The Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival, in its 28th year, runs through Sunday, with many of its biggest and most popular events held this weekend at Village at Northstar .
Presentations are largely free — the trick is to get there early. Should you get shut out of an event, or just have some extra time, a meander through the Gourmet Marketplace Vendor Fair is well worth it.
Among the free events Saturday at Village at Northstar: Chef Jason Gronlund of Florida’ Smokeybones Bar and Fish Grill will give a demonstration of his pulled pork at noon. Chef Lara Richie will teach 25 attendees how to make their own fresh mozzarella; first-come, first-seated (1:15-2:15 p.m.; if you miss out, there’s another chance at 3:15 p.m.). And TV chef Nathan Lyon (“Good Food America,” “Growing a Greener World”) will prepare a summer’s-end dish (2:15 p.m.).
Also at Northstar on Saturday: The popular Blazing Pans Mountain Chef Cook-Off. This year’s installment will feature last year’s champion, Elsa Corrigan of Mamasake in the Village at Squaw, facing mark Estee of Reno’s Campo. They’ll prepare four courses in an hourlong battle with a required ingredient revealed at the start ($15; 4:30-6 p.m.).
More information: TahoeFoodandWine.com.
The casino entertainment calendar continues to be full. Thunder Valley in Lincoln offers two big concerts, commencing tonight with one of the most popular tours of the season, the Beach Boys (8 p.m.; $37.50-$83.50; thundervalleyresort.com). Then Saturday, it’s “Funk Fest,” featuring Sinbad, the Brothers Johnson and Midnight Star, among others (6:30 p.m.; $37.50-$79.50).
Classic rock prevails at Jackson Rancheria and Harrah’s Tahoe. Saturday, the former presents “An Evening with Toto,” one of the more polished bands of the late ’70s. First came 1977’s self-named debut album turning out the single “Hold the Line.” Later came hits such as “Rosanna” and “Africa.” (7 p.m.; $29, $40; jacksoncasino.com). Also Saturday, Harrah’s features the Zombies, one of the best and certainly most enduring of the British Invasion bands of the 1960s and still led by original members Colin Blunstone and Rod Argent (7:30 p.m.; $38.50; Ticketmaster).
And the largest, free, hot-air ballooning event in the world, the Great Reno Balloon Race, takes to the skies, with balloons (including the new Spyder Pig made famous in “The Simpsons”) part of dawn mass ascent Saturday and Sunday, preceded by a 50-balloon glowing “Dawn Patrol.” (Rancho San Rafael Park; renoballoon.com).