Brews by ski, snowshoe and paw

TUPPER LAKE — Fourteen hundred people were out on the James C. Frenette Sr. Recreational Trails last Saturday for the sixth and most well-attended Tupper Lake Chamber of Commerce Brew-Ski.

They brought skis and snowshoes, bikes and sleds, dogs and children; and they came for beer, fresh air and good times.

This event has grown each year thanks to its organizers tinkering with the formula, word of the event spreading across statelines and international borders, and cooperative weather. But this year, the attendance exploded. In 2019, it saw nearly 500 registrants. This year, it was 1,200.

There were around 1,500 people there in total, counting kids, Fire and Ice golfers and designated drivers. And that’s not even including the dogs. There were lots of dogs being shown off. Big dogs, small dogs, dogs in light-up shoes and Instagram dogs.

Chamber of Commerce events coordinator Christine Day said she estimated that number would be closer to 700, and that is what she planned for.

“This was very unexpected,” Day said. “It was over the top.”

There were nine breweries on the 1.5-mile course — Hex and Hop of Bloomingdale, the Ray Brook Brewhouse, Raquette River Brewing of Tupper Lake, Valcour Brewing and Oval Brewing of Plattsburgh, the Lake Placid Pub and Brewery and Big Slide of Lake Placid and Blue Line Brewing of Saranac Lake — with many methods available to move between them. High Peaks Cyclery was renting cross-county skis, snowshoes and fat-tire bikes.

A quarter of the golf course loop is new, putting the skiers and vendors mostly in the woods, off the golf club greens.

Out on the snow-covered fairways, seven teams of three golfers competed in the Lion’s Club Fire and Ice golf Tournament, digging tennis balls out of the deep snow and clobbering them toward the holes.

Stuart Nichols, the Lion’s Club vice president, said “The Trios” team won first place. The Trios was Ted LaMere, Andrea LaMere and Ed Heading.

“It’s a well-oiled machine in year seven,” Day said.

Growing pains

The event’s growth caused some problems, though. Day said because of the “overnight” explosion in attendance, she’s going sit down and plan out next year differently.

Breweries began to run out of beer as early as 1:30 p.m., but two brewers — Raquette River Brewing from Tupper Lake and Hex and Hop — came prepared, and even left with a little left over. Both were handing out full cups, too.

The event started at noon but she said people were there as early as 10:30 a.m. She set up a second registration table outside and had two people running the inside table. Day said all 1,000 lanyards were sold out by 1:30 p.m.

Day said her goal next year is to not run out of beer. She is going to contact more brewers and tell them to bring more beer. The two-keg minimum this year was set with 700 people in mind. She said she will use online pre-registration and weather to determine the amount of beer she’ll ask of each brewer next year.

The brewers donate the beer for the event, so she said the chamber may pitch in for the third keg to make sure there is enough.

The chamber will also cut a check of the majority of the profits to the trail organization, which is supported by donations, at its next meeting.

After thousands of feet, and paws, walking through the trails they needed a good grooming, and trail volunteer John Gillis was back out on Sunday morning getting them back in shape.

By Kerry Minor

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