It’s that time of year when we look forward to what the new year will bring. If this year was any indication, we are in for a wonderful time along the Adirondack Coast in 2015. This year seemed to go by incredibly fast, probably because it was filled with activities and things to do. I reflect back on a few of the highlights.
The Whallonsburgh Grange! Was there anything that wasn’t happening there this past year? The Champlain Valley Film Society routinely features films at this great location. Often the film is augmented by a guest speaker, or a renowned interpreter, to provide the audience with greater depth and insight. On one such occasion, Captain Richard Phillips attended when the Academy Award-winning movie of the same name was being featured. Those that were lucky enough to get their tickets early had the opportunity to hear about his experience directly, as well as enjoy the film.
For the past few winters the Grange has offered their Winter Lyceum Series which always features pertinent and timely topics unraveled by the experts: Adirondack history, wildlife, wilderness, sociology - all examined and explained. Attending any of these programs gives you much food for thought and certainly greater understanding. Tip: Watch the events calendar for what may be happening over this winter.
Inside The Map
Our own Adirondack Naturalist and Outdoor Guide, Elizabeth Lee, is always putting together some wonderful recreational and educational opportunities. This was certainly the case throughout 2014 which featured everything from winter animal tracking, to birding, to understanding rattlesnakes, to an educational boat tour, and more. I had the opportunity to join her onboard The Escape for a Lake Champlain boat tour that departed from Westport Marina. This two-hour narrated tour was a fabulous and memorable experience thanks to her knowledge of the landscape, wildlife, and plant life that exists along our Adirondack Coast. I definitely will be watching for more of her tours and programs throughout 2015.
Perhaps because my little Miata turned 25 this year, I developed a stronger interest in our area’s many car shows. I could now boast owning a “classic,” not just an old car. From April through October, almost every community along the Adirondack Coast offers an opportunity for auto enthusiasts, participants, and visitors alike, to gather and enjoy live entertainment, great food, and each other’s company while viewing some unique and rare cars, trucks and motorcycles. I did get caught up in it. I even scrubbed, polished, prepped and entered one of the shows. Though I did not take a trophy, I had an entertaining time and there is always next year, right?
We can’t overlook the music last summer! What a fantastic treat we had in Westport -thanks to SoundWaves. Taylor Haskins, Grammy award-winning jazz trumpeter (also a Westport resident), put together a superb weekly concert series at Ballard Park that presented internationally renowned musicians. The park has an open stage pavilion. The surrounding, sloping lawn and landscape create a natural amphitheater in a spectacular setting overlooking the lake and Green Mountains of Vermont. Each concert was a feast for the senses; with the series featuring folk, classical, bluegrass, and of course, jazz. This was Westport’s 19th year of the Summer Concert Series. We look forward to their 20th anniversary season.
We looked through the eyes of the 1776 Pennsylvania troops at Fort Ticonderoga this year. Each year the interpretive theme changes, and along with the activities and happenings at the Fort. Throughout last winter you could attend the Fort Fever Series. This series featured a different program or activity every month. One was able to learn about soldiers’ lives and hardships during the birth of our country - right where it actually happened. The Fort’s special evening programs, Guns by Night and Garrison Ghost Tours for example, often sold out. Tip: Plan and make your reservations early for events at the Fort. The Heroic Corn Maze was back to entertain all ages from late summer through autumn. A six-acre maze, designed especially for Fort Ticonderoga, provided challenges for all ages particularly during the Maze by Moonlight, an evening event lighted by only the moon, and/or a flashlight.
From May through October this year, you could gain a “from the water” perspective of the Fort. Canoes could be rented and launched from the Fort grounds. I did just that on a hot day in June. A brochure/map/guide gives you historical and natural information to thoroughly enjoy your paddle. Watching the wildlife and exploring some of the shady La Chute River were unplanned highlights. You could paddle right up the La Chute to downtown Ticonderoga if you chose to (I’d recommend the full day rental). Also new this year was the Battlefield Walking Trail at the Fort. Close to two miles of trails became available to stretch your legs while exploring the Fort’s battlefield, taking in the scenic beauty and doing more nature watching.
Essex County Fair
It’s hard to believe that Essex County has been organizing an annual fair for over 130 years! A classic country agricultural fair, this event ran from Wednesday through Saturday, August 13th through 17th. It featured a variety of demonstrations, shows and offered many opportunities for competition throughout the county. From the best produce, farm animals, photography, quilts, whatever... you could find the best around at the county fair. I attended this year and watched my first ever truck pull. I discovered I actually enjoyed this competition. My favorite part? The plumes of black smoke! Stay tuned for the 131st Essex County Fair in 2015.
As the year nears its end, I hope you also got to enjoy many of the 2014 events and festivities along the Adirondack Coast. Start planning now for a memorable 2015. Tip: A reminder to keep a watchful eye on the events calendar. Happy Holidays to all!