Has Gatsby gasped his last?
The 1920s were hospitable times at South Lake Tahoe.
Esteemed families like the Popes and the Ehrmans boated each weekend to one another’s estates to enjoy parties, complete with champagne, music, dancing and croquet.
Sound a bit like a popular F. Scott Fitzgerald novel?
In an effort to re-create those simpler days some eight decades ago, the Tahoe Heritage Foundation, in association with the U.S. Forest Service, established The Great Gatsby Festival in honor of South Shore’s own Jordan Bakers and Nick Carraways.
“The reason they chose the Gatsby title is because it’s sort of a good example of the lifestyle of the ’20s,” said Sara Keil, program director at the Tahoe Heritage Foundation. “They drank a lot of champagne and mint juleps and hung out. There were parties here all of the time.”
But organizers worry the party may end without a core of committed volunteers.
“It isn’t so much that it is a funding issue that keeps the festival alive,” said Linda Cole of the U.S. Forest Service. “The personnel that organizes it is so short-handed and we’re stretched so thin. It’s an incredibly time-consuming festival up to a year beforehand.
“More volunteers would help, but the problem is consistency. You need people who come on and are willing to take on one of the individual projects for the whole year. It has to be long-term volunteerism, not just people who come out for that weekend and put on a costume and walk around, or sell merchandise. The festival has grown to the point where it takes more and more coordination.”
Keil is leaving her position at the foundation after this year, which may have a big effect on whether or not the festival continues.
“The biggest problem is I’m leaving so they don’t know if whoever replaces me will be willing to take it on,” she said. “You have to be consistent with keeping up the vendors and all of that. They just don’t know if whoever they hire for my position will be interested in doing events at all.”
Introducing people to the Tallac site is one of the major benefits of the Great Gatsby Festival, Keil said. The 17th annual festival is set for this weekend from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Admission is free.
Costumes, Pope Estate tours, vintage cars, strolling musicians, food and a fashion show featuring styles from the Gatsby era are some highlights of the festival, which serves as a foundation fund-raiser.
Children may participate in pie-eating contests and other games and vintage clothing and concession items will be sold throughout the weekend. On Saturday, the Brockway Croquet Club will give demonstrations and lessons and the Baldwin Museum will be open to share the history of the area.
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