First Lake Placid Blues Festival kicks off this weekend

LAKE PLACID – The first-ever Lake Placid Blues & Heritage Festival will take place from Friday, June 20 to Sunday, June 22 at various locations throughout the Olympic Village.

The blues festival was the brainchild of Gary Smith and his son, Garrick, who are co-owners of the Northwoods Inn on Main Street.

“Blues is the root of music for me,” said Garrick, who is also general manager of the inn. “I think it transcends a number of genres, from bluegrass to country to the Mississippi Delta blues to the Kansas City blues. It’s an open expression. It kind of becomes anything you want it to be.”

Delta Blue – one of the Northwoods Inn’s restaurants – is home to a thriving blues scene, from headliners on weekends to Wednesday Open Mic Nights. It is only a sampling of the live music featured in the Olympic Village throughout the year, and the Smiths hope the blues festival will further establish Lake Placid as a town known for its music scene.

“This town has a rich history of music,” Garrick said. “With the number of venues, I think there is a great opportunity to turn this into a music town because I think it could be one more fantastic layer above and beyond what the town already has. … I think the music piece can add so much to that, where it’s not just a drinking town. It’s a town that highlights its local musicians and brings in outside talent. We’re on a main thoroughfare between New York City and Montreal.”

The blues festival is designed to attract visitors to the village the weekend before the Lake Placid horse shows begin. That’s the edge of the tourism industry’s spring shoulder season, the slower period between winter and summer.

“We thought it was an opportunity to create demand in this small town on a soft weekend that might otherwise not have much business or tourist traffic,” Garrick said. “Any opportunity we can take to expand the summer by one week is one that we should jump on as a community.”

Delta Blue continually works with a bullpen of musicians, which will be called upon to perform at the event. Some of the local entertainment groups are Spring Street, Lucid, The Harbingers, the Back Porch Society, Sven Curth and friends, Big Slyde and Fade to Blues. Regional and national acts include the Roxy Perry Blues Band, George Boone, Rhett Tyler and Early Warning, George Kilby Jr. with special guest Barbecue Bob, Murali Coryell and Jerry Dugger.

“I think it will be a sincere first-year effort at what we hope to be a longtime event for Lake Placid,” Garrick said. “I’m excited. We’ve had a lot of positive response so far.”

Some of that positive response has come from other local establishments in downtown Lake Placid. In addition to the Northwoods Inn and its three venues – Delta Blue, the Cabin Grill and The Cabin – performances will be held at the Lake Placid Pub & Brewery, Zig Zags Pub, Generations restaurant, The Cottage restaurant at the Mirror Lake Inn, the Lake House, Adirondack Community Church and Nicola’s on Main.

Being a first-time event, the Smiths know that it will take a few years to build an audience and hopefully grow the festival into one of Lake Placid’s premier summer attractions.

“If we come close to filling some of the smaller venues, it will create an opportunity for a festive atmosphere, and then we’ve done our job,” Garrick said.

The Smiths have garnered support from a variety of local residents, businesses and organizations, including Gordy Sheer, the Lake Placid Center for the Arts, the Lake Placid Business Association, Songs at Mirror Lake, the Regional Office of Sustainable Tourism and the village of Lake Placid. They have also secured critical corporate sponsorship through Jim Beam and Miller Lite.

“Our biggest challenge is to keep it small and contained,” Garrick said. “Ultimately, we want it to be a community event. We want it to grow to be an economic stimulus for Main Street and beyond.”

The price for a full, three-day festival pass is $35. Full, single-day passes are $28, and individual event passes are $10. Tickets can be purchased in person at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts or online at www.lakeplacidarts.org.

To see the entire schedule, visit online at www.lakeplacid.com and find the Lake Placid Blues & Heritage Festival under the Events category.