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Loon Race Celebrates Summer at Newcomb Campus

Waterfowl sponsorship benefits AIC education programs

The Adirondack Interpretive Center (AIC) at ESF's Newcomb Campus celebrates summer with its first Northern Forest Festival that includes the 5th annual rubber loon race July 16.

The day includes activities for everyone as all are welcome to discover the natural and cultural history of the Adirondacks through hands-on, nature-based programming and events.

The rubber loon race, the capstone event of the day, is the only race of its kind in the United States.

"Common loons migrate back to their breeding grounds in the Adirondacks in the spring. Our rubber loons will be back in action, too," said Paul Hai, associate director of the ESF Northern Forest Institute.

Dubbed the "Loon Drive," the race is the only one of its kind featuring custom designed and made-in-America waterfowl. The loons tumble into Rich Lake outlet at 3 p.m. and race 400 yards to the finish line. Prizes will be awarded to those who sponsored the winning loons; other prizes will be awarded through a drawing.

It's not too late to sponsor a loon and get in on the racing action, said Charlotte Demers, instructional support technician at the AIC. Those wishing to do so should visit the event website to sponsor a loon for $10. Loon jockeys, as it were, need not be present at the race. Winners will be notified via email.

All proceeds support educational programs for the general public, and academic and professional groups at the AIC. The AIC is a year-round outdoor education center, drawing on the local landscape for programs on the natural and human history of the Adirondacks.

Activities begin at 10 a.m. July 16. The schedule is as follows:

10 a.m. Northern Forest Nature Walk

Learn the history of logging on the Huntington Wildlife Forest with a visit to the site of an old log boom. Visitors will learn what types of trees were harvested in the area and the fate of the logs as they traveled from Rich Lake, down the Hudson River, to the paper mills below.

2 p.m. Artist in Residence Sculpting Demonstration

George Bumann, the AIC's 2016 Artist in Residence, will create a sculpture of the bird of the day - the common loon. Participants will be able to watch Bumann work and learn about loon biology as he creates this piece of art

3 p.m. 5h Annual Loon Drive

The loons hit the water at 3 and the fun doesn't stop until the last loon floats across the finish line.

This year's prize packages are:

The Artist Package

  • An afternoon of instruction with local artist Frances Gaffney, a set of compact watercolors and other equipment to get you started on a new hobby.

The Heart of the Park Package

  • Overnight accommodations at the Hoot Owl Lodge, a guided bike or boat trip from Cloud Splitter Outfitters, a round of golf at High Peaks Golf Course, and a gift certificate from Scoop's Great Ice Cream.

The Loony Package

  • A pair of Eagle Optic binoculars, a guided kayak trip on a private lake to observe loons (and maybe chicks), a loon book and print.

The Fishing Package

  • Fly rod, fly box with assorted flies and instruction with Professional Fly Fishing Guide Rick Kovacs

Sponsoring a loon helps support educational programming at the AIC.

For additional information on the race and other events please email aic@esf.edu or call the AIC at 518-582-2000.