LAKEGEORGE - The concluding weekend of the 50th anniversary Lake George Winter Carnival is expected to feature favorable weather and a wide range of activities, event organizers said early this week.
With sub-freezing temperatures predicted, solid ice on the lake and plenty of snow on the ground, the conditions appear to be quite good, they said.
"We welcome everyone to come out and enjoy a whole bunch of family-oriented activities," Carnival official Kathi Kokalas said. "We've got all kinds of things going on."
Headlining the weekend is the second-annual Lake George Sled Dog Races, in which competitors from all over the Northeast and midwestern U.S. earn points towards national and international championships.
The races will be conducted both Saturday and Sunday by the New England Sled Dog Club, group member Rainer Wischinski of southern New Hampshire said Tuesday.
Wischinski said that the Club members will be bringing about 40 teams to compete, or about double the number last year. This number may be increased even more, he said, as the club has been hearing that a good number of racers from the Midwest are planning to come to Lake George. Racers from Ohio, West Virginia and elsewhere are headed to Lake George due to race cancellations in the heartland caused by warm weather, he said.
With temperatures in Lake George expected to stay below freezing this weekend, the sled dog racers are expecting to enjoy some keen competition, Wischinski said.
"We're looking forward to two full days of racing," he said. "We enjoy Lake George - the people are very friendly there."
Last year, in the local race's debut during Winter Carnival, slushy ice cancelled races on Saturday, but volunteers shoveled snow onto a course so the competition could be held Sunday.
This year, the sled dog races are likely to be held on the Warren County snowmobile trails near the Lake George transfer station off state Rte. 9N near Northway Exit 21. The races had been tentatively set to occur on the ice of Lake George, but the location was changed due to recent snowfall on the lake not being heavy enough.
Also planned for the Carnival this weekend is a chicken wing cookoff, the last in four cooking competitions that have prompted a record participation this year.
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 fun games for both youth and adults on the ice from noon to 2 p.m. inside King Neptune's tavern. New helicopter excursions join the ever-popular dog-sled rides and skydiving sessions over the ice - available for a fee.
There's also the carnival's longstanding Polar Plunge event, featuring dozens of brave swimmers charging into the frigid lake - a favorite spectator event set for 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. The plunge is preceded at 2:30 p.m. by the Snowmobile Water Skip, in which a sled pilot careens over open waters for 100 yards or more, defying gravity.
In addition, wood- and ice-carving demonstrations are to occur intermittently Saturday and Sunday, along with Frisbee Golf demonstrations conducted by personnel of Natural Stone Bridge & Caves of Pottersville.
Carnival activities include a bonfire Saturday on the Shepard Park Beach from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m., featuring marshmallow roasting and participants creating their own s'mores with the savory ingredients provided. This heartwarming family activity, with Ritchie Ortiz leading campfire songs, is followed by fireworks, Kokalas said.
This past week, the bonfire with s'mores was a crowd favorite, including a mini-bonfire in an outdoor fireplace where children can roast marshmallows without singeing their eyebrows, Kokalas said.
Also entertaining the crowd were dozens of giant colorful kites flying above the ice of Lake George, assisted by some strong breezes. They were piloted by members of the New York Kite Flying Enthusiasts who intermittently gave bystanders some tips on the sport, kokalas said.
"It was beautiful to see the huge kites sail out over the lake Saturday and Sunday," she said. "We had a good wind."
The breezes, however, altered the hot air balloon fly-off and Moonglow, so the balloonists blasted their gas jets without the balloon envelopes aloft.
Thrilling the motor-sports enthusiasts, the car races held Saturday and Sunday by Adirondack Motor Enthusiast Club attracted considerably more spectators than recent years, Kokalas said.
"The car racers and the spectators showed up in force," she said.
Ice diving demonstrations conducted by Rich Morin Diving of Glens Falls were also very popular, as some of his student divers gained experience for certification.
Winning Saturday's chowder cookoff was Fort William Henry Resort, followed by Lake George Holiday Inn and Mario's Restaurant. Hungry Carnival-goers also enjoyed entries from Duffy's Tavern, Shepard's Cove, The East Cove, Olde Log Inn, Prospect Mt. Diner, Bella's Deli, US Foods and the Meat House of Saratoga.
Reflecting on the last installment of the 50th anniversary of the carnival coming to a close this weekend, Kokalas spoke of the success the event has enjoyed this year.
"Everyone has really been enjoying the activities, old and new," she said. "We're receiving a lot of positive feedback through our Facebook page and website."