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February 19, 2014

Chili Festival fuels outdoor activities

SARANAC — Bottomless bowls of homemade chili drew folks into the Saranac New Land Trust lodge.

But the organization’s fourth-annual Chili Festival on Saturday also gave attendees the opportunity to check out all the trail-crossed property Plumadore Road has to offer.

The day brought temperatures in the mid 30s with light snowfall and no wind — perfect for cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, a bonfire and eating some good chili.

Cars overflowed the lot and lined the road, with a steady flow of people in and out of the lodge.

“Winter’s a good thing, so while it keeps going, we want to enjoy it,” said John Tedford, a Land Trust Board and founding member of the organization.

SOCIAL GATHERING

The Land Trust, a non-governmental, nonprofit organization, cares for 287 acres that include more than 28 trails open to all and funded through community donations.

More than 5 miles of trails are dedicated for snowshoeing, according to the group’s website.

For Saturday’s event, the lodge held a banquet table packed with a buffet of various chili offerings and cornbread; the room was kept warm by a wood stove and everyone’s company. 

Snow splattered the floor, and conversations wove throughout the room, mixed in with guitar strumming and singing.

The festival isn’t held solely as a fundraiser, board member Doug Yu stressed, but as a fun and casual social gathering.

This year, no itinerary was put together with tours or nature walks in order to allow freedom for those who attended.

Yu said that because there are so many winter-season events in the Adirondack region, they wanted the Chili Festival to be a relaxing day to engage in what they all love — the outdoors.

And Tedford agreed.

“People like to just get lost and explore on the trails,” he said.

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