Visitors to Lake George Village meander Saturday Oct. 12 down Canada St., closed through the weekend for the village’s Oktoberfest celebration. Good weather, German music and food, craft beer served up streetside — and beautiful weather — drew many thousands of people, and sponsors said it was a record crowd for the event.
Thousands of visitors as well as area residents enjoyed locally brewed beer, German food and music, craft sales and family activities during Lake George Octoberfest, held Friday Oct. 11 through Sunday Oct. 13 under sunny skies.
With a central downtown stretch of Lake George’s main drag blocked off for the event, people socialized while circulating, day or evening, among the vendors, events and activities.
“This is like the Fourth of July,” Adirondack Pub & Brewery owner John Carr said Saturday as he and his employees scrambled to serve up hundreds of glasses of the enterprise’s craft-brewed beer and ale to the crowd. The line of thirsty visitors stretched 30 yards or more across Canada Street at various times during the weekend.
Large tents in the middle of Canada St. hosted the beer-dispensing operation, a vendor dishing up Bavarian sausage, as well as the audience for festive, authentic German music which inspired plenty of people to dance.
Outside these central tents, craft and food vendors attracted good crowds. A kettle-corn and craft vendor reported at the conclusion of the event— with an air of amazement — that they’d sold 300 pounds of popcorn over the weekend. A nearby lemonade vendor said they had run out of supplies both Saturday and Sunday.
Local stores and eateries, particularly near Shepard Park, were also busy. Saturday, restaurant patios were full at various times. Doug Frost, proprietor of the Tom-Tom Shop and Fire & Ice tavern, said that business was good.
“When good weather combines with a great event, you’re going to draw a lot of people,” he said.
Pete Trotta, a village employee who was on duty during Oktoberfest, told craft show organizer Gayle Nelson just how busy it was. He said he had talked to various restaurant employees and store merchants, and they were thrilled with the size of the turnout, Nelson reported Sunday night. She said the crowds through the weekend were far larger than last year, which was the first time Canada Street was closed down for such festivities.
“This has been phenomenal,” she remarked.
Carr said this year’s Oktoberfest — the third for the village — was particularly good for area commerce because it stretched over three days, and many visitors stayed at area accommodations through the weekend.
The crowd at various times broke into spontaneous dancing to the Bavarian music provided on Saturday by Herb Liebenhagen of Latham and on Sunday by a 12-piece German band. Saturday and Sunday evening, Lake George Mayor Bob Blais ceremoniously tapped a keg, to the delight of hundreds of adults celebrating.
During daytime while the adults were partying, there was plenty for children to do, with a climbing wall, yodeling contest, hula hoop contest, sack races, carnival games, plus horse and pony rides.
Janice Walz of Scotia — dressed in a traditional German dirndl and her husband David, wearing lederhosen, spoke of why they chose to come to Lake George rather than other regional Oktoberfest events held simultaneously in the region.
“This is the way to do it,” Janice Walz said, gesturing at the varied activities around her. “And it’s strikingly gorgeous here.”
She said she and her husband visited Munich three years ago, and the scenery in Lake George reminds them of the German countryside.
“This is the cure for my husband’s ‘German withdrawal,’” she quipped.
Colleen Seeberger of Clifton Park danced the Reinlander and the polka with the Walz’s and their friends. She, too was dressed in traditional German garb. Seeberger agreed that Lake George was ideal for an Oktoberfest celebration.
“Lake George is the jewel of the Adirondacks,” she said.
Near the beer tent, Kim and Pam Ladd of Thurman and Warrensburg respectively were signing copies of their new book “Happy Hour in the High Peaks” — as well as selling hats and shirts bearing their logo.
The book describes the ambiance of 46 taverns across the Adirondacks, as it tells of the Ladds’ adventure as they visited and evaluated 120 such establishments.
Kim Ladd said she was surprised at the size of the Oktoberfest crowd and pleased with their demeanor.
“I’m impressed with the turnout,” she said. “And everyone’s so positive — they’re really enjoying themselves.”