Regatta draws thousands to Saratoga Lake

Posted at: 10/24/2013 6:20 PM | Updated at: 10/24/2013 6:33 PM
By: Mark Mulholland

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SARATOGA - The Head of the Fish regatta is now only slightly smaller than the famed Head of the Charles in Boston.

The local rowing event has grown dramatically over the years and now features more than two-thousand boats on Fish Creek.

"It's kind of a hidden but huge event for Saratoga," said Eric Catalano, executive director of Saratoga Rowing Association, one of the most successful associations of its kind in the country, sending one out of every 4 rowers to a major college program. 

Catalano says one of the things that's made the Head of the Fish so popular, is the use of real fish heads for trophies.

"I just do the eye balls, that's my job," said one of the half-dozen volunteers taking part in the trophy-making process Thursday afternoon.  Over the course of several weeks, they take the fish heads from the freezer, cure them, remove the meat and then decorate them.

No two of the trophies are alike.

And there aren't many events like the Head of the Fish when it comes to bringing visitors to Saratoga.

"The Head of the Fish is fantastic for Saratoga. It's just a great time of year. We're kind of out of the season for the track into that fall time of year. It's a good room filler," said Dan Fortier, general manager of Longfellows Inn.

And the rooms will be filled. Rowers and their families will bring more than ten-thousand people to town. They'll spend more than two-million dollars while they're here.

"I'm already getting calls from rowing groups who want to bring in parties of 10, 15, 30," said Nancy Bambara, director of operations for DZ Restaurants which owns 3 Saratoga Springs eateries. "And if you walk downtown, you'll see them in their rowing gear. It's great for us to have this."

Organizers say the event is so successful because Fish Creek is a great place to hold a regatta and Saratoga is a great place to host 10-thousand people.

And the fish head trophies keep the rowers coming back.

Races begin at 8 o'clock Saturday and Sunday. Catalano says the best place to watch them is from the Route 9-P bridge over Saratoga Lake.

Chris Signor, a parent of three young rowers, recommends that people come out to watch."Unless you’ve been here and seen it, you really can't explain it. You can't put it to words."



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