Saranac Lake, the little village that does
What brings a town together is its people, their passion, stories and unique talents. Saranac Lake is going through a renaissance that is subtle but dramatic at the same time.
We (those who call the village “home”) are taking part in an evolution that will, I believe, result in a unifying theme to define our future. This theme parallels changes around us while maintaining many unique characteristics of our past, characteristics that define who are neighbors are, what they do, what they believe and how they portray their special identities.
I am very excited about this rebirth, as are many others who may yet to make the connections that define this evolution. Saranac Lake, I believe, will continue to be a community that is defined by four primary components: food, art, history and nature. Collectively, these components of the village will continue to make the area a wonderful place to live, an incomparable place to raise a family and one of the most special places to visit on the planet. Allow me to briefly talk about this evolution as it relates to each of these four components:
The area is flush with a new generation of farmers, cheese makers, canners, bakers and ranchers providing a growing variety of raw materials that allow residents and restaurants to practice farm-to-plate like few other communities. Farmers markets and CSAs have gained a firm hold on this Adirondack community as more and more residents find their fruits and vegetables from farms within 30 miles of the village. New restaurants and markets driven by a fresh generation of chefs, restaurateurs and owners are quickly making our community a place to dine and a destination for those who love great food. Many of these restaurants connect with those local farmers and producers bringing Adirondack ingredients to the consumer. We even have a world-class coffee shop that not only serves as the best source for Adirondack Joe but has also taken on the role of the place for residents and visitors to gather for intellectual discourse.
Years ago, the idea of an artist community was center stage in Saranac Lake — today much of that has come to fruition with renowned painters, photographers, sculptors and writers using Saranac Lake as the place for inspiration. The Art Walks in summer months and Plein Air event for watercolorists are just a couple examples of the community’s dedication to all art forms.
A deep-rooted history as an community for healing, a resort destination at a time when only the adventurous were able to bushwhack through the mountains, and a temporary respite for presidents, writers, intellectuals, musicians and stage entertainers continues to grow the interest that others have in this special community of passionate residents and their family histories.
Timeless and perfect — the area where we reside is by far one of the most pristine in the world. While people worldwide wrestle with the negative changes in our global environment, we continue to enjoy the wonders of nature: the lakes, mountains, flora and fauna that still abound all around us.
Put all of this together, and we have a vision of what Saranac Lake is and what it can be. A strong, united community with a shared vision will strengthen the local economy without compromising the integrity of the area, work to attract new families with shared values, strengthen our schools and health care, build homes and beautiful hotels to support visitors and new residents, add jobs and careers around the four components that comprise that vision, and attract envious visitors to help support the needs for the village and its ability to thrive.
With summer in Saranac Lake just around the corner, I am energized about the possibilities.
Paul Sorgule is a chef who lives in Saranac Lake, writes about restaurants on the Harvest America Ventures blog (harvestamericacues.com) and for 26 years was the dean of culinary arts and hospitality management at Paul Smith’s College.