Caldor Community Festival fundraiser set for this weekend in South Lake Tahoe

Miranda Jacobson

SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — South Lake Tahoe has been faced with a series of challenges in the last year, from repeated shutdowns due to COVID, to recently seeing businesses close their doors once again due to the Caldor Fire.

Now, as the thousands of residents who fled their homes gradually settle back down into everyday life, it’s time to start healing.

Enter the Caldor Community Festival.

Local business owner Luca Genasci, along with many other community leaders, began looking for ways to lend their support to the city, it’s residents, and first responders.

“We not only identified that one of the biggest needs in an ongoing fashion likely would be food and security, but it was really something that was consistent with one of the highest needs of COVID,” said Genasci.

Genasci, who was also a board member for the Barton Foundation, saw more than one parallel between the COVID crisis and the recent fire crisis not only in needs, but in the effect on businesses.

“Businesses were shut down, employees lost work,” said Genasci. “This timeframe was one of our busiest months, at least in the service industry, of the year.”

After brainstorming many ideas and reading many online comments from local residents of South Lake, the Caldor Community Festival was born.

The Caldor Community Festival will be held at AleWorX, a popular destination to hangout on the relaxing patio and enjoy a variety of foods and ales.
Provided/Luca Genasci

The festival will be held at Genasci’s restaurant and patio bar AleWorX at the Y, and will give local residents an opportunity to express their appreciation for the fire fighting efforts to protect the community.

All of the proceeds will be going to the Barton Foundation Emergency Response Fund, created to assist Lake Tahoe community members experiencing economic hardships with basic needs.

The event, which begins at noon on Sunday, Sept. 19, includes live entertainment from local performers Bob Lopez and the Bread and Butter Band. All entertainment will be donated for the day of the event.

There will be face painting, a donut and pizza eating contest for the children, along with cornhole.

Additionally, all of the meat used for food items will be donated by owners of Overland Meat Company, Brian and Kim Cohen, and the vodka used will be donated by Founder of Tahoe Blue Vodka, Matt Levitt.

The event will be family friendly, and all proceeds will go to the Barton Foundation Emergency Response Fund. Provided Mike Peron

The raffle for the event will be filled with prizes donated by local South Lake Tahoe businesses. Guests can buy a beer for a first responder, which will be given out over time as first responders come to the establishment.

“There has been an outpouring for the entirety of the incident,” said Genasci. “Everybody is trying to find ways to help in some way, support the community and give back.”

Co-owner of South Lake Brewing Company Nicole Smith felt the same urgency to help service workers in the area following so many business shut downs, and initiated the Caldor Fire Relief Fund.

Due to the number of challenges the food industry has faced, from COVID to evictions to a national worker shortage, Smith felt that the fund should be specific to the food and beverage industry.

“The only way that we can help is financially right now,” said Smith. “That’s why, being a business owner and employer like myself, I know that my staff very heavily depends on tips. So there’s the whole idea of supplemental payroll during the time that [businesses] were closed and no one was able to work.”

Smith brought together the Tahoe Prosperity Center, Tahoe Chamber, South Tahoe Restaurant Association, and other restaurants and bars in South Lake Tahoe, including her own, to create a donation fund for the service industry.

To donate, visit the Tahoe Prosperity Center website at Businesses in South Lake will be able to apply for funds for their employees until Friday, Sept 17, on the same site.

“There’s a lot of partners pulling together to make this work,” said CEO of Tahoe Prosperity Center Heidi Hill Drum. “These workers have had so many ups and downs over the last two years. So of course we said yes.”

There are a variety of other places to donate currently for the Caldor Fire victims and those who were impacted by evacuations.

To see a list of other funds, visit Tahoe Chamber’s website at

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