Lake George Arts Project Director John Strong describes plans for a festival of Nashville-style country music that the Arts Project is planning to hold during July in Lake George's Charles Wood Park. The festival, a joint project with village mayor Robert Blais, is to feature a lineup of contemporary country acts that are recognized nationally. The Arts project already holds a highly regarded jazz festival each September in Shepard Park. The fest depends on adequate funding — the Warren County Occupancy Tax Committee is meeting at 10 a.m. Dec. 3 to determine funding on this and many other pending 2014 events. Strong is a singer-songwriter and featured vocalist of the Stony Creek Band, which performs primarily original music in a style which used to be identified as country-rock and is now labeled Americana Roots music.
While the Lake George Arts Project is well-known for introducing innovative, highbrow jazz musicians to the public over 30 years through its Lake George Jazz Weekend, the non-profit group is now looking at sponsoring another annual festival featuring a more widely embraced idiom of music — contemporary country.
The proposed festival, a joint project between mayor Robert Blais and the Lake George Arts Project, is tentatively scheduled to be held Aug. 1 through Aug. 3, according to John Strong, executive director of the non-profit group.
The proposed festival would be the first major event to be held at the Charles Wood Park festival space which has been under development for years.
Strong said that a lineup of a half-dozen popular, well-known Nashville-style acts would likely be booked for the festival — either mainstream or alt-country musicians. He said that up-and-coming artists with top-notch musicianship and proven name recognition would likely be chosen.
An outdoor music festival of contemporary country music is rare in the region, yet a tremendous number of fans of the idiom live in Northeastern New York.
Strong and Blais expect that the event festival will draw 3,000 to 5,000 people in either July or August.
These estimates could be conservative, local officials said this week.
Although Blais couldn’t be reached as he was on vacation in the Carolinas this last week, Deputy Mayor John Earl offered his thoughts about the festival plans.
“Nothing has a broader audience in our region than country music,” he said. “I’ve seen country acts fill the Glens Falls Civic Center.”
Lake George Trustee Ray Perry said he supported the concept. Plans call for the Village of Lake George and the Town of Lake George to contribute $5,000 each as seed money to get the festival off the ground in the first year.
“I’m all for the festival,” Perry said. “Even though I’m not personally a big fan of the music.”
Plans call for the event to perhaps feature a mini-rodeo, a barbecue and a horse show during the weekend — likely at another venue in the region.
The Arts Project and mayor have submitted a request to the Warren County Occupancy Tax committee for $25,000 in funding. Their request cites a budget for the festival of $62,900. Strong said an admission fee would be charged, unlike the free-admission policy of the Jazz Weekend. The event is to serve as a fundraiser for the Arts Project.
Village Board member Joe Mastrodomenico predicted the festival would bring thousands of people into Lake George for a summer weekend.
“If it takes off like it should, it will have to be moved to a bigger venue,” he said.