On Friday night, I went to the Paul Smith's College VIC's "Bunny Boot Ball" and was pleasantly surprised.
The night, which was a fundraiser for the VIC, featured the Roadside Mystics, a band from Keene Valley, playing in the main building. There were a couple kegs of good beer, bottles of wine and tables worth of hors d'oeuvres prepared by the college's culinary students. Local musicians Steve Langdon and Shamim Allen also played music for hours, although I got there late and missed their set.
Outside, there was a small bonfire burning in the middle of a loose circle of people who were sitting on hand-carved snow benches. Nearby, a horse drawn sleigh was offering 10-minute rides through the dark forest on some of the wider ski trails.
As I drove to the VIC that night, I wondered why I would pay to go to a fundraiser. It was $15 per person or $25 for a couple. Having never been to a event quite like this at the VIC, I thought I might be wasting my money. But I rationalized that it was for a good cause and I should give it a try. This was the first major fundraiser for the VIC under the private ownership of the college.
After about an hour at the event, I realized that the door price was actually a bargain. The food was unbelievably good, I enjoyed band's music and the atmosphere put the VIC in a new light. It was enjoyable to sit outside on the snow bench, sipping a beer as the horse-drawn sleigh slid by before disappearing into the dark woods until all you could hear were the bells on the horses. On some of the other trails, a few people skied with headlights on.
Everything was great except for one thing. The crowd was pretty small, which was unexpected. I thought after people had fought to keep the VIC open a couple of years ago that they would have flocked to an event like this.
I'm not exactly sure why a lot of people didn't show up, but part of it was likely that many people didn't have a good idea of what was happening there that night.
When I got home at about 10:30 p.m., I picked up the Enteprise's Weekender to see how the night was described. There was only a five-sentence press release on the edge of one of the pages. There was no photo and the write-up was overshadowed by some other longer press releases. The write-up made it sound pretty boring actually, which was unfortunate.
"The Roadside Mystics will perform and participants are also invited to ski by headlamp, snack on foods prepared by PSC culinary students and warm themselves by the bonfire," it stated.
I later went on the internet to see if I could find something about the event. I came up empty, except for another short write-up on the VIC's facebook page.
It appears that the college doesn't have a section of its website dedicated to the VIC. The only web presence that I came across in my search was through a website named www.adirondackvic.org. I'm not sure who runs the website, but I've heard it's not through the college so I disregarded it. It wasn't up-to-date and didn't have much relevant info.
It seems to me that it's difficult to find out what is happening at the Paul Smith's VIC if you were to rely on the web, which many local people and visitors definitely do. I guess that's one of the kinks the college is still working out.
This made me curious to find out if the VIC in Newcomb had a web presence through the SUNY College of Environmental Science and Forestry. Within a minute, I found the link (www.esf.edu/aic) I was looking for.
I'm not sure exactly why the Paul Smith's College VIC doesn't have a web presence, but it seems like they could definitely benefit from one. If the VIC is to be successful and remain open in the future, people need to have a better idea of what is happening there.