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Vermont Summer Fun: Champlain Valley Fair

The biggest fair in Vermont is right around the corner!

One of the most memorable events of any summer is going to the local fair with your friends and family. We’re lucky enough to have the Champlain Valley Fair located just over in Essex Junction. Make sure to stop by August 24th through September 2nd to check it out.

We’ve broken down what we love about the fair below:

Rides

No fair would be complete without a large selection of rides and the Champlain Valley Fair has them in spades. You can choose to purchase a ride bracelet or individual tickets depending on how often you expect to be whipping around on rides.

Gentler attractions include a carousal, haunted house ride, various small roller coasters, and fun houses.

If you’re interested in something that will really get your heart racing, check out the Zipper Wheel, Enterprise, or High Rising Swings. (Young children must meet ride requirements and be accompanied by an adult.)

Games

The assortment of games are too many to list but you’ll definitely be satisfied with the fair's collection of classic and new games. Try out the ring toss, balloon darts, or duck races!

Live Entertainment (Grand Stand Events)

8/24 – Old Dominion – Country Music

8/25 – Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias – Stand Up Comic

8/26 – Night of Fire & Destruction – Monster Trucks & Stunts

8/27 – Wunderle’s Circus Extravaganza

8/28 – The Machine Performs Pink Floyd – Free Concert with Fair Admission

8/29 – Double Figure 8 Racing

8/30 – Demolition Derby

8/31 – Rick Springfield, Eddie Money, Greg Kihn, Tommy Tutone – Misc Pop & Rock

9/1 – U.S. Freestyle Motocross Championship

9/2 – Billy Currington – Country Music

Learn more about each event here.

Other Entertainment

There is a collection of shows every day from an actual human cannonball to racing pigs, and hypnotist Steve Bayner. Make sure to check out the full schedule of daily events here.

Farm Life

See the adorable and impressive array of animals throughout a maze of tents. Old McDonald's Farm is a classic with all your favorite farm animals side by side. See newborn piglets frolicking around their mother or chicks hatching right before your eyes!

Right next to McDonald's you’ll find tents with goats, sheep, cows, horses, rabbits, a variety of birds, and more! Educational workshops are available throughout the fair as well as live shows with Wildlife Wendy and others.

Competitions

There are competitions for everything under the sun! Visit the expo center and see who took home first for everything from bonsai trees and garden vegetables to cooking and crafts. See the list of competition here.

Vendors

Local and regional artisan vendors are scattered throughout the fair. You can find them in the convention center and in various places as you walk across the grounds. We highly recommend stopping by their tables and tents for souvenirs and gifts!

Food

There is no way to go wrong with fair food unless, of course, you decide to go on a particularly thrilling ride and don't have the strongest of stomachs! Dive into deep-fried goodness with corn dogs, french fries, and fried dough. It's the end of summer, live a little!

Dive In: Local Vermont Water Spots

Vermont isn’t known for hot weather but with the heat wave we had over the past week we thought it would be appropriate to give a shout out to all the great water spots around our area.

Waterbury

First and foremost is the Waterbury Reservoir – a hidden gem with a beautiful family friendly beach in Waterbury Center. Rent kayaks, canoes, and paddle boards right on the shore from Umiak Outdoor Outfitters. This is the place to be on hot days with lots of parking just a short distance from the water. It does get crowded so make sure you get there early! (Quick tip: Sadly, there are no pets allowed (sans service animals) but you can bring them to the dam access on the other side of the reservoir.)

Waterbury Public Pool – If you’re not a fan of beaches but still love to swim then head to the public pool located right off the interstate. It’s got a roped off kids section and two diving boards for extra fun.

Stowe
The Swimming Hole is a great place to hit the gym and the pool. The 8-lane, 25-meter pool has a diving board, mini water slide, and fountain-style toys for kids while the gym consists of three different rooms for cycling, free weights, and cardio. Just off of Route 100, this place is hard to beat and great for kids birthday parties.

Bingham Falls is located a mile from Stowe Ski Resort along the Mountain Road. A short walk through the woods brings you to a freshwater pool with a 25 ft. tall waterfall. If heights aren’t your thing there are plenty of smaller boulders to jump off of and of course, you can simply float around. Those looking for an adrenaline rush can find shooting flumes, swirling pools and a plummet between narrow canyon walls, all at the top of the main waterfall. (Quick tip: The water is cold since it comes directly from the mountain.)

Warren
Warren Falls are one of the most popular swimming spots in the summer with three waterfalls, three pools, waterslide, four jumping cliffs and some amazing rock formations. It’s very refreshing and the variety of swimming spots mean kids and adults can have fun. (Quick tip: This is a very popular spot to swim, so it’s best to go midday during the week if possible.)
Shelburne/Burlington/Colchester
Lake Champlain is the big one folks. We love this lake which we personally feel could have been a great lake…see what I did there. Despite missing out on a Great Lakes title, Lake Champlain has everything you could want with plenty of access areas along its shore. Some of the more popular places are Sand Bar State Park in Milton and North Beach in Burlington. If you have a boat we suggest skipping the crowds and lines by launching at a nearby marina and boating around. There are lots of natural beaches around that you can spot as you go along.

Montpelier
If you’re looking for the ultimate pool experience, you’re going to want to head to the Montpelier Public Pool. Enjoy a day with the family and try out the rafts and tower for a little extra fun. They even host fun events during the summer like a BBQ day on July 12th. See their website for more info.

Floating down the River
Both the Winooski and Lamoille Rivers offer plenty of places to cool down on a hot day and many local places offer for boat rentals for day use. This is a great (and free) way to spend a summer day. A fun past time is parking one car at a lower location and driving further up the river. Then you can lazily drift with the current in a tube and not have to hike it back to the car when you climb out.

River spots are not lifeguarded so make sure you stay safe when swimming or partaking in other water activities. Always have a life vest if you’re taking out a kayak, canoe, or paddle board and stick with your buddies. Some parts of the river can be dangerous so always be vigilant.

Vermont Summer Events

Vermonter's love to celebrate. Seriously, we'll celebrate everything from cheese and wine to bikes and cars. We like to think we know how to have a good time, which is evident from our numerous festivals and fairs. Some upcoming fun includes:

Concerts in the Park - Waterbury's Rotary Club runs a free concert series in conjunction with the Farmers Market every Thursday from 6pm - 8:30pm. Peruse the market from 3pm - 7pm, grab something to eat and snag a spot in front of the stage. Upcoming musical acts include:

  • July 12: Jenni Johnson and the Junketeers (high-energy jazz).

  • July 19: The Phineas Gage Project (“phabulous pholk punk”).

  • July 26: Full Share Band (eclectic rock).

  • Aug. 2: Northern Flyers (bluegrass).

  • Aug. 9: Cop Outs (Celtic folk punk rock).

  • Aug. 16: Robin Gottfried Band (rock, soul, funk).

Music in the Meadow - A summer-long concert series at the Trapp Family Lodge in Stowe that we are proud to sponsor! The meadow opens 2 hours prior to the concerts giving you plenty of time to enjoy a picnic or just relax. Ticketed shows are only $30 for adults and $10 for children. The 2018 schedule includes:

  • July 15 – Marcia Ball (7pm - 9pm)
  • July 29 – The Dustbowl Revival (7pm - 9pm)
  • August 5 – Phoebe Hunt & The Gatherers (FREE; no tickets required) (7pm - 9pm)

July 13-14 - Waterbury Arts Fest - Kick off this fun-filled event with a Friday night block party that includes a beer garden, food trucks, and raffle to win a beer-lovers package (every attendee gets a ticket). Gates open at 5:30pm and live music starts with Red Hot Juba at 6pm followed by The Grift and Josh Panda at 8pm. Saturday kicks off at 10am with 90 artisans and 10 food vendors lined up on Stowe St and Bidwell Lane. Entertainment includes Cooie Sings, Joe Adler, Hot Box Honey, Papa's Porch String Band, and Green Mountain Performing Arts. This event has quickly become one of the most anticipated of the summer.

August 10-12 - Vermont Antique Car Show - In its 61st year, this car show is the one of the biggest and longest running in New England and this year it's moving to Waterbury! Check out over 800 vehicles on display and 500 flea market auto vendors. Head into town on Saturday at 3:30pm for the parade of antique and classic cars as they drive through. Then check out the Train Station that evening for the Saturday Night Street Dance with a live DJ, food vendors and, of course, more cars (sponsored by Revitalizing Waterbury)!

August 12 - Vermont Cheesemakers Festival (Shelburne) - Don't be fooled, this festival celebrates much more than cheese with local foods, wines, ciders, beers and spirits for you to try. The festival has been picked as a "Top Summer Food Festival in the United States" and sells out every year. This 10th year will have more cheesemakers and more food in celebration of the tenth year. Festival runs from 10am - 4pm.

August 26 - Race to the Top of Vermont - Bike, hike, or ride to the top of Mount Mansfield, Vermont's highest peak (Stowe) with this challenging course. There's something for everyone with a Youth Run for Fun for ages 4 - 14. After a long day you can rest and relax with a BBQ and Music at the base lodge. 

Past Events:

June 30 - Not Quite Independence Day - A long-standing tradition in Waterbury, VT. This year, the parade will start at 4pm and festival activities will take place downtown featuring children games, rock climbing, yoga drumming, lawn games, food trucks, a beer tent, talented bands, and fireworks.

Quintessentially Vermont: Farmers Markets

If there is one thing that embodies Vermont culture the most, it might just be farmers markets. The mix of community, art, food, music, and nature are fun for everyone and help promote and support local artisans, farmers, and musicians. Many towns combine the markets with concert series and other events for the community.

The point? You want to go to at least a couple each summer. It's the perfect place to pick up a last minute dinner, a gift, listen and relax to music, or chat with neighbors. New to town? The farmers market will be the fastest way to make new connections. 

We've listed all the markets in our general vicinity that will be starting within the next couple weeks:

Capital City Farmers Market (Montpelier)  - May 12th - Saturdays from 9am - 1pm

Waitsfield Farmers Market – Opens May 19th - Saturdays from 9am – 1pm

Morrisville Farmers Market - Opens May 19th - Saturdays 9am - 1pm

Stowe Farmers Market – Opens May 20th - Sundays from 10:30am - 3pm

Waterbury Farmers Market - Opens May 24th – Thursdays from 3pm - 7pm 

Five Corners Farmers Market (Essex Junction) - Opens May 30th - Wednesdays 4pm - 7:30pm

Barre Farmers Market - Opens June 6th - Wednesdays 4pm - 7pm

Some have indoor winter markets that are worth visiting as well! See their websites for more details.

 

Maple Open House Weekend 2018

One of Vermont's most popular events is the state wide Maple Open House Weekend. Every March, dozens of sugar shacks open their doors to the public and spread the delicious joy that is maple syrup! This years's Open House Weekend is just about a month away on March 24th and 25th. Some things you can expect are:

  • Free maple samples
  • Sugar on snow
  • Maple inspired foods (donuts, waffles, maple candy, maple pops, etc.)
  • Maple creemees (deserves its own category)
  • Tours
  • Maple gifts
  • Hay rides
  • Animal Interactions (some shacks are located on farms)

Activities and products vary based on sugar house so it's best to visit a bunch to get the full experience.

You can see a full map of the open maple houses here.

Waterbury Winterfest 2018

One of Waterbury's biggest celebrations is back for it's 2018 debut! Winterfest is a culmination of seasonal fun over a ten day period with activities for everyone.  

The full list of events are as follows:

Friday, Jan 26th - Christmas Tree Bonfire, Jazzyoke, Winterfest Dance, and Sled Hockey

Saturday, Jan 27th - Broom Ball Tournament, Capture the Flag, Drone Races of NNEDO, Harwood Hockey Game, Jazz & Hockey, Hockey Mom's Dance Party, Hockey Game(VT Enforcers vs. Harwood Coaches)

Sunday, Jan 28th - 5K Fun Run, Connector Trail, Women's Intro to Hockey

Monday, Jan 29th - Baby & Toddler Story Time, Winter Felting Workshop

Tuesday, Jan 30th - Vermont Beer Quiz

Wednesday, Jan 31st - Harwood Hockey Game, Wassailing

Thursday, Feb 1st - Preschool Story time, Rhymes, and Crafts, Game Show, Winterfest Music Fest: Dave Keller

Friday, Feb 2nd - Winterfest Music Fest

Saturday, Feb 3rd - Guided Snowshoe Tour, Puppet Show, Fat Tire Events, Sock Hop, Winterfest Music Fest Grand Finale

Sunday, Feb 4th - Snow Football, VAST Trail Traverse

Click here for more details.

Deck the Halls

Holiday decorations can be the ultimate hassle on top of an already stressful season. Lucky for you we have some fun ideas that don't have to take too much time or effort to employ.

Solar Lights - There's a solution to the headache that is always putting up lights in and around your yard...solar lights. Wrap these around trees and bushes and they'll turn on automatically when the sun goes down. No extension cord needed!

Mailbox - If your home is less visible but you still want to show your neighbors the holiday spirit decorated your mailbox. You can wrap garland around the post or simply attach a bow.

Wreaths - You can't go wrong with a holiday wreath. If a fancy pre-made wreath is not something you're willing to pay for, there are plenty of other options. You can buy a simple, bare, fake wreath for a few bucks and decorate it with wrapping ribbon and other products from around your house. This is a great way to save money, as you won't have to buy a new one next year either.

Garland - Hanging garland is a holiday staple. You can utilize this kind of decoration anywhere that you want. Wrap it around your porch railing, hang it from the window panes, or string it along your fence posts. 

Candles - We know candles can be tricky due to the risk of fire, so we are promoting the use of electric automatic candles. In our house, we use individual electric candles that automatically turn on when the light starts to fade. Put them in your windows facing the road for a warm look for all to see.

Paper Snowflakes - If you live somewhere where your windows get a lot of notice, this is a perfect idea for you. Simply make or buy some paper snowflakes (very easy to make) and attach them to the inside of your windows. It adds a nice little touch to your home. 

We hope everyone has a safe and very merry holiday season!

Snowtime = Playtime

If you've lived in Vermont for any period of time, you know there are many many winter activities to enjoy. We're not just talking your usual skiing and boarding. Most towns offer a plethora of snowshoeing, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing options. Many, even have ice skating rinks. Check out these resources below to find the perfect place to get out and stay active once the snow comes. We also recommend taking time for snowball fights and snowman/snow fort building. 

(p.s. It always pays to ask the locals too, since many trails might be lesser known.)

For a detailed map of snowshoe trails check out this site -->  https://www.trails.com/vermont/snowshoeing

For a detailed map of cross-country skiing trails check out this site -->  https://www.trails.com/vermont/cross-country-skiing

For a detailed map of snowmobile trails check out this site -->  https://vtvast.org/trails.html

(Some trails are open to multiple snow traveling activities.)

Ice Skating Rinks:

The Ice Center - Waterbury 

Stowe Arena - Stowe

Skatium Ice Rink - Waitsfield

Barre Outdoor Ice Skating Rink - Barre

Central Vermont Memorial Civic Center - Montpelier

Essex Junction Skating - Essex Junction

Cairns Arena - South Burlington 

Tricks for Getting Treats

Halloween is quickly approaching, and there are so many fun activities for kids and adults alike.

Trick or Treating streets to visit: 

Waterbury

  • Randall Street
  • Stowe Street
  • Main Street
  • Winooski Street
  • Union Street

Stowe

  • Maple Street

Warren

  • Main Street
  • Brook Road

Montpelier

  • Barre Street
  • Hubbard Street
  • Ridge Street
  • 1st Ave

Looking for more than free candy this Halloween season?

October 21st - NW Nightmares Zombie Run will have your heart pumping as you run as either a human or zombie. 

October 27th - Witches Brew Bash on the Waterfront is Vermont's largest Halloween party. And you better dress up because a $500 prize is on the line.

October 27th & 28th - Enjoy an incredible Jack-O-Lantern display in Middlesex -> Facebook Event here.

October 27th & 28th - Get your pants scared off on the Tunbridge Haunted Trail -> Facebook Event here.

October 28th - Explore the Shelburne Museum by flashlight on this 21+ Evening of the Weird, Thrilling, and Fantastic tour.

October 29th - Dress up in your finest costume and attend Haunted Happenings at the Shelburne Museum.

Click here to see a list of Vermont Halloween Events.

Find Your Harvest Festival!

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It's sad to see but August is coming to an end and harvest season is upon us. As always, Vermont has numerous celebrations planned in honor of the harvest and fall season. Check out the ones listed below:

39th Annual Harvest Festival in Shelburne - Saturday, September 16th (10am - 4pm) - Explore a tent full of children’s activities, entertainers performing on multiple stages, artisans sharing their skills and crafts, and of course, delicious farm-fresh food. Farm animals and horse-drawn hayrides, too! It’s a community event for the whole family. 

Stowe Rotary's Oktoberfest in Stowe - September 29th - October 1st - A celebration of the harvest highlighting our local beers. Bavarian style bands perform during the weekend, with food, fun and dancing for all ages. Come enjoy peak foliage and have a beer or two. 

Rocktoberfest in Morrisville on Saturday, September 30th - Starting with Copley’s “Run for the Heart” 5K Fun Run/Walk starting at Oxbow Park, followed by a street festival featuring live, well known bands, a fabulous food court, the great chili cook-off, recyclable miniature golf, creative events, local merchants, massages, live Chair-Art-Able Auction, local brews and the best of the best in the region! 

Sam Mazza's Harvest Festival in Colchester - October 1st & 2nd - The festival offers lots of on-grounds entertainment. The children can enjoy pony rides, a petting zoo, a hay ride down to the pumpkin patch, the corn maze and many craft and entertainment activities held under the tent. 

Sugarbush Oktoberfest at Lincoln Peak on October 8th - Will feature Bavarian inspired food, drink, games, and the Mad Bavarian Brass Band. Compete in the stein hoisting competition, keg tossing, and corn hole tournament for a chance to win lift tickets for the upcoming winter season. Friendly Lens will provide photo booth fun.