LAKE GEORGE - Thick ice, fair skies, large enthusiastic crowds. Mix them up with a generous lineup of activities, and it's a recipe for a great Lake George Winter Carnival.
This last Saturday and Sunday, these ingredients were all in play, and the opening weekend of the Lake George was a tremendous success, Carnival official Kathi Kokalas said Tuesday.
"We had soooo many people out on the ice, it was great," she said."We had an incredible weekend, with the biggest crowd in recent years."
This coming weekend offers just as much family fun, if not more, she said. The Lake George Winter Carnival is held annually each weekend in February.
Headlining this weekend's activities are motorcycle and all-terrain vehicle races, both Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 14 and 15, starting at 11 a.m.
Folks who have never watched motorcycles careening around a track on ice - with rooster-tails of ice chips flying from behind their spinning wheels - are in for an exciting spectator experience.
Competitors are welcome, and can get more information on registering at: www.electriccityriders.com. Registration is also set for 9 a.m. each day at Duffy's Tavern.
The other standout event during the weekend is Sunday's Tavern Competition, which features waitresses, waiters, and restaurant and tavern employees competing in teams of four in various skills of their trade. These contests start at 1 p.m.
There are races including waitstaff relaying trays of beverages back and forth to each other, and a "Flinging of the Haggis" contest, in which competitors toss a notorious sausage-like concoction to each other over a distance.
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. Frisbee golf, "ladder ball" or turkey bowling may 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 a Chowder Cook-off, noon to 2 p.m. at Shepard Park Beach, plus a snowmobile poker run sponsored by the South Warren Snowmobile Club. Those riding should check out: www.southwarrenclub.snowclubs.com.
New this year is a children's petting zoo from noon to 2 p.m. Saturday at Shepard Park Beach, and wood-carving demonstrations during the same time.
To chase the chills after a full day of fun on Saturday, spectators are welcome to warm up at a big bonfire on the beach at Shepard Park. Fireworks will light up the sky Saturday starting about 6 p.m.
Sunday features a Mardi Gras parade down Canada St., presumably with gaily costumed participants.
And then there are the traditional daredevil feats that have been associated with the Lake George Winter Carnival for decades.
On both Saturday and Sunday 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.
Saturday, skydivers will be parachuting out of airborne craft, landing on the ice as they present their aerial show. This past Saturday, delighted spectators watched the skydivers fly a giant American flag to the spectators' delight as part of the carnival's opening ceremonies.
Also last Saturday, crowds enjoyed the zany outhouse races in which teams, sponsored by local taverns, dragged outrageous homemade outhouses down a course on the ice atop Lake George.
The winners of the outhouse races were: Technical Design Systems, 1st place; San Souci Restaurant of Cleverdale, 2nd; Saratoga Eagle Distributors, 3rd; Adirondack Studios II, 4th; and Longshots Restaurant of Lake George, 5th.
A chicken wing cook-off yielded some creative culinary concoctions. Winning the competition was the Lake George Holiday Inn with their Caribbean Wings, followed by Fort William Henry in 2nd place and Log Jam restaurant at 3rd.