One town is hoping its local moose will be a draw for visitors: Indian Lake is already capitalizing on moose tourism with an annual Moose Festival, which includes a moose calling contest.
But even with numbers up and moose sightings on the rise, nobody had reported seeing one on the first day of the Great Adirondack Moose Festival--except Bloomingdale resident Debbie Kanze.
“I’ve seen cardboard mooses. I’ve seen sticker mooses. I’ve seen moose chocolate lollipops. I’ve seen mooses on balloons, but I haven’t seen a real, live snorting moose,” she said.
Two brothers waited eagerly to call a moose into the Indian Lake Theater. Ten-year-old Andy Quodomine, of Clifton Park, had practiced all week. Eleven-year-old Cullen Rose, of Inlet, had practiced for a whole month. As people sat down, Andy scoped out the competition: “I’m really excited to be in this match, and I see the competition’s getting kind of rough with my brother an all.” He said there’s a lot of competition between the two, with Cullen adding they “can’t go about five minutes without bickering about something.”
Fourteen kids and seven adults walked on stage, with naturalist Ed Kanze holding the microphone, trying to attract a moose. Many used their hands to amplify their call. Others picked up Ed’s homemade megaphone, made from white birch bark. The adults went first.
Valerie Trudeau of Saranac Lake walked away with second place. Randy Karl, of Rotterdam, spread his fingers above his head, like antlers, and literally stepped into the role of a moose, and took third place.
But it was Don Cosden, of Maryland, who won the grand prize, thanks to his wife.
Then it was time for the kids to get on stage to call in a moose. Hands flew up from all corners of the theater, including Andy and Cullen. But only one of them would win a prize. Andy went first, then Cullen.
Cullen did an angry moose call, and Andi Quodomine did “a moose with a stomach ache.” Eating 35 to 60 lbs. of roughage every day, Ed Kanze pointed out, would give anyone a stomach ache.
Natalie Puterko, of Indian Lake, won third place with her moose call, which Ed Kenze sais “sounded just like a moose calf that had just eaten three or four pounds of striped maple and that’s something to say.”
Then a boy, just a couple feet tall, known only as Grady, won the hearts of the audience and second place.
And when it came time to announce the first-place winner, everyone, even the guy in the moose costume, waited on the edge of their seats. With 14 kids, it was a tough choice, but Cullen Rose, of the angry moose call, claimed the prize.
“I’ve never won first place for anything in my life,” said Cullen Rose. He says he’ll be back next year to defend his title.