LAKE GEORGE - Warm weather created some problems for the fourth weekend of Lake George Winter Carnival, but as the month-long fest concluded Sunday, organizers said it was a highly successful year anyway.
The car ice racing series was cancelled because of slush on the surface of Lake George that couldn't effectively be removed, plus thawing of ice on the perimeter of the race course raised safety concerns, according to Kathi Kokalas of the Carnival Committee.
"What can you do - we all have to contend with Mother nature," she said. "We made the best of it and did what we could."
Sled dog races set for the weekend were cancelled on Saturday due to the mushy snow conditions that might injure the dogs' feet, but weather improved and volunteers helped out so the races could be held Sunday, she said. The events were held by the New England Sled Dog Racing Club.
Thomas Hahn, a sled dog club member from Williamstown, N.J. said he was impressed by how dozens of people helped spread fresh snow out over the impassable portions of the trail and helped however they could to keep the races on schedule. Hahn owns 34 Siberian Huskies, the traditional long-distance sled-dog breed.
Hahn said the volunteers included Chamber of Commerce members, Village and Town employees, and Carnival committee members.
"It was a real joint effort, and it was so nice to see everybody enjoy the winter activities," he said. "It worked out really good, and it was amazing to see the number of spectators interested in the sport."
Reportedly the sled dog group is coming back to Lake George next year because of the friendly reception the racers experienced.
Kathi Kokalas said she was impressed by the number of Polar Plunge participants, with a lot of new participants at Shepard Park beach, willing to dash into the frigid water to the delight of the crowd. Several of the Plungers wore costumes, including Shelly Whiteman of Hague, who was garbed as an alligator.
The winner of the grand raffle was Justin Warren of Bolton Landing, who won a 2010 Polaris 550 snowmobile.
Also popular were the children's activities - hosted at King Neptune's lounge - which included a visit by the Sesame Street character Elmo, she said.
The annual chili cook-off attracted a substantial crowd, Kokalas said. The winner of the contest was the Log Jam, with their black bean chili. Runner-up was The Village Blacksmith at Fort William Henry; and third was a tie between Mario's Restaurant and Holiday Inn-Turf.
Kokalas said her group had already begun to plan for next year's Carnival - the 50th anniversary of the fest.
"Overall, we had a very successful year - the crowds seem to get bigger every year," she said, noting that during 2009 and 2010, traditional activities were revived, and new participatory events were launched. "We're starting now to make our 50th anniversary an exceptionally good year," she added.