Rafting with Beaver Brook Outfitters, based in Wevertown, which specializes in whitewater rafting trips on the Hudson River
With the Adirondack whitewater rafting season gaining momentum and the 56th Annual Hudson River Whitewater Derby on tap for May 4-5, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo may soon be making a long-awaited announcement about the Adirondack Challenge.
And it looks as though the governor is considering the town of Indian Lake as the headquarters for the Challenge, according to a tentative schedule acquired by the News Enterprise.
Cuomo proposed the Adirondack Challenge, a national whitewater competition, on Jan. 9 during his annual State of the State address. However, since the speech, no details have been made publicly available, even though state employees have been meeting with local town and tourism officials and whitewater outfitters as late as last week.
It had been anticipated by officials in North Creek and Indian Lake that the governor may choose to hold his marquee event on or near the Hudson River. The idea came from a multiple-day rafting trip he and some friends took on the Indian and Hudson rivers in September 2012 with guides at Beaver Brook Outfitters, based in Wevertown.
In order to take the Hudson River trip, groups embark on the Indian River and take it to the Hudson River, then travel through the Hudson River Gorge and end at North River.
Along the way, rafters pass by land that will soon be acquired by the state of New York from the Nature Conservancy as part of the Finch, Pruyn land deal — a 940-acre parcel at the confluence of the Indian and Hudson rivers and the 2,800-acre OK Slip Falls Tract. The governor announced April 23 that these tracts would be purchased within the next several weeks.
“The most exciting and popular whitewater rafting experience in the Adirondacks starts on the Indian River and continues for nearly 15 miles down the Hudson River Gorge,” stated the governor’s prepared release. “The parcel is critical to preserving the rafting experience that draws 25,000 people annually.”
The Adirondack Challenge would give the governor a chance to showcase these new Forest Preserve lands.
The tentative itinerary for the Adirondack Challenge Festival sets Sunday, July 21 as the date and the town of Indian Lake as the place. However, nobody from the governor’s press office or Empire State Development, which runs the I Love New York program, could confirm or deny the information by press time.
Even local outfitters and town officials are tight-lipped. Indian Lake Town Supervisor Brian Wells said he can’t say anything until the governor makes his announcement. Johnsburg Town Supervisor Ron Vanselow said he was out of the loop on the planning. Indian Lake Chamber of Commerce Board President Christine Pouch said she has not heard anything, as she just got back form vacation. Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism Executive Director Jim McKenna, based in Lake Placid, said he can’t say anything, as details are still being worked out and all plans are tentative at this point. And Gore Mountain Region Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Lisa Salamon said that while it looks as though Indian Lake in Hamilton County will be getting the Adirondack Challenge Festival, instead of the town of Johnsburg in Warren County, she and other business leaders in North River and North Creek will play a part in the event.
“Since we have all the feet on the ground here, we’ll obviously be doing a couple of things,” Salamon said. “One, helping get the festival off the ground, especially with lodging and accommodations. If we’re going to have a big influx of people, obviously they’re going to have to stay somewhere.”
According to the tentative itinerary, the Adirondack Challenge would feature a whitewater race for the governor and other elected officials and invited guests. Then there will be an internationally competitive flatwater event and a festival with food and music. That would include an awards ceremony hosted by the governor. In 2013, the event would be branded the Adirondack Challenge Kickoff Festival.
The goal is to attract more than 3,000 spectators and festival attendees. The whitewater race would have 25 teams with six people in each raft, guided by a New York state licensed guide. The flatwater race would have 125 international competitors. And there would be at least 10 cultural and social events prior to race day.
Partners would include the Adirondack Watershed Alliance and the Hudson River Professional Outfitters Association in conjunction with the Adirondack Challenge Steering Committee. Marketing and promotion would be handled by I Love New York.
The Adirondack Challenge is designed to highlight the Adirondack Park as a tourism region. In its first year, a July festival would “set the stage” for a 2014 event in the spring, when whitewater rafting conditions are typically optimal.