A prehistoric Carnival weekend

Fireworks blast off over the 2019 Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Ice Palace Saturday. (Enterprise photo — Lou Reuter)

SARANAC LAKE — Beginning with a 4-mile fun run and ending with skating on Lake Colby, Winter Carnival’s first weekend saw crowds turn out from far and wide, packing the village streets between events.

Sarah and Mike Lynch, returning to the carnival from Halifax, Massachusetts, saw the event last year as well.

“It was awesome,” Sarah said.

“Last year, the curling was the best,” Mike said.

At the Paul Smith’s College Woodsmen’s Exhibition in Riverside Park, two teams went head-to-head in log splitting, sawing and chopping challenges. It was the Steam Donkeys, named after an old steam engine used to haul trees uphill, against the River Pigs, a term used to describe a bunch of logs tied together and floated down river. The Steam Donkeys won.

Saturday morning’s 2019 Ladies Fry Pan Toss winners Diane Fortado, returning grand prize winner Michele Raville, Kathy Bonahist and Samantha Burgess. (Enterprise photo — Jesse Adcock)

Paul Smith’s College senior and Woodsmen Team President Tyler Birchen said the sport was born when logging was more prevalent in the Adirondacks.

“The ax throw might’ve decided who did the dishes,” Birchen said.

A short distance from the Ice Palace, teams worked to build traps and obstacles for Arctic Golf. Kids from the Saranac Lake Youth Center, led by Aleacia Landon, hauled snow to build a volcanic mountain range in the spirit of this year’s theme “Prehistoric Park.” Once complete, the holes were judged. Gabe Lawrence, 13, said he hoped the Youth Center’s Arctic Golf hole would be the winner.

Crowds milled through the Ice Palace, touching the carved dino bones. Jeff and Sally Murray of Saranac Lake said the palace was their favorite part of Carnival — they got married in the 2010 Ice Palace on Valentine’s Day.

“We just like everything,” Jeff said. “It’s a good, local vibe.”

A 2019 Ladies’ Fry Pan Toss contestant hurls a 10 pound cast iron skillet on Saturday morning. (Enterprise photo — Jesse Adcock)

While dozens lined up back at Riverside Park to sign up for the Ladies’ Fry Pan Toss, a smaller crowd gathered to appreciate the Karis family’s black Labrador puppies, Mollie and Jake. It was the dogs’ first Winter Carnival, but Alex Karis said the family has been coming up from Remson for the last six years for the celebration.

“Our kids love it,” Alex said. “They absolutely love the castle.”

Then the frying pans were tossed. For the “Little Ladies,” Ryley Fischer won the 13 to 17 age group, Cadence Gay won the 9 to 12 group, and Ella Knapp won the 6 to 8 group.

Last year’s champion, “Big” Michele Raville, returned to sweep the competition with a winning toss of 53 feet, 6 inches. The other age group winners were Diane Fortado, Kathy Bonahist, Sarah Knapp and Samantha Burgess.

“It’s great,” said Chuck Crass, up from Springfield, Pennsylvania — his first Winter Carnival since 2005. “Very unique.”

Members of the Paul Smith’s Woodsmen Team compete to chop a log into small enough pieces to fit into a barrel on Saturday morning. (Enterprise photo — Jesse Adcock)

Downtown was packed with people and cars as the sun set Saturday evening, and from the street it looked like local restaurants were busy. As always, a big crowd turned out for the fireworks Saturday night.

Sunday also saw crowds at the Ice Palace and playing Arctic Golf — and at a new event for this year’s Carnival. Skate Lake Colby took place at the village beach and featured a plowed rink and small skating loop on the frozen lake. Some people brought their own skates, but many opted instead to try Nordic skates, which have longer blades that clip onto cross-country ski boots and are unattached at the heels. People also had fun pushing a variety of skating carts around the ice. Plus, there was a snow track on the beach where people could ride fat-tire bicycles. All the trials were free of charge, courtesy of John Dimon’s downtown bike and skate shop, Human Power Planet Earth.

Managing Editor Peter Crowley contributed to this report.

Kids play on carvings inside this year's Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Ice Palace of one giant carnivorous dinosaur lying dead, apparently killed by another that seems to burst through the palace wall. (Enterprise photo — Peter Crowley)

A girl hugs a triceratops carved out of ice in front of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Ice Palace Sunday. (Enterprise photo — Peter Crowley)

A young pup named Jake experiences his first Winter Carnival, on Saturday. (Enterprise photo — Jesse Adcock)

Joan Goldthwait sits in an ice cart pushed by Ann Richardson as other people skate in February 2019 at Skate Lake Colby, a new event for that year's Saranac Lake Winter Carnival. (Enterprise photo — Peter Crowley)