Snowstorm, Health Dept. didn't deter Bands 'N Beans

LAKEGEORGE-Lake George Arts Project Executive Director John Strong is no stranger to challenges, having presided over many events and concerts over three decades.

Sunday's Bands and Beans festival, the 30th annual for the Arts Project, however, provided a triple whammy of potential problems.

Late last week, 30 restaurants and 13 individuals were readying their recipes for the event which annually draws about 1,000 people - the most popular event of its type in the Adirondacks.

Two days before the event, however, the state Health Department notified Strong it would not allow chili concoctions prepared in people's homes to be consumed at the event - although the Arts Project has hosted Bands 'N Beans for 20 years with no health-related problems.

Then Sunday, the weather conditions shifted, and a forecast of rain or a little snow turned into a full-blown blizzard.

Driving snow threatened to diminish the attendance, as high winds nearly swept away the tent structures at the entrance of the event's venue, Roaring Brook Ranch.

The hardy folks, however, turned out for the this traditional annual orgy of music, dancing and chili.

While it wasn't quite wall-to-wall people like in other recent years, it was still a robust, shoulder-to-shoulder crowd at the event which featured a dozen bands playing on two stages.

One person after another Sunday said they fully enjoyed the annual rite of spring that's now a treasured social tradition in the North Country.

As a crowd gyrated on the dance floor, Strong glanced over expansive Roaring Brook banquet hall, where partyers were milling shoulder-to-shoulder around Roaring Brook's bar.

"There's a lot of underlying energy here," he said. "It's creative food, creative music, and we love doing it," he said.

Strong said that the 30 restaurants prepared enough chili - 20 to 30 gallons each - to satisfy the crowd, despite the individual entries being banned by the state.

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