Blog :: 2018

What to do Near You | Fall Events and Activities

The air is crisp, pumpkins are being harvested, and the leaves are changing colors, all signs of the arrival of everyone’s favorite season, fall. Vermont is famous not only for its fall foliage, but also the plethora of fall events and activities that you can attend! Go ahead and check out the ones we’ve listed below:

Leaf Peeper’s Half Marathon & 5K Race: in Waterbury – September 30th (11:00am) – Register now to participate in one of the ten best road races in Vermont this fall! Run through the town of Waterbury while looking at some spectacular early peak foliage. The half marathon begins at 11:00am, and the 5K starts at 11:10am. Do you think you can beat the course record?

Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin’ Festival: in Stowe – September 30th (11am – 4pm) – Join in on the fun while attending the 10th Annual Vermont Pumpkin Chuckin’ Festival.  This festival celebrates the sport of ‘chuckin’ pumpkins, for distance, using a make-it-yourself gravity-powered catapult. This event is a great opportunity for kids and adults of all ages to build something with their hands and engage in some family-friendly competition. Can you beat the current record of 689 feet?

Stowe Foliage Arts Fest: in Stowe – October 5th – 7th (10am – 5pm) – Surround yourself with autumnal perfection during peak fall foliage season while enjoying exquisite art and fine craftwork from over 150 artists and artisans. It’s sure to be a fun packed day with live music, entertainment, great food, beer, and wine.

Leaf Blower Fall Classic Mountain Bike Festival: in Stowe – October 6th (8:30pm - 6:00pm) – Come out for a day of food, music, and mountain biking fun! With group rides and clinics available for newbies and seasoned vets alike, there’s a ride for everyone at this favorite mountain bike tradition. Registration covers your rides, snacks, cookout, and a goodie bag- and all proceeds from this event go towards building and maintaining Stowe’s mountain bike trails. Get those legs ready!

Sugarbush Oktoberfest: located at Sugarbush Resort – October 7th (12pm – 9pm) – Make sure to check out this year’s Oktoberfest, featuring Bavarian-inspired food, drink, games, and The Reformed Mad Bavarian Brass Band North! It’s not just drinking, join in the fun by competing in stein hoisting, keg tossing, and a football tournament for a chance to win prizes!

Essex Fall Craft and Fine Art Show: in Essex – October 26th – 28th (9am – 5pm) – The Essex Fall Craft Show is back for its 38th year. This three-day show takes place under two adjoining roofs ensuring a great getaway rain or shine! This craft show features exhibitors from all areas like woodworking, pottery, sculpture and so much more!

Apple and Pumpkin Picking: Don’t miss out on the staples of a perfect fall day – apple and pumpkin picking! Vermont is home to hundreds of apple orchards and pumpkin patches so there’s bound to be one right around the corner from you! Check out these popular locations near you:

Apple Orchard

Pumpkin Patches
Waterbury: Hunger Mountain Orchard Waterbury: Pete's Greens, Grenier's Farmstand
Essex Junction: Chapin Orchard Essex Junction: Chapin Orchard
Montpelier: Peck Farm Orchard Plainfield: Littlewood Farm

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    Home Study Space | Back to School Season

    With most children going back to school this week it’s time to start the homework grind again. If your kid is like most, staying focused on assignments can be a struggle, especially when it’s still so summer-like outside. Take a look at our list of what it takes to make an effective home study space.

    Location – This is the most paramount decision in the whole process. If your children are younger, you want an area that you can keep an eye on without having to run back and forth to their room. The kitchen table is a classic location where you can prep dinner and keep an eye on their test prep. Make sure this spot isn’t too distracting, whether it’s next to the front door or near a TV.

    As your student grows, they might enjoy more independent spaces to work. Adding a desk to their bedroom furniture might be the way to go or altering a living room nook. Make sure wherever they set up is well lit to avoid eye strain which can lead to headaches or tiredness.

    Comfortable – I’m sure we all remember the stiff plastic and wooden chairs that you have to sit in at school. While homework isn’t always fun, you don’t want it to feel like a punishment. By making your child’s study space fun and comfortable, they won’t be longing for the couch cushions. Adding pillows and a throw blanket to a reading nook or bench can be all the adjustment you need. (Make sure they don’t fall asleep!) 

    Decoration – Just because it’s a homework spot doesn’t mean it can’t be stylish and functional. Using bins is a great way to store stationary tools (for the young ones) and textbooks. Keeping it organized will reduce the stress that can come with multiple assignments.

    We highly recommend getting some kind of large calendar (dry erase to reduce waste) to lay out all the upcoming assignments. While a planner is effective it can be deceiving if your student isn’t checking it regularly. Make sure any new assignments make it up on the board. It’s also super satisfying to check it off!

    We wish the best of luck to all 2018 students!

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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!

      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."

      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.

      Tip and Tricks for Hanging A Gallery Wall

      Ah, the gallery wall. It’s a classic design choice that can really show off your personality and values. The best part? This can be a completely DIY project if you want, which means keeping costs down. We break down what you'll need to keep in mind as you get started.


      Plan
      You may think winging it is the way to go, but you want all the pieces to fit together in a cohesive setting. This doesn't mean you need to shoot for symmetry or keep a pattern, but it can look messy or off if it’s just thrown together.
      You also want to plan where this gallery is going to go. Big, blank walls are the target here and even better if you can put it where nothing else can fit, like next to a stairway or door. You’ll also need to take into account how big you’re looking to go. An 8x11 photo isn’t big on its own, but a dozen will eat up space quickly.
      Once you have a space chosen you'll need to map it. You can do this on the floor, use paper cutouts to map it out on the wall, or buy a fancy wall gallery kit which will give you a template. It all depends on how DIY you want to be!


      Have Fun
      Realize that you don’t just have to hang photos. If you’d like an eclectic collection you can choose to hang photos, paintings, and objects like wooden letters and album covers. Honestly, you don’t have to hang any photos at all.


      How to Hang
      You have a couple options for getting those items on the wall. These include:
      Nails
      Shelves
      Adhesive Strips
      If you’re feeling extra fancy you can try out a hanging system, like what they use in museums where cables hand down from a rod along the edge of the wall and ceiling. Make sure whatever you use is sturdy enough to handle what will be holding it, especially if it has sentimental value, like a vase.

      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.

       

      Simple Kitchen Updates this Spring

      If you’re planning a lot of spring and summer barbecues, you’re going to be spending a lot of time in the kitchen doing meal prep and cooking. If your kitchen is feeling a little bleh lately we have some tips for you.
      Looking for something totally new but not too much commitment? Check out these ideas:
      New Lighting
      A kitchen can look incredibly different depending on the lighting and the options are endless. Adding or changing the hanging lights above your counter can really balance out the room. We personally love dimmable lights, so you can easily control the mood. 
      New Faucet
      If your faucet is less than ideal it can make something as simple as doing the dishes seem like the worst possible chore. Try an upgrade and add features like a sprayer to make your job easier.
      Paint
      We’re not talking the whole kitchen...unless you want to! Just painting the cabinets will completely change the look that you’ve grown bored of. Make sure to do your research though; painting cabinets can be tricky.
      Open Shelving
      If you have space, try some open shelves for a more modern look. It’s perfect for easy accessibility and you now have more storage space!

      If something even simpler is more up your alley, check out these ideas:
      New Curtains
      Throw some fabric up! It softens the look of the kitchen and the possibilities with color and patterns are infinite. A valance might be perfect for you if you want an accent to the room but don’t want to hinder the natural light coming through the window.
      Bring in the Green
      It’s spring people, take advantage! Placing potted plants and flowers on your counters can add just the right amount of fun, and color, that you’re looking for. Make it herbs, and it can be functional when you’re cooking too.
      Create a Focal Point/Counter Decor
      If you don’t have a green thumb, there are other options. Buying or placing a bowl or pedestal and putting fruit on it can look really nice. Or if you have a nice vessel that can hold all your spoons and spatulas, it can be functional as well.
      Add a Rug 
      If your floors are less than perfect, or you simply want to add some “more” a rug can be the perfect solution. Chances are you might even have one hanging around that you can repurpose. Make sure to add some rug grippers to the bottom if you have kids or pets running around.