Winter Carnival poster reveals snowshoes, Ice Palace

The 2018 Winter Carnival poster was designed by Doonebury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, who grew up in Saranac Lake.

SARANAC LAKE — Snowshoes and the Ice Palace — those are two things revealed on the poster for this year’s Saranac Lake Winter Carnival that were not on the cropped button image released Monday.

Doonesbury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, who grew up in Saranac Lake and is the great-grandson of village founder Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau, has designed the Winter Carnival button every year since 1981. He started also making an annual poster in 2012. He has said he and a designer create the poster first and adapt a round button from that.

As is often the case, this year’s button image is a cropped version of the poster, leaving some details to be seen in the poster alone. This year’s button, for instance, shows Doonesbury character Zonker watching fireworks explode in front of a starry night sky and mountain silhouette. A pole in his hand resembles a ski pole, but the poster reveals that he is on snowshoes rather than skis, atop a snowy hill. It also shows a glittering Ice Palace on the shore of Lake Flower.

Showshoeing is one of the few winter activities Trudeau hasn’t already put on a button. Saranac Lake also happens to be launching the Adirondack Snowshoe Fest this Feb. 24 and 25, two weeks after Winter Carnival ends. Last February the village hosted the World Snowshoe Championships, which attracted some 400 racers from more than two dozen nations.

Barb Martin of Saranac Lake, the Winter Carnival Committee member who communicates with Trudeau about the buttons, said he created the designs this fall, before the Adirondack Snowshoe Fest was announced in December, so she doesn’t think that event played a role in his choice of snowshoes.

The 2018 Winter Carnival button was designed by Doonebury cartoonist Garry Trudeau, who grew up in Saranac Lake.

This year’s “Adirondack Festival” Carnival theme gives Trudeau more leeway than usual. This fall the Carnival Committee changed it from “Adirondack Fiesta,” which some villagers had warned could lead to racism or appropriation or Latino cultures. Martin said the change had already been made when she told Trudeau the theme, so he never started making a “Fiesta” design.

This year’s Winter Carnival will take place Feb. 2-11. The 10-day event traces its roots to a one-day Winter Carnival the Pontiac Club held in 1897. For each year’s Carnival, volunteers build an Ice Palace from blocks of ice harvested from Lake Flower’s Pontiac Bay.

How to get posters

Garry Trudeau is seen visiting Saranac Lake in July 2012. (Enterprise photo — Peter Crowley)

The posters cost $15 each and can be purchased at the Ampersound music store, 52 Main St., or during Winter Carnival at the Carnival Committee headquarters, 193 River St.

Trudeau also signed 100 posters, and these cost $65 each. Signed posters are available to purchase starting Monday; contact Jeff Dickson at or 518-891-4344. Those who have purchased signed posters in the past should contact Dickson to continue the numbered series. Unclaimed numbered posters will be made available to the public on a first-come, first-served basis. Contact Dickson to be placed on the waiting list.

A raffle will be held for signed poster No. 1. Tickets cost $5 each, and sales are limited to 100 tickets. Tickets are available from Dickson until the opening of Carnival, and then at carnival headquarters until the carnival ends.

Some prior years’ unsigned posters are also still available for $5, plus shipping if necessary. To purchase a poster by mail, contact Dickson.

Poster prices include tax, but shipping will cost extra if local pick-up is not possible.