Indian Lake Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s extended weekend in northern Hamilton County for the first-ever Adirondack Challenge Festival was fruitful for him and for the region.
The governor’s team took away the two top whitewater rafting prizes Sunday and Monday, July 21 and 22, and the state’s media was focused on the Adirondack Park the entire time, something Cuomo intended as a boost to local tourism.
The governor was accompanied by a large contingent of politicians (state, county and local), executive aides, rafting professionals and press, all supported by a cadre of volunteers from Indian Lake. This all started with a mention by Cuomo in January’s State of the State address. As many had hoped, Indian Lake became the selected venue, being billed as the state’s “Whitewater Capital.”
For several weeks, the town of Indian Lake pulled together all its government and community resources in preparation for the event. This effort was driven by a number of motives, not the least of which was community pride and a desire to showcase the town to the visiting dignitaries, press and public in the best possible light, while enjoying the fruits of the event’s ability to increase recognition and tourism within the town.
A few saw the event as the “magic bullet” that would go a long way to solving many of the town’s perceived shortcomings, but most were more realistic and longer-term in their thinking.
During his address at the July 21 award ceremony held at the Gore Mountain ski center in North Creek after the river run, Cuomo defined his objective.
“I want to get the word out about the Adirondacks,” Cuomo said. “People just don’t know what we have… all we have to do is show them … you can’t find this any where else on the globe.”
And, the governor put his back into accomplishing this objective. The “race” ran a mere 3-mile section of the Indian River and was not expected to take much more than 25 minutes. All along the route, cameras were flashing and videos were recording the beauty of the scenery and the fun being had by all participants along the way. Footage of the area surrounding Indian Lake was taken from the air. It was a well-oiled publicity machine being focused on the whitewater and paddling opportunities that exist in this beautiful and pristine part of the Adirondack Region of New York state.