New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo gets ready to compete against New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg Monday, July 22 in the Hamilton County town of Indian Lake during the Adirondack Challenge. Cuomo’s team won the whitewater rafting race against the mayor’s team on the Indian River. The spectacle was covered by media from across the state, including North Country Public Radio reporter Brian Mann, of Saranac Lake, seen here on shore (far right) holding a digital recorder. Cuomo’s team also won the Adirondack Challenge race on July 21.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s extended weekend in northern Hamilton County for the first-ever Adirondack Challenge Festival was fruitful for him and for the region.
The governor’s team took away the two top whitewater rafting prizes Sunday and Monday, July 21 and 22, and the state’s media was focused on the Adirondack Park the entire time, something Cuomo intended as a boost to local tourism.
The governor was accompanied by a large contingent of politicians (state, county and local), executive aides, rafting professionals and press, all supported by a cadre of volunteers from Indian Lake. This all started with a mention by Cuomo in January’s State of the State address. As many had hoped, Indian Lake became the selected venue, being billed as the state’s “Whitewater Capital.”
For several weeks, the town of Indian Lake pulled together all its government and community resources in preparation for the event. This effort was driven by a number of motives, not the least of which was community pride and a desire to showcase the town to the visiting dignitaries, press and public in the best possible light, while enjoying the fruits of the event’s ability to increase recognition and tourism within the town.
A few saw the event as the “magic bullet” that would go a long way to solving many of the town’s perceived shortcomings, but most were more realistic and longer-term in their thinking.
During his address at the July 21 award ceremony held at the Gore Mountain ski center in North Creek after the river run, Cuomo defined his objective.
“I want to get the word out about the Adirondacks,” Cuomo said. “People just don’t know what we have… all we have to do is show them … you can’t find this any where else on the globe.”
And, the governor put his back into accomplishing this objective. The “race” ran a mere 3-mile section of the Indian River and was not expected to take much more than 25 minutes. All along the route, cameras were flashing and videos were recording the beauty of the scenery and the fun being had by all participants along the way. Footage of the area surrounding Indian Lake was taken from the air. It was a well-oiled publicity machine being focused on the whitewater and paddling opportunities that exist in this beautiful and pristine part of the Adirondack Region of New York state.
On Monday morning, CBS Morning News was giving the event, the Adirondacks and the governor national broadcast coverage that included a mention of the town of Indian Lake.
State Sen. Betty Little was very pleased with Cuomo’s efforts.
“I will be the first to admit that when I first heard of the idea, I thought that the governor was joking, but it was no joke,” Little said. “The governor follows through on what he says he will do.”
Little went on to describe the governor as the No. 1 fan of the Adirondacks.
“He understands the need for help to turn the Adirondacks around,” Little said. “What do you think this level of publicity would cost? It just does not get any better than this.”
Hamilton County Board of Supervisors Chairman Bill Farber showed the governor around Indian Lake over the weekend, accompanying him to the Indian Lake Volunteer Fire Department barbecue on Saturday, July 20. During the award ceremony at Gore on July 21, Farber called for more Adirondack Challenges in the future with activities such as mountain biking and fishing.
“We need to find more opportunities to link our counties together,” Farber said.
Regarding a spirit of cooperation that leads to the success of the region and all its parts, Farber noted that the Adirondack Challenge was held in three counties: rafts launched in Indian Lake in Hamilton County, the rafts pulled out of the Indian River in Minerva in Essex County, and the award ceremonies in North Creek in Warren County.
Cuomo also spent some time July 20 fishing on Follensby Pond with Nature Conservancy officials and touring the Adirondack Museum in Blue Mountain Lake with Director David Kahn.
During his closing remarks at the July 21 awards ceremony, Cuomo also touched on a theme of cooperation and pulling together when discussing the well-known economic needs of the counties and small towns of the Adirondack region.
”For good times or bad times, nobody comes together like the people in this state,” Cuomo said.
Like the dam opening on Abanakee Lake, the Adirondack Challenge was seen by many as providing a “bubble” of sorts. In all likelihood, this event, if joined with other similar efforts on the part of state and county governments, will increase tourism and possibly have an effect on improving the economy and adding jobs in the long term. It is certainly true that efforts at levels above the individual towns may provide the bubble of water to float upon, but the real Adirondack challenge is up to communities and groups of communities to learn how best to take advantage of the bubble by cooperating and pulling together in guiding the boat that is the Adirondacks.
Adirondack Challenge teams
At 11:56 a.m. Sunday, July 21 — about one hour before the start of the whitewater races on the Indian River — Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced the teams that would be participating in the 2013 Adirondack Challenge.
“The Adirondack Challenge is designed to highlight all of what the Adirondacks region has to offer to New Yorkers and visitors — and it is also a friendly competition on the beautiful Indian River,” Governor Cuomo said. “Today’s events illustrate firsthand the natural wonders of the Adirondacks. Now, let the competition begin!”
The governor’s own team included Gov. Cuomo, his daughters Cara and Michaela, Secretary to the Governor Larry Schwartz, and Deputy Secretary for Civil Rights Alphonso David.
The Governor’s Team finished first, followed by the Senate in second place and the Assembly in third.
The following teams participated in the whitewater races:
•Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy’s team
•Sen. Betty Little’s Team (including Assemblyman Dan Stec)
•St. Lawrence County
•State Agency Commissioner 1
•State Agency Commissioner 2
•Legislative Correspondents of Albany 1
•Legislative Correspondents of Albany 2
•Legislative Correspondents of Albany 3
•North Country Regional Economic Development Council
•Central New York Regional Economic Development Council
•Tourism Industry 1
•Tourism Industry 2
Each team of six was guided by a New York state licensed guide from companies in the Hudson River Professional Outfitters Association. The Governor’s Team was guided by Bone Bayse, of Beaver Brook Outfitters, on July 21 and on July 22 when they raced against New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Team. Team Cuomo beat Team Bloomberg by 18 seconds.