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A festival to remember

The 1920s – a time of alcohol prohibition, pre-Depression economic prosperity, afternoon tea parties and nights spent dancing the Charleston.

It was also an era that left its mark in Tahoe’s history when the wealthy Pope and Baldwin families built their family estates on Tahoe’s South Shore and called it their home.

And, for two days in August, the Great Gatsby festival took you there.



“The biggest, most important thing is the history behind the site,” said Linda Cole, U.S. Forest Service director of the Tallac Historic Site. “We want people to understand why we want to preserve these buildings.”

To appreciate the era, the Great Gatsby Festival, held Saturday and Sunday, brought participants into living the history.




“We want it to feel as if the Popes themselves were giving a party – opulence and luxury,” Cole said.

To present the fashion of the time, men strolled the grounds in knickers and argyle socks while women wore beaded dresses and gloves. Servants dressed in the usual black and white linens.

And, in the fashion of the wealthy, entertainment of all sorts was offered to keep the guests occupied.

For the adults, a vintage fashion show, strolling musicians, tours of the estates and tea parties. But, like the old days, the true fun was had by the children.

Kids of all ages sought stiff competition in tug of war, watermelon seed-spitting and boysenberry pie-eating contests.

Three-time pie eating champion Nathan Sawyer, of Sacramento, said his secret is in the strategy.

“You’ve got to suck out the middle without chewing,” the 15-year-old said after he slurped up a boysenberry pie Sunday in less than two minutes. “Then, tip the pan over, pull out the crust and eat it. But, that part you have to chew.”

Entry to the festival was free but proceeds from raffle ticket, T-shirt and food sales go to next year’s Great Gatsby Festival.

“If we have money left over, it goes directly to the Tahoe Heritage Foundation to preserve the buildings,” Cole said.

The cluster of buildings at the Tallac Historic Site, located on U.S. Forest Service land on State Route 89 near Camp Richardson Resort, were placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1986.

Anyone wishing to donate money to the Tahoe Heritage Foundation, a nonprofit organization, can call (530) 544-3029.


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