Enjoying the warm breeze in a plastic patio chair at a lakeside restaurant, I finally found him… I finally found Elvis.
Each spring brings an Elvis Festival to Lake George, New York. The town is nestled along the southeastern edge of the Adirondack Mountains on a beautiful lake sharing its name. Surrounded by green mountains harboring some great hiking trails and camping spots, Lake George has attracted summer tourists since the late 1800s.
I planned my visit to Lake George on the first Saturday in June during the Elvis Festival in 2016. It was not my first trip to Lake George. A convenient road trip from the Capital Region of New York, Vermont, and western Massachusetts makes the lake and town an accessible destination. When you get tired of time spent in the water swimming, boating, and fishing, you can wander the shops, eat at a variety of restaurants, play a round of miniature golf, take a steam boat tour of the lake, or hike or drive to the peak of Prospect Mountain, which offers a panoramic view of the region.
Those who prefer a break from the natural views can browse the Factory Outlets of Lake George or spend a day at the Great Escape & Splashwater Kingdom theme park. And if you’d like to escape the crowds, there are plenty of things to do in the surrounding area. Float down the Hudson River with help from Adirondack Tubing Adventures in nearby Lake Luzerne, or discover the nearby Native American and colonial historical sites that are scattered around the region. You can even take the 45-minute drive to Albany, New York’s capital.
Lake George has hosted the Elvis Festival for years and I was excited to finally have the opportunity to attend. I expected to see Elvises wandering the streets, eating ice cream, engaged in air hockey battles in the arcade, and maybe even taking a cool dip in the lake. But Elvis was elusive. When I arrived mid-morning I didn’t find very many people at all. It was quiet for a beautiful Saturday in June, except for the brief passing of a gazillion motorcycles headed to the Warrensburg Bike Rally.
I meandered through the shops on Canada Street, discovering Adirondack themed trinkets and t-shirts, and an array of beach supplies. I walked the water’s edge to the town’s two public beaches, and spent some time in Shepard Park. I didn’t find Elvis but I did find Tim O’Brien, carving an impressive bear out of a giant log. Mr. O’Brien has been carving beautiful sculptures from Adirondack wood for more than two decades. When not working in the town park, you can find him at his workshop, Chainsaw Creations, on Route 9, surrounded by his bears and the tools of his trade.
I took a break from my search for the king to eat some lunch. I wanted to take advantage of the weather and the view so I headed toward the Shoreline Restaurant, one of several that feature a covered patio. As I approached, I heard the sweet sounds of “Jailhouse Rock” and then I saw him… Elvis! In this case Elvis was actually Dutch Reddy, an Elvis Tribute Artist from Rochester, NY, who was entertaining the patrons with the king’s hits, along with his own brand of comedy. Dutch was kind enough to serenade me at my table, and when I got a bit closer to take some photos, he even convinced me to jump in and sing the chorus of a 50’s classic. I don’t remember what I ate for lunch because I had so much fun with Dutch.
Dutch Reddy was one of the Elvis Tribute Artists competing at the festival, and one of many that brought their performances to the restaurants around Lake George during lunch that weekend. These Elvises were young, old, thin, fat, classic 50s style, and full on Vegas style. They performed the hits and some lesser known album classics.
I spent the remainder of the afternoon taking in the sun and the mountain views. I was still disappointed not to find any Elvises roaming the streets and beaches of Lake George. Perhaps it was because they were focused on their competition. At one point, I asked a shop keeper, “So, where are all the Elvises?” He guessed that they were all at the Lake George Forum where they were performing and competing for cash prizes. Lovers of Elvis can choose from a variety of tickets for the contests and headlining shows, ranging from $25 to $249, where they can see upwards of 50 Elvises croon the classics and rotate their hips. Related community events, such as the opening ceremony in the park and the classic car parade are free.
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