A Northern Forest Festival will take place May 23rd from 9 am to 4 pm. The festival, held at the Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC) at SUNY-ESF’s Newcomb Campus, is free and open to the public. The festival includes activities and demonstrations for all ages, including the 4th Annual Loon Race, the only race of rubber loons in the world.
The festival takes the place of Loons and Logs Day. “We wanted to create a more festive and fair-like atmosphere while keeping the focus on the natural and cultural history of the Adirondacks and Northern Forest region through hands-on, nature-based activities and programming,” program coordinator for ESF’s Northern Forest Institute Paul Hai said in an announcement to the press. The festival includes bird banding demonstrations, guided nature walks along the AIC trails, outdoor nature stations for kids, vintage guideboat tours of Rich Lake exploring its human and natural history, and vendors from local recreation and hospitality businesses.
At 2 pm, several hundred rubber loons will plummet from the west bridge on the Sucker Brook Trail to the waters below, marking the start of the 4th Annual Loon Race. Loons can be sponsored for $10 per loon, with all proceeds directly supporting year-round educational programming for the public and school groups at the center.
Sponsored loons race 400 yards down the Rich Lake outlet for a selection of grand prize packages with additional prizes for other top finishers. These recreation-based grand prizes include paddling, birding and fly fishing packages, as well as a Heart of the Park Package which includes overnight accommodations at Newcomb’s new Hoot Owl Lodge. Sponsors need not be present to win.
A highlight of the day is the official ribbon cutting for the AIC’s newly renovated Charles and Elsbeth Morgan Northern Forest Room. This renovation, made possible by support of the Morgans, transformed the 800-square-foot space into an interpretive space for the Northern Forest, which extends from the Tug Hill Plateau to the coast of Maine, with the Adirondacks forming the largest intact component. New exhibits provide information about the role human history has played in shaping the Adirondack Park in addition to the geologic formation and ecological communities of the Adirondack’s natural communities.
Local businesses and services who have donated prizes for the Northern Forest Festival and Loon Race include The Hoot Owl Lodge, Newcomb Guide Service, Tremolo Paddles, Beaver Brook Outfitters, Adirondack Avian Expeditions, Eagle Optics and Packbasket Adventures.
To sponsor or purchase a loon and for more information about the festival, including the day’s schedule of events and a complete list of prizes, visit www.esf.edu/aic or call (518) 582-2000.
Photo provided: Paul Hai of SUNY ESF empties a packbasket of rubber loons, marking the start of the May 2014 Loon Race.