Rain didn't dampen the spirit of Daffest, Saranac Lake's inaugural spring celebration of the perennial daffodil this past weekend. For that, the community owes a great debt of gratitude to Cherrie Sayles, the Bevilacqua family, the Women's Civic Chamber and everyone else who worked hard to make this happen. Their positive energy, selflessness, tireless work and community boosterism reflect well on Saranac Lake as a whole.
The crowd of participants and spectators at the Daffest Derby, a soap-box derby Saturday, was particularly impressive. People seemed to be having a great time despite the drizzle, and booth-keepers we talked to were happy with the number of people who visited them.
Kids especially loved it. The number of young racers was terrific, and there are sure to be more next year, since those who didn't race will want to.
But the adults were really into it, too. We're not sure what there is about it, but it brings out everyone's inner 9-year-old. You might not think a soap-box derby would be a great unifier, but it was.
The fact that many of the derby cars were slow - gravity wasn't quite enough to pull some of them all the way down LaPan Highway - won't detract from next year's interest. Rather, it should enhance it since kids, car builders and organizers are all itching to make the right adjustments to make the racing even more fun next spring. That might mean a steeper hill or bigger wheels, but we'll leave that to the experts.
And the derby cars looked fantastic. Congratulations to the parents, business owners, employees and other volunteers who did such fine work.
Having an anchor event like the derby was a key part of Daffest's success, just as the Gala Parade is to the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival and the greased-pole climb is to the Tupper Lake Woodsmen's Days. It often takes a bigger element like these to get people out, at which point they will also enjoy the smaller aspects of the festival.
Daffest is a great idea and was brilliantly promoted, but it certainly had some bad luck this first year: two weeks' delay due to flooding, events lost because of schedule conflicts - e.g., both colleges' graduations last weekend - and then steady rain. But it was still fun, and next year's, and every one after that, will be better.