VT

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!

Seven Hacks for Home Maintenance | Summer

After the harsh Vermont winter, summer is finally here, and we’re all eager to lay back and relax. Unfortunately, there are a few chores to be taken care of before the fun and relaxation can begin. But don’t worry; We’ve compiled a list of summer chores to remember as soon as the weather turns warmer.

Inspect and Repair Patios and Walkways

Our first instinct upon the first sign of the summer months is to kick back and relax, but if your deck or patio is in need of repairs, you’re more likely to find yourself with an injury disrupting your summer plans. Avoid this by inspecting your patios and walkways as soon as possible. If you have a deck, be sure that all wooden slats are stable and secure, as well as any railings. Bring old, splintered wood back to life with a fresh coat of varnish. If you have a stone patio or walkway, adjust uneven portions or cracks to avoid tripping and causing injury. You can do this by prying up your displaced pavers and smoothing and evening out the bed with playground sand. Just replace the stone, and you’re all set. Good as new!

Take Care of Landscaping and Gardening

A good landscaping job can add so much more to a home. All eyes will land on your beautiful home when you take the extra time to tend to your lawn and garden. Be sure to trim and water your lawn as often as it requires, cut hedges and bushes, and remove any dead plant life from gardens. Keeping up with these tasks often, on a weekly or bi-weekly basis, can keep your lawn looking fresh and tidy!

Mulch Your Flower Beds

Another important part of landscaping and gardening...be sure to mulch your garden! Mulch can help to keep weeds and other unwanted plant life in check by insulating your plant beds. You can do this by adding 2 to 4 inches of mulch to your garden.

Tend to Smaller Repairs

Remember when you swore you’d fix that creaky door hinge or loose board in the fence once winter was over? Well, winter is over, and now is as good a time as any to tend to those smaller repairs and tasks you’ve been putting off due to the snow.

Wash Your Windows

As you tend to all your smaller repairs, add a note to your list of chores to wash your windows! All the hard work you put into your landscaping will be for not if you can’t see it past the dirt and grime left by winter’s harsh conditions.

Give Your Grill a Spa Day

Before you throw your next big neighborhood barbeque, be sure to properly inspect your grill for any issues that may have come from last summer’s shindigs. Make sure any gas hoses and connections are secured and be sure to clean your grill! No one wants to eat the leftovers from last summer.

Make Sure Your AC is Running Smoothly

Be sure to have your AC inspected by a professional to be sure your AC is in perfect order this year! It’s much better to be safe than sorry, especially in the summer heat!

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.

Renovation Mistakes to Avoid

It seems like there is always something that needs to be changed or improved upon in your home, am I right? The kitchen is too small, the bathroom is falling apart, and don't even get me started on the living room carpet. Wanting to go crazy with renovations is a natural conclusion, but you want to make sure you do it right so you don't have to do it again. Putting in a new window to have a view of the Green Mountains won't be worth it if it's drafty during a Vermont winter. We've put together a list of things to avoid when you're starting on your renovation journey.
Overestimating Your Skill - If you're a DIY fanatic you might have a hard time swallowing this little bit of knowledge: you can't do it all yourself. You can get away with painting and some smaller projects, but you'll want to leave the bigger jobs to the pros. A blog from Carlisle Wide Plank Floors & Rugs explains; "Large items like structural changes, electrical, plumbing, or roofing, is an exacting job and potentially dangerous. If it is not done properly it can lead to larger, and more costly issues, in your home. You are better off spending the money now, to work with a professional." 
Minimizing the Timeline - Anyone who has ever had a renovation done can tell you they almost never get done by the intended date. Maybe some item doesn’t get ordered in time or you put off making a decision that halts the contractor's progress. This isn’t always the case but you should be prepared if it is.
Budget - Oh, the budget. There are many aspects that come into play when dealing with the cost of a renovation. First things first, you need to know how much you can realistically spend and what materials you are looking to use in the renovation. While it might be tempting to go for the cheapest option, that's usually the option that will fall apart not so far down the road. You'll also want to avoid spending too much on certain things while neglecting others. Getting a pricy light fixture won't be worth it if you downgraded on something important, like cabinets or flooring.
The budget also applies to who you want working on your project. The most common advice, because it is good advice, is to get multiple quotes on your project before you choose your contractor and not go straight for the lowest bid. An article on MarthaStewart.com explains; "The low bid is tempting, but it's often not realistic. The low bid is misleading -- usually, the contractor simply hasn't accounted for costs that are bound to emerge during renovation. If you take a low bid, Soria says, you may end up just paying the same as the highest bid. Soria suggests interviewing at least 4 or 5 contractors and taking the middle ground. You don't have to take the highest bid, but the lowest bid is a red herring."

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.

 

Race Around Vermont

Vermont has some of the most amazing landscapes and one of the best ways to enjoy it is to get out and get active. We've put together a list of some of the most popular bike and running races in the area. Don't worry, they're not all marathons. If you're looking for something a little easier check out the 3 mile Mutt Strutt in Waterbury or the 5k Craft Brew Race in Stowe followed by a craft beer festival.

Biking

April 28th: Muddy Onion Spring Classic - Montpelier

May 6th: Waterbury Gravel Grinder - Waterbury

June 24th: Central Vermont Cycling Tour - East Montpelier

Early September: Green Mountain Stage Race - Waitsfield

Running

April 22nd: 22nd Annual Mutt Strutt - Waterbury

May 19th: Stowe Craft Brew Race – Stowe

May 27th: Vermont City Marathon - Burlington

June 23rd: Catamount Ultra Marathon - Stowe

July 8th: Mad Marathon - Waitsfield (Top 10 in Runner's World Magazine)

July 29th: Barre Heritage Festival 5K Race - Barre Town

August 26th: Race to the Top of Vermont - Stowe

Winter Storm Prep - Before & During

As Northeastern Quinn barrels up the east coast, we figured it would be a good time to discuss prepping for a storm and best practices for during. Snow can build up fast in New England and Vermont especially where winters can be unpredictable. Most of the time, life moves as usual, if at a slower pace, but you want to be prepared. Heavy snow can lead to home damage and power outages and this can become very dangerous if you're not ready for it.

Emergency supplies: First things first you'll want to hit the grocery store and make sure you're stocked up on water & food that doesn't require a microwave or oven. Depending on your heating situation you'll want to bring in more wood, make sure your propane tank is full, or check on your generator.

Simple supplies like blankets, pillows, and warm clothes are very important if you rely on electric heat. Power lines going down are not uncommon with big snowstorms and depending on how bad the forecast is, it could take a while to get your power restored. 

Shovels are a must-have for any homeowner and we suggest owning a couple. Heavy snow has broken more than a few shovels, so it's best to invest in quality ones. In this case, finding the best deal is not advised if it's a cheap piece of plastic.

A couple of other items to make sure you have handy would be flashlights, batteries, and matches.  

Snow removal: During a storm, it's important to keep up with things like shoveling. Roofs and decks can collapse under the weight of snow if it accumulates too much. It's best to shovel before too much builds up, so you don't overexert yourself trying to remove too much at once. If you are living in Vermont, or other New England states that can see a lot of snow, you will want to invest in a roof rake as well. You might not be able to remove all the snow from your roof but even shoveling off half will reduce the stress being put on your structure.

If you know of a place in your house, maybe a window or door, that is generally drafty, make sure you cover it up. There are actual draft guards but rolling up a towel and placing it appropriately can be just as effective. This will keep you warmer and save energy costs.

Storm prep BEFORE winter: It's too late to do some of these now, but they can save you a lot of trouble in the future.

Clear gutters – build up in your gutters can lead to ice dams in the winter where water can sit for long periods on your roof. If this happens and the water sinks under your roofline you can be looking at thousands of dollars worth of water damage. 

Trim branches - tree branches can get extremely heavy under the weight of snow and power lines aren't the only thing they can take out. Trim back any large branches that extend close to your home and you won't have a rude awakening when a branch decides to break a window or take out part of your roof.

Insulate exposed pipes - the cold weather from a few weeks ago caused major damage to businesses and homes around the state when pipes burst. Simply using foam can help and be done relatively easily, depending on how accessible your pipes are. Some people also suggest leaving warm and cold water dripping, so there's movement through the pipes. 

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.

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