LAKE GEORGE – One of the first events to take place in the new Charles R. Wood Park will be a weekend-long party with a purpose.
Officials unveiled plans Tuesday for the 2014 American Music Festival to take place Sept. 20 and 21, the same weekend as the Adirondack Balloon Festival.
Last fall, the village established the inaugural Festival for the Lake, which raised about $23,000 for the anti-invasives coalition, Stop Aquatic Invasives from Entering, more commonly known as the SAVE Lake George Partnership, of which Mayor Robert Blais is the honorary chairman.
“What we’re going to do is take everything that was in our lake-saving festival and move it down here, so people will have a tremendous opportunity to come to Warren County on that weekend and enjoy the balloon festival and then, when there isn’t any programming going on at the Warren County airport, we want to complement that great festival with our lake-saving festival and of course the music festival,” Blais said.
“What we’re going to do is take everything that was in our lake-saving festival and move it down here, so people will have a tremendous opportunity to come to Warren County on that weekend and enjoy the balloon festival and then, when there isn’t any programming going on at the Warren County airport, we want to complement that great festival with our lake-saving festival and of course the music festival,” Mayor Robert Blais said.
Bands already lined up for the outdoor music festival — rock bands Saturday and country music bands Sunday — include local favorites such as Wild Adriatic and Stony Creek Band, as well as national acts such as the Grammy-nominated Robert Randolph and The Family Band and New Riders of the Purple Sage.
In addition to providing a post-summer tourism season draw, the festival also aims to raise awareness about and money for the fight against aquatic invasive species.
“They may be coming for the music, and maybe they’ve heard of Lake George, but they don’t know the beauty of it or the work we do to protect it, and this will give us an opportunity to spread the word. I think once people come to see Lake George, it’s hard to get it out of their system,” said Lake George Waterkeeper Chris Navitsky.
Eric Siy, executive director of The Fund for Lake George, a founding member of the coalition, said the festival is “exactly what we need.”
“To protect the lake, we have to invest in the lake. There’s no better way to invest in it than to harness the tourism economy of Lake George,” Siy said.
Festivities on Saturday are planned from noon until the evening fireworks show, and day passes start at $15. Sunday passes, noon to 6 p.m., cost $10. Kids 14 and younger will be admitted at no charge. Organizers said they want to make the festival family-friendly and affordable. Tickets are available on the website, festivalforthelake.com.
Front row VIP seating will be available on both days for an extra $10 a ticket, said Sam Bottini of the 398Group and Improv Records. People can bring towels, blankets and lawn chairs for other seating.
“Improv Records is stoked to be part of this great festival for the lake. Mayor Blais has encouraged me over the past five years to rock Lake George,” said Dave Ehmann of Improv Records, who plans the Free Friday concert series. “We’re gonna rock your socks off, so spread the word and don’t miss it.”
Last fall, the money raised by the first Festival for the Lake helped cover the cost of increasing the Lake George Park Commission boat patrol.
The coalition, formed in 2012, joins public and private sector stakeholders in Lake George’s biological health to protect it from aquatic invasive species such as Asian clams, water chestnuts and zebra mussels.
Last year’s festival included live music in Shepard Park and more activities and vendors in Blais Park and along Canada Street and Beach Road.
The new festival space is being completed on the north side of the former Gaslight Village amusement park. The Shrine Circus will perform Sept. 12-14 in the space.
The property on the south side of West Brook Road was turned into a manmade wetland to filter stormwater runoff before it reaches Lake George.
The north side will include a park, performance area, walkways, bathrooms, skate park, children’s play area and other fixtures. The total project cost for both the environmental portion and park portion has been estimated at $12.5 million, much of it paid for through state and federal grants, Blais said.
Work this year was delayed by groundwater problems, but Blais said the festival space should be done in time for events already planned there.
“In the next two weeks, they’ll be making a lot of progress. The turf should be down by the middle of August,” Blais said.
Work will begin later this year on the playground, skate park and water park that are being built next to the festival space. That may be complete by the end of next May.
In addition to the open-field musical stage, the American Music Festival for the Lake includes an arts and crafts fair with vendors and exhibitors, a flashlight 5K foot race, a Kids Zone with amusement rides, food and beverages including food trucks, Saturday night hot-air balloon moonglow and fireworks over the lake. The regular Lake George offerings such as boat cruises, hot air balloon rights, tours and parasailing are also planned.
The festival is a production of the Village of Lake George in association with the 398Group and Putnam Den Productions, both of Saratoga Springs.
Ehmann said the cost of the festival so far is about $60,000. Warren County approved $10,000 in occupancy tax for it, while the village and town of Lake George also allocated occupancy tax funds toward it.
Ehmann said organizers are hoping to attract more sponsors. Anyone interested can view sponsorship packages on the festival’s website.