CHESTERTOWN-A large crowd gathered Saturday, Feb. 26 for that premier annual winter contest and social event in northern Warren County, an event that draws on the varied, profound talents and hearty stamina of local residents.
Yes, it's the Krazy Downhill Derby, and it offers a test of one's ingenuity and creativity in creating bizarre, fanciful quasi-vehicles that can pass as a sled and glide downhill on the snow.
Saturday's slew of sleds lived up to the local tradition, held at the town's Dynamite Ski Hill.
Topping the list of about a dozen creative vehicles was Paul Matson's locomotive, the engine for the imaginary Horicon & Chester Railroad.
As the rig's engineer, Matson piloted his train downhill, while Ed Orr, who works with Matson at Garnet Signs, followed in the attached caboose, operating the brake: a couple of two-by-fours. Both were credible at their tasks, as the locomotive made it down the slope.
After it's formal run, Matson allowed fascinated spectators, both children and adults, get into the locomotive's cab and steer it downhill for about 10 additional trips.
Tuesday, Matson refused to reveal the engineering of its steering system.
"It's proprietary top-secret information, like an East German bobsled," he said with a grin.
Anine "A.C." Everson of Albany, an accomplished paper mache artist, rode a fire-spitting winged dragon downhill.
Last year, she fashioned a penguin which flew downhill and wowed spectators.
Also impressing the audience was a toboggan festooned with pink balloons and signboards bearing the slogan "Fight Like a Girl" designed to raise awareness about breast cancer. The craft, driven downhill be three Girl Scouts, was made by North Warren Troop Troop 3192.
Also competing were four race cars built by students under the guidance of local shop teacher Christopher Stiles. Their snazzy vehicles were also spectator favorites. The were joined in the competition by a skiff on skis titled "Gone Fishing," in which young members of the Baker family fished as they rode their way downhill.
Last but not least was a creation by the Isachsen family, who have demonstrated their creativity for years. This years sled was a looming Lego block. In prior years, Eric, Kit and Sten Isachsen have entered an ornate Viking ship, a Star Wars fighter rocketship, a Beverly Hillbillies car, and a giant duck.
Saturday, three teams competed in that low-budget North Country sport that can be quite competitive - broomball.
Twenty spectators entered the new hockey shoot-out event, and prizes were awarded in four categories: Pee Wees, Youth, Teens and Adults.
While many patrons enjoyed the home-baked snacks like brownies, others enjoyed meeting up with the big furry Adirondack Phantoms mascot "Dax."
Whether a spectator or a downhill competitor vying for bragging rights or local fame, the participants at this year's Krazy Derby enjoyed themselves, said Lynn Engelmann of the North Warren Chamber of Commerce.
"I was impressed there was a lot of creativity, she said. "I must say, a good time was had by all.