Nestled in the eastern section of the Adirondack Park, not far above Lake George, lays a little mountain town on the northern shores of Schroon Lake with a big cultural history.
It was officially settled around 1800, however claims have been made the area was occupied as a French colony during the Colonial Period. The name “Schroon” is derived from the Native American word, believed from the Iroquois dialect, for ‘large lake.’ Schroon’s heritage has a long, colorful history as a diverse cultural destination year ‘round, but summers there are described as “rustically” bountiful. Lake Placid it is not, but the surrounding topography is just as beautiful, for it lies well within the ADK’s footprint.
Schroon is a quaint little hamlet made up of curio shops, artist galleries and homespun eatery’s that exude reminisces of a “mini-Woodstock” era. It’s tucked tightly between the mountain’s rise and the lake’s shoreline. On the south side across the lake, and visible from Schroon’s parks and beaches, are multi-million dollar properties with incredible full-mountain, town and lake views. The two shores are worlds apart but share one magnificent lake. Trophy fishing goes without saying.
The town has embarked on a bit of a renaissance with the birth of new eclectic restaurants, improved lodging (very much needed), improved waterfront parks and marinas, and an adventurous schedule of summer activities. The “Adirondack Folk Festival” is now in its second year, and various craft fairs and music performances fill in the rest, however, there is much still to do, so research your lodging well. Much of Schroon’s success so far is thanks to their active Chamber of Commerce, expanded Regional Chamber Association, their professional websites, and business and community sponsored tourist events.
Schroon’s second annual “Adirondack Folk Festival” is a free event and will take place on Sunday August 11th, from noon to five p.m. at the Schroon Lake Town Park. This year’s lineup includes the headliner band PossumHaw, Atwater & Donnelly, and Patti Casey & Bob Amos, among others. The Master of Ceremonies (MC), again, is the lead banjo player with PossumHaw, a bluegrass band of superb musical quality, if not just for their lead singer, Colby Crehan, who was awarded the “Best Female Voice in Vermont” last year (and where they’re from). Her voice is reminiscent of a strong, deeper-toned Joni Mitchell as she delivers her changing octaves with perfection, melding with the cords of the band’s original folk and bluegrass compositions. Her tones touch the heart as rhythmic vibrations of emotional sounds full of mountain loves, loneliness’ and fate. They are worth the visit to Schroon alone. As her song says, “Come Up & Find Me.” Music lovers can bring their lawn chairs and blankets as they “bask” their senses. For more information on the Adirondack Folk Festival and other events, check the chamber websites (linked above) or for PossumHaw’s full schedule, .et .al, email Ryan & Colby Crehan directly at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Folk Festival will also feature various demonstrations of distinctive Adirondack-styled crafts and furniture.
Another historic gem, definitely in need of some repair, is the Seagle Music Colony, which was founded in 1915 by (then) world-renowned baritone Oscar Seagle. It is still considered one of the more prestigious summer vocal music training camps in the country. The 98th Anniversary season will continue to bring entertainment for guest who venture to their rustic theater nicely converted from an old barn. Well off the beaten path, up a winding mountain road of questionable condition, the Colony will be performing the tony award version of “Street Scene”, along with “42nd Street” and several others. Many of their Alumni have gone onto performances’ in world-renown venues. The Colony is still operated by the Seagle family today.
A new restaurant with a ‘mountain’ theme, reminiscent of those in the movie “The Great Outdoors” staring Dan Aykroyd and the late John Candy, has all of the Artisan crafted woodwork, log interior and stone fireplaces of a north-wood’s lodge; and, with their new imported Italian wood-burning oven, they hand-stretch Neapolitan-style pizza with all types of ingredients. They also have a wide range of foods and fully stocked bar. Their name says it all: Sticks and Stones. They use local produce, custom brewed beers and wines. Guests can enjoy live music several nights a week, but check their events schedule first. A real plus is that they are animal friendly, and plan on having a specially secured play area sometime in the future. For more information check their website and FaceBook page.
Of course, there also is the famous Mr. P’s Mountain Smokehouse, concocting incredible barbecue and gluten free treats, like their smoked salmon, fresh sautéed spinach, and chipotle cream-cheese dressing with fresh sliced cucumbers sandwich. And, let us not forget locally crafted beers at the Paradox Brewery…they plan to have four different types of beer, but are starting with a Pilsner and an India Pale Ale (IPA) first. Additionally, the Drake’s Restaurant and Motel has new management for the kitchen and bar. Known for steaks and Italian foods, Wednesday is their “Seafood Fest” offering a menagerie of lobster, snow crabs, scallops and different fish dishes. Bona Petite!
While Schroon Lake is not a Black Tie affair by any means, it is an American ADK town worth a trip to experience true “North Appalachian” food, art and culture. Of course, for the “anglers’ de jour”, the lake is a gold mine for boating and fishing and has an incredible variety of fish, including lake trout, landlocked salmon, northern pike, largemouth and smallmouth bass and perch. But, I’m sure there will be plenty of “fish-dishes” in town in case you forgot your pole.
Schroon is worth a second look! Especially for enjoying the bluegrass-sounds of PossumHaw at the Second Annual Adirondack Folk Festival.
As a special note, I wish to thank my talented Research Associate, Jessica Bennett, for her diligent informational fact finding; and, who also is a State University of New York at Buffalo (SUNYAB) English Department fellow Alumni!
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