By Heather Barrett
The Vermont Department of Marketing and Tourism has been
experimentally trying out progressive tactics to boost tourism and ensure that
visitors have a unique, memorable time in the Green
This summer the Twitter handle @THISISVT was handed over to the public. Each
week a new Vermonter is selected to take over the account and share their Vermont
experiences. @THISISVT acts as a peer
review / inside scoop on what to do and where to go while in Vermont.
It also gives visitors a glimpse into the everyday lives of Vermonters.
Additionally, The Vermont Department of Marketing and
Tourism, the Department of Buildings and General Services, the Vermont
Librarian’s Association and AMPress Publishing have developed a new program
that encourages visitors to experience the state’s literary resources. Seven
Visitor Centers are participating in The Vermont Authors Project’s Lending
Library. The Alburgh, Fair Haven, Guilford,
Montpelier, White River Junction
and Williston north and south Visitor Centers will have free books to lend to
the public. The books are written by Vermont
authors Archer Mayor and Castle Freeman, with the intention to expand genres
and authors in the future. Travelers can sign out a free paperback or audio
book to enjoy during their Vermont
trip. The program uses a classic Vermont
honor system in that borrowers are simply asked to return the book to any Welcome
Center in Vermont
or by mail (envelope provided) within one month.
To learn more about the program and Vermont
authors, please read the press release from Vermont Tourism & Marketing.
Heather Barrett is a Marketing Assistant at Vermont Woods Studios,
an online furniture gallery which showcases Vermont’s finest wood
furniture. Follow our blog to learn about Vermont fine furniture,
Vermont happenings, our mission, and our team.
From Forest To Fine Furniture
The weather isn’t looking so great for leaf peeping in Vermont this weekend. So if you’re traveling around the Green Mountain State and looking for indoor activities, try heading to Woodstock, VT for the Ninth Annual Vermont Fine Furniture and Woodworking Festival.
This year’s theme is “From Forest to Furniture: Take Home a Piece of Vermont”. It dovetails with our plans at Vermont Woods Studios for a showroom at Stonehurst in that the focus is to raise awareness about where your furniture comes from.
Much like the organic food movement, the organic furniture movement is catching on. Customers are realizing both the economic and health benefits to buying locally crafted furniture, handmade from real, solid, sustainably harvested wood.
Come visit with some of the regions (and world’s) most respected fine furniture makers in Woodstock this weekend. You’ll be able to see and feel their furniture creations and also learn about the well-managed forests where their wood is harvested. Free tours are available of the nearby Marsh-Billings-Rockefeller National Historical Park. Here customers can experience the forest and learn about each of the many links in the chain from forest to trees to furniture.
Shown above: Brent Karner of ClearLake Furniture in Ludlow VT won first place for production furniture in the 2011 Vermont Fine Furniture Festival. Who is going to win this year?
I've been researching Vermont's flagship stores as we get closer to the possibility of opening up one of our own at Vermont Woods Studios.
A few weeks ago Kendall and I drove up to see the brand new King Arthur Flour campus in Norwich, Vermont, just north of (White River Junction). It's a gorgeous facility with hundreds of baking ingredients, gadgets & classes, a cafe & deli and a baking education center where you can attend classes to become the best baker in your network.
But the best part of the new store is the wonderful smell of fresh baked bread that greets you when you enter.
If you love baking and you're traveling through central Vermont, I should think King Arthur would be a must-see. Try to visit on a nice day and you'll be able to enjoy lunch with freshly baked croissants (and cakes, breads, chiffons, mousse…) in a splendid courtyard in the middle of the campus.
If you've traveled through Vermont, you've no doubt noticed that the Green Mountain State has no billboards. None. Not a single one. They're illegal here. It's true.
So the way many Vermont businesses reach out to visitors and customers is through our Information and Welcome Centers. These respites are strategically located along our most traveled roads, particularly routes I-89 and I-91. I'll post some photos of their unique Vermont architecture another day but today I wanted to show you something on the inside: Art Galleries!
I took this picture at the I-91 Welcome Center just north of the Massachusetts line in Guilford, VT. It's part of a collection of paintings by Caryn King of Newfane, VT. You can't help but smile at Caryn's paintings of farm animals– so much personality shines through. She also does breath-taking floral paintings and commissions of your favorite pets. Her blog, A Chicken Painting Every Day is a cheerful way to start the day!
Vermont's information and welcome centers also offer tons of information and brochures on local, regional and state-wide events, activities, hotels, inns, restaurants, ski areas, outdoor recreation, shopping, sight-seeing and much more. Stop by and have a look!
What do you think about replacing billboards with Welcome Centers? Let us know below or on our Facebook.
Peggy Farabaugh owns Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture. She travels around the Green Mountain State collaborating with woodworkers and feeling very lucky to live and work in a place where nature and creativity are flourishing.
Kendall and I were traveling through Windsor VT last week, coming home from Plattsburgh and decided to stop in and see what all the fuss was about at the Harpoon Brewery. Dennis (our resident Vermont Woods Studios local craft beer expert) had mentioned it a few times — plus it was hot and sunny and we were thirsty!
What a great place: Harpoon's outdoor beer garden is a new addition to their brewery that sits on the banks of the Connecticut River in Windsor VT. It's one of Vermont's 21 craft breweries, including Long Trail, Magic Hat Otter Creek Switchback and Trout River and well worth a stop if you're traveling anywhere near the White River Junction area.
At the beer garden you can relax with one of the dozen or so varieties of locally made beer. The menu includes your favorite pub fare such as paninis, salads, burgers and wings.
Want to learn more about Vermont craft beers? Wikipedia has a nice write-up but a better way might be to experience the beers at one of our many craft beer festivals. Two are on tap in September (Mount Snow Brewers Festival and SIPtemberfest in Fayston VT) and one in October (Killington Brewfest). We'll hope to see you there!
Watch us on Vermont's premiere (and only?) TV station, WCAX tonight. We'll be on the 5:30 or 6pm news and perhaps again at 11pm.
I was traveling around to meet with various furniture makers throughout the state today and I stopped at the I-89 Williston Welcome Center to catch up on emails and make a few phone calls. Gina Bullard was there. She's the reporter who does the Made in Vermont series on WCAX.
Gina was interviewing people in reference to the near loss of FREE WiFi access at the welcome centers due to state budget cuts. She saw me working on my laptop and interviewed me about the importance of free WiFi for small Vermont businesses (VERY important!).
Gina was also interviewing Al Levy of Route 802, a WiFi company that generously stepped in to donate WiFi to the Welcome Centers so we can continue to use it for free.
Check out Route 802's mobile apps for Vermont travelers where you'll find all the latest in Vermont events, restaurants, coupons and other travel and tourism tips and advice.
Watch the WCAX-TV clip here.
If you live in Manhattan or elsewhere in New York and need to escape the crowds and concrete this weekend, grab a copy of Rebecca Dalzell's latest article in NY Magazine and head 3 hours north of the City on I-91 to quirky Brattleboro, Vermont.
Rebecca's done all the research for your last minute get-away, outlining the Where to Stay, Where to Eat and What to Do. She's even included some insider secrets on Southern Vermont's best swimming holes, antique stores and Farmer's markets.
If that's not enough to get you up here, I'll throw in a couple bonus ideas to whet your appetite:
- Breakfast of all natural super-cinnamon bagels and organic fair trade coffee from The Works Bakery Cafe
- Fresh noodle bowls and local strawberry rhubarb or pear pies for lunch at the Vietnamese Humble Kitchen
- Outdoor waterfront Happy Hour cocktails or local brews at The Marina, where locals hang out for the best sunsets in town.
So, what are you waiting for? Vermont's laid back, artsy town of Brattleboro is ready to welcome you for a weekend of unwinding in the foothills of the Green Mountains. Hurry up and get here so you can relax.
Peggy Farabaugh, co-founder of Vermont Woods Studios Fine Furniture lives and works in Vernon, Vermont- what we like to call a suburb of Brattleboro, and another place of quiet respite from the city life.
Sometimes I really long for the days of old-fashioned paper maps. But I've gotten lazy and instead of properly preparing for a trip now, I just jump in the car and expect my GPS to get me where I want to go.
Well, that backfired on me last week when I went to Woodstock for a VWMA meeting. We got out a few minutes early and it was a beautiful day so I decided to take "the scenic route" home.
I'll share the embarrassing nightmare that ensued in hopes of helping you avoid a similar fate.
Just so you know the moral of this story up front, even though Class 4 roads in Vermont are on your GPS, unless you're ride is a horse you want to avoid them like the plague. By definition, a Class 4 road means TURN BACK NOW.
So… at first the road didn't seem too bad. And after all it WAS on my GPS. Unfortunately it slowly went from partially paved to stone to dirt to mud to a sink-hole. And it was all downhill so by the time I got to the sink-hole, there was no turning back. It was bad enough slipping down through the mud. There would be no way to turn around and get through it again going uphill.
But there was no way I would get through the muddy pool ahead of me either. And there was no one around and no cell signal. And the weather was changing from beautiful to a thunderstorm. Great.
There was one good thing though. We had just been talking about forest stewardship at the VWMA meeting earlier in the day and the forester explained that sustainable logging means leaving a good amount of tree debris (branches, stumps and such) on the landscape for eventual composting and animal habitat (sustainable logging isn't really as tidy as we might think it should be). Anyway, lucky for me the sink-hole in the middle of the road was surrounded by freshly logged forest and there were plenty of branches nearby– enough to build a bridge with. It was pretty nerve-wracking making my way over (through) it but somehow, miraculously it worked. And immediately afterwards – a downpour.
So, fellow Vermont travelers there you have it– my mud-wrestling escapades.
Making a road trip this weekend? My suggestion would be to enjoy our rural highways and byways with an old time paper map or atlas. And if you see a sign that says "Class 4 road" (translation: cow path) spin your car around and head in the opposite direction.
I know you love the warm, early Spring weather but honestly, it's not so good for Vermont's maple syrup producers. This week's forecast is for mid-70s! That's unbelievable. I've never seen temperatures soar that high at this time of year.
Unfortunately, according to local sugarmakers, after 3 days of >60F weather the maple trees pretty much figure it's time to get to work making buds and leaves so they turn off the sap production and refocus their energy.
The good news is that syrup quality is very high and even if there's 25% less production this year than last, Vermont is likely to maintain it's status of being the Number 1 maple syprup producing state in the nation. Sweet!
Now… this weekend brings your chance to sample the world's best maple syrup. It's the Eleventh Annual Vermont Maple Open House Weekend, held at sugarhouses throughout Vermont, March 24 and 25. You can tour sugarhouses throughout the state, watch the syrup being boiled and try the many flavors and products as they're being made. There are approximately 2000 maple producers in Vermont so check out the Vermont Maple website for maps and directions to all the participating farms and towns.