New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo and elected officials from around the state raced rafts on the Indian River in the Adirondacks on Sunday to promote tourism in the area.

“We’re trying to grow the economy,” Cuomo said after Sunday’s race. “Tourism is an engine.”

The Adirondack Challenge festival in Indian Lake continues Monday with a race between Cuomo and New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg.

Sunday’s invitational whitewater race packed 25 rafts with state elected and appointed officials and members of the media.

Cuomo’s team included his daughters Cara and Michaela, his secretary Larry Schwartz, and Deputy Secretary for Civil Rights Alphonso David.

The Glens Falls Post Star reported that that the governor’s boat edged out the state Senate and Assembly teams, making it through the stretch of river in 18 minutes, 56 seconds, compared to the Senate’s 19:58 and the Assembly’s 20:26.

State Sen. Elizabeth Little, who represents the Adirondacks, said she hoped the Adirondack Challenge would be the first of many.

Little said she thought the idea was a joke when Cuomo first mentioned it during his State of the State address in January, but she called the race “priceless” in terms of the attention and publicity it would generate for the region.

“He understands the need to turn the Adirondacks around, the need to turn the economy around,” Little said of Cuomo.

Sunday’s activities included a flatwater paddling race on Indian Lake and a day-long festival showcasing Adirondack brewers, winemakers, distillers and food producers.

Rick Davidson, who owns Davidson Brothers Brewing Co. with his brother John, said he was grateful for Cuomo’s support.

“The Adirondacks need all the help they can get,” Davidson said. “It’s great exposure, it’s a shot in the arm. We feel very positive about the future of business in New York state.”

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Photo Credit: New York State Governor Andrew Cuomo. Associated Press