Vermont’s most popular summer art and craft festival begins today! We’re proud of Vermont for its amazing support of its craftsman and artists, which is why we are super excited about the Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival. The festival had been hosted in Manchester for 30 years, but the 2013 festival will be held in Bennington, Vermont! This provides advantages because its in a more southern region of Vermont, which will hopefully bring in a larger turnout than in previous years! The festival will host over 160 talented artists who will display and sell their one of a kind artwork, as well as traditional and contemporary crafts, and pottery!
From Friday, August 2nd to Sunday, August 4th, this three day event will run in conjunction with the town wide Bennington Arts Festival Weekend. The festival is put on by a variety of community arts organizations and venues, so expect a jam packed weekend with live music, art, and activities ranging from art walks, open studios and receptions, live entertainers, and a historical architecture exhibit! As always, you can expect lots of kid friendly activities, local food vendors, ice cream,craft beer, and more!
If you don’t have plans for the weekend, why not add the Southern Vermont Art and Craft festival to your agenda and find some inspiration in the work of talented Vermont artists!
I could go on and on about the reasons that I love Vermont– and if you’ve read my previous blogs, then you’d see that I already have. Its hard not to feel passionate about a place that values community as much as Vermont does. And it only makes sense that this week, only a few days away from the 4th of July, and a few days past the terrible tragedy that occurred in Arizona, that I write a little about community.
The week of Independence day is always an intense one, whether its because we’re just beginning to experience the real hot days of summer, or because its jam packed with planning for the in-laws to arrive for a mid-day BBQ, this week is usually a memorable one. A huge part of what makes this week is so memorable and important is because of the fireworks displays. Fireworks have the innate power to move people. I can still remember the faint sniffles and tears I witnessed from my grandmother as she listened to the womping sounds of the fireworks and the way their explosive colors filled the entire sky, several years ago. And she wasn’t the only one that was touched by them– little girls stood with their mouths open in total awe of the booming, cracking, bursts of color and light…. new parents would hold their babies close to their chests and cover their ears to protect them from the noise, while the couples would lean on each other and savor the closeness of the moment, surrounded by neighbors and friends.
Its nights like these, where the whole community huddles together and just takes a moment to breathe that I find so special. Some people may think that you have to live in a big city to get to watch great fireworks, but that certainly isn’t true, especially not in Vermont where even the smallest communities make it a point to get outside and celebrate together.
If you’re local, and are looking for Vermont fireworks, click here.
However you choose to spend your 4th of July week, be sure to take some time to soak in the beauty of the moment with the people closest to you!
When I was younger, one of my favorite events of the year was the local hot air balloon festival that took place in my town (Pittsfield, New Hampshire) each year. While it wasn’t the Quechee balloon festival, it was a hot air balloon festival all the same. I loved the way that it would bring the whole community together for a day of fun and celebration, despite whatever else was going on in the world and on the news. It seemed like even the busiest people in town always made time to come down to the festival to watch the hot air balloons or to just be in the presence of friends, family, and community members. Kids loved it too, because they’d get to come and run around and go on rides with their friends (plus there is usually cotton candy and all sorts of other goodies too). And there really is just something special about hot air balloons. They are whimsical, and magical in a way. Magical in that they never fail to give you that feeling of childhood excitement, wonder, and awe as you watch them rise. Maybe its the way their colors light up in the sky, or the fact that they get to float amongst the clouds…either way, a hot air balloon festival is a spectacular event that every person should get to experience at least once in their life (but hopefully more)!
This weekend is the 34th annual Quechee Hot Air Balloon festival, taking place in Quechee, Vermont! The weekend festivities include music from a bunch of great bands that will be playing continuously throughout the weekend, tasty food, a kiddie zone for the children, a beer and wine garden for the adults, tons of talented Vermont artists and crafters, vendors of all sorts, and hot air balloons of course!
I truly hope that you get to enjoy the unique and heartwarming experience that a small town hot air balloon festival provides– and if not this year, maybe next year!
For more information on the festival, check out their official website and Facebook page.
Last year I started reading about Vermont’s Working Lands Enterprise Initiative. Paul Costello, the Executive Director of Vermont’s Council on Rural Development had begun leading a movement to protect the Green Mountain State’s pastoral landscape from unplanned, unsightly, unsustainable development. I don’t know Paul personally but I see him as a modern day Paul Revere who leveraged the power of the Internet to spread the word about how we can use sustainable agriculture and forestry to build a thriving rural economy in Vermont.
In a very short time frame, Paul and his band of “working lands” believers have achieved unbelievable success, including getting Vermont’s legislature to allocate $1 Million in grant money for green businesses willing to pitch in and help. The idea was to provide incentives to “stimulate a concerted economic development effort on behalf of Vermont’s agriculture and forest product sectors by systematically advancing entrepreneurism, business development, and job creation.”
It was just one of those lucky moments in life when I read about the Working Lands Grant last year as we were in the middle of planning our new Vermont-made furniture gallery at Stonehurst. We were a perfect match for the grant. Our furniture is all made in Vermont. It’s sustainable, eco-friendly and made from Vermont grown wood when practicable. We support all the links in the economic chain from the forest through the land-owner, forester, sawyer, lumber yard and craftsperson to the customer. The whole Stonehurst concept of raising awareness about where your furniture comes from and how it’s made fit the grant criteria like a glove.
Fast forward a year. The Working Lands Enterprise Boards have worked tirelessly all year, developing their concept, selling it to the public and the Legislature, securing funds, soliciting competitive proposals from businesses and evaluating those proposals. Last week it was time for them to make a decision on which businesses would win the awards.
Drum roll please. Ta Da!! Vermont Woods Studios was selected for a $100,000 grant award to be used to complete the construction and landscaping of our Stonehurst Vermont Made Furniture Showroom. This is a huge achievement for us and one that will allow much of the polishing of our venue to happen now, rather than over a period of years. We are enormously grateful to Paul Costello and all of the good people who have worked so hard to make the initiative possible. And of course to the taxpayers of Vermont who we feel a strong need to repay in terms of economic benefit and increased consumer demand in the furniture sector of our economy.
I’ll write more in the coming weeks about the Initiative and the other companies who also won awards. We are honored to be in such good company.
Do you love Vermont’s rural landscape as much as we do? Join the Working Lands Partnership, help keep Vermont green and be a part of it’s future!
The woods that surround Stonehurst make it a hotspot for local wildlife, and a favorite part of the new location for many of us. From wild turkeys roaming openly in the field, to our new porcupine friend, to the neighborhood chipmunks, squirrels, and birds that call this place their home—we are excited to be a part of this wonderful eco-community.
Now that we are getting settled, it’s great to see that many of us are forming a bond with different parts of Stonehurst. You can find Kendall walking around out back enjoying the mountain fresh air, Neville and Martin outside enjoying the scenery, while Dennis is always the first to volunteer to checkup on the families of birds who have occupied the birdhouses we put up earlier in the year. Needless to say, we all care about it here for one reason or another, and that’s what makes this place so special.
Stonehurst allows us to “tell the story of where your furniture comes from,” Peggy explains. “People can look out the windows and stroll around the grounds to see and experience what sustainable forestry is… we can use our learning wall to show people how their choice of furniture affects the habitats of endangered species.” For anyone who doesn’t know, Vermont Woods Studios was created with the inspiration to help put an end to the deforestation of the world’s rainforest’s. “Every species of big cat (lions, tigers, cheetahs, etc) and every species of primates (gorillas, chimps, orangutans, etc) is critically endangered due to habitat loss,” Peggy revealed, “and many of those habitats are forests that are being illegally decimated for timber that goes into imported furniture.”
Stonehurst, to us, is more than just our headquarters—it is a reflection of our impact on the natural landscape. We want to show people that by living consciously and shopping ethically, it is possible to live (and thrive) without harming the ecosystem, and that we can live harmoniously with our friends in nature, rather than endangering them by destroying their homes and habitats.
Besides the woods that surround Stonehurst, and the animals that inhabit them, the building itself has quite an interesting story. Stonehurst started out as a farmhouse circa 1800, and has “moved through various identities as a boarding house, 4 season resort, ski area, and residential home,” Peggy explains, “Stonehurst has been transformed several times, just as our business has transformed.” And despite all of the transformation, we’ve worked hard to preserve much of its history wherever possible. Plus, all local materials were used in its renovation, adding to its Vermont roots. “The resulting space feels like a natural home to us, said Peggy, “a place where we can enjoy our work while finding success in accomplishing our mission.”
When asked about their vision of the future for Vermont Woods Studios at Stonehurst, the team had differing answers with a common theme… We would all like to see Stonehurst busy as ever, with a thriving community of happy customers raving about their furniture and excited to be brand advocates for us and for our mission. We envision “people coming from near and far to get an up close look (and feel) at the best handcrafted furniture made in Vermont,” as Martin revealed, while Dennis would like to see people coming to Vermont not only to visit Stonehurst and see our furniture, but to experience all of the culture and activities that the state has to offer as well. Peggy is hoping to see a relaxed and efficient staff, excited to learn new things and making creative strides every day… plus lots more automation and continued rapid growth. Stonehurst will bring the team closer, and allow us to work more effectively and creatively together… and will also give us more opportunities to have fun! (Liz is really looking forward to future taco parties). Most importantly, however, Peggy explains that we “want to see evidence that we are raising awareness about where your furniture comes from.”
The move to Stonehurst has been a major transformation for us, and we are excited to see what the future has in store. With a handful of wonderful memories already created here– from happy hours in front of the wood stove in Ken’s shop, to physically helping with the planning and construction of the building, to watching a lone porcupine roam our field… we have high hopes and expectations for our future here. Our sign is finally up out front, signalling the end of the “making of” portion of our Stonehurst story–a chapter we are happy to leave behind. Now, its really time to get to work!
PS. We’ve created a Pinterest board for Stonehurst! Pin us