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Rains and events usher in summer season

June 30, 2012
By JOE HACKETT - Outdoors Columnist ( , Lake Placid News

According to the calendar, the summer season officially began on June 20 with the arrival of the summer solstice.

While the date may be technically and meteorologically correct, most local residents realize that summer actually begins with the arrival of the Lake Placid horse shows.

Traditionally, this timeframe delivers the first heavy rains of the season and coincides with the influx of the summer folks and lake people returning to their summer camps.

Article Photos

Lyndon “Lindy” Clark of Cazenovia hoists a smallmouth bass, taken recently along the Raquette River.
Photo by Joe Hackett

July 4th celebrations, which are hosted in nearly every community, provide an opportunity for locals and visitors alike to renew acquaintances, swap some stories and to generally catch up on the local gossip.

Despite the fact that summer is likely the briefest of all Adirondack seasons - spanning a short stretch of time roughly from high school graduation until Labor Day - it is undoubtedly the busiest of them all.

It is a freewheeling and fleeting season, much like the steady influx and turnover of visitors who come to visit for a week or just the weekend.

Another crucial factor affecting the seasonal mix is the always expected and reliably unpredictable Adirondack weather. We've all heard the refrain, "Just wait a few minutes and it will pass." Often it does, and usually for the worse.

Get out this weekend and enjoy the season. Take an opportunity to attend some of the unique events and activities that help to make it so special.


Adirondack events

In addition to the traditional romps of the summer season - which must include climbing a peak, catching a trout or jumping in the lake - there are numerous special events worthy of consideration.

A few of the best would have to include the 42nd annual Lake Placid Horse Show, which runs from June 28 through July 3. If you miss it, be sure to return for the I Love New York Horse Show, in town from July 5 to 10.

The two events feature world-class riders and horses in a thrilling mix of equestrian events.

Following a visit to the horse show, stop by the Olympic Speedskating Oval in Lake Placid for a taste of ribs, wings and wide mix of smoky delights at the annual I Love BBQ Festival. It begins on Friday and runs through Sunday, with a nice blend of events, entertainment and great food.


The Hanmer

Although it is located just 8 miles from Lake Placid geographically, the village of Saranac Lake is much farther removed than expected. The little community still retains the feel of the small city it once was, when the population included thousands of invalids seeking to cure from tuberculosis.

On Sunday, July 1, the only Adirondack community with a rightful claim to the city title will host the 50th annual Willard Hanmer Guideboat Race. The event, which commemorates Willard Hanmer, one of the area's preeminent guideboat builders, will begin at 9:30 a.m. with a parade of boats on Lake Flower. The parade will be followed by the races, which kick off at 11:30 a.m.

Guideboats were to the Adirondacks, what horses were to the wide-open West. They opened the territory to travelers at a time when travel was mainly via the rivers and lakes that often served as the only connection between communities and the wilderness.

Constructed of pine or cedar planking, cedar ribs and tamarack stems, Adirondack guideboats were the sport utility vehicles of the late 1800s. Fitted with oars that provide a 7-to-1 mechanical advantage over paddles, the boats are light enough to be carried on a man's shoulders, yet capable of carrying "two men, all their gear and any fish or game taken along the journey." A guideboat's load capacity is estimated to be in excess of 10 times of its weight.

The Hanmer has long been considered to be the most prestigious water-sports race in the Adirondacks.

Although there will also be races for canoes and kayaks - and possibly even a SUP or two - the granddaddy of them all is the one-man guideboat competition. The race features a Lemans-style start, with a lap around Lake Flower to be followed by a carry from the lake to the Saranac River where racers will portage their boats before continuing 6 miles downriver on the Saranac to the finish line at the Saranac Lake Fish and Game Club.

During the 1960s, when the Hanmer was celebrating its heyday, there were in excess of 2,000 spectators lining the lakeshore, riverbanks and the bridges.

It is expected the 50th anniversary event, which will begin with a grand parade of guideboats on Lake Flower, will feature one of the largest collections of "working boats" assembled in many years.

Congratulations must go out to all of the organizers, and especially to Chris Covert and Chris Woodward for keeping the tradition of guideboats and guideboat racing alive.

Guideboats remain a unique and indelible component of our Adirondack heritage. While some believe the boats may soon go the way of the horse and carriage, there has never been a craft so worthy, nor so well suited to the local waters, as the guideboat.


A history lesson

For those who enjoy history or wish to wax nostalgic, there is no greater opportunity available than on Monday, July 2, when James J. Griebsch, an independent film and video director will present "Historic Motion Pictures of Saranac Lake's Past."

The free event will be hosted in the Cantwell Room of the Saranac Lake Free Library at 7:30 p.m.

Griebsch has edited a selection of archival films and movies that were produced in Saranac Lake from the 1920s through the 1950s.

If you miss it, a second showing will be hosted Sunday, July 8 at 7:30 p.m. at the Saranac Village at Will Rogers. The program will also be free and open to the public.



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