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Winter carnival returns each year, but not cheaply

LAKE GEORGE The Lake George Winter Carnival has been around since 1961, and continues this year as the traditional four-week celebration in February, but not without some struggles. Chris Connelly is the co-chair of the executive committee of the carnival, and says the carnival has always had its challenges, including weather and finances. There seems to be this perception out there that the carnival just happens, Connelly said. That its paid for by the wealthy village and town, but thats just not the case. The winter carnival is run by volunteers, many of which are business owners who may benefit from the event, and many winter enthusiasts who love the event. The carnival receives donations from area restaurants and businesses to help raise money through food sales and other venues. The carnival has two primary sources of revenue, Connelly said. Ad sales for our program and sales of hats, T-shirts, mugs and towels. Connelly said the town and village do give the carnival about $2,000 each, and the county has given them some occupancy tax money for the past three years, but that amount went down this year. Before the bed tax money, we had sponsorships from beer distributors and liquor companies, Connelly said. About the same time that the bed tax money came along, the state banned us from receiving money from beer or liquor. The first year, the carnival received $8,000 or $9,000, Connelly said, and last year, they received $14,000. This year, the county board of supervisors decided that they would receive $5,000. Our budget is $57,000 this year, Connelly said. The bulk of that is advertising and insurance. He said that the carnival pays for all the insurance necessary for the popular racing events, which is very expensive. We pay about $7,000 for the ice sculptures and slide, he said. We have to decide what to cut. Connelly said the carnival actually begins on Jan. 1 with the First Day celebration and Polar Plunge. If we dont show up, it doesnt happen, he said. After that, there is a long, cold gap in January, so the carnival holds a gala each year to try and keep people aware of the upcoming carnival weekends in February. This years gala is Friday, Jan. 25, at Dunhams Bay Lodge. It includes auctions, dancing and entertainment and dinner. Comedian Laura Roth is slated to entertain this year. Tickets are available at participating businesses or online at lakegeorgewintercarnival.com. Its very important that people understand they have to support the carnival, Connelly said. Nobody wants to see it go away, and there are no big corporate sponsors. Weather is always a huge factor for carnival organizers, and a lack of ice or even too much snow can wreak havoc on a weekend of events. Weve spent thousands of dollars to truck in snow in order to have races when the lake didnt freeze, Connelly said. We need ice and good weather, and we need to advertise so people know whats going on. There is a direct relation between how much advertising we do and how much of a carnival we have.

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