HOLD ON! A team of competitors in the Lake George Winter Carnival outhouse race Saturday lurch off the starting line, giving their rider a reason to reach for the handrails. This team, digging in to drag their custom-built craft toward a finish line, represented Home Depot of Queensbury. The race, an annual favorite, drew a robust crowd as well as a videographer for a national cable channel.
The Lake George Winter Carnival drew a crowd of thousands this weekend, despite a lack of thick ice on the lake, event organizers said Monday.
Saturday was the big draw for the frosty festival, with the zany annual outhouse races cheered on by about 500 people, race official Linda Duffy said.
“With temperatures in the 30s, it was a beautiful day, and a lot of people turned out,” she said.
The lack of thick lake-ice meant the handmade outhouse contraptions were pulled across man-made snow packed onto a parking lot off Beach Road, rather than over the ice atop Lake George as is traditional.
Eleven teams competed in the race, including one hailing from Cleveland, Ohio.
Race organizer Linda Duffy said a group of people in their 40s and 50s rode an Amtrak train from Ohio to compete. The three men and a woman from Cleveland had assumed that the outhouses would be supplied — so a competitor, Saratoga Eagle beer distributors, loaned them their outhouse so they could compete, Duffy said.
Winning the Race was the Adirondack Studios’ “Photo Op” team that won after a secondary tie-breaking run against L.P. Adams Lumber of Dalton, Mass. Also competing were three other Adirondack Studios teams, as well as squads from Judd’s Tavern, Home Depot, Sans Souci Restaurant, and two teams from Hague Motel. Adirondack Studios’ entries included a Batmobile and a bevy of Bigfoot creatures.
Carnival representatives said about 3,000 people attended over the weekend, with Saturday drawing the bulk of the carnival-goers, and Sunday having lean attendance due to the Superbowl.
Video crews from the parent firm that produces the Animal Planet and the Discovery Channel attended the outhouse races and captured some of the action, Duffy said. She added that the producers were vague about how they might use the footage.
The chili cookoff also was popular, with The Meat House of Saratoga taking home the honors. Winning second place was the Log Jam Restaurant , with Fort William Henry following in third place. Also competing were Mario’s Restaurant, Holiday Inn Turf of Lake George, Shepard’s Cove Restaurant, Olde Log Inn, Duffy’s Tavern, Prospect Mountain Diner, and The Barnsider.
Duffy and Carnival spokeswoman Nancy Nichols said that a carpeted slide set up in Shepard Park was a big draw, with children often lined up to take their turn on the attraction.
Duffy said the annual Carnival parade held Saturday was the largest ever, and particularly appealing to the spectators were the Shriners clowns who interacted with the children along the route down Canada St., as well as a looming monster truck which was giving rides Saturday at the Charles Wood park. Also in the procession was a trailer full of adults and children in Irish-themed getups, promoting the upcoming “Sham Rock the Block” celebration which is to be held over St. Patrick’s Day weekend in the village.
Later in the afternoon, a large crowd gathered around the Carnival bonfire, marshmallows, warming up and making their own s’mores while listening to by live musical entertainment, which included sing-alongs led by the Ortiz brothers.
Duffy said that although attendance was lighter than last year’s record crowd, she and other carnival officials were pleased.
“We’re happy with turnout, considering some people may have heard we had no deep ice on the lake — and we missed the spectators that ordinarily attend the motorcycle and ATV races,” she said. “But we had sunny day, which brought people out to enjoy the family-oriented activities, and they had a lot of fun.”