LAKE GEORGE - The party that annually surpasses all others in the North Country may have eclipsed itself this year, said event organizer John Strong of the sponsoring Lake George Arts Project.
The 19th annual Bands N' Beans fest, set for Sunday March 7 from 2 p.m. to 7 p.m., may have more live entertainment and and likely a record number of restaurants participating in its signature chili contest, Strong said.
"We have more music and more food - perhaps the most ever," he said of the annual event, held at Roaring Brook Ranch off Rte. 9N. "We have some of the best chefs in the area participating, and they love to outdo each other with their recipes."
Top this off with a forecast of sunny, warm weather, and the landmark event may be jammed with people welcoming in spring, he said.
The Lake George Arts Project's festival of chili and homegrown music - a fundraiser for the organization - features hundreds of people jamming the dance floor, gyrating to homegrown music while others are savoring chili concoctions prepared by dozens of restaurants and individuals. Restaurants take the chili competition very seriously, vying for bragging rights that will gain them renown.
Annually, the music is as varied as the ingredients in the chili. While partyers have enjoyed chili spiked with venison, elk and ostrich - to name a few of the creative varieties - the music has been equally as diverse. The event will have acts performing on two stages simultaneously through the afternoon, with the more intimate venue hosting the acoustic offerings.
This year's lineup encompasses folk, country, folk-rock, roots music, dance bands and straightforward rock-and roll.
Featured performers include Chris Ballini, Phil Camp, Rich Ortiz, Tequila Mockingbirds, Folding Sky, Jim Gaudet and the Railroad Boys, Stony Creek Band, Alan Payette Band, Big Medicine and Chain Lightning.
Headlining an extensive silent auction will be a Fender Strat electric guitar donated by Ray Supply of Glens Falls.
The silent auction includes a variety of items from local businesses, including dinners, clothes and accommodations. Annually raising almost $18,000 for the Arts Project, the event is the non-profit group's largest fundraiser.
Admission is $20, and tickets are available at the door.
Each of the 1,000 or so expected attendees is able to vote for their favorite chili in both the restaurant and individual categories. For details, contact the Arts Project at 668-2616 or visit www.lakegeorgearts.org
Strong said Tuesday he wasn't quite sure how Bands N' Beans became the premier party in the North Country.
"With all this music, musicians and creative chili, it just has such a great vibe to it," he said. "Also, the days are getting longer, and people are ready to break out."
Strong added that the event has continued to grow in size and reputation, attracting more people from greater distances.
"The bar goes higher each year," he said.