At ceremonies concluding Lake George Village’s Festival of the Lake this past weekend, long-time village employee and community volunteer Virginia Henry accepts a bouquet of roses from her great-grandson Lincoln Cameron, 9, while Lake George Mayor Robert Blais announces that she is the village’s first “Queen of the Lake.” Participating in the presentation are Gayle Nelson, Henry’s granddaughter, (left rear) and great-granddaughter Kendra Cameron (right rear).
Thousands of people were drawn this past weekend to enjoy family-oriented activities of the ambitious Festival for the Lake, which raised money to help protect the lake’s ecology.
For three days, the village’s main drag, Canada St., was cordoned off, as was Beach Road. A wide variety of craft vendors sold their wares to passersby, with all pledging a portion of their proceeds toward the village’s efforts to combat aquatic invasive species.
About a dozen bands performed over the three-day street festival, which featured a children’s carnival, a craft fair, a climbing wall, casino games and plenty of beer and wine.
Sunday’s activities included crowning of the Queen of the Lake, awarded to community pillar Virginia Henry, who instituted craft festivals in the village 37 years ago, as well as serving for decades as a village employee, most recently as the municipality’s Deputy Clerk-Treasurer.
“I’m so honored,” Henry said as her granddaughter Gayle Nelson, dressed as the “Lake Princess,” crowned her. Nelson’s children, Kendra Cameron, 10, and Lincoln Cameron, 9, helped their mother with the honor.
Nelson, the current coordinator of various craft festivals in Lake George, said her grandmother deserved to be the village’s first Queen of the Lake for not only her public service, but her various volunteer activities through the years.
“My grandmother has put her footprint, thumbprint and heart-print all over Lake George Village,” she said.
Minutes after the crowning ceremony, Richard Thomas of Albany listened to a band playing classic rock music onstage.
“This was my favorite place to vacation as a kid,” Thomas said, adding that he was happy that admission fees and a portion of the vendors’ proceeds were dedicated to protecting Lake George from invasives. “I’d like the lake to stay around in the condition it’s in — It’s beautiful up here.”
Some people were moved to pay more than the $10 entry fee. Denny Galloway of Lake George — a former realtor and electrician known for his community activism and philanthropy, donated $1,000 toward the cause this weekend.
Events on Saturday included a first-ever Pedi-Cab race which was won by Iggy Rovetto, owner of Pizza Jerks, a popular pizza restaurant and gathering place in the village. The day also featured a bicycle tour sponsored by the Warren County Safe & Quality Bicycling Organization.
Sunday afternoon in Shepard Park, Village Mayor Robert Blais smiled while watching a dozen or so people spontaneously dance to the rock anthems “Run Around Sue” and “Twistin’ the Night Away.”
“This has been a big success,” he said of the new festival, citing weather as a key factor. “It’s been such a beautiful weekend, and without this festival, there wouldn’t have been much to do otherwise.”
Blais had been on duty through much of the weekend, selling tickets at the entry table, as well as circulating in the crowd — which was largest on Saturday. He said he met many people who were concerned about the lake’s protection, and dozens were interested in how they could help out. Others were interested in comparing the issues Lake George is facing, versus other lakes in the northeast.
“We shared a lot of information,” he said, noting that the festival would probably raise $15,000 for lake-protection efforts. “And the vendors, for the most part, did very, very well — I’ve heard nothing but praise.”
During the weekend, employees of the Lake George Park Commission demonstrated a portable boat-washing station set up near Shepard Park alongside one of their patrol boats.
Shari Dufresne of the Park Commission said Sunday the crowd showed keen interest in how the power-washing apparatus cleaned invasive species off boats.
“People have been very receptive, and they’re thankful that we’re now administering the program,” she said.