LAKEGEORGE-For years, the resort village of Lake George has hosted some unusual conventions - like one celebrating Polynesian-pop artifacts - and now a new special-interest group with national prominence is seeking to call Lake George home.
A world-wide organization of collectors of pressurized-gas appliances has chosen Lake George Village as the site for its 2012 convention.
The International Coleman Collectors Club is now making arrangements to hold its 2012 convention at Fort William Henry Resort in Lake George from June 28 through 30, 2012, and hundreds of gas-lamp fans from across the globe are anticipated to attend. Club members attending past international conventions have come from as far away as Germany, Japan, the Netherlands, and England. The group has a large contingent in Canada, as well as many Amish members from Pennsylvania and Ohio.
In prior years, the group's convention has been traditionally held in the midwest U.S. and Pacific northwest - and this would be the first time ever for the northeastern U.S., club officials said Monday.
Stephen and Robin Miller of Queensbury, members of the group, are organizing the three-day event, which includes a gas-appliance expo, dozens of vendors, demonstrations, an auction of vintage appliances, and seminars on Coleman lamp history, collecting, and repair.
"We thought that Warren County would be ideal to host this convention, because a lot of Coleman collectors are history buffs," Stephen Miller said, noting the area's historical attractions including Fort William Henry, the Saratoga battlegrounds and Fort Ticonderoga.
Last week, Lake George village officials expressed enthusiasm about the group coming to Lake George, as well as curiosity about their specialized interest.
The town board tabled the group's request, however, to use Shepard Park beach for their traditional "lamp light-up" event set for the evening of June 29, in order to seek more information about it, and whether it would require standby fire protection measures.
At Coleman lamp gatherings, members light up dozens or hundreds of their vintage and collectable lamps simultaneously, sometimes spelling out words or setting them in a pattern that depicts a lantern.
Steve Cullins, a collector from Hannibal, NY, said these displays at past conventions have been as large as a football field. This last weekend, Cullins hosted a dozen or more collectors for a regional meeting, and they hung dozens of lanterns in trees near his hand-built cabin in a mini light-up event.
Stephen Miller said that Lake George was an appropriate site for the national Coleman convention, considering its historical prominence in camping, including the first camp-out ever of the Boy Scouts of America, held on the shores of Silver Bay.
"Gas lanterns and stoves have a long history here - they forged the way in the Adirondacks, long before electric lighting, particularly by wilderness guides," he said."We hope to get a lot of people to come to our area, enjoy a family vacation in the Northeast, and hopefully they'll come back year after year."
Cullins said he was looking forward to returning to Lake George, where he and his friends have held a light-up on one of the islands.
"There will be a lot of big-hitters in the collecting world at the convention," he said.