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Besties 2012: How to Overcome Cabin Fever in the Capital Region

All the best activities to enjoy during the winter of 2012.

This is the time of year when we tend to begin suffering from that dreaded “cabin fever” syndrome. The cold may have kept you inside by the fire up until now, but there are a bunch of great outdoor festivals and other ideas that will have you reaching for your hat and gloves. Have fun!

Winter festivals
The 15th Annual Saratoga Winterfest – February 3-5
Each year the festival draws crowds of people excited to attend the annual festival and the great events it brings to the Spa City. The weekend includes a Winterfest Wine Tasting, Chowderfest 2012, and much more! There will be all kinds of fun and entertainment going on throughout the Spa City all weekend long.
For more info: www.saratoga.com/winter/winterfest.cfm

Saranac Lake Winter Carnival – February 3
Kicking off with the coronation of the Winter Carnival King and Queen, the event proceeds with the lighting of the Ice Palace, fireworks, parades and performances and culminates in the Carnival Slide Show and Gala Fireworks. This year marks the 115th anniversary, making the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival the longest-running event of its kind in the eastern U.S. For more info: 891.1990

Town of Clifton Park’s Annual Winterfest – February 11
Join your friends and neighbors during this day of fun and excitement in and out of the cold! There will be local competitions, winter activities and family fun including: “Taste of Clifton Park” best soup contest, Clifton Park Idol singing competition, Clifton Park Community Chorus performance, clowns, face painting, games and more. Free. For more info: 371.6667

Winter Wonderland Week –
February 17-26
Special lodging and dining offers available. Snowmobile tours, sculpture garden at Mt. Sabattis. Long Lake Winter Olympics include: Skating races, sledding races, obstacle course in the snow. Its a great week of fun for the entire family. For more info: 624.3077

Raquette Lake Winter Carnival – February 18 & 19
At noon RL hosts their own Ladies Frying Pan Toss and Men’s Golf Drive. New this year! Build your own snow sculpture garden, plant a snow daisy and adopt it for the weekend. 2pm. Bob Shelley the Magician at the Raquette Lake Library! In the evening, enjoy a tug of war, and an outstanding fireworks display a On Sunday starting at noon the Cross-Cut & Chainsaw Competition Men’s, Women’s, Mixed & Family Divisions kicks off. Look for videos on youtube to see exactly what this game is. For more info: 624.3077

Lake George Winter Carnival
A month-long celebration of winter at Shepard Park in Lake George Village
Saturday and Sunday every weekend will feature an array of activities, including:
8am: Hot Air Balloon Tether Rides (Fee) – Million Dollar Beach – SunKiss Ballooning (Weather Permitting)

  • 11am-2pm: Children’s Activities & Face Paintings by Amanda – King Neptune’s
  • 2:30pm Snowmobile Water Skip – Shepards Park Beach
  • Noon-2pm: Games ($1) -Prizes at Shepards Park Beach
  • 3pm: Polar Plunge – Shepards Park Beach
  • Noon-2pm: Snowmobile Rides ($2) -On the ice
  • Noon-2pm: Wood Carving Demonstrations- Shepards Park Beach
  • Noon-2:30pm: Children’s Petting Zoo – Saturdays at Shepards Park
  • All day: Dog Sled Rides ($10) – On the ice
  • All day: Helicopter Rides ($45) – On the ice

Below are some additional highlights from each weekend’s events…

February 4 & 5

  • Sat Noon: Noon Opening Ceremonies –  Shepards Park Beach
  • Sat 12:30pm: Chili Cook Off – Shepards Park Beach
  • Sat 12:30pm: Outhouse Races – Registration at Duffy’s Tavern 10AM
  • Sat 4pm: Lake George Winter Carnival Parade – Travelling North on Canada St. to Amherst St.
  • Sat (After Parade): Bon Fire on the Beach (Live Music & Marshmallow Toasting) – Shepards Park Beach
  • Sat 6:30pm: Fireworks – On the ice
  • Sat & Sun: Giant Snow Slide – Shepards Park Beach all day
  • Sat & Sun: Ice Castle – Shepards Park all day

February 11 & 12

  • Sat & Sun: NY State Motorcycle & ATV Ice Race Championship – Registration at Duffy’s Tavern 9am. For information-Frank Carpinello 330.3648
  • Sat Noon: BBQ Cook Off – Shepards Park Beach
  • Sat 4:00pm: Bon Fire on the Beach Shepards Beach -Toast marshmallows and watch the fireworks.
  • Sat 6:30pm: Fireworks – On the ice
  • Sun 1pm: Tavern Competition – Shepards Park Beach, Sponsored by Mario’s Restaurant
  • Sun 11am-3pm: LGWC Polar Golf Tournament – On the ice, $10 per person

February 18 & 19

  • Sat (All Day): ATV Poker Run – Registration at 9am-11 am at Duffy’s Tavern.
  • Sat Noon: Chowder Cook Off – Shepards Park Beach
  • Sat 4pm: Bon Fire on the Beach – Shepards Park Beach. Toast marshmallows and watch the fireworks.
  • Sat 6:30pm: Fireworks – On the ice
  • Sun Noon-2pm: Closest to the Pin Contest – On the ice, cash prizes
  • Sat at dusk: Hot Air Balloon Moon Glow – On the ice
  • Sat all day: Giant Kite Flying: On the ice – American Kitefliers Association
  • Sat & Sun dawn & dusk: Hot Air Balloon Fly Off – On the ice – Sunkiss Ballooning
  • Sat & Sun: Ice Diving Demonstration – All day on the ice Sponsored by Rich Morin’s Professional Scuba Center (800) 924.3483
  • Sat & Sun: Car Races: For information call 885.5329. Hosted by and registration at Longshots Restaurant 668.5899.

February 25 & 26

  • Sat Noon: Chicken Wing Cook Off – Shepards Park Beach
  • Sat 4:00pm: Bon Fire on the Beach – Shepards Beach-Toast marshmallows and watch the fireworks.
  • Sun 3:30pm: Snowmobile Raffle Drawing – Shepards Park Beach
  • Sat 6:30pm: Fireworks – On the ice
  • Sat & Sun: Lake George Sanctioned Dog Sled Races – Registration at Duffy’s Tavern
  • Sat & Sun: Ice Diving Demonstration – All day on the ice Sponsored by Rich Morin’s Professional Scuba Center (800) 924.3483

For the most up to date schedule information, please visit www.lakegeorgewintercarnival.com

Banish the kid’s boredom during winter recess and check out these cool activities

Grafton Lakes State Park

100 Grafton Lakes State Park Way, Grafton
279.1155; www.nysparks.com
February 18
Winter Recess Program Animal Track & Traces – An introduction to reading the stories left by fox, deer, rabbits and other forest dwellers in the snow. Meet at Park Office. Beginners’ class ideal for children. $3/person includes snowshoe rental. Registration required. 1pm. Grafton Lakes State Park. For more info: 279.1155.
February 20
Winter Recess Program Winter Bird Monitoring & Count – Join our parks avid bird lovers in observing the winter bird populations and monitoring nesting sites within the park. Learn all about our diverse feathered population! Make your own pine cone bird feeder to bring home! Meet at Park Office. 3/person includes snowshoe rental. Registration required. 1pm. For more info: 279.1155.

Albany Institute of History & Art
125 Washington Avenue, Albany
463.4478; www.albanyinstitute.org
February 21-23
Vacation Art Break – Join us as we stimulate our imaginations to create masterful works of art! In this three-hour drop-off program, students will become familiar with and inspired by the works on view in our galleries. 9am-noon ages 6-8, 1pm-54pm ages -11. $60 non-members; $45 members all three days.

New York State Museum
Empire State Plaza, Albany
474.5877; www.nysm.nysed.gov
WinterFest 2012
February 18 – Join us for an indoor celebration of winter with educational hands-on activities and talks for all ages. Find out how cold temperatures affect the geology, economy, biology, and history of our state. Activities will take place in Bird Hall between noon and 4pm. Free. Ages 5 and up.
School’s Out … The Museum Is IN!
February 21 & 22 – Join in on fun, exciting activities that explore the world around you.
Activities are scheduled throughout the week. 1pm-4pm. Throughout the Museum. Free.

Schenectady  Museum &
Suits-Bueche Planetarium

Nott Terrace Heights, Schenectady
382.7890; www.SchenectadyMuseum.org
February 20-24
February School Break Kids’ Activities – Looking for something fun to do during School Break Week? Enjoy hands-on science activities 12:30pm–2:30pm and Hidden Power Demos 2:30pm-3:30pm. Free with Museum admission. 12:30pm-3:30pm.
February 20-24
February School Break Planetarium Shows – See a Planetarium Show with the GOTO Star Projector during school break: Noon – The Mars Show; 1pm – Wonderful Sky; 2pm – The Mars Show; 3pm – Seasonal Sky Tour. Museum admission plus $4.

More ways to beat the winter blues…..

Snow Tubing
Weekends through February 27 at Glimmerglass State Park, Cooperstown. $5 per person tubing per day, no park admission fee. Children under 13 years of age must be accompanied by an adult, under 2 can ride at no charge with an adult that has purchased a ticket. Warming room with refreshments. Tubes are provided (only the park tubes provided are permitted). Other Outdoor Winter Activities at the park are free: ice skating under the West Pavilion, cross country skiing, snow shoeing, hiking and ice fishing.  All activities are weather permitting. 11am-4pm. For more info:

Frear Park, Frear Park Road, Troy
Frear Park always wins our “Best of the Capital Region” award and it’s no wonder. In the winter months, they turn their 247-acre golf course into every little kid’s (and big kid’s!) dream. Grab your sled or tube and try out the make-shift slopes for what’s sure to be the ride of your life. If you need a break, head over to the park’s restaurant or golfer’s bar to rest up and grab a cup of hot chocolate.

Hudson Valley Community College – Conway Ice Rink, 80 Vandenburgh Avenue, Troy
What a perfect way to spend the day with the family. The Conway Ice Rink covers 18,000 square feet of space on the ice surface, so there’s plenty of room for all levels. Brushing up or starting as a novice ice skater? Well, if you want to learn the tricks of the trade, Hudson Valley Community College’s Physical Education department offers an eight-week program for college students and community members.

Empire State Plaza Ice Rink
Open daily through early March. Hours are 11am-8pm; closed between 3pm-4pm each day for maintenance. Adults $4, under 12 $3. Skate rental available. Full-service snack bar, skate lounge with lockers and music.

Cold weather got you down? Start planning your spring garden

By Vikki Moran

Catalogs…some would say they are a thing of the past with the ability to search and order from the web, but I must admit that my very favorite indulgence to help with cabin fever is to search through the seed catalogs!

They arrive at the right time each year; filled with lovely pictures of what I want my gardens to look like. They hold hope and a glimpse of what my property will be like when the winter is finally over. I store these annual teases for the right gloomy winter day. I open them gingerly in front of the fireplace with reading glasses and credit card in hand.

Little by little, after reading every dirt-driven morsel of inspiration, I narrow down my seed and plant choices. I mentally plan and visualize what parts of my property I will dig up and re-construct. Other spots I will simply add to with my new catalog acquisitions.

This year, I plan to use more patio pots, which will allow me to buy the patio blueberries that I have thought about over the years. I am once again going to start my own tomato seeds even though it has never worked out for me (I am able to dilute my gardening memories on this catalog day) and this year I am convinced they will produce glorious heirloom varieties. In my spring drunken mind I even imagine giving my plentiful harvest away to my friends who will “oooh” and “ahhhh” with admiration.

Fruit trees tempt me every year. Maybe this year I will make that big commitment because according to the catalogs they are easy and bear fabulous fruit. They tell me, “Even I can step out of my house to enjoy a fresh crisp pear or apple.” Quickly my mind races to Thanksgiving and pies and I have to stop myself because this is my day to think spring and summer.

At the sad point when I have read and re-read all my seed catalogs and made my purchases, I have to move into the present. It is cold outside and my gardens are covered with snow and ice, but I have just returned from the most wonderful warm mental getaway. I got mental exercise with garden prepping, planting and weeding. I felt the warm sun and smelled the earthy wonder….all from my comfy chair  in front of the fire. My fever has lifted and I am able to conquer the rest of winter.

Favorite seed catalogs

Seeds of Change
www.seedsofchange.com for a free catalog
If you are an organic gardener, Seeds of Change is for you. They sell only 100% organically grown seeds, and carry many heirloom and rare varieties. The prices are a bit higher than the other seed catalogs I like, but if you’re looking for organic seeds, this is the place to find them. The catalog is full color, glossy, with photos that give you a good idea what your crops will look like. In addition, the descriptions are pretty thorough for each variety. Seeds of Change also sells garden tools, clothing, books, seed saving kits, organic fertilizers, pesticides and herbicides.
Catalog contains: flowers, herbs, veggies, fruits, cover crops, transplants

Johnny’s Selected Seeds
www.johnnyseeds.com for a free catalog
Johnny’s is probably the first seed catalog I ever got, and I still get all in a tizzy when it arrives. Johnny’s carries a large variety of veggie seeds (in fact, half the catalog is vegetable seeds. If I had an unlimited budget, I could go crazy with this catalog!) Their selection of herbs is also impressive. Just leafing through it quickly, I found several herbs that I’ve never even heard of. The catalog itself is glossy, with full color photos. The descriptions are short, but they include small tables for each variety that tells you at a glance how to grow it, which is a very useful feature if you don’t have hours to pore over a catalog. Johnny’s also sells seed starting equipment, cold frames, greenhouses, containers, garden tools, fertilizers, mulches, composting supplies, watering tools, and kitchen supplies. The prices are very reasonable.
Catalog contains: flowers, herbs, veggies, berry plants, cover crops, flower bulbs

www.burpee.com for a free catalog
If you really like to daydream as you look at your seed catalogs, Burpee’s is the catalog for you. It has the largest photos of all the catalogs I get, and it just makes me want to get out into the garden and plant something! If you’re new at gardening, and not sure which plants work together, Burpee does something very useful. They have several collections of seeds that make up a garden that they have designed. You just buy the package, and they send along all the seeds you need, plus a planting plan. They have collections for a cutting garden, easy carefree flower garden, and an herb garden. The catalog is about equal parts veggies/herbs and flowers. Burpee’s also sells tomato cages, seed starting equipment, garden tools, and garden gloves. Burpee’s generally has the least expensive prices of the seed catalogs I get.
Catalog contains: flowers, bulbs, herbs, veggies, grapes, berries, transplants

Territorial Seed Company

www.territorialseed.com for a free catalog
This is the thickest of the seed catalogs I get, and you can happily lose hours poring through it. It is not a glossy catalog like the others, and that is just fine by me. Territorial has the best, most thorough plant descriptions accompanied by nice-sized, full color photos. Another wonderful feature of Territorial’s catalog is that for the vegetables, they have a chart for how much area a seed packet will cover, how to plant each type of seed, and what kind of yield you can expect. I haven’t seen this anywhere else, and I think it’s a great idea. They carry an impressive selection of vegetable seeds, including European greens, gourds, oriental greens, and mushroom growing kits. Their selection of flower varieties is also very good, and they sell flower mixes of seeds to be broadcast over a given area. For example, some of their collections are the Country Colors Mix, Deer Resistant Mix, Midwest Wildflower Mix, and Beneficial Bug Mix. They don’t carry many herbs, but the ones they do carry are tried and true favorites. Territorial also sells seed starting supplies, garden tools, seed saving kits, greenhouses/coldframes, mulches, season extenders, supports, composters, natural fertilizers, beneficial bugs, beekeeping supplies, books, kitchen tools, and garden clothing. This is my very favorite seed catalogs. If you only order one of the catalogs listed here, get this one!
Catalog contains: veggies, fruit, herbs, transplants



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