Dorado County will pair vintages, ranging from bold Barberas to zesty Zinfandels with prepared delicacies of Sierra Nevada chefs and restaurants.
The emphasis on local riches also includes artisans, crafters, live entertainment from storytellers, bands and acoustical musicians.
Admission for food and wine tasting is $30 for adult (21 and older) and includes a commemorative glass. samplethesierra.com.
As dusk arrives Sunday evening at 8:30 p.m., the sky will explode with colors during the Labor Day Weekend Fireworks Extravaganza. The 20-minute pyrotechnic show is handled by Pyro Spectaculars — the same company that thrilled onlookers at the recent 75th birthday of the Golden Gate Bridge and New York City’s annual Macy’s Fourth of July Spectacular.
The exhibition features a simultaneous musical broadcast on local radio stations KRLT-FM 93.9 and KOWL-AM 1490. Prime viewing seating is available on Edgewood Tahoe Golf Course, M.S. Dixie II, and Tahoe Queen.
The Heavenly Mountain Run will challenge trail runners with a 5.8-mile run ascending from the 6,565-foot California Base Lodge to the Tamarack Lodge at 9,150-feet, Sunday, Sept. 2. Runners can register online at TahoeTrailRunning.com, view and download course maps, browse event results, photos, sign up for Tahoe Trail Running news and special offers.
Laura Hall, musical director from “Whose Line Is It Anyway,” and her husband Rick Hall, actor/musician from “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” will be at the Valhalla Estate’s Boathouse Theatre, Sept. 1-2.
Audience suggestions will turn into scenes made up on the spot during Saturday, Sept. 1 performance. The following evening the family-friendly show will include original songs from their life experiences: love, faith, raising children and childhood memories. valhallatahoe.com
The 2012 Harveys Outdoor Summer Concert Series welcomes Tahoe favorite Sammy Hagar and The Wabos, Sept. 1. The South Shore Room at Harrah’s Lake Tahoe fall line-up features Nathan Owens, Sept. 1-3. harrahslaketahoe.com.
Over 1,800 bicycling enthusiasts will participate in the 10th annual Tour de Tahoe Bike Big Blue to Cure Diabetes, Sunday, Sept. 9. Circumnavigating the lake, the Tour Blue is a fun ride, not a race, with spectacular scenery, fresh mountain air, rest stops with food and beverages and staffed by volunteers from various organizations and professionally managed by Bike the West. An after ride pool party is at Tahoe South’s Horizon Casino Resort. bikethewest.com/tourdetahoe.html
Ladies, start your triathlon. The best regional woman athletes begin the Athleta Iron Girl Triathlon at 7:30 a.m., Sunday, Sept. 18. The competition includes a 400-meter swim from the California side to Nevada for a 5-kilometer run around Stateline corridor and Lakeside Beach, concluding with a 24-kilometer roundtrip bike.
More than running occurs at the annual Lake Tahoe Marathon, Sept. 28-30. The point-to-point runs pass some of the world’s greatest scenery in both states. Challenges await half and full marathoners as they climb and descend along Lake Tahoe’s western shore in California heading toward South Shore. The run includes the switchback hills near Emerald Bay.
Participants of the 10K will also experience some of the stunning vistas by starting at Inspiration Point above Emerald Bay. Expect fast individual times, the route is 99 percent downhill. Sports enthusiasts also get into the action with kayak, bike, and swim races either ala carte or as a triathlon.
A Speed Golf competition and kid’s run are also part of the event. laketahoemarathon.com.
Camp Richardson Resort joins the Tahoe Tallac Association and U.S. Forest Service to present the Kokanee Salmon Festival, Oct, 6-7. Just a short walk from Camp Rich’s beach, visitors can view the red-hued Kokanee swimming up Taylor Creek and enjoy educational talks and entertaining games. The Kokanee Salmon Run includes a Kids Fun Run, 5k, 10k and half marathon along the trails near Fallen Leaf Lake.
Oompah music fills the air at Camp Richardson during Oktoberfest, Oct. 6-7. German beer, sausages and specialty crafts will be available for purchase from lederhosen and dirndl (dresses) wearing folks. A dog and human costume contest along with kid’s activities complete the fun. camprichardson.com.
For real time updates on events, promotions, packages, conditions and events in Tahoe South, The Lake Tahoe Visitors Authority is on Facebook: facebook.com/TahoeSouth,Twitter: twitter.com/TahoeSouth,YouTube: youtube.com/LTVA.
For information about Tahoe South call 1-800-AT-TAHOE (1-800-288-2463) or visit tahoesouth.com.\