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Big events attract winter visitors to ADKs

December 6, 2012 - Don Williams

Before the holiday season fully engulfs our time and attention, it is a good time to pause and to take a look ahead. The Adirondacks, well known for their summer season, also has a “winter season.”

Winter events scheduled for this winter are beginning to appear in the media, calling for us to plan on participating; an event is not an event without participants. Giving our attention to the winter fun at this time avoids the possibility of missing something of interest. And, in the case of major celebrations in the Adirondack communities, it is wise to book accommodations well ahead.

The Adirondack towns, villages and hamlets are known for providing winter activities dating back to the early winter sports clubs and other organizations. A good example of a traditional, hometown-style event often offered in the smaller Adirondack hamlets can be found this year in Wells. Located in the southern Adirondacks, the Wells Fish and Game Club holds an annual “Sportsman Swap Meet” each January, and it is scheduled for Jan. 19 from 9 to 2 p.m. It is a time to come and browse at the Wells Community Hall and to buy, sell, or trade old and new sporting goods and Adirondack realia. I’ll be there with my Adirondack photograph books. The $2 charge for admittance is more than reasonable, and refreshments and baked goods will be on hand. (To rent a $15 table as a vendor, call 924-2110.)

A good example of a major Adirondack event, the winter carnival, can be found in the northern Adirondacks in Saranac Lake. The Saranac Lake Winter Carnival, now in its 116th year, is possibly the largest event of its kind in the eastern United States. It began in 1897, sponsored by the Pontiac Winter Sports Club, as a one-day event to break the monotony of the long winter season. It has grown to a 10-day event scheduled this winter for Feb. 1 to 10.

Those who have attended it in the past enjoyed sports, dances, performances, two parades, two fireworks displays, and, of course, the now-famous ice palace.

The theme of the 2013 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival is “Under the Sea.” The information headquarters will open in January, and carnival buttons, winter carnival souvenirs and other themed accessories will be available. Other related offerings are being planned including the calendar, raffles and posters to support the big undertaking. It takes the energy of the Adirondack citizens, some financial backing, and hundreds of participants to stage the annual carnival. Those of you who are computer savvy can find the winter carnivals on the Internet. The Saranac Lake Ice Palace, constructed from the Pontiac Bay ice each year, is a reminder of the day when ice harvesting was a community undertaking in each of the Adirondack settlements, until electrical refrigeration came into being. The first ice palace for the celebration was built in 189,8 and the architecturally or resident-designed palace has continued periodically over the years. It is now constructed each year when the weather cooperates. The Carnival King and Queen enjoy their ice thrones while presiding over the event. It is worth a trip to Saranac Lake just to visit the massive, well-built, lighted, ice palace — it is one of a kind.

Lake George and Lake Placid are winter places to be, offering events from the very beginnings of the Adirondack heyday. Old Forge, Boonville and Inlet attract winter visitors and are great snowmobiling country. North, east, south and west, you will find winter fun in New York’s mountainous region.

Watch for other winter events in the Adirondacks this season:?

- Long Lake’s winter event is scheduled for Jan. 19, and Raquette Lake will celebrate Feb. 16 and 17.

- A Moonlighters Poker Run will take place Feb. 8 and 9.

- The Central Adirondacks Cardboard Sled Race kicks off at Long Lake on Jan.19, and geocaching will be enjoyed from Feb. 22 to 24.

Avoid cabin fever this winter — plan now for your winter sojourn to Adirondack country.


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