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Lake George Winterfest ‘better than expected’

LAKE GEORGE — Cold weather, fresh snow and hundreds of people looking to get out of their house after months of isolation has made the Lake George Area Winterfest a hit, one of the event’s organizers said Friday.

Gina Mintzer, executive director of the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce, said area restaurants and hotels have been full of people who have taken advantage of the savings offered through the monthlong promotion.

“It’s been better than expected. … It certainly has kept a tremendous interest in the Lake George area, despite not having a full Winter Carnival,” she said.

The event was put together after the annual Lake George Winter Carnival, which typically attracts large crowds to the village each weekend in February, was canceled last year because of the pandemic.

Many local businesses have come to rely on the carnival for a mid-winter boost, and some establishments in the village open their doors just to take advantage of the throngs of tourists.

After the event was canceled, the Lake George Regional Chamber of Commerce, Warren County Tourism Department and organizers of the Americade motorcycle rally got together to create Winterfest.

The monthlong promotion offers discounts at area hotels and restaurants, while offering anyone who purchases a special wristband their choice of a free event, including snowmobiling, dog sledding or ax-throwing.

Watch Now: Ice storm blasts Louisiana with severe damage, and more of today’s top videos Warren County provided $40,000 in funding for the event.

The hope was to lure visitors to the region while highlight the area’s various safe outdoor recreational opportunities, including skiing, ice fishing and “fat tire” biking.

Hundreds of wristbands have already been sold, and there is still one weekend left before the event ends.

Mintzer said the chamber recently conducted a survey of Winterfest attendees, asking what brought them to the region, and many said it was to simply get out of their house.

“It was shocking the number of people that came here not necessarily for the outdoor activities, but just for resting — to get away, to look at the lake, to relax and get out of their own four walls,” she said.

A frozen Lake George and fresh snow have also been welcome news for ice fishers and snowmobilers, Mintzer said.

Winterfest has also continued to add events throughout the month.

Last week, organizers received permission to host a brief fireworks show each Saturday for the remaining weeks of the event.

The shows were announced the same week that organizers of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival canceled the event’s closing fireworks display after too many people failed to adhere to social distancing protocols during the event’s opening fireworks display a week before.

But there were no such problems in Lake George, Mintzer said.

The fireworks were shot directly upward over Fort William Henry, allowing for great visibility throughout the village, which helped prevent people from gathering, Mintzer said.

About half-a-dozen volunteers also patrolled sidewalks to ensure everyone was adhering to safety protocols.

Those who did stop to watch the show all wore face masks and remained socially distanced, Mintzer said.

“We didn’t have any issues,” she said.

For more information on Winterfest, visit www.lakegeorgewinterfest.com.

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