Review and photographs by Andrzej Pilarczyk
When it comes to fundraising, the Lake George Arts Project is one smart organization. Instead of appealing to a select few from only the arts community to raise money for their ongoing arts programs, year-round Courthouse Gallery exhibits, free Shepard Park summer concert series and their long-running Jazz at the Lake, a weekend jazz festival in September, they always cast a wide net for all to come, contribute to the cause and enjoy a fun event.
One such fundraising shindig is Bands N’ Beans. Held every year at the tail end of winter, it is, without a doubt, the seasonal party event of the Lake George region!
At only $20 per person, the Bands N’ Beans bash offered five-hours of music in two separate rooms on a Sunday afternoon, as well as one of the biggest regional chilli cook-off competitions involving more than 30 restaurants.
The chilli sampling and the music are free with the ticket purchase, but you pay for the soda, beer and alcohol separately. No worries there because micro-brews and imports were five dollars a bottle, while domestics were four. Not a bad deal all around.
In the main Sky Rider Room, more than a thousand people from all over – including other states – congregated, listened to the music and danced to the hits of the 1960s, ’70s, ’80s and ’90s played by the some of the finest regional party bands. Rich Ortiz & Friends, the Stony Creek Band, Dirt Cheap and Groove Therapy had the dance floor jumping hour-after-hour and song-after-song.
Tucked away in one corner of the room was a silent auction, where people browsed and bid on donated items from an array of local businesses and individuals.
Way back in the same room, wrapped around two walls, were tables filled with pans overflowing with some of the best chilli you’ve ever tasted.
Everywhere you looked, there were tables filled with folks chatting, joking, drinking and just having a good ole time.
Across the hall in the more intimate Powder Horn Room, the atmosphere was a bit more laid back. But just a bit. The decor resembled that of an Irish pub, and on a make-shift stage at one end of the room, a constant cavalcade of acoustic music – including Phil Camp, Chris Ballini, Rick Bolton & the Dwyer Sisters and Tim Wechgelaer & Chris Carey – served up some great folk, country and roots-Americana music throughout the day.
Back on the main stage, the winners of the chilli cook-off were announced just before the last band played the final explosive set of the day, and bragging rights were secured for the next year:
1st Place: Giovanna’s On The Lake at the Georgian Resort, Lake George
2nd Place: Frederick’s of Bolton Landing
3rd Place: Vic’s Tavern, Northville
The Hot Stuff Award: The Market Place, Bolton Landing
The President’s Choice Award: UpRiver Cafe, Lake Luzerne
If you missed Bands N’ Beans this time around, no worries, because it’s coming back next year!