The Sky is the Limit with Blue Sky Events

Robin Endicott and Mitch wedding Regan Beach and EdgewoodLake Tahoe is a perfect destination to celebrate “I do” amongst your family, friends and loved ones.  Celebrating 250+ days of bright blue skies, picturesque snow-capped mountain backdrops, lakeside beach ceremony stages and cool, crisp evenings it makes for the BEST destination wedding location.  So I do have to preface  that I am a bit biased since Lake Tahoe also happens to be the location where I chose to marry four years ago along the shores of Edgewood Tahoe Golf Resort.  But planning a destination wedding isn’t easy and I couldn’t have done it without the professional planning and expertise of Kerry Hawk and her team at Blue Sky Events.

wedding robin mitch 061409When I became engaged I was living in Maui, Hawaii but my husband and I decided to plan a destination wedding celebration in Lake Tahoe since it is a special place to us.  Attempting to plan from afar and not familiar with the wedding players in Lake Tahoe, I knew immediately I would need assistance.  I also knew that being someone who had worked in the luxury hospitality market for years prior, I wasn’t going to be the easiest of customers.  I knew what I wanted, was overly detailed by nature and that nearly anything was possible.  Enters Kerry Hawk and team to save the day!

Over the next 6 months+ Kerry and I arranged conference calls where we began creating my perfect day 2,500 miles apart.  I had hired Blue Sky Events to assist with pre-event planning as well as on-site coordination on our wedding day. Kerry was readily able to answer all my wedding planning questions and provide perfect local solutions for all of my needs.   She knew the region like the back of her hand and had key partnerships with reliable local vendors whom I ultimately choose my stylist, florist and cake designer from her sacred “list”.  Beyond the usual responsibilities and tasks expected from a wedding coordination team, Kerry personally went above and beyond the call of duty which I want to share with you here.

wedding robin mitch 061409First, since my husband and I had met and were currently living in Maui yet hosting our ceremony on the ‘mainland’ we wanted to incorporate a traditional island ritual into our special day.  Specifically, we wanted to include a Hawaiian lei ritual into our ceremony.  After calling dozens of florists, I learned that they really didn’t have access to the tropical flowers needed to make authentic leis.  I found a company in Maui that would FedEx real Hawaiian leis for our ceremony but there was one big glitch.  They wouldn’t ship them to a hotel (which is where we would be staying) yet only to a home residence since upon delivery they had to immediately be refrigerated and stored.  After searching for a solution Kerry immediately stepped in and offered to have them delivered to her personal residence!  To say the least, the leis were delivered, stored and transported by Kerry successfully and were an integral part of our ceremony.  These special leis are wedding robin mitch 061409dried and still hang in my house today!

The big day arrived.  And of course… there is always at least one thing (if your lucky!) that goes not as planned.  For us it was our DJs who were NOT one of the recommended vendors on Kerry’s list – lesson learned!  In short, they were terrible – late, without our extensive list of preselected wedding songs and totally clueless.  At one point in the night they were actually sitting at the bar!  The great news ….is that I barely noticed thanks to Kerry Hawk.  I will never forget walking into our reception as Kerry calmly walked alongside me reassuring me not to worry but purposefully asked what our signature first dance song selections were because the DJ didn’t have them!  Later, I learned that Kerry had downloaded the songs to her iPod and had them playing on queue so that no one besides us ever knew what had happened.  This woman could simply do it all!

Photo from Blue SkyI had the privilege of recently reconnecting with Kerry to ask her about what projects she and Blue Sky Events were currently working on and where she sees the future of her company headed.  I learned that Blue Sky Events has expanded immensely into the incentive and corporate event planning realm in addition to their full-time wedding coordination business.  Jason Hawk, Kerry’s husband, has also joined the company and is now co-owner greatly contributing to the expansion of their business into corporate and resort event management.  As part of their event management portfolio they have added a roster of events including the annual Tahoe Snowcial, Discount Tires annual incentive trip with over 500 attendees and are the preferred event planning team for on and off snow events for Heavenly Mountain Resort just to name a few.  Blue Sky Events also plans the Tahoe South Heavenly Holidays for a two week run of events in the Heavenly Village, that culminates on New Years Eve with an event bringing in thousands of attendees loaded with entertainment and the worlds only Gondola Ball Drop and Fireworks!  Quite the Lake Tahoe local superstar planners.

Tahoe Snowcial - MC Hammer

Screen Shot 2013-05-28 at 2.05.50 PMWhen asked what contributes to her success, Kerry emphasized the ability to pull from so many resources within the area thanks to the well-established relationships they have created – a key success factor when operating in a small region like ours.  Kerry sees the future of their company continuing to “give amazing service to all people visiting the Lake Tahoe region to ensure that their time is well spent while here” and hopes to create a unique, annual festival all of their own!  Can’t wait to see what Kerry, Jason and Blue Sky Events have in the making!

Do you have a wedding, special event or corporate conference that you need assistance with planning?  Do as I did to ensure a flawless experience by consulting with Kerry and Jason Hawk at Blue Sky Events.  You will never look back.

If you enjoying learning about Lake Tahoe follow my blog and me at @robinpenning to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

Photo credits:  Kerry Hawk & Robin Penning

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Truckee Thursday Time!

Truckee Thursday ReturnsThis past Thursday evening Truckee-Tahoe locals from all around gathered to welcome back a favorite summer event, Truckee Thursday!  Every Thursday evening from 5-9pm this summer until August 29th locals will gather to eat, drink, shop and reunite on the city blocks of downtown historic Truckee, CA  for this weekly celebration.  Hosted by the Truckee Downtown Merchants Association, Truckee Thursdays are a fantastic way for visitors,  locals and businesses to reunite and celebrate their local community.

Truckee Thursday ReturnsSo what exactly is Truckee Thursdays?   Picture farmer’s market meets street party in the mountains.  The downtown blocks of historic Truckee are closed to vehicle traffic for the evening and in its place local merchants including farmers, artisans, crafters and restaurants and invited to secure booths to feature their products, services and culinary arts.  It is great event celebrated by guests of all ages from newborns to seniors and even dogs are welcome!

Truckee Thursday Returns
Allow me to take you on a quick tour of my usual visit to Truckee Thursday to give you a better picture.  I usually carpool with friends and park in either the lot on East River Street (if it isn’t full already) or along the street.  First stop, I like perusing the local vendor booths set up in the street selling fruits and vegetables along with crafts such as candles, jewelry and home furnishings – perfect for gifts!  These vendors often leave on the early side so it is good to go there first.  Then after a bit of shopping, I head to the beer garden to grab a draft, meet up with friends and listen to the guest band performance.  By now I have worked up an appetite and head to the food trucks and stations to see what looks good for the evening.  My two favorites… anything from Red Truck or the famed Tri-Trip sandwich from Full Belli Deli (both pictured below).  End your evening with one of the many sweet treats available including crepes, chocolate covered frozen bananas on a stick or ice cream that you can find throughout.  As the sun sets, temperatures drop and the Truckee Thursday celebration winds down, if you aren’t quite ready to go home I recommend continuing the party at the historic Bar of America in the hub of downtown Truckee.

Truckee Thursday ReturnsTruckee Thursday ReturnsEach week at Truckee Thursday presents a local merchant sponsor along with a non-profit partner band showcasing the main stage in the beer gardens.  Check their website for the schedule of events of sponsors including Burger Me!, Northstar California and California 89 to see what lies ahead this summer at Truckee Thursday.

This season, Truckee Thursday also announced a few new additions to their line-up!  New is a second ‘corner stage’ on the corner of Bridge Street and Donner Pass Road and enjoy Bike Valet hosted by the Truckee Thursday ReturnsTruckee Donner Historical Society so you can ride your bikes and avoid the parking jam.  New lifestyle and apparel store, California 89, will also be featuring movies for downtown visitors seeking a break from the busy street action.  I also heard rumor that for those residents living in Tahoe Donner, a new shuttle route has been added to transport residents after Truckee Thursday events.  Can anyone confirm if this is true?!

 A few local tips to enjoy the BEST evening at Truckee Thursday.  Be sure to arrive earlier in order to find parking as it fills up fast!  Bring cash as that is all most vendors accept.  Another good reason to come early is that the best food will sell-out fast and you won’t want to miss it!  Carpooling helps with parking AND be sure to have a safe and sober driver with you if you plan on drinking.

If you frequent Truckee Thursday, what do you most look forward to buying, eating, sipping while you are there? Share your comments below.  I hope to see you next Thursday!

If you enjoying learning about Lake Tahoe follow my blog and me at @robinpenning to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

Take me out to the …. Reno Aces Ballpark!

One of my absolute favorite things to do in the summertime in the Reno-Tahoe region is visit the Aces Ballpark and watch an Aces games with my friends.  The Reno Aces are a Triple-A Minor League team in the Pacific Coast league.  Not only are they a great team, but also they have the most amazing stadium right in downtown Reno – the Aces Ballpark.  Rumor has it that other Triple-A teams love to play the Aces just so they can make the trip to Reno since our ballpark is so much better than the rest.

Just last week, my colleagues and friends visited the park to catch a Monday night game and had a blast!  We sat in spectacular Bugsy’s Sports Bar and Grill patio section overlooking third base.  Not only were the views great, but we also enjoyed full service for food and beverage which you can’t pass up.  Its especially perfect for group events and large parties to enjoy.  My favorite – the pretzel bites, yum!

The Aces Ballpark has a number of great features in the park located in downtown Reno adjacent to the Truckee River.  Some of the highlights include the Circus Circus Kids Zone, Baseball Mountain, the Bugsy’s Sports Bar and Grill as I mentioned above and of course the lively Freight House District where you can catch live concerts, DJs, play a game of corn hole and celebrate after-the-game drinks.  Besides all of the special events and concerts hosted at the  popular Freight House District, the ballpark also hosts a packed schedule of featured events including:  St. Mary’s Firework Fridays, Small Business Nights, Girls Night Out, the Dog Days of Summer where two guests and their dog enjoy tickets for only $25 and many more!

The Reno Aces schedule last through September with weekly games and ticket prices ranging from as low as $7 for standing sections to $34 for prime seats behind home plate.  With these prices, this is a family, friend, work outing that you can’t miss.  Visit the Ace’s website at www.renoaces.com to learn more about the game and event schedules as well as purchase your tickets!

Check out a video of our recent trip to the Aces Ballpark!

Have you ever been to a Reno Aces game?  If so, share your favorite part about visiting the stadium in the comments below!

If you enjoying learning about Lake Tahoe follow my blog and me at @robinpenning to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

Midsummer Night Dreams Come True!

IMG_1909Picture yourself sitting in a beach chair, your toes in the sand, sipping on a glass of your favorite wine while you nibble on tasty cheese and crackers, listening to the waves clap against the sand in the background.  Just another day at the beach in Lake Tahoe?  No way!  Instead you are sitting amongst an audience under the stars at Sand Harbor State Park enjoying a live performance of William Shakespeare’s as part of Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival.  And the best part, you don’t even have to be a fan of Shakespeare’s work to have an extraordinary time.

Last year marked my first visit to the amphitheater at Sand Harbor where I immediately became enchanted by the venue and its magical performance full of music, singing, costumes, theater and even… a dog amongst the cast members in last year’s rendition of Two Gentlemen of Verona.  Upon return home that evening, I jumped online and quickly purchased tickets to return to the performance later in the season since I had such a remarkable time.  Even my husband loved going and Shakespeare is not his typical cup of tea.

Each year the cast at Sand Harbor performs a different Shakespeare classic.  This upcoming summer they will feature one of my all-time favorites, A Midsummer Night’s Dreama perfect fit for this venue along the shores of Lake Tahoe.  A famous Shakespearean classic, this comedy celebrates the story of love, mischief and magic. Not your traditional screening, this season’s Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival’s rendition is inspired by a rock ‘n’ roll infused 1960s London culture which is sure to be the biggest craze in Lake Tahoe this summer.  I can’t WAIT to go see it.

So I realize that there may be some of you that I haven’t yet convinced.  That you may still be traumatized from your high school English teachers when it comes to anything Shakespeare related.  Don’t worry, you can still enjoy this remarkable venue which offers a wide variety of performances all summer long.  Others include:  The Reno Philharmonic Orchestra’s performance of Broadway on the Beach, the Reno Chamber Orchestra’s performance of Classical Music Under the Stars with the Nevada Chamber Music Festival at the Lake, the Sierra Nevada Ballet’s rendition of Coppelia,  The Jazz Soul of Porgy and Bess by the Reno Jazz Orchestra, Les Miserables in Concert performed by TOCCATA and the 2013 Lake Tahoe Summerfest.  Talk about a line-up.

The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival performances run from mid-July through the end of August and are presented on a stage whose backdrop is Lake Tahoe along the East Shore at Sand Harbor State Park.  The Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival is a nonprofit organization established for the cultural benefit and entertainment of all visitors and residents to the region.  It began in 1972 and was originally hosted at Sugar Pine Point State Park on the opposite side of Lake Tahoe until four years later it was relocated to Sand Harbor State Park where it has been held ever since.

The venue includes a large amphitheater with stadium seating amongst the sandy hillside overlooking Lake Tahoe.  Facilities include ample parking, restrooms and delicious culinary options provided by Brimm’s catering, a full-bar and even table service depending on which section you purchase your seats.  You can learn everything that you need to know about the venue including seating maps and how to book your ticket’s on the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival website.

Have you been to the Lake Tahoe Shakespeare Festival before? Which Shakespeare play or live concert performance would you like to see at Sand Harbor State Beach this summer?  Share your experiences in the comments below.

If you enjoying learning about Lake Tahoe follow my blog and me at @robinpenning to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

Lake Tahoe’s “Biggest Little Neighbor”

Lake Tahoe's Biggest Little NeighborThis past weekend I decided last minute I wanted to get out of town, but didn’t want to deal with an expensive or long drive anywhere.  So where could I go?  Then it dawned on me, time to take advantage of what’s right in my backyard.   The solution was a “staycation” trip to the nearby city of Reno, Nevada known as the “Biggest Little City in the World”.  Tourism professionals in the area strongly promote the activities and events in Lake Tahoe to visitors in Reno, but what about experiencing it the other way around?  Located only 29 miles away from Lake Tahoe’s North Shore, the short but gorgeous ride to Reno only takes 45 minutes.  So, I packed my bags, jumped in the car and within an hour was beginning my biggest little adventure!

First stop, the 2013 Reno-Tahoe WordCamp event held at the University of Nevada, Reno. Hundreds of developers, designers, social media gurus, speakers and blogger enthusiasts joined together for an exciting day of seminars, lectures and networking.  This was my first time attending a WordCamp event and it was amazing.  I learned so much and even more importantly, met some amazing new people.  This got me to thinking about all of the AWESOME events that Reno hosts year-round that may visitors to Lake Tahoe are completely unaware of!  Top events include:  Reno Rodeo, Rib Cook-Off, Hot Air Balloon Races, Air Races, Reno River Festival, Hot August Nights, US Bowling Lake Tahoe's Biggest Little NeighborChampionships and Ace’s Baseball games.   Any night visit downtown for dinner along the riverfront followed by some gambling or catch a show or concert at one of the casinos.  To keep up on events occurring in Reno, follow the Reno-Tahoe Blog.  What particularly impresses me about events held in Reno is how approachable and accessible they are.  Growing up near a big city, events of this sort are often challenged by overwhelming crowds, expensive fees and lots of traffic!  Instead, events in Reno are intimate, approachable, inexpensive and much less hassle.

Where to eat?  Reno has hundreds of fantastic restaurants and a rich diversity of cuisines which I particularly enjoy when visiting from Lake Tahoe.  I could write hundreds of posts on the best places to eat in Reno, so instead I will only mention the two that I visited this past weekend – Hiroba Sushi and Campo.  I was craving sushi and feeling lucky to be in town so I could visit my favorite place, Hiroba Sushi.  They have a fantastic all-you-can-eat sushi which is hassle-free, delicious sushi creations and a personal, engaging waitstaff.  The only downside, they are always packed!  I was especially appreciative this past visit when a gracious hostess slipped me into a spot at the sushi bar and I walked right in without waiting.  The next day, it was gorgeous outside and I was able to join friends and visit a restaurant I have been anxious to try, Marke Estee’s Campo.  Located in the River-300x200hub of downtown along the Truckee River, its indoor/outdoor scene was perfect for this gorgeous day.  We grabbed a table outside and enjoyed Sunday brunch.  The selection was fantastic and proud of my italian heritage I was particularly pleased with the authentic Italian dishes and ingredients on the menu.  I will definitely be back for seconds.  To decide what to eat during your next trip to Reno, check out Chris Cook’s Sincerer Love and learn about dozens of restaurants and cuisines to enjoy while in town.

Shop ’till you drop!  Reno also offers a fantastic variety of shopping venues to visitors ranging from small boutiques, vintage stores, discount outlet plazas and malls to full-service department stores.  Whatever you are looking for, Reno has it.  This past weekend I was able to find one-of-a-kind items while boutique shopping on South Virginia Street, conventional pieces at Macy’s in the Meadowood Mall and hot sale items at the Summit outlet stores in South Reno all in the matter of hours.  Not very many big cities afford the variety, ease of navigation and close distance as Reno shopping does.  To learn more about Reno fashion along with great tips on where to shop local visit Reno Has Style.

After learning more about Reno, I hope during your next visit to Lake Tahoe you drive down the mountain to witness the rebirth in Reno and experience the “biggest little city in the world” for yourself.  Share in the comments if you have visited Reno before during a trip to Lake Tahoe and if so, what did you do?

If you enjoying learning about Lake Tahoe follow my blog and me at @robinpenning to receive information on tips, news, activities and special events in Lake Tahoe.

Photo Credit 1, Photo Credit 2, Photo Credit 3