On the day after St. Patrick's, I traveled to Schroon Lake for the 12th annual Adirondack Sportsmans Dinner, an event organized by a team of local community churches and businesses that features outdoor speakers, seminars, exhibits and demonstrations along with a wild game dinner and the camaraderie of a group of like-minded individuals.
Intended as a ministry outreach effort with obvious spiritual overtones, the event has grown to become one of the largest gatherings of sportsmen and women in the park with over 600 in attendance. Thered likely have been more if the snowstorm hadnt forced a postponement.
It was an eye opening experience. As I sat at the table in the main building awaiting my meal, I was surrounded by a sea of Adirondackers. You know the type, the baseball cap and camo clad crew, pass the stew and give me a dip of chew. Hats came off only to salute the flag or say a prayer.
These are your average, run of the mill, North Country folk, a God fearing, flag waving, help your neighbor in a crunch bunch hailing from places like Severance, Graphite, Bakers Mills, Lewis and Stony Creek. And it wasnt just a bunch of guys, whole families were in attendance.
In the main building, where a gymnasium was converted into a banquet hall for the day, numerous displays ringed the room including the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation, Friends of the NRA, the Solerno Brothers from Mineville, the Wilderness Learning Center and the Property Rights Foundation of America.
The table tops were decorated with spent shell casings and clay pigeons and no sooner was the wild game casarole delivered, when a youngster approached and handed me an Anti-APA sticker asking if I would, Put it on your truck please, Mister.
I felt at ease and was struck by the shared enthusiasm for the outdoors and the outright passion for traditional sports. The mutuality was readily apparent and erased any notion of socio/economic divide among attendees. Although the guy sitting next to me was from Crown Point, he was my neighbor and we both recognized and appreciated the fact.