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Food and balloons top post-Labor Day offerings

The Great Reno Balloon Race returns on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 10-11, with festivities at San Rafael Regional Park. Set your alarms – the venue opens at 3:30 a.m.
The Great Reno Balloon Race returns on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 10-11, with festivities at San Rafael Regional Park. Set your alarms – the venue opens at 3:30 a.m.

Two very popular events are scheduled for this post-Labor Day weekend: the 31st annual Lake Tahoe Autumn Food and Wine Festival and the 35th annual Great Reno Balloon Race.

The three-day food fest is held at Northstar California Resort and offers hands-on classes in cooking and mixology, food and wine and craft beer teamings, special dinners, and plenty of tastings, all ending with the Culinary Competition and Grand Tasting on Sunday.

The festival has added several events this year, including yoga and wine tasting, a barbecue demonstration and lunch, and a guided stargazing tour. For families, there will be the Mountain Kids Cook-Off finals and a free showing of “Ratatouille.”

Highlights are: the Farm-to-Tahoe dinner where guests ride the gondola to Zephyr Lodge and indulge and dance in front of floor-to-ceiling views of the Pacific Crest (at 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 9; $100); the BBQ & Brews luncheon, hosted by grill master Chef Jason (at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 10; $65); the Tahoe Star Tour & Wine Tasting, including a laser tour of the sky and telescopic viewings (at 8:15 p.m. Saturday; $40 adults, $20 children); and the finale competition and tasting with more than 25 chefs competing and attendees getting to enjoy their pairings (at 1 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 11; $75 in advance, $95 Sunday).

Tickets and more information at TahoeFoodandWine.com.

The balloons in Reno always provide an immensely popular outing for families, many of whom show up in their pajamas. The race has grown over the years from 20 balloons in the air to more than 100, and spectators simply sit back, look up, and watch the skies.

Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 10-11, the doors to the venue (Reno’s San Rafael Regional Park, corner of North Virginia and McCarran Boulevard, across from the University of Nevada, Reno) open at 3:30 a.m. The balloons light up for the Glow Show at 5 a.m., some take off for the early lighted Dawn Patrol at 5:30 a.m., and the mass ascension takes place at 7 a.m. There is also a Balloon Alley of vendors and a chance to go up in tethered balloons.

Although most of the balloons are the traditional teardrop shape, specialty balloons always provide the most excitement and this year will feature Angry Birds, Jewel the hummingbird, the pirate parrot Pegleg Pete, the pirate ship the Rio Grande Raider, a camera-carrying penguin named SnoBird, and the usual suspects like the Liberty Bell replica and the Wells Fargo stagecoach. (Details at renoballoon.com.)

At South Shore, the Tedeschi Trucks Band has its debut at MontBleu on Saturday, Sept. 10. Susan Tedeschi and former Allman Brothers guitarist Derek Trucks have released three albums, the latest being “Let Me Get By.” (8 p.m.; $65-$85; Ticketmaster)

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