Some top chefs in the country have chosen to call Truckee home, opening Moody's, Dragonfly and other restaurants that have drawn national attention.
Once a railroad town where basic stews provided essential warmth to hardscrabble pioneers, Truckee has become a location for fusion cuisine.
Next Sunday, however, it's back to the basics. The big pot once more rules the day when the third annual Truckee Chili Cookoff takes place at Truckee Regional Park, 10500 Old Brockway Road.
Few things have exploded as much in the past 30 years as competitive cooking. Once restricted to county fairs and the Pillsbury Bake-Off, it now commands national attention on television and moves tons of product at major events.
Cook-offs, of course, are about much more than the cooking, and Truckee's chili contest has grown in popularity in the past three years.
It's hardly as large as, say, the September Nugget Rib Cook-Off in Sparks, Nev., but it provides plenty of fun and is far more reasonably priced.
Unlimited chili testing is only $10 for adults and free for children under age 12. The competitors are the usual assortment of culinary artists with winning categories in restaurants, nonprofits, and individuals, plus a best overall and a people's choice award.
Entertainment this year will be provided by the Deckheads, a band that plays crowd-pleasing mixes of country, alternative, and as the name might suggest, Jimmy Buffett.
The name, however, is not nautical in origin. It comes from the band's gaining its popularity playing on local ski decks. The Deckheads label their music as "country Caribbean."
Also on the schedule are the Pleasant Heads, a country-modern band from Reno; the O.K. Chorale, a men's barbershop quartet; radio personality Monica Jaye; and the Railroad Regulators. The festivities begin at 11 a.m., and all proceeds will benefit Truckee-North Tahoe programs. It is operated by the Truckee Sunrise Rotary Club.
Around the Silver Circle
Recently named one of the "Best New Bands of 2010" by Rolling Stone magazine, the Dirty Heads bring a mix of hip-hop and reggae to John Ascuaga's Nugget in Sparks on Friday. Few bands epitomize the Southern California lifestyle of sand, surf and partying more than this one, chosen by Matthew McConaughey to provide music for his film "Surfer Dude." (9 p.m.; $25; 1100 Nugget Ave. in Sparks; 800-648-1177 or janugget.com)
On Saturday night, the Celebrity Room at John Ascuaga's Nugget switches sounds when songwriter Bruce Cockburn makes a rare appearance on the heels of the release of his first studio album in six years, "Small Source of Comfort." (8 p.m.; $20)
Author and historian Robert W. Ellison will be at the Nevada State Museum in Carson City on Thursday to talk about "Long Beard: Warren Wasson, Indian Agent & U.S. Marshall."
Wasson is one of the more colorful characters in Nevada history, having been not only agent and Marshall, but also frontiersman, 49er, scout, military adviser and even a tax assessor.
With his disappearance, he also became a celebrated enigma. (7 p.m.; $8; 600 N. Carson St. in Carson City; 775-687-4810, ext. 237)
Tickets may be scarce, but it probably won't be impossible to at least hear some of Wiz Khalifa, the Pittsburgh hip-hopper, simply by being anywhere near the showroom at the MontBleu at 9 p.m. Tuesday.
He does know how to make a sound. $39.50 is the price to get in, and if that proves impossible, there's always the chance to score the after-party in Blu Nightclub. (55 Highway 50 in Stateline; 788-588-3515; montbleuresort.com)