LAKE GEORGE - This weekend, the Lake George Winter Carnival opens with the zany traditional outhouse races, children's activities, blues artists performing in a local tavern, and the long-standing "Polar Plunge" into the frigid waters of Lake George.
Thousands are expected to attend the Carnival, an annual festival held in Lake George Village over the four weekends in February.
And the conditions are perfect, considering the ice is now more than a foot thick and good weather is predicted.
Outhouse races, beginning at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, will feature teams, sponsored by local taverns, dragging outrageous homemade outhouses on a course down the ice atop Lake George. The fastest teams in various categories have traditionally enjoyed their bragging rights over their victories.
Both Saturday and Sunday, activities include tethered hot air balloon rides starting at 8:30 a.m. (weather permitting), and a variety of children's activities and games on the ice from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.. A polar golf contest, in which the ball hit closest to the pin wins a prize, will be held from noon to 2 p.m. Frisbee golf, "ladder ball" or turkey bowling may also be among the games offered. A giant ice slide in Shepard Park is available during daylight hours over the weekend.
Folks of all ages are likely to marvel at - or frolic in - an ice castle sculpted by famed ice sculptor Earl Covington.
Snowmobile rides will be offered both days from noon to 2 p.m.. Also planned are dog-sled rides all day, both days.
Saturday features the Lake George Blues Blast Benefit from noon to 8 p.m. at Duffy's Tavern, featuring notable regional blues performers with their stirring songs of hard times and emotional pain.
Also on Saturday are winter hiking demonstrations, offered from noon to 3 p.m. by the members of the Corinth Snowshoe Club. A chicken wing cook-off is to be held from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at Shepard Park Beach.
For those who appreciate small-town formalities, Winter Carnival opening ceremonies are scheduled for noon Saturday in Shepard Park.
And what would a Lake George Winter Carnival be without the traditional daredevil feats?
On both Saturday and Sunday there will be a Snowmobile Water Skip demonstration at 2:30 p.m., in which a sled careens across the open water - hopefully without sinking.
Scheduled for 3 p.m. both days is the Polar Plunge event, in which dozens of people of all ages dash in and out of the water - or take a lengthy swim in the chilly waters near Shepard Park.
Also, a group of re-enactors will be portraying a mid-1700s encampment of soldiers during the French and Indian War on the shore of Lake George near Shepard Park.
New this year is a a children's petting zoo from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at Shepard Park Beach, and wood-carving demonstrations during the same time.
For those that enjoy watching aerial feats, sky divers from Duanesburg will be parachuting out of helicopters and landing on the ice all day Saturday.
On Sunday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. family games, food and fun will be offered at the Chilly Willy festival being held nearby in Battlefield Park. This community-based event includes a dodgeball tournament, and a variety of games and activities for children and teens. Entry buttons are available at the local high school and the local municipal buildings.
Volunteers are still being sought for the event. Those who wish to donate their time and talents are urged to call 668-3065 and ask for Kathi or Ed.