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It goes without saying, but COVID-19 has made a huge impact on small businesses, with many closing temporarily, or for good; others struggling to make payroll and cutting costs or laying off employees. It has been a difficult year for all, and the current environment has not made a full reopening possible for California – at least, not right now.

As many of you know, Sample the Sierra typically takes place at Bijou Community Park in South Lake Tahoe, Calif. The City of South Lake Tahoe announced in July that it would cancel all events on city property until at least Sept. 22, 2020. This posed a conundrum at Sample the Sierra, as Bijou Community Park is located within city property and already reserved for our 2020 event.

We were forced to make a hard decision: do we cancel the event altogether? Or do we pivot to a virtual event? We’re happy to say that we opted for the latter, as we understood the importance of supporting business in this critical time. Though our virtual fest won’t replace the business and revenue lost, we’re hopeful it can act as a joyous occasion for all of us in the region to celebrate one another. Plus, we want this virtual event to bring our vendors business in the meantime and in the future when – not if – things go back to “normal.”

We will accept vendor registration through Aug. 14 and encourage all local businesses to consider how they showcase themselves – either through a virtual cocktail walkthrough, a recipe, a special Sample the Sierra themed menu during our Farm-to-Fork Restaurant Week (Sept. 10-20) or a chance to be featured on our virtual makers marketplace.

In the meantime, our founding organization, Tahoe Chamber, is a valuable resource for businesses in the Lake Tahoe region. Throughout the crisis, they have provided a number of resources to help navigate the pandemic. While you think of ways to show off your best brew or homemade wares, consider visiting Tahoe Chamber’s COVID-19 Resource page and sign up for their newsletter with the most up-to-date COVID-19 announcements.

This year has been … weird so far, but our region has proven time and time again to be resilient with massive amounts of creativity and perseverance. And we’re happy to help you however we can.

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