Erin Searson (right) sings a Gaelic rock tune backed up by her sister Colleen on the fiddle. The Searson Sisters band were one of the featured groups braving the cold to perform at Sham-Rock the Block Irish festival held this weekend in Lake George.
Irish band vocalist Erin Searson sang a Celtic rock melody — and her words formed fog in the frigid air as her fingers stabbed keys on the keyboard. Her sister Colleen sawed on the strings of her fiddle. Both were wearing parkas with fur-trimmed hoods pulled around their faces and insulated Sorel boots as they led the Shearson Sisters Band in a streetside performance Sunday March 16 in Lake George Village. The group’s Gaelic tunes — with a pulsing rock beat, were a featured attraction of the weekend Sham-Rock the Block fest.
Performing in a lightweight tent outside Duffy’s Tavern Sunday was a challenge, but not shocking, said Erin Searson on behalf of the band, based in Ottawa Valley, Ontario — where it reached 43 degrees below zero this January.
“A lot of snowmobilers here have been complimenting us on our outfits,” Erin Shearson said. “This is not our normal stage attire. But we were ready for this cold — this is what we wear in winter if we perform outside.”
While it wasn’t 43 degrees below zero in Lake George Village Sunday, the temperature was in the 20s for much of the day. Regardless, the crowd celebrating everything Irish enjoyed the festivities despite the weather, frigid for March.
Dozens enjoyed the music of the Searson Sisters, although some of the lyrics were obscured by several salamander flame-throwers emitting at least 300,000 btu to keep the crowd halfway warm.
Outside the streetside tent, partyers huddled around fire pits to warm their limbs. Several people jogged to the music of the band as they absorbed heat. Others sat at picnic tables, eating traditional Irish food, as well as craft beer supplied by Adirondack Brewery.
Among those shivering as they enjoyed the Irish music were Gail Nelson and her son Lincoln, 9. Gail Nelson was dressed in a storybook character’s garb with green U-shaped pigtails, while Lincoln was in a formal outfit. He and his sister Kendra 10, won third prize in a dog show competition with their chihuahuas, Brutus and Kia, dolled up as a cowboy and cowgirl respectively. The show was sponsored by Lisa Giknis of The Dog Cabin shop in Lake George. Winning first place was a pug puppy dressed up as a leprechaun, owned by Joanne and Dave Morrison of Worthington, Mass.
Adult games were featured, including a keg-tossing competition and the traditional “hurling of the Haggis.”
Bill Manion, owner of Molly Malone’s gift shop in the Village, shared conversations with local residents and visitors who didn’t seem taken aback by his beard and hair dyed flourescent green.
Nearby, event organizer Linda Duffy watched her daughter shiver.
“Yeah, it’s been cold — but we’ve had a good turnout,” she said, noting that Saturday was cold too — and windy. “There’s been turnover tin the crowd — you can only stand out in the cold so long.”
Hundreds, however, turned out for the St. Patrick’s Day parade at noon Sunday. The procession featured one pipe band rather than the two that were scheduled. The famed NYS Corrections Emerald Society Pipe Band performed to the delight of the crowd, but the Sons & Daughters of Erin Pipe Band bowed out because they said their instruments might fracture due to the cold.