Thursday, April 21, 2022

Willard Hanmer to Run Again

willard hamner guideboat race

An important part of Saranac Lake’s history will be remembered on Sunday, July 3. The Willard Hanmer Guideboat and Canoe race will be reborn.

The race began in 1962 as a tribute to Saranac Lake’s famous guideboat builder, Willard Hanmer.  For 50 years the race ran successfully.  Now, after a 10 year hiatus, for its 60th anniversary, “Traditions in the Green Side Group” volunteers hope to bring it back to its former glory. This group is led by Sue and Kathy Dyer.

Every July 4th weekend, through 2012,  Riverside Park teemed with contestants and spectators for a traditional community celebration of family, boats, good food and music.  The race, with boat classes for all, ran a Lake Flower loop followed by a carry into the Saranac River down to the Saranac Lake Fish and Game Club.  The lake, river banks and village bridges were lined with spectators cheering on the racers.

guide boat race posterThe finish line mirrored the start with a celebration of families, racers, good food, activities, and music, becoming a premier community summer event and picnic.  The aim of Traditions in the Green Side Group is to bring traditional Saranac Lake events back in 2022 and beyond.

The village of Saranac Lake, town of Harrietstown, and the Saranac Lake Fish and Game Club have indicated their support and the group is busy getting the word out, filling out forms, and seeking volunteers. The group is also seeking local sponsors to generate a successful “welcome back” for this Saranac Lake event.

For additional information and to offer support, please contact Sue Dyer at, or Kathy Dyer at

Photo at top Natalie Bombard in the first Willard Hanmer Guideboat Race in 1962. At left is image of the 1963 event poster. Photos courtesy of Historic Saranac Lake Wiki.

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Community news stories come from press releases and other notices from organizations, businesses, state agencies and other groups. Submit your contributions to Almanack Editor Melissa Hart at

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