National Exhibition by the American Women Artists

The Bennington Center for the Arts is pleased to again be partnering with the esteemed society of American Women Artists this fall for the organization’s annual exhibition and workshop series. Typically held in fine art destinations such as Santa Fe, Jackson Hole and Scottsdale, this is only the second time the show has been exhibited in the Northeast, with the first time also at the Center in 1996.

This year, over 140 pieces of artwork will be on display and for sale at The Bennington beginning September 23 through November 13th.

The opening festivities will begin with five separate workshops taught by Master Members Carol Arnold, Bethanne Kinsella Cople, Pam Ingalls, Nancy Boren, and Kathy Lemke Waste. The workshops, which are open to a range of skill sets, begin on either September 20th or the 21st, and go through the 22nd. Oil and watercolor techniques will be demonstrated while the instructors create works ranging from delicate portraits to brushy, plein air landscapes.

On September 23rd, the art exhibitions will be open to the public. One gallery will include work that was juried into the show by the staff of The Bennington, select members of AWA and a number of additional guest jurors. The second gallery will include work created by AWA Master & Signature Members. Both shows include two and three dimensional artwork in a variety of media, such as charcoal, ceramic, watercolor, and bronze.

To celebrate the opening, there will be an evening reception and awards ceremony. This will take place Friday, the 23rd, from 5 – 8pm. The public is welcome to attend free of charge to enjoy the art and meet artists from around the country.

The Bennington is a non-profit art center located at 44 Gypsy Lane on Vermont Route 9 just West of Bennington. In addition to gallery space for traveling exhibitions the Center has additional galleries for its permanent wildlife art collection, wild bird carvings by Floyd Scholz and works by Eric Sloane. It is also home to the Covered Bridge Museum.

For more information or to sign up for the AWA
workshops, contact the Center at (802)442-7158 or go to

People/Place: American Social Landscape Photography, 1950-1980

In a collaborative effort Bennington Museum and Bennington College have selected photographs from the portfolios of Jonathan Brand, John Hubbard, Neil Rappaport, Garry Winogrand, and Lee Friedlander, to present a very special exhibition entitled People/Place: American Social Landscape Photography, 1950-1980. “Each of these photographers explores the human condition within the public sphere, the social landscape. Careful framing and split second timing are key aspects of their practice, and we have selected a wide range of their best work,” states Jonathan Kline, Faculty Member at Bennington College and his students. Combining these photographs to create an exhibit of wordless literature is an effort made by the College and Museum to link themselves as one, share photographs from separate archives, and allow visitors to enjoy the exhibit as a community.

Jonathan Brand’s journey In October 1967, from Manhattan’s Upper West Side to Bennington, Vermont was fully documented in black and white images by Brand. He shot approximately 45-50 rolls of film in three days. Images from the series include gleaming new gas stations and rusty old cars, interiors of the Paradise Motel and a diner on West Main Street, portraits of family members and candid shots of people on the street. He photographed tourists visiting the Bennington Battle Monument, and people viewing displays at an antique show, monks at the monastery at the Everett Mansion and policemen perched on stools at a luncheonette counter, and daughters Ulrika dancing in a yard and Jenny asleep in her stroller. Over one thousand images were taken, and in 2010, 174 were donated to the Bennington Museum.

While John Hubbard’s photographs vividly capture the people of Bennington as they worked and played 35-40 years ago, they too reflect his personal vision, offering glimpses into the lesser-known social aspects of the town. As a young, socially conscious man living in Vermont in the early 1970s, many of his images depict young progressive types including artists, craftspeople and back-to-the-landers. Added to these are portraits of older people.

Neil Rappaport lived and worked in Pawlet, Vermont for nearly thirty years. He was a self-taught photographer who established the photography program at Bennington College, where he served on the faculty from 1970 – 1997. Around 1979, Rappaport began taking students from his Advanced Photography class on field projects into the communities that surrounded the college. Here they were to make a visual record of what they saw as Rappaport taught them “how to find subject,” and put themselves in environments that were new to them. He taught them how to let the camera be the bridge to the subject. These photographs, over 165 of them and all anonymous, became a “Bennington Visual Census,” providing a glimpse at life in Bennington in the late 1970s.

Although Garry Winogrand and Lee Friedlander rarely travelled through southern Vermont, they are both known as the most influential American street photographers of the second half of the 20th century. Winogrand’s spontaneous images of everyday life frequently incorporate unusual camera angles along with implausible configurations of people within his viewfinder. Friedlander is best known for complicating the viewing experience by the use of reflections and shadows, and using street signs and windows as framing devices. Both address issues of fragmentation, alienation, and the wonder of the everyday.

Participants from Bennington College included students Michael Ash, Iris Bennett, Amelia Bois-Rioux, Rocco Farano, Cassandra Langtry, Abby Mahler, Nathaniel Miller, Nathan Paul, Hannajane Prichett and faculty member Jonathan Kline. They, along with Jamie Franklin, curator at the Bennington Museum curated and installed this exhibition. People/Place: American Social Landscape Photography, 1950-1980 will be on view at Bennington Museum from August 15 through November 8.

Bennington Arts Weekend, August 5-7, 2016

For the fourth consecutive year the Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival will be the jewel in the crown of an ever expanding Bennington Arts Weekend. The Art and Craft Festival will be held at Camelot Village on route 9 about two miles west of downtown. 150 artists, artisans, and specialty food producers will showcase their creations under enormous gleaming white Camelot tents. Along with craft shopping the ambiance is festive: live music, craft demos, kids activities, and a food court serving a menu to please any palate featuring Vermont craft beers.

Several Bennington organizations work together to in staging the Arts Weekend; The Bennington Chamber of Commerce, Better Bennington Corporation, Bennington Potters, and The Four Corners North group including Hawkins House Craftsmarket. And The Tap House at Catamount Glass, the Bennington Banner, as well as other galleries, The Bennington Museum, and The Old Castle Theatre Company.

While the Southern Vermont Art & Craft Festival is taking place at Camelot Village, the town of Bennington is busy and bustling with Vermont craft beer on tap and food vendors offering local farm to table fare. All this in the beautiful atmosphere that only Southern Vermont can offer. On Friday downtown is alive with First Friday. On Saturday August 6, the Homebrew Festival takes place at Four Corners North (County Street) from 12 noon to 4 with a free shuttle running to the craft show at Camelot Village. The Homebrew Festival is in it’s second year and features sampling from 40-50 different homebrews, as well as music and beer brewing related vendors.

The Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival runs 10-5 on Friday and Saturday and 10-4 on Sunday. The adult admission is $8 and kids and parking are free. All Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival details can be found at

So, come spend the weekend. Enjoy Vermont’s first town. Visit the festivals, eat good food, drink good beer, walk the downtown. Breath the air, relax, and become a Vermonter.

For a complete schedule keep checking

From Presidents to Pollinators It’s Summer at Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home!

The guest experience at Hildene begins at the Welcome Center where visitors get a glimpse of all that Hildene’s mission: Values into Action encompasses, access information on its venues, walking trails, and transportation. Introductory films focus on the history of the family and restoration of the 1903 Pullman Palace car, Sunbeam.

The tour of Robert and Mary Lincoln’s home brings the family’s story to life. Robert built Hildene in 1905, during his tenure as president of the Pullman Company. Home to three generations of Lincoln descendants, it is here that Robert’s famous father, Abraham Lincoln is honored in a thought provoking exhibit: “The American Ideal: Abraham Lincoln and The Second Inaugural” which includes one of only three of Abe’s iconic stovepipes in existence.

A visit to the home includes the family’s formal garden bounded by the Taconic and Green Mountains, with the Battenkill running through the valley below. The setting was inspiration for the name Hildene which means “hill and valley with stream.” Jessie, President Lincoln’s granddaughter, designed the formal garden to resemble a stained glass window as a gift to her mother, Mary Lincoln, in 1907. Late May through mid-June it is abloom with more than 1,000 peony blossoms. Summer to fall, the floral hues are provided by perennials. This is only one of the estates’ many lovely gardens.
A short walk from the house, is the meticulously restored 1903 wooden Pullman car, Sunbeam, and the provocative exhibit “Many Voices” which focuses on social history filled with paradox. The early leaders of the Pullman Company (George Pullman and Robert Lincoln), privileged passengers, black porters, and people who experience it today, are the “Many Voices.” Set against a timeline that spans the 100 years between President Lincoln’s 1863 Emancipation Proclamation and the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington, its content provides a platform for civil civic discourse and places Hildene on the Vermont African American Heritage Trail.

The family’s agricultural legacy is honored at both levels of Hildene Farm. At the goat dairy and cheese-making facility, guests discover a 21st century solar powered barn where the cheese-making is publically viewed and where they interact with the farm environment and the Nubian goats in residence.

The 200 acres below the home in the Dene, bear testimony to an emerging agricultural and educational project that includes construction of a state of the art teaching greenhouse and a compost facility. The Dene, accessible by walking, riding the tram or a once a day wagon is where guests experience the farm, learn about songbird habitat and pollinator sanctuary initiatives and traverse the bordering wetland on a 600’ floating boardwalk.

Visits usually end as they started… at The Welcome Center where guests can taste Hildene artisanal cheeses in The Museum Store and choose items from heirloom peony seeds to a Lincoln book as a reminder of their Hildene experience.

Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home is as much about the future as it is about the past. Open daily, year round from 9:30 to 4:30. For more information visit or like us on Facebook.

Craft of Beer Homebrew Challenge & Street Festival

Plan a trip to Bennington on August 1 from noon to 4pm for the inaugeral “Craft of Beer Home Brew Challenge and Street Festival.” For this outdoor event, a section of County St. in Bennington, VT will be closed in order to create a street fair atmosphere with live music, delicious food trucks, and of course the best home brewed beer in the area! Events will be spread throughout County St. so you can sample beer, shop, listen to live music, and enjoy all that the 4 Corners North area has to offer. This is a family friendly event and there will be homemade root beer available.

Admission to the street festival is free and $15 for those who would like to sample the home brewed beer and vote on their favorite. Tickets can be purchased on the day of the event and will include a sampling glass.

Please visit for additional information about the festival. Also, like us on Facebook at: Craft of Beer Home Brew Challenge.

The Craft of Beer Home Brew Challenge is sponsored by the B.C.I.C (Bennington County Industrial Corp.), The Tap House at Catamount Glass, and Madison Brewing Company with contributions from the Bennington Potters and Hawkins House.

The event is part of the Bennington Arts Weekend (July 31- Aug. 2) which also features the Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival located at Camelot Village. There will be a free shuttle bus between the two events from noon to four so you can park free at the Craft Festival and be taken to and from the Craft of Beer event, or vice versa, although parking is easier at the Craft Festival, located on Route 9 west of downtown Bennington.

Celebrating a tradition of the arts in Bennington

After two successful years in Bennington, the Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival is once again returning to Camelot Village in Bennington July 31, August 1 & 2. 150 artists and artisans will display and sell their own handcrafted creations. The artists and artisans will be housed in Camelot style tents. In addition to the arts and crafts, there will be a Kids Zone, a food court, music, comic juggling, and Vermont Craft Beers.

Bennington was without a major craft show since the American Crafts Council departed Mount Anthony High School in 1972. In 2013 Craftproducers brought its famous Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival to Bennington. This event had been held at Hildene in Manchester for nearly 30 years. When Hildene announced that its Meadows would be converted into agricultural pasture land, Craftproducers was left without a venue for its summer show as well as the Manchester Fall Art and Craft Festival. As Necessity is often the Mother of Invention, Craftproducers listened to the overtures of the Bennington community and decided to move the Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival there. Manchester’s loss became Bennington’s gain. Craftproducers Fall Manchester event was successfully moved to The Practice Tee at Riley Rink in 2013.

Now in its third year in Bennington, word has gotten out among the artists and artisans. “Bennington is back!” Seemingly, memories of the former craft show in Bennington remain vividly alive. Even after 40 years the craft community still remembers the original craft market. The public has come out in droves and avidly bought an abundance of craftworks. With such stellar sales, the grapevine spread the news. While the Festival has enjoyed an auspicious start, unless there is continued public support, the exhibitors will turn to more lucrative shows in larger markets.
Many Bennington organizations are helping to create Bennington Arts Weekend, built around the Art/Craft Festival. On Friday July 31, Better Bennington Corporation has many activities planned. Under the umbrella of Bennington Arts Weekend, festivities will take place all around downtown Friday evening, July 31. Several galleries, the Masonic Temple, and the Village Chocolate Shoppe will take part. On Saturday there will be a Craft of Home Brewing Competition at Four Corners North at the intersection of County and North Streets from noon until 4PM. A free shuttle bus will run between the Art/Craft Festival and the Competition during those hours. Other Bennington Arts Weekend events will be announced before July 18.

The Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival is hosted at Camelot Village, also home of the Southern Vermont Garlic Festival. Camelot Village is worth a visit on its own. It is a sprawling multi-leveled barn full of antiques, collectibles, and furniture. The Festival is located on their lawns and pathways. There is a lovely food court under the shade of tall maple trees where picnic tables are available. A dining tent with tables and chairs provides shelter for eating lunch and listening to the live music. There is a different musical act daily.

What’s a Festival without great food? This one will deliver delicious choices: falafel, chicken wraps, steak sandwiches, Chinese dumplings, sesame noodles, Greek salad, sausage, pepper, and onion sandwiches, French fries, espresso and lattes, lemonade, ice cream, hamburgers and hot dogs, and ramen soup. An assortment of Vermont craft beers will be served as well as a selection of summertime wines.

The Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival will be held July 31, August 1 & 2 at Camelot Village, 66 Colgate Heights, on Route 9, a little over a mile west of the Intersection of Routes 7 and 9 in downtown Bennington. The Festival is open 10-5 on Friday and Saturday and 10-4 on Sunday. Adult admission is $8 and children are free. Rain or shine- under tents. No dogs, please. For more information and the latest details, visit

On a Road ‘less-traveled’ with Robert Frost

Robert Frost spent the second half of his life in Vermont. He came to live in South Shaftsbury, Vermont in 1920, “where if we have any money left after repairing the roof, I mean to plant a thousand apple trees of some ‘unforbidden’ variety.” He called his home “The Stone House,” today called the Robert Frost Stone House Museum located on VT Route 7A, now known as the Shires of Vermont Byway, perhaps a road less traveled but sure to make a difference to visitors to this lovely region of Vermont.

The house is one of the oldest in Shaftsbury built in 1769 of native stone, which is a geologic mixture of limestone and marble. It is rough hewn as Frost described, “pretty much the way it flaked off out of the quarry.” The house was used as a tavern during the American Revolution. The stone is almost two feet thick and the wide pine plank floors are original to the house.
Frost wrote “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening” in the dining room of the house on a hot June morning in 1922. He brought out several books of poetry while living in Shaftsbury and won three of his four Pulitzer Prizes. His biographer called it “The Years of Triumph.” Along with the triumphs also came tragedy. Frost’s daughter Marjorie died in 1934 of childbirth and his beloved wife Elinor died in 1938 of a heart attack. Frost wrote to a friend, “She has been the unspoken half of everything I ever wrote.”

The Robert Frost Stone House is arranged with educational exhibits that make you feel as if you met the poet. The story of his life and poetry is displayed along with some of his family furnishings. “It’s a house of literature, not furniture,” says director and founder Carole Thompson. “The most interesting things about Frost are his ideas and the poetry. He lived very simply.” The dining room where he wrote “Stopping by Woods,” is completely devoted to the poem: the story of how it was written, a facsimile of the original manuscript, analysis of the rhyme and meter, a controversial comma, what the critics said and what Frost said.

You can find more about Robert Frost and the Stone House Museum at Open May 1 through October 31, Wednesday through Sunday; closed Monday and Tuesday. 10 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

We suggest an hour for your visit. Admission is charged. The museum has a small bookshop that sells books, posters, CDs and other Frostiana. Phone: (802) 447-6200.

Manchester Music Festival Unveils A Dazzling New 41st Season

Vermont’s Green Mountains will provide the backdrop for a dazzling palette of Chopin, Beethoven, Tchaikovsky and more when the Manchester Music Festival opens its 41st concert season this summer at the Southern Vermont Arts Center.

“The theme of this year’s program is ‘Primary Colors,’ which represents certain basic elements that we will have together onstage at various times throughout this 41st season,” said Ariel Rudiakov, the Festival’s artistic director. “We have chamber music, an orchestral concert and a performance with opera singers. One might say those are three musical primaries.”

The season features seven Thursday night concerts starting July 9 at 7:30 p.m. at the Art Center’s Arkell Pavilion; six Monday night Young Artists concerts starting July 13 at 7 p.m. at Burr and Burton’s Riley Center for the Arts; a Led Zeppelin tribute on Saturday, July 18; a master class Wednesday, July 22, at 3 p.m., at YesterHouse, led by University of Arizona professor Danwen Jiang; a vocal workshop; and Music Discovery Week, when area children can take a week of instrumental lessons from members of the Young Artists program.

This year’s class of young artists is scheduled to arrive in early July. “Each year we are delighted to offer scholarships to a select group of gifted young artists from the world’s finest music schools and conservatories,” Rudiakov said. Admission is by audition. “They come here for a summer of intensive study and to perform their marvelous and hugely popular Monday evening concerts at the Riley Center as well as at various other venues in Manchester.”

The season opens with “Chopin and the French Connection” and stars world-renowned clarinetist Alexey Gorokholinsky joined by Joana Genova, violin; Rudiakov, viola; Yehudi Hanani, cello; and Vassily Primakov, piano. They will perform works by Milhaud, Chopin and Faure.
Up next is “In Praise of Music” on July 16 which features the music of Franck, Ravel, Bridge and Lili Boulanger performed by Rudiakov, Genova, cellist Edward Arron and pianist Jeewon Park with commentary by local clergymen including Rabbi Michael Cohen, the Rev. Gordon McClelland, the Rev. John Mitchell and Rabbi David Novak.

The next four concerts on July 23, 30, Aug. 6 and 13 are “Genius Unbound: Beethoven, Jazz and The Road Less Traveled”; “Spectacular Strings”; and “Power Trio + 2.” The guest artists to be featured this summer, in addition to Gorokholinski, are Lisa Whitfield, viola; Alia Kuhnert, trumpet; and Trio Solisti (Maria Bachmann, violin, Alexis Gerlach cello, and Adam Neiman, piano). They will be joined by Festival faculty members: Austin Hartman and Heather Braun, violins; pianists Julio Elizalde and Michael Brown; and the Manchester Festival Orchestra. Music for these concerts will be works by Bach, Martinu, Mendelssohn, Maurice Moszkowski (the “German Chopin”), Claude Bolling, Johannes van Bree, Shostakovich, Tchaikovsky, Dohnanyi, Adam Neiman and Rachmaninoff.

The final concert on Aug. 20 spotlights rising young stars of the Metropolitan Opera in “A Night at the Opera.” The featured artists are Rachelle Durkin, soprano; Carolyn Sproule, mezzo soprano; Sean Panikkar, tenor; and Brandon Cedel, bass-baritone. Also on the program is an original jazz composition written and performed by pianist Caren Levine.

“All of this will make up a fairly breathless and wonderful seven weeks,” Rudiakov said. “The aim is for each concert to be special and unique. Unlike lengthy runs of theater productions, our concerts happen only once and we encourage everyone to attend them all!”

The Led Zeppelin tribute marks the return of The Out on the Tiles Band and the Manchester Music Festival Strings who will join in concert to raise funds for the Festival’s Educational Outreach Program. Tickets are $20. Outdoor seating is $5 weather permitting.

Helping to promote the season is Hills Alive!, an arts partnership comprising the Manchester Music Festival, the Dorset Theatre Festival, the Weston Playhouse, the Southern Vermont Arts Center, Northshire Performing Arts, Oldcastle Theater in Bennington and the Green Mountain Academy for Lifelong Learning.

“Manchester Music Festival is thrilled to be an anchor partner in this new and unprecedented effort,” Rudiakov said. “We’re hoping to establish a dynamic, ongoing comprehensive calendar for all arts and humanities events through September and a portal for all manner of dining and recreation. We feel strongly that the arts represent a vital sector of Southern Vermont’s economy. Bonding together has already created a wonderful sense of unity and purpose.” Information on Hills Alive! is available at

Tickets for the Thursday night concerts range from $38 to $48. Tickets for the Young Artists Concerts are $10, under 18 free. Save 15 percent on ticket prices by purchasing a subscription.
Additional information is available by calling 802-362-1956, 800-639-5868 from outside Vermont, or at

Discover Golfing at the Mt. Anthony Country Club Introduce your family to the game of golf!

Mt Anthony is a year-round public family destination offering the Bennington community a recently renovated top quality 18 hole course, within a beautiful scenic Vermont terrain overlooking the Green Mountains in the heart of historic Old Bennington.

The Club house’s restaurant The GRILLE at Mt. Anthony offers Lunch and Dinner every day plus Brunch on Sundays. At this time of the year the Club’s Banquet Rooms are busy with Weddings, Anniversaries, Proms and all kinds of celebrations. This is best time to enjoy all the amenities this public property offers is during the summer wether you golf or not but during the winter you can cross country ski or snow show with groomed trails if mother nature provides sufficient snow. The Club’s Pool is a wonderful destination to cool off after golf or work and a popular site for kids birthday parties.

If you are ready for golf our PGA Professional Kevin Bennison can create a customized program for you and your family to teach or reconnect you to the game. We offer a GOLF Family package this summer that includes a 1.5 hour golf lesson, a $10 lunch voucher per person and 9 holes with cart for $80 plus tax per person. Minimum of 4 is required and we encouraged groups of 8. These lessons will be given on the practice range including driving, putting and some on course instruction.

If you just want to relax and enjoy a beautiful day by the pool then take advantage of our POOL Family package then jump in the pool and stay for lunch. This package is $25 per day plus tax.
For those of you looking for a scenic venue to host your wedding or event, then you should contact us for a tour of our facilities. Besides being conveniently located in Southwestern Vermont, we have a stunning picture perfect backdrop with 110 pristine acres overlooking the Green Mountains. We create amazing everlasting memories of your special day. Take a peek at our wedding gallery on our website to see what we are talking about. Our professional wedding planners will ensure every detail is taken care of so you can focus on enjoying your wedding.

For more information please contact Mt. Anthony Country Club at 802-442-2617 or visit their website or facebook page
(See also our ads on pages 4 and 5.)

“The Bennington” Center for the Arts Celebrating 20 Years!

The Bennington will be hosting four world-class fine art exhibitions this summer. To start things off they will be celebrating the 20th year of Art of the Animal Kingdom, a nationally recognized show in which many of the country’s finest artists participate. The show will open on June 6 and run through July and all work is for sale.

Also opening in early June is a show by members of the esteemed Salmagundi Club of New York City. Members were invited to submit work to be considered for the show and the selections were made by the staff at the art center. All work is representational but many styles and media are represented in the more than 50 paintings.

An event-filled weekend kicks off the season on June 13th when artists from these shows as well as the Small Works Show will be at the center to watch demonstrations and attend the opening reception. The public is welcome and invited to attend, free of charge. A concert by Vance Gilbert will wrap up the day’s festivities.

In early August Impressions of New England and the Laumeister Fine Arts Competition will be opening, with both on exhibit until December 20th. The first show is a favorite of the center’s patrons, with paintings of scenes in and around New England while the competition has gained a national reputation for the quality of work selected by the staff for the show. All of this work is also for sale.

The Bennington is a non-profit art center and covered bridge museum located just west of Bennington on Vermont Route 9. The calendar of shows and other information can be found at or by calling 802-442-7158.

American Museum of Fly Fishing Summer Schedule Announced

Manchester, Vermont – The American Museum of Fly Fishing announced a series of fun public programs for Summer 2015 held on the Museum grounds in Manchester, Vermont.

Beginning May 5th and running through September 7, the AMFF in conjunction with the Blue Star Museums Program offers free admission for active military personnel and their families.
Starting June 27th – Join us for the opening of Bob Hines exhibition at the American Museum of Fly Fishing. Hines was an artist for U.S. Fish and Wildlife and we are proud to showcase a vast collection of his amazing work.

On July 1-31st – Angling & Art Benefit sale and public programs. This is your chance to own a fly fishing masterpiece by Yoshi Akiyama, Mark Tougias, Samantha Aronson, and others.
On July 11th join us for Canvas ‘N Cocktails. Meet artist Samantha Aronson for a glass of wine (or two) at our new paint and sip event.

For July 19th we celebrate National Ice Cream Day! One of a kind fly fishing activities and free ice cream. 1pm-4pm.

Our signature event of the summer takes place on August 8th with our 8th Annual Fly Fishing Festival. Festival goers can shop vendor booths, cast vintage rods and learn tips from experts, tie flies, and enjoy a very special seminar by Michael Hackney who will be demonstrating how to make 3-D printed fly reels. Free admission!

Finally, later in September we have Smithsonian Magazine Museum Day Live! Free admission with Museum Day Live! ticket.

For more information about the Museum and the 2015 Heritage Award please visit our website or connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube.

The American Museum of Fly Fishing (AMFF) is the steward of the history, traditions, and practices of the sport of fly fishing and promotes the conservation of its waters. The Museum collects, preserves, exhibits, studies, and interprets the artifacts, art, and literature of the sport and uses these resources to engage, educate, and benefit all.

The Museum fulfills this mission through our public programs (including exhibitions, gallery programs, lectures, special events, and presentations), our publications, and our quarterly journal, The American Fly Fisher.

Dorset Theatre Festival Announces 2015 Season

Dorset Theatre Festival announces its 2015 Season, featuring 3 Regional Premieres, 2 Pulitzer Prize winners, its 6th Annual New Play Reading Series and new for this year a Family Fun Series designed to introduce quality theatre to the next generation of theatregoers.

“When I went about looking for the right plays for us to present this summer, my one criteria was to find plays that were moving, that make people care. These plays all have that quality, and whether funny, sad, or thoughtprovoking, people will walk out of the Playhouse this summer inspired and moved by what they have seen,” says Dorset Theatre Festival Artistic Director, Dina Janis.

THE STINKY CHEESE MAN / June 13 & June 20. Kicking off the season will be DTF’s Family Fun Series presentation of the children’s classic The Stinky Cheese Man, adapted from the book by Jon Scieszka. Featuring a giant, an ugly duckling, and a princess who kisses a frog, this play is a collection of humorous parodies of famous children’s stories and fairy tales. It has proven to be popular with audiences of all ages as it pokes lighthearted fun while celebrating the cherished classics we have all grown up reading.

INTIMATE APPAREL / June 25 July 5. Opening the Mainstage 2015 Season will be the Regional Premiere of the award winning drama Intimate Apparel by Pulitzer prize winning playwright, Lynn Nottage. The play, which won both the New York Drama Critics Circle and the Outer Critics Circle Awards, is set in 1905, and tells the story of Esther, a lonely black seamstress who stitches sumptuous corsets and negligees alone in her boarding house bedroom. When she receives a letter from a workman digging the Panama Canal, she begins to dream of sewing her own trousseau, eventually negotiating the choice between a love that is accepted and one that is true. “This play is about people who have been marginalized, people who have been erased from the public record. By presenting a play like this, we are able to bring these lost voices back into history,” says Dina Janis, Dorset Theatre Festival Artistic Director.

SHERLOCK HOLMES AND THE CASE OF THE JERSEY LILY / July 9 July 25. Following up with a bit of fun, DTF offers another Regional Premiere Sherlock Holmes and the Case of the Jersey Lily by Katie Forgette. This witty new adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s classic features Sherlock Holmes, his trusted friend Watson, the sinister Moriarty, the glamourous Lillie Langtry and even Oscar Wilde, as they navigate intrigue and danger all while rehearsing Mr. Wilde’s latest play, The Importance of Being Forthright.

OUTSIDE MULLINGAR / July 30 August 15. Next up comes the best of last year’s Broadway season with the DTF Regional Premiere of Pulitzer and Tony award winning playwright, John Patrick Shanley’s Outside Mullingar. The new romantic comedy from the author of Doubt and Moonstruck is a love letter to Ireland that tells the story of Anthony and Rosemary, two introverted misfits straddling 40. Anthony has spent his entire life on a farm in rural Ireland, and due to his painful shyness, this suits him well. Rosemary lives right next door, watching the years slip by, but determined to have him. With Anthony’s father threatening to disinherit him and an argument over land simmering between their families, Rosemary has every reason to fear romantic catastrophe. But then, in this very Irish story with a surprising depth of poetic passion, these yearning, eccentric souls fight their way towards solid ground and some kind of happiness.

I HATE HAMLET / August 20 September 5. Unapologetically silly, always hilarious, I Hate Hamlet by Paul Rudnick brings to regional audiences the wit and genius of one of our preeminent humorists. This wildly funny play tells the story of a young and successful television actor who relocates to New York, where he rents a marvelous, gothic apartment. With his television career in limbo, the actor is offered the opportunity to play Hamlet onstage, but there’s one problem: he hates Hamlet. His dilemma deepens with the entrance of John Barrymore’s ghost, who arrives intoxicated and in full costume to the apartment that once was his. The contrast between the two actors, the towering, dissipated Barrymore whose Hamlet was the greatest of his time, and the hot young television star, leads to a wildly funny duel over women, art, success, duty, television, and yes, the apartment.

For more information or to purchase tickets or subscription packages, go to www.dorsettheatrefestival.orgor call 8028672223.

18th Annual North Bennington Sculpture Show

The 18th Annual North Bennington Sculpture Show will open Saturday, July 11, 2015 with an opening reception and party from 4 to 8 PM in the North Bennington Sculpture Park adjacent to the North Bennington Post Office on Main St. The show will be on view throughout the village of North Bennington at various locations until October 25, 2015. In addition to the sculpture park, works will also be on view in Veteran’s Park, North Bennington Train Depot, and in front of the McCullough Library.

This year’s show will feature works by 36 national and local artists, some coming from Washington DC, Kansas, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee to participate. Following a successful Kickstarter Campaign to raise funds for travel stipends for participating sculptors, the show is also sponsored in part from the Fund for North Bennington and the Sage City Syndicate and has been curated by Joe Chirchirillo for the past three years.

The show had its beginnings when local mason, Joe McGovern, asked Willard Boepple, local sculptor, to install a few works on open land next to his shop and garage. Willard was also a sculpture professor at Bennington College and thought it would be a great opportunity to showcase the works of his students. Anthony Cafritz, founder of Salem Art Works, was a student at the time, and took over curating duties for several years. The students brought a sense of fun to the exhibit, siting experimental sculpture and performance pieces. Other local sculptors involved during the early years included John Uphlett, Fred X Brownstein, and Stephan Fowlkes. The openings were typically big and raucous affairs with students past and present and local artists showing their work, enjoying hot dogs and cheap beer.

The show has since evolved to include artists from all over the country and has been gaining national attention. Works are now sited throughout the Village of North Bennington and installation will take place July 5 through July 10. Expect to see some heavy equipment while the various pieces are being installed in time for the opening on July 11.

Some of the local area sculptors participating this year will include Bill Botzow, Kristen Blaker, Fred X Brownstein, Joe Chirchirillo, Michael Biddy, Rita Dee, Angus McCullough, Gregory Smith, Andrew Hamilton Reiss, Autumn Doyle, Michael Bonadio, Gary Humphreys, Adam Soranno, Caroline Bugby and Chase Winker.

Other sculptors from the Northeast and other states include Ethan Ames, Charles Bergen, Matthew Burke, Jodi Carlson, Dave Channon, Tavish Costello, Kevin Donegan, JT Gibson, Bruce Hathaway, Wendy Kemperer, Anna Q McKeown, Franc Palaia, Bryan Rasmussen, Phil Thorne, Naomi Teppich, Eric Troffkin, Bob Turan, Nick Santoro, miChelle Vara, Chad Wilson, and Zac Ward.

For more information, contact Joe Chirchirillo at 201-983-9062 or email

10th Annual Rock, Rattle & Drum Pow Wow Come Stomp, Dance, Sing and Shake Your Tail Feathers! Saturday August 8, Sunday August 9, 2015

It’s Pow Wow time again! After ten years of celebratory dance, song, and drumming, this year’s 10th Annual Rock, Rattle & Drum Pow Wow will explode in another weekend of American Indian music, dance, education, entertainment, arts and crafts vendors and cultural festivities fun for the whole family!

For two exiting days, Bennington, Vermont will be the center of Native American art and culture where American Indians will gather and share the richness, diversity and beauty of their Indigenous culture. The 10th Annual Rock, Rattle & Drum Pow Wow will be held on the beautiful grounds of the Vermont Veteran’s Home in Bennington, VT on Saturday, August 8th and Sunday, August 9th, 2015.

The theme of our Pow Wow this year is Rise & Shine * Bennington * Coming Together! Uniting in the true spirit of humankind our intertribal Powwow is a unique celebration and sharing of Native culture through traditional songs, dances and art. Traditionally pow wows are gatherings that Native American people use as a place to meet, dance, sing, renew, strengthen and share their rich culture. Our Pow Wow features authentic American Indian dancing, drumming, and tribal regalia. Native Americans ranging in age from toddlers to elders will dance in several different styles including fancy, traditional, grass and jingle dress wearing traditional and contemporary regalia. Well-loved drum groups provide vocal and rhythmic accompaniment for the dancers.

A variety of American Indian culture is expressed through award winning vendor exhibits of arts, crafts, demonstrations, music, contemporary and traditional foods. This year our pow wow will honor Veterans, the Abenaki Tribe and share an indigenous perspective on sustainable living; the Bennington Farmer’s Market community and local not for profit organizations will also be represented.

Back by popular demand, this year’s Pow Wow will feature special performances by Arvel Bird, a Nammy Award Winner Native American violinist, flute player singer and storyteller, and Danza Azteca – the Aztec Dance Group, For the ninth year, Aaron Athey of the Mohegan Nation is our Master of Ceremonies, Red Blanket is our Host Southern Drum, Rez Dogs is our Head Northern Drum and the Wampum Boys, an intertribal drum will join us this year.

Special Honoring’s – Our special veteran’s honoring and presentation during the Grand Entry on Saturday and Sunday at 1pm is one of the highlights of the pow wow. All Veterans and their families are welcome to participate. There will also be an honoring of the Abenaki Bands of Vermont.

The Vermont Veterans’ Home is an experienced residential and healthcare campus for Veterans. The staff of the Vermont Veterans’ Home work as a team to fulfill America’s promise to care for our country’s Veterans, their spouses, and Gold Star parents. To truly fulfill the promise they offer clinical care and a wide range of services that are recognized for their effectiveness in patient centered care. Together they strive to create an environment that provides residents with the dignity and respect that they so rightfully deserve.

Healing Winds is a not for profit Native American
educational and cultural organization which serves as a resource network for Native American families, educators, schools and university internship programs. Most of our cultural programs, special events and educational activities are produced in the tri-state region of Vermont, Massachusetts and New York.

This year’s pow wow is produced in association with Heron Brook Haven of Pawlet, Vermont, a spiritual healing and teaching center acting as our fiscal sponsor. The Paradise Inn of Bennington is our host hotel.

Please go to or contact Healing Winds Co–Directors Fidel Moreno, 832-777-8081 and Susan Jameson, 413-443-2481,or Facebook for more information.

The Pow Wow will be held at the Vermont Veterans’ Home, 325 North Street, Bennington, Vermont. All tickets purchased at the gate. Pow Wow One Day Admission: Adults – $7, Seniors 65+ and Youth 11-17 – $5. Children 10 and under – $1.00.

Love Is All Around You… Aphrodite’s Arts Arrows

A special event is taking place at Helmholtz Fine Art in Manchester on Valentine’s Day, Saturday, February 14 from 5:00 to 7:30 PM. “Aphrodite’s Arts Arrows” is open to the public and will feature new works of art from many of her artists (Elizabeth Torak, Louis Guarnaccia, Mark Wilson Meunier, Thomas Torak, Margot Nimiroski, Kathryn Jaliman, Lisa Cueman and Douglas Flackman) as well as works from guest artists that celebrate the idea of LOVE.

“Art is not only timeless,” says Lisa Helmholz-Adams on the topic of art’s connection to love and therefore Valentine’s Day, “it caters to all emotions. Art ‘is’ an emotion captured by an artist and conveyed to all who view it and take the time to connect what they see with something inside themselves.” This Valentine’s Day, Helmholz Fine Art caters to LOVE and offers spirits, wine, sweet delights and entertainment including some of the best love songs of all times and a Valentine’s Day photo booth!

There will be an “art performance” with live models not to be missed: “Aphrodite & Adonis”. Aphrodite, the Greek goddess of love, beauty, pleasure, and procreation, and Adonis, the god of beauty and desire, themselves will be present at the opening as Thomas Torak and Elizabeth Torak draw from live models posing as the mythical lovers.

Thomas Torak is a modern master painter working in the classical tradition. In 2008 he was invited join the staff of the Art Students League of New York as an instructor of portraiture and figure painting. Among many accolades his paintings have been recognized by the American Artists Professional League, the Audubon Artists, the Academic Artists Association and the National Small Oil Painting Exhibition.

Elizabeth Torak has been a professional artist for more than 30 years, exhibiting in galleries and museums throughout the country including the San Diego Art Institute and the Butler Museum of American Art; she has received over 40 awards and is listed in Who’s Who in America and the Biographical Encyclopedia of American Painters, Sculptors & Engravers of the U.S..

Joining the event are two of Vermont’s signature food and beverage brands, WhistlePig Whiskey will be sampling its rye whiskey, aged and bottled in Vermont, in addition to an “approachable” specialty cocktail created just for “Aphrodite’s Arts Arrows”. Best of Vermont, a carefully selected collection of the finest locally-made products, will be offering sweet bites and Vermont cheeses making this event a Valentine’s Day destination.

Special guest Jennifer Contini Enderby, a mixed media artist with a big heart—literally, or, more specifically an artist with “many” hearts, will be exhibiting “Live Your Life”, a large work completed in 2014. In 2004, Jennifer sold her first piece of art at PEACE & LOVE Cafe on Greenwich St. in Lower Manhattan. Since then, she has designed and painted her signature “HeartART” using acrylics, metals, resins, plastics, marbles, maps and signs that she salvages from her urban environment. Recalling the merry mayhem of childhood through their sheer tactility, the artist’s use of text and liberal doses of climactic color offer a rejuvenating balance of innocence and wisdom.

Helmholz Fine Art is located at 203 Depot Street in Manchester Center, VT. Hours of operation are Tuesday to Saturday, 11-6 and Sunday, 11-4. For more information contact Lisa Helmholz-Adams at (802) 855-1678 or send an email to You may also visit the website at or follow “HelmholzFineArt” on Facebook.

Southern Vermont Arts Center to Open 65th Anniversary Season with Solo Art Exhibitions

The Southern Vermont Arts Center (SVAC) is kicking off their 2015 season with a selection of solo exhibitions in the Yester House Galleries. The Winter Solo Show will welcome nine member artists to present a selection of original artworks, all available for purchase.

Exhibiting artists include Marilyn Cavallari, Ian Creitz, Sandra Dovberg, Dona Mara Friedman, Matthew Lerman, Nancy Tips, Katrin Wait, Kim Eng Yeo, and Helen Young. Collectively their work encompasses everything from oil painting to photography, pastoral content to industrial themes, and traditional representation to the brow raising abstract.

SVAC itself has grown out of a long standing tradition of presenting member artists that have dedicated themselves to Southern Vermont’s arts community. This year marks the 65th anniversary of the organization having purchased its signature home on the Equinox hillside and will include a variety of exciting programs and events in celebration of this milestone. “We want to get back to our roots – a big part of this celebration will be finding new ways to connect to and support our member artists. They created SVAC and they are the heart and soul of our organization,” says Executive Director, Jennifer Weinstein.

While the full calendar is slated for announcement in the coming weeks, Weinstein alluded to several season highlights that will honor the anniversary, “We will incorporate the 65th in an upcoming juried exhibition theme, and we have a few other fun tricks up our sleeve… you’ll just have to stay tuned.”

The Southern Vermont Arts Center is located off West Road (930 SVAC Drive) in Manchester, Vermont. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10am to 5pm, Sunday 12pm to 5pm. For more information call (802) 362-1405 or email Visit SVAC’s website,, for updates on exhibitions, workshops, special events, and more.

The Gallery at Equinox Village Presents “Other Worlds,” the Art of Elizabeth Nagle

Dorset resident Elizabeth Nagle will present an exhibit of her latest work titled “Other Worlds” at The Gallery at Equinox Village, from January 15 through February 16, 2015. The Exhibit Opening, scheduled for Thursday, January 15 at 5:30 p.m., is free and open to the public and will feature light refreshments and live music.

Ms. Nagle is primarily an abstract painter and mixed media artist, although she also explores printmaking and sculpture. Her work has been presented in many galleries throughout Fairfield County (Connecticut) where she resided until this past summer, including The Carriage Barn (New Canaan), Westport Arts Center, Bruce S. Kershner Gallery (Fairfield), Rowayton Art Center and the Flinn Gallery (Greenwich). She was chosen in 2012 by General Electric to exhibit in their 6th Annual Women’s History Month exhibit.

A graduate of the San Francisco Art Institute, Ms. Nagle is also a member of the Southern Vermont Arts Center where she had a solo exhibit last February. She is looking forward to a two-week residency at the Vermont Studio Center this April.

“I am exploring ways to create a magical atmosphere,” Ms. Nagle said of her latest work. “My artworks are like windows to another place and time where one encounters images both personal and universal.”

The Gallery at Equinox Village is located at 49 Maple Street in Manchester Center. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. For more information, call Equinox Village at (802) 362-4061.

Equinox Village is a vibrant independent living community situated on eleven pristine acres in the heart of the Green Mountains. Residents enjoy private, spacious apartments with exquisite views and fine dining in the community’s full-service white-tablecloth restaurant. Well-appointed common areas provide ideal places to meet family and friends and to participate in cultural events, health and wellness programs, and educational opportunities. To learn more, visit

“School Break Kids Camps” at SVAC’s Createplace in Downtown Manchester

The Southern Vermont Arts Center’s “School Break Kids Camps” returns this year with a twist; the camps are being held in SVAC’s new, Manchester Center facility, CreatePlace, at 32 Center Hill Road.

A collaboration between the Arts Center and Stacy Gates, of Create with Bogate, and sponsored by Lana and Ben Hauben of Manchester Designer Outlets, CreatePlace will host a slate of mini crafting workshops especially designed by Stacy to appeal to kids in kindergarten through grade five.

The camps run from 1-4 pm on December 22 (Stamping Wrapping Paper), December 23 (Modern Tin Art), December 24 (Handcrafted Notebooks), December 29 (“Frozen” Themed Crafts), December 30 (Abstract Art Making), December 31 (Cardboard African Mask Making), January 1 (Architecture & Cityscapes) and January 2 (“Angry Bird” Crafts).

Each camp costs $35 per day, per child, with discounts for siblings, multi-day attendance, and SVAC Members. Register for camps by calling Stacy Gates, at 367-1300.

In addition to the Kids Camps, CreatePlace offers open studio time plus drop-in crafts activities for children and adults daily. For a complete rundown of CreatePlace offerings, visit; for more information on the camps and CreatePlace, email Stacy Gates at or call the studio at 367-1300.

For more information on the Southern Vermont Arts Center, visit or call 362-1405. SVAC is located at 930 SVAC Drive, off West Road, in Manchester, Vermont.

Sarah Hall Weaver Named SVAC’s Director of Galleries and Development

Jennifer Weinstein, Executive Director of the Southern Vermont Arts Center, has announced the appointment of Sarah Hall Weaver to the post of Director of Galleries and Development.

A graduate of Alfred University, Sarah was most recently the Assistant Director of the National Museum of Dance in Saratoga Springs, NY where her responsibilities included curating permanent and rotating exhibitions, designing arts programming and events, marketing, and development.

Throughout her career she has curated dozens of exhibitions including large scale collective exhibits like the Mr. & Mrs. Cornelius Vanderbilt Whitney Hall of Fame and a permanent display honoring Jewish World War II veterans as well as many projects showcasing singular artists.

Hall Weaver was in part selected on the basis of a mutual appreciation for artists and artworks of all variety – something SVAC seeks to offer inside and out. “From my first drive up the hill I knew SVAC was a special place. There are opportunities here – for artists of all backgrounds to display their work and for visitors to find fine art that truly impacts them. The opportunity for me to bring artist and audience together is an absolute privilege,” said Sarah. “The Arts Center has endless potential. It has an incredible campus, an impressive history, and a very promising future. I am deeply honored to join the staff and am looking forward to welcoming our artists.”

The Southern Vermont Arts Center is off West Road (930 SVAC Drive) in Manchester, Vermont. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10 am to 5 pm, Sunday noon to 5 pm. For more information, call 362-1405 or email Visit any time at

Holiday Cocktail Party to Benefit Future Exhibitions at SVAC

The Southern Vermont Arts Center invites one and all to gather for festive food, drink and live holiday music – and to help underwrite the Arts Center’s ambitious slate of upcoming exhibitions.

On Saturday, December 20, from 5 pm to 7 pm, the holly-decked halls of SVAC’s elegant Yester House Galleries will host and toast revelers with signature holiday cocktails, wine, beer, and hors d’oeuvres created especially for the evening by TED Café. A live string quartet playing a repertoire of classical and classic holiday carols and songs, from Mendelsohn to Mathis, provides the soundtrack to this memorable seasonal soiree.

Tickets are $53 per person ($48 per person for SVAC Members). Register online at or by calling 367-1302.

The Southern Vermont Arts Center is off West Road (930 SVAC Drive) in Manchester, Vermont. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10 am to 5 pm, Sunday noon to 5 pm. For more information, call 362-1405 or email Visit any time at

New Home for Komen Vermont-New Hampshire

After a dozen or so years or so on Bonnet Street, in Manchester, Vermont, Komen Vermont-New Hampshire has relocated its offices across town to 1009 Depot Street, above Women and Children’s Services of Southern Vermont, in Manchester Depot.

“The folks from the Northshire Bookstore, our former landlord, and the Counsell family before them, have been great to us from the start,” said Becky Burke, Komen VT-NH’s President. “More than generous.”

Carol Munson, the organization’s long-time Affiliate Coordinator, gave a rundown of past “offices.” “Our original office space, if you could call it that, was on the second-floor landing of the Zion Church’s Parish Hall stairway, where we shared a printer with Vermont Reading Partners,” said Munson.

“A few years later, thanks to the generosity of Merrick Counsell, we moved into the small apartment above his family business, Briggs Fowler Insurance, at 21 Bonnet Street. The building was eventually sold to the Northshire Bookstore, we stayed, Briggs Fowler moved out, Spiral Scoops moved in, and now we’re heading off to our first real office space.”

“The new location is a great fit for us,” said Terry Farkas, Komen VT-NH’s Executive Director. “Women and Children’s Services of Southern Vermont is a pediatrician, Dr. Donna Miller, and Dr. Glen MacKenzie, who’s an OB/GYN. Our missions dovetail nicely. Beyond that, our new space is beautiful, very sunny, and there’s lots of parking – we’d love for people to drop by to say hello!”

For more information about Komen Vermont-New Hampshire, visit online at or call 888-550-CURE.


Features “A Moveable Feast” Exhibition
203 Depot Street, Manchester, Vermont

Lisa Helmholz-Adams, acclaimed art dealer, global philanthropist and founder of Helmholz Fine Art Galleries in Tribeca, NYC and Dorset, Vermont, brings to Manchester, Vermont an incredibly unique art experience with her “pop-up” gallery featuring over one hundred works of art from her national award winning artists and their masterful rare mediums: Elizabeth Torak, Lisa Cueman, Douglas Flackman, Louis Guarnaccia, Mark Wilson Meunier, Elizabeth and Thomas Torak, Kathryn Jaliman and Margot Nimiroski.

Grand Opening night, November 29th, 5-7:30pm, is not to be missed featuring the unveiling of the acclaimed “Feast of Venus 1”, a remarkable masterpiece, 60”x108” with incredible symbolism and story just arriving back from Washington DC, by multiple award winning artist, Elizabeth Torak. To celebrate with friends, the community, visitors, new and current collectors, a delicious edible feast will be presented this evening for all to enjoy with the generosity of Best of Vermont, Vermont Spirits, H. N. Williams, Dorset Union Store, Sushi Boat, to name a few… an abundant “feast” on all levels.

“I’m thrilled to bring this painting back to Manchester and especially at this time of year,” says Elizabeth Torak. “With its themes of food, community, and closeness to the earth, Thanksgiving in Vermont seems like the natural setting for the Feast of Venus.”

“There are many layers of meaning in the work. One of them is the theme of creativity,” Torak continues. “As an artist, I know that producing a great work of art takes imagination, training, talent, and a high level of craftsmanship. Much of the activity in the Feast of Venus is in the careful preparation of vegetables; the beauty of fresh, vivid ingredients is also evident. This reflects the high value I place on craftsmanship, the time and effort I put into preparing linen with white lead in the method of the Old Masters, the careful cooking (literally) of Maroger medium, and the hand ground paint that I prepare.”

(Note: Dates for the HFA Pop Up Gallery are 11/24-12/31, seven days a week from 11am to 7pm)

Another wonderful evening event and celebration during this span of time will take place on December 11th from 5–7pm as Helmholz contributes to Hunger Free Vermont with Helmholz generous sponsors: Manchester Designer Outlets, Green Door Day Spa, Garden Arts, Best of Vermont, Amy Thebault Design, Lisa Laberge Interiors, Casella, W.H. Shaw Insurance Agency, and Romano Publishing. This will be a festive event where all will have the opportunity to meet and be inspired by two visiting executives from Hunger Free Vermont: Marissa Parisi, MS, Executive Director and Monica Taylor, MA, Donor Relations Manager.

Contributing to Hunger Free Vermont relates directly to the HFA philanthropic arm of Helmholz’s company called Global Reach. Global Reach will donate to organizations that are making a difference in areas where Lisa Helmolz-Adams is passionate: from Vermont where she lives now to Africa where she spent much of her childhood. “I feel very blessed to have grown up in Africa with my dad, Robert C. Helmholz, being the Director for World Health Organization for 12 countries and being part of the eradication of smallpox which changed so many lives. At a young age I was holding the African children and keeping them calm while they were given their shots. From then on, I always have wanted to make a difference and impact–this is who I am and will continue to be with my Global Reach starting in my own backyard with Hunger Free Vermont. Global Reach, creating these experiences like “A Moveable Feast” featuring incredible art and sharing my artists and my galleries with the world is the essence of who I am and I could not be more excited.”

Finally, some of Helmholz amazing artists will be doing live demonstrations of their rare mediums, again not to be missed, at the “Helmholz Fine Art Pop Up Gallery”. Follow along at for times and dates as they are announced.

“A Moveable Feast” and the Grand Opening are open to the public in the celebration of the arts, of the holidays, of family and friends, and of giving back to the communities in which we all live. For details or answers to any questions call Lisa at (802) 855-1678 or email her at her at

Annual Winter Members’ Show Bows at SVAC, December 6

The Southern Vermont Arts Center welcomes the 22nd Annual Winter Members’ Exhibition to the galleries of Yester House, on December 6, with a free opening reception in the galleries from 2-4 pm. A number of artists will be in attendance; complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres will be served. All works of art will be for sale.

The companion piece to the Annual Summer Members’ Exhibition, the Winter Members’ show will draw works from as many as 70 SVAC Artist Members who will present approximately 130 pieces in painting, watercolors, prints, photography, mixed medium and sculpture. While not a requirement, the Winter Members’ show, which runs through January 11, is often dominated by wintery motifs in a wide variety of styles and methods.

The Southern Vermont Arts Center is located off West Road (930 SVAC Drive) in Manchester, Vermont. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10 am to 5 pm, Sunday noon to 5 pm. For more information, call 362-1405 or email Visit any time at

Four Solo Exhibitions Plus Group “Water” Exhibition in SVAC’s November Opening

The Southern Vermont Arts Center’s November Exhibitions feature solo exhibitions by four artists – Claire Fauquier, Mary Iselin, Alison Nicholls and Jim Schlessinger – plus the group show, “Water,” showcasing the works of some of the region’s finest artists working in oil, watercolor, photography, sculpture and pastel. All works in all shows will be available to purchase. There will be a free, opening artist’s reception, with complimentary wine and hors d’oeuvres, from 2-4 p.m. on Saturday, November 1.

Two of the solo presenters, Claire Fauqier and Jim Schlessinger, are photographers. An avid traveler, Claire Fauqier’s show highlights images she’s composed over the past year, traveling in East Africa, India, and Europe. Jim Schlessinger’s photos are about illusion and allusion, meditation, and, sometimes, the magic he’s found along the way. “In the ‘forest,’” Schlessinger said, “I’ve always found that I am as interested in the space between the trees as I am in the trees themselves.”

Mary Iselin is a professional artist who works in oil. Her paintings are luminous and filled with light. “I paint sheep or horses the way some artists would paint a bowl of fruit – as a vehicle to explore light, color, atmosphere, and, most of all, spirit.”

Alison Nicholls, a watercolorist whose focus is entirely on Africa, is a member of the Salmagundi Club, the Explorers Club, Artists for Conservation, the Society of Animal Artists and a member of the Creative Board of Pencils for Africa. She lived in Botswana & Zimbabwe for a number of years and returns annually to sketch in the field and lead Sketching Safaris for Africa Geographic Magazine (Nicholls will also be presenting a free, Artist’s Talk, on Sunday, November 2, in Yester House Gallery, at 2 p.m.).

The Southern Vermont Arts Center is located off West Road (930 SVAC Drive) in Manchester, Vermont. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10 am to 5 pm, Sunday noon to 5 pm. For more information, call 362-1405 or email Visit any time at

Free Artist’s Talk at SVAC, Sunday, November 2

To complement its November Solo Exhibitions, the Southern Vermont Arts Center will present a free artist talk by one of the exhibitions’ solo artists, Alison Nicholls. Ms. Nicholls’ talk, “African Conservation through the Eyes of an Artist,” will be on Sunday, November 2, at 2 p.m. After the talk the artist will offer a guided tour of her solo exhibition in Yester House.

An artist intensely inspired by Africa, Alison Nicholls works closely with several conservation projects, including the African People & Wildlife Fund (APW) based in northern Tanzania. Alison has visited APW several times to sketch on site and to learn about their work with the local Maasai community.

She will talk about her experiences living in southern Africa, sketching people and wildlife in the field, and how she uses her sketches, journals and mental library of images as inspiration for her larger studio paintings. Her presentation will be illustrated with sketches, paintings, and video from her travels in Africa (see a “thumbnail” video of the artist’s talk here:

Alison Nicholls is a member of the Salmagundi Club, the Explorers Club, Artists for Conservation, the Society of Animal Artists and a member of the Creative Board of Pencils for Africa. She lived in Botswana and Zimbabwe for a number of years and returns annually to sketch in the field and lead Sketching Safaris for Africa Geographic Magazine.

Her conservation sketching expeditions allow her to work closely with African conservation projects, visit them in the field, learn about their work and sketch on site. Upon returning to the studio, she creates a traveling exhibition and lecture series to raise funds and awareness for the conservation project. Alison is English by birth but has traveled widely; she currently resides in Port Chester, New York, with her husband Nigel.

The Southern Vermont Arts Center is located off West Road (930 SVAC Drive) in Manchester, Vermont. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10 am to 5 pm, Sunday noon to 5 pm. For more information, call 362-1405 or email Visit any time at

Outdoor Painting, Digital Photography and Still Life Workshops at SVAC

The Southern Vermont Arts Center’s Fall Art Workshop Series wraps up with three two-day, all-level workshops in plein air oil painting, HDR (High Dynamic Range) Digital Photography and Still Life Pastel Painting, taught by three recognized leaders in their field.

Walt Pasko, who can usually be found behind an easel on the Massachusetts coast, Monhegan Island, Maine, or in the forests, fields, or village greens of southern Vermont, leads off on October 4 and 5 with Plein Air (outdoors) Painting. $175 ($150 SVAC members)

Digital photography, which seems to be everyone’s favorite past time lately, gets its due in HDR Digital Photography, on October 11 and 12. Taught by Alan Nyiri (who studied with Ansel Adams, Philip Hyde and Eliot Porter, the Big Three of twentieth century landscape photography) the course will include an overview of the use of the software and technology used to create HDR images. $250 ($200 SVAC members)

The series concludes on November 15 and 16 with pastel master Robert Carsten’s Creating Exciting Still Life Paintings. Composition, image correlation, practical color theory, and attention to achieving gorgeous textural surfaces are featured in this still life workshop. $225 ($200 SVAC members)

Detailed course descriptions, materials lists, instructors’ bios, site links, and registration are all online at Click “Adult Art Workshops” under the Calendar tab.

For more information on the Southern Vermont Arts Center, visit or call 802-362-1405. SVAC is located at 930 SVAC Drive, off West Road, in Manchester, Vermont.

SVAC’s Art on the Hill Returns, With Stacy Gates and “The Junkman”

The Southern Vermont Arts Center’s free, annual, outdoors family fun day, Art on the Hill, returns to the campus on Saturday, September 20, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Along with the anticipated array of arts and crafts, an incredible scavenger hunt, face painting, plein air (outdoors) painting instruction, button making and much more, this year marks the return of Stacy Gates – of “Create With Bogate” fame – as SVAC’s Children’s Education Coordinator, and the Arts Center debut of Donald Knaack, aka, The Junk Man, a Grammy nominated composer and percussionist who plays solely on found and recycled objects.

As a graduate of the Manhattan School of Music, a member of the illustrious Louisville Orchestra and Buffalo Philharmonic (and a musician under composer, pianist and conductor, Igor Stravinsky), Donald Knaack is not the sort of man you’d envision wearing a blue denim work shirt, replete with glittering recycling logo, while pounding out hypnotic rhythms on hubcaps, saw blades, and buckets.

Knaack’s Junk Music, as he calls it, has taken him to schools, colleges, theatres, and festivals around the globe, including Lincoln Center, The Kennedy Center, The United Nations, Sundance Film Festival, The Van’s Warped Tour (where he played with Eminem, Black Eyed Peas, and Blink 182), Seoul Drum Festival, Lemonwheel and The Great Went (where he played with Phish), the Summer Series Dubai… and Art on the Hill, with hourly interactive performances, from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. See and hear more at

Also, Kelli Humphrey, of Tails in the Tub, a mobile dog grooming service, will be on hand to demonstrate the do’s and don’ts of dog grooming (while well-behaved dogs are welcome at AOTH, they will not be getting groomed – a number of dogs have already volunteered to be, well, guinea pigs).

SVAC’s Art on the Hill is one of a series of high-quality, free-to-the-community, family events. Stay tuned for the next offering, Halloween on the Hill, coming to the campus this October.

The Southern Vermont Arts Center is located off West Road (930 SVAC Drive) in Manchester, Vermont. Gallery hours are Tuesday through Saturday 10 am to 5 pm, Sunday noon to 5 pm. For more information, call 362-1405 or email Visit any time at


Komen VT Race for the Cure, Hildene Meadows, Saturday, September 20

While the Komen Vermont Race for the Cure is nearly upon us, there is still plenty of time to register for the 5K walk or as a runner in either the 5K or 10K races. And bring the family! There’s plenty for everyone on race day… a Kids Tent with lots of fun activities for children, raffles for spectacular prizes, free bagels and coffee to get you warmed up and ready to race, a fantastic silent auction with incredible items to bid on, and lots of sponsor exhibits where you can collect great goodies.

Online registration, at, is open until 6:00 p.m. on September 18. You may register in person at the race site, Hildene Meadows, on River Road, in Manchester, from noon to 6:00 p.m. on Friday the 19th, as well as on race day, starting at 7:30 a.m. And if you can’t make it to the Race but would like to make a difference, register online as a Virtual Runner.

It’s important to remember that participation in either the walk or runs directly impacts the health and well being of countless women, men and children in Vermont and New Hampshire. 75% of the monies raised stays local, benefitting breast cancer education, screening and treatment programs in Vermont and New Hampshire. 25% is dedicated to breast cancer research.

Thanks to last year’s Racers, Rompers (the Tubbs Snowshoe event on Stratton) and Riders (horseback fundraising rides in Vermont and New Hampshire), Komen Vermont New Hampshire was able to recently grant $350,000 to 11 breast cancer programs in the two states.

Get more information about the race and register online at or call 802-362-2733.

The Expressive Portrait Opens SVAC’s Fall Art Workshops

The Southern Vermont Arts Center’s Fall Art Workshop Series debuts September 5 through September 7 with The Expressive Portrait, a comprehensive, oil-painting workshop focusing on painting an expressive yet accurate head and shoulders portrait. Led by award-winning artist, T.J. Cunningham, the workshop will include demonstrations each morning followed by one-on-one work with each student.

Basic anatomy, color theory, brushwork, and edgework will be thoroughly discussed. Students will focus on completing one alla prima portrait from life over the three days.

Although Cunningham displayed artistic interests as a child, he did not begin painting in oils until his first college painting class. His primary instructor instilled in him a deep love for the great masters of the 1800s and 1900s.

Since then, T.J. has spent hours in art museums learning to unravel the thought processes of painters from John Sargent to William Bouguereau. This study of the masters, coupled with hundreds of hours behind his easel, gives ever-deepening quality and a growing depth and resonance to his work.

In 2013, T.J. earned the coveted Exceptional Merit Award from the Portrait Society of America. His work has been shown in galleries and museums throughout the United States.

    Upcoming workshops include:

  • Painting Waterfalls and Streams in Autumn with Robert Carsten, September 25 – 27.
  • Plein Air Painting with Walter Pasko, October 4 ­­- 5.
  • Creating Exciting Still Life Paintings with Robert Carsten, November 15 – 16.
  • Detailed course descriptions, materials lists, instructors’ bios and site links, and registration are all online at Click “Adult Art Workshops” under the Calendar tab.

For more information on the Southern Vermont Arts Center, visit or call 802-362-1405. SVAC is located at 930 SVAC Drive, off West Road, in Manchester, Vermont.

Race for the Cure Celebrates 22 Years At Hildene

The 2014 Komen Vermont Race for the Cure®, on September 20, will be the 22nd race held at Hildene Meadows, in Manchester Vermont. After this year’s race, Komen will be folding its tents and heading for new digs in the Manchester area as the Meadows is soon to be returned to its original agricultural use. Now’s the time to enjoy this beautiful Battenkill Valley course, dotted with farmhouses and grazing horses, one more time.

“We have always been proud to host the Race. It’s meant a lot to us to be able to give of ourselves for such a worthy cause,” said Seth Bongartz, Hildene’s president. “We’ve also always known that we wanted to bring the entire Hildene property under our mission umbrella, but we wanted to have the Race here as long as possible, until we truly needed the land. And we’ve now reached that point.”

“It’s been a pleasure,” added Bongartz. “The Race has been a good partner and we part ways with fond memories.”

“Hildene has been nothing but gracious and accommodating during our long association,” said Becky Burke, Komen VT-NH’s president. “In fact, I suspect they’ve let us stay on for a few years beyond when they really wanted to return the land to its original use. I really can’t say enough good things about Hildene.”

Terry Farkas, Komen VT-NH’s executive director, sees the upcoming move as a new beginning. “We’re all fortunate to live in such a beautiful corner of such a beautiful state. We have options, which is great. We’ve been talking with land owners and visiting potential race sites throughout the Manchester area. We’ll narrow down our choices and will make the announcement as soon as we can.”

“The site’s important, absolutely,” added Burke. “But it’s not the main thing. The folks who come to the Race – the ‘lifers’ who come year after year and the first-timers alike – come because they’re passionate about fighting breast cancer. Remember, 75% of all the money raised at the Race underwrites breast cancer education, screening and treatment programs in Vermont and New Hampshire. Earlier this year we were able to grant $350,000 to 11 breast health organizations in the two states. The remaining 25% went to breast cancer research. That’s what it’s all about. That’s the main thing.”

Get more information and register for the Race at For more information on Susan G. Komen for the Cure, breast health or breast cancer, visit or call 1-877 GO KOMEN.

A New “Heart” Opens in Downtown Bennington

Downtown Bennington has loads to offer. Have you been into Panache lately? Nancy Waltman, co-owner of the building, has been busy cultivating a mecca of loveliness at her establishment. You can shop for wonderful stylish ladies clothing at Panache, find a naturopath at The Stram Center, make your way upstairs for an appointment at Green Mountain Midwifery, where Betsy Browning takes care of women’s health, The Yoga Place offers an array of classes for your physical health, Jophiel’s Spa & Salon will take you on a transformational journey from hair to body and back again, and a new establishment called Heart of the Matter will raise your consciousness to a new level.

From the back parking lot on Pleasant Street, you walk into what we all know as ‘the Panache building’. Climb the stairs and you find yourself in a world of smiles, warmth, love and joy. There are three and soon to be four businesses all owned and run by women who are inspiring us to raise our mental/emotional/physical and spiritual health.

Jophiel’s Spa & Salon was opened by Laurie Freemam Jesseman two and a half years ago. Being in the business for many years, Laurie decided to venture out on her own once again as she found her interests moving in the direction of personal development and spirituality. She is inspiring in her openness and acceptance of life, love and friendship and she fosters an environment of mutual respect and co-creation with her co-workers, Gay Baker, Kim Marsha and Janet Sleigh who all have unique skills and talents that they offer to clients. The services are as diverse as massage, reiki, chakra balancing, reflexology, polarity, zero balancing, intuitive readings, spiritual counseling, hair cuts and color, manicures and pedicures and more.

Janet joined Laurie, Gay and Kim about a year and a half ago and is now moving into the space adjacent to Jophiel’s, linking the two with a sliding barn door. She calls the new space ‘Heart of the Matter’. Janet’s office, a workshop/fitness area and a retail area encompass ‘Heart’. It’s mission is to offer tools for conscious living. “Our difference, if there needs to be one, is in our approach”, says Janet, we believe in taking personal responsibility. We believe that knowing our self, fully and completely, leads to health and happiness which reflects in how we live our lives and the quality of our relationships and prosperity of our communities.”

Janet offers a variety of services but says that what she is hoping to do is teach tools and skills to her clients and customers so they feel enabled and in control of the totality of their lives. So they feel comfortable and confident in making choices that come from their own intuitive voice. “As life has become more separated and controlled, reclaiming our independence of mind and emotions is huge”, says Janet. “It is the difference between feeling a victim to one’s life or the victor of one’s life”.

Flower and gem essence therapy will be focused on in great detail at ‘Heart’. Customers and clients will be encouraged to formulate their own combinations. Flower and gem essence therapy is considered vibrational medicine and their effect is to rid the bodies energetic field of stuck or blocked emotions. They raise our consciousness to a new level of vibration, which Janet says is the vibration that sensitive people are becoming more and more aware of today.

Workshops will be run regularly on a variety of topics so you may want to get on their e-mail list!

Janet will be offering flower & gem essence therapy, intuitive readings and spiritual counseling, reflexology, acupressure, dream analysis, chakra balancing as well as classes in Tai Chi, Chi Gong, Karate and Dao In.

New Gallery for Jewelry, Arts, and Fine Craft Called “Cake” Opens in Bennington

Jewelry designer and Bennington native, Meike Williams, brings retail and design expertise to new venture.

JJewelry designer and Bennington native Meike Williams is set to open a new arts and fine craft gallery downtown this fall. The gallery, at 103 South Street, is a 700 square-foot space located on the first floor of the historic Putnam Hotel building.

Williams, creator of the Cake jewelry collection, intends for the gallery to boost downtown Bennington’s economic and cultural growth, while also promoting the local artistic community in a refined but welcoming atmosphere. The gallery will include Williams’ handmade precious and semi-precious jewelry, as well as ceramics, paintings, photography, and upcycled artwork.

“The gallery isn’t just a retail space,” said Williams. “I want it to be a kind of community center where we can support the incredible diversity of talent in the region. I’m also developing plans to work with students and young artists.”

Williams brings extensive retail and design experience to the new venture. A former professional photographer, Williams changed careers and became an in-demand jewelry designer of Cake, a distinctive jewelry collection made of multiple layers that mingle well together. Her pieces appeared in dozens of films and television shows such as “Desperate Housewives,” “Grey’s Anatomy,” “Entourage,” “Scrubs,” “ER”, Scandal, and “Gilmore Girls.”

Buoyed by the success of her work, in 2004 she launched her first retail gallery in West Hollywood, Calif., and in 2007, a second in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles. The two locations represented more than 40 jewelry artisans. Last year, she re-launched the Cake website and continues to sell the collection through wholesale accounts.

In 2011, Williams returned to Vermont to be closer to family and has since launched a successful “pop-up” version of the boutique during the Stark Hose Firehouse benefit in December 2013. The well-received temporary space was filled with artwork from local community members, which proved to Williams that the town had an unmet need for a centralized space to showcase the wide range of talent. Renovations on the gallery space are set to begin in early September.

Manchester Fall Art and Craft Festival Kicks Off American Craft Week in Vermont

When autumn approaches, that’s when the craft festival season begins in earnest. The 23rd Annual Manchester Fall Art and Craft Festival kicks off American Craft Week in Vermont. The Festival will be held October 3 through 5 at the Practice Tee on Route 7A, a mile and a half north of the new roundabout in downtown Manchester, Vermont.

Coming to the Manchester Fall Art and Craft Festival is an opportunity to celebrate the wonders of American Craft. Every day thousands of American artists share their vision and talent by producing amazing hand-made decorative and functional objects. Craft show patrons demonstrate their love of these items by coming to the shows, meeting the artists, and buying handmade products. As one craft artist put it, “this is the creative economy!”

While other industry associations have long touted their products, the craft industry has lacked a single way to be highly visible. Along with craft organizations across the USA, Vermont is a leader in supporting American Craft Week. American Craft Week is held 10 days in October and the hope is to educate more people about the importance of American craftsmen and women. Crafts enrich our homes, wardrobes, offices and public spaces. The crafts industry contributes to our nation’s economy and the fabric of our national history. Craftwork is original, beautiful and enduring.

The Manchester show features 150 artists and artisans displaying and selling traditional and contemporary crafts and original art as well as a specialty food tent. Exhibitors are housed in large Camelot tents, tents transformed into veritable cathedrals of creativity. While craft shopping, customers are delighted with culinary choices served by local restaurants and food trucks. The Dining Tent, which is heated, offers tables and chairs with a relaxed ambience. Vermont craft beers are served to accompany the luncheon plates. Live music will be played here too. Besides savoring Vermont food and drink, there are many craft demos and a Vermont Cheese Tent.

As part of the American Craft Week celebration in Vermont, the Vermont Craft Council is planning its Fall Open Studio Weekend on October 4 and 5. Maps will be available at the Festival so craft show patrons may also visit those studios local to Manchester. For more details about the Open Studio Weekend, visit

Once again, the Manchester Fall Art and Craft Festival will be held October 3-5 at the Practice Tee in Manchester. Hours are 10-5 daily, Friday through Sunday. Adult admission is $10, children are free. Rain or shine-under tents. Plenty of free parking. No pets, please. Complete information is available at or call 802-362 2100.

Hildene for Harvest and the Holidays

Being open year round, means that each season guests can expect something new and different from their Hildene experience. This is especially true when summer turns to fall and fall to winter. While the flowers in the formal, cutting and kitchen, and butterfly gardens may be settling into their winter sleep in late September, the pace of activity across the 412 acre estate, between then and the first day of winter, December 21, is anything but sleepy.

This year there is a special reason to celebrate the harvest. The lower portion of the property, known as the Dene, has been returned to agriculture, as it was used during the Lincoln years. This means that 2014 will mark the first harvest from the Lincoln family’s farmland in more than 3 decades. A new compost bin system for larger scale composting will be started this fall and work will commence on a year round greenhouse, representing only a small portion of the greater commitment to agricultural and ecological sustainability and education to be found in the dene. Guests can access the dene on foot, snowshoes or cross country skis through the winter, and through October by wagon. These wagon rides leave from the Welcome Center at 2:00 pm daily for an additional cost of $10 per adult. Along the way the wagon makes several stops where the driver talks about the history of the Lincolns’ farming legacy, the evolution of Vermont’s landscape and Hildene’s plans for the future in this newly opened area.

Fall is a time of unparalleled beauty in the surrounding Green and Taconic Mountains and a special time of celebration at the home of presidential son, Robert Lincoln and wife Mary. A special holiday when the Lincoln family lived at Hildene, it remains so now, marking the beginning of the festive holiday season. The cause for the special celebration of Thanksgiving at Hildene is also rooted in a little known historical fact. It was President Abraham Lincoln who on October 3, 1863, signed the first annual national “Thanksgiving Proclamation” designating the last Thursday of November as the official annual day of celebration for our nation. He saw the holiday as a time for a war weary people to pause and give thanks.

After Thanksgiving, the harvest décor fades and the holiday décor comes into view. From December 6 through January 1, it is Christmas Eve 1912 at Hildene, and The Lincoln Family Home is looking as it would have as Robert and Mary prepare for the holidays more than 100 years ago. The mansion’s windows are candlelit and there’s a fresh scent of balsam amidst floral flourishes and satin ribbon. A selection of holiday tunes from Robert Lincoln’s collection of Aeolian pipe organ music fills the house daily. On weekends local musicians bring the organ or Mary Harlan Lincoln’s Steinway to life with their talents. Even the tree has been cut and brought in from the woods. Its graceful boughs will be hung with lovely period appropriate ornaments and candles. Lights, sights, sounds, and scents of the season abound. On Saturday, December 6 and Sunday, December 7, dressed in all its finery, and complete with food tastings, The Museum Store at Hildene welcomes neighbors and new friends alike to its annual “Home for the Holidays” open house in the Welcome Center.

Visitors year round complete their Hildene experience with a visit to the Pullman car, Sunbeam with its thought-provoking exhibit, Many Voices, and Hildene Farm and cheese-making facility, solar powered and a model for small scale sustainable farming practices. During regular hours, 9:30 to 4:30, docents and staff are on hand to answer questions about the home’s history, its famous residents and its mission: Values into Action.

Admission is $18.00 for adults and $5 for children 6 to 14. Members, volunteers and children under 6 are free. Self-guided tours are included in general admission. Reservations are required for guided tours of the home: $5 for adults; $2 for youth; children under 6, members and volunteers are free.

For more information visit, call 802.362.1788 or email

Events at the Southern VT Arts Center

Situated on 100 acres of the former Webster estate, listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Southern Vermont Arts Center campus is the heart of the Arts in Southern Vermont. Comprised of Yester House Gallery, the Wilson Museum, the Arkell Pavilion and education studios, the campus also includes an outdoor sculpture park, the Boswell Botany Trail, and TED café, the Gallery is open Tuesday through Saturday 10 am to 5 pm, Sunday noon to 5 pm.

Laugh in Peace Comedy Tour – September 6, at the Arkell Pavilion, 7:30 pm. $25 ($20 SVAC Members). A rabbi, a Muslim and a minister – in the form of East Dorset’s Rabbi Bob Alper, Kuwait-born Palestinian comic, Mohammed Amer, and the Rev. Jennifer Munroe-Nathans – bring the internationally acclaimed “Laugh in Peace Comedy Tour” to the Southern Vermont Arts Center. As Rabbi Bob says, given the state of unrest in the Middle East right now you’d think there’s no hope. But the fact is, you can’t hate each other when you’re laughing with each other. And that’s where the hope is.

Brian Sweetland’s Nature: A Vermont Artist’s Journey. Through October 26 at the Elizabeth de C. Wilson Museum. Free and open to the public.

Brian Sweetland’s Nature: A Vermont Artist’s Journey, is a major retrospective of the late artist’s work and solidifies his stature as a master of the plein air landscape. Co-curated by the artist’s sister, Mary Beth Sweetland, and artist Penny Viscusi, the show features approximately 100 paintings representing Sweetland’s development over the course of his more than four decades-long career.

New Perspectives – Ongoing. Throughout the campus. Free and open to the public. The sculptor Leslie Ferst, has recently installed a collection of 15 outdoor sculptures throughout the grounds. Titled New Perspectives, this installation is a retrospective of Ferst’s work completed during the last 13 years while teaching art at Skidmore College. Additional sculptures from this series are installed in Japan, Georgia, Massachusetts, Minnesota, New York, and North Carolina.

58th Annual National Fall Open – September 13 through October 26, in the Yester House Gallery. Free and open to the public.

Participation in this prestigious, juried exhibition is solicited nationally to attract the very finest artists from outside the Arts Center’s artist membership as well as from within. Hundreds of applications from across the nation are winnowed down to approximately 200 works, including paintings, sculpture, photography and mixed media. Juror’s Choice Awards will be given to those artists whose works display outstanding artistic merit and excellence. As is always the case with Yester House Gallery exhibitions, unless previously sold, all works will be available to purchase.

Art on the Hill – September 20, Outdoors, on campus. Free and open to the public. SVAC’s annual free family event, featuring arts and crafts, live music, food, with ongoing, interactive “found music” performances by Donald Knaack, aka The Junkman. Also on September 20 at the Arkell Pavilion, (admission TBD) a rare afternoon show by Andy Gross, a ventriloquist and magician who has more than 15 million YouTube views and who’s appeared on Ellen, CNN, FOX, MSNBC, ShowBiz Tonight, ABC, NBC, CBS and media worldwide.

For more information, contact the Southern Vermont Arts Center, 802.362.1405 or online at

Bennington Museum: Creative Collisions Between Old and New

With the introduction of the Bennington Modernism Gallery and Gilded Age Vermont Gallery one year ago, Bennington Museum embarked on a new path unveiling a new vibe and spirit for the museum. At a recent gathering, executive director Robert Wolterstorff stated, “With the addition of modern works into our galleries, we are not losing our emphasis on traditional arts and history. As we go forward, we will develop the idea of what I am calling “Creative Collisions” between old and new, traditional and modern. Simply put, the new mission of the Bennington Museum is to celebrate the creativity of Vermont in all its forms from the earliest times to the present, and to inspire the future.”

In keeping with the museum’s mission, the museum is proud to have on view through November 2, Alice Neel/Erastus Salisbury Field: Painting the People. This exhibit features the stunning work of two acknowledged masters of the portrait as art who are separated by one hundred years. “Examining the artists’ cultural, political and social milieus, as well as the subjects of their paintings and what painting meant to them personally, this exhibition reexamines the relationship between Modernism and its romantic notions of the “folk” in order to bring viewers to a more nuanced understanding of these great artists and their work.” states curator Jamie Franklin.

Bennington Modernism Gallery re-opened this year with newly installed paintings by Helen Frankenthaler and Jules Olitski, which joined works from the early 1950s through the mid-1970s that were created by a group of avant-garde artists such as Paul Feeley, Pat Adams and Anthony Caro who worked in and around Bennington, leading the nation in artistic thought and innovation. Outdoors, the museum installed wonderful sculptures by Willard Boepple and Rita Dee, while the main lobby features on a rotating basis works by artists such as Barbara Takenaga and Willard Boepple.

In the Regional Artists Gallery through October 19 is Intimate: Photographs by Jonathan Brand. Brand (b.1933) is best known as a street photographer, but this exhibition focuses on images of those most intimate to him: family and friends and is drawn from a formative period in Brand’s work, from the mid-1950s to the mid-1970s.

The museum also presents Patsy Santo: A Growing Collection, an exhibit that highlights the work of this well-known local artist and the celebration of a gift of six of his paintings to the museum by Tom and Jennifer Fels. “We acquired our first Santo painting, The Gingerbread House, directly from the artist in 1966. It wasn’t until 1992 that we began to acquire more of Santo’s work, recognizing them as an important parallel to Moses’s work, of which we have the largest public collection in the world.” stated Curator Jamie Franklin. With this recent addition to the museum collection, the museum is now the leading repository of Santo’s work. Included in the exhibit are Silo Filling and Cabin in the Pines, two of Santo’s earliest exhibited works, as well as Ready for Battle and Pleasant Street, scenes of downtown Bennington, and Peaceful River, a blending of Santo’s homes in Italy and Vermont. Skiing in Bromley is the latest of his paintings included in the exhibit.

Also on view in the Paresky Court is an installation celebrating the work of another famous local artist entitled, Katie Cleaver: Bennington Metalsmith.

Through October 27, the museum exhibits Postcard Perfect Bennington which includes forty-one postcards of the over 800 in the museum’s collection. Picture postcards and tourism came of age together in early twentieth century Vermont. While manufacturing struggled, Bennington reinvented itself as a tourist destination and capitalized the presence of outdated covered bridges and mill dams by re-branding them as “quaint.” Monuments dedicated to both events and people who were related to the Battle of Bennington, explained to travelers the town’s importance and fostered local pride.

The quilt that inspires quilters all over the world will be on its yearly display at the Bennington Museum through October 31. The Jane Stickle Quilt is only shown for a short time each year due to the fragility of the fabric. The quilt is comprised of 169 five-inch blocks, each in different patterns, containing a remarkable total of 5,602 pieces surrounded by a unique scalloped border.

On Sunday, September 7 at 2 pm, Bennington Museum welcomes Pam Weeks, New England Quilt Museum Binney Family curator, who shares recently uncovered information that sheds more light on the Civil War era quilt and its creator Jane Blakely Stickle. “What’s New About Jane Stickle and Her Quilt,” presents a quilt historian’s response to the artifact, and a fuller picture of Jane, her life and times. $8 for not-yet-members plus admission to tour the galleries and a charge of $5 for museum members.

Bennington Museum recently orchestrated an agreement enabling them to borrow four masterworks by Anna Mary Robertson “Grandma” Moses – Taking in Laundry, In Harvest Time, Sugaring Off, (1943) and Hoosick Valley (From the Window). Now on view in the museum’s Grandma Moses Gallery, they are joined by many of the paintings owned by the Bennington Museum. The newly installed gallery arranges Moses’ work in inter-related groupings to convey the full breadth of her work in a more cohesive manner than previously exhibited. As the best-known ‘primitive’ artist of the twentieth-century, Grandma Moses is often seen as exceptional, and outside the mainstream of American art history.

The Bennington Museum is located at 75 Main Street (Route 9), Bennington. VT in The Shires of Vermont. The museum has the largest public collection of Grandma Moses paintings as well as the largest collection of 19th century Bennington pottery. In its other eleven galleries is a 1924 Martin Wasp Touring Car, one of only twenty produced, 20th-Century Vermont Ceramics, as well as military artifacts, one of the earliest ‘stars and stripes’ in existence, decorative arts, folk art ranging from 18th century to present, and more. The museum is open daily through October and is wheelchair accessible. Regular admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and students over 18. Admission is never charged for younger students or to visit the museum shop.  Visit the museum’s website or call 802-447-1571 for more information.

The Bennington Announces Fall Schedule for 2014

While The Bennington Center for the Arts opened its doors with two art galleries and 300 seat theater in 1994 with shows such as the Society of Animal Artists, the Plein Air Painters of America and Women Artists of the West, it was in 2000 when Gallery Director organized the first Impressions of New England. “The show was very successful from the first year with artists and patrons,” noted Hutchins. “Visitors to the area as well as residents love seeing the beautiful scenery and iconic images portrayed in the art selected for the show. Each year we have had a wonderful selection of what we love about the area – covered bridges, beautiful rolling mountains, sail boats, even lobster pots.”

Fourteen years later and with the addition of 5 additional galleries, workshop space and a covered bridge museum this year is no exception. Fishing villages and shorelines will be exhibited next to snowy country roads and bucolic farms. Impressions of New England, a show curated by the staff at The Bennington, will include paintings and bronzes of scenes in and of New England will be on exhibit and for sale until the middle of December.

Another sales show that will be on exhibit this fall is Portraying the Human Spirit. In the past the center curated a show called Women – The Artists View. This year they have decided to widen the subjects to include men and women, young and old. “ We are hoping not to exhibit formal portraits but rather those pieces that capture the joys and sorrows of everyday life,” said Hutchins, when asked about the new show. “ Many emotions are portrayed in this exhibition – joy, sorrow, weariness, tenacity, pride. We feel the group of artists selected did a great job of capturing those feelings and that is a very difficult thing to do, to capture those personal, fleeting thoughts.”

In both shows, artists from around the country submitted work. Many pieces chosen are by nationally recognized artists while other work is by relative newcomers.

A final show for the fall season at The Bennington is the Laumeister Fine Art Competition. This respected competition, juried in the past by such talented and respected artists as Sherrie McGraw, Albert Handell and Scott Christensen, was this year selected by Brian Blood of California, signature member of the Oil Painters of America and the California Art Club. The exhibition will not be limited in theme but include landscapes, figurative work, still-lifes and city-scapes. $7,000 in prizes will be selected by Blood and announced at the opening of the show.

The Bennington, a non-profit art center, has grown to exhibit not only the temporary exhibits like those listed above but to also house the center’s permanent collection of Native American art, rugs and pottery, bird carvings by Master Carver Floyd Scholz and Americana paintings by beloved Eric Sloane. For more information, go to or call 802-442-7158.

Lakes, Quarries, and Swimming Holes

Best way to beat the heat in summer is to head to your nearest water hole and jump in! For small kids I recommend Lake Shaftsbury State Park with it’s wide sandy beach suitable for castle building, large shallow end, and snack bar. Nice facilities, picnic areas, boat rentals, and grills. Fee charged. No lifeguard.

For later in the summer as things heat up, you may prefer Lake Paran in North Bennington. This lake is deeper and stays refreshingly cold. A small fee is charged. Snack bar, facilities, and a lifeguard. For a more adult experience, my favorite spot is the Dorset Quarry on Route 30 in Dorset. NOT for children, this very deep quarry is ringed by cliffs and is an amazing, beautiful place to swim. No facilities, no conveniences, and no charge.

Another place to cool off is in the Roaring Branch River, on Route 9, east of Bennington. Park along the highway (on the south side, or your right coming from Bennington), after you see the sign for the National Forest. A series of informal trails lead to a number of shallow swimming holes along the river. River temperatures range from frigid in the early summer to cold in the late summer. Not for very small children, but a fun experience for elementary age children with adult supervision. This is on National Forest lands and there are no facilities, no fees, and you are expected to pack out whatever you pack in.

Bennington Arts Weekend, August 5-7, 2016

For the fourth consecutive year the Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival will be the jewel in the crown of an ever expanding Bennington Arts Weekend. The Art and Craft Festival will be held at Camelot Village on route 9 about two miles west of downtown. 150 artists, artisans, and specialty food producers will showcase their creations under enormous gleaming white Camelot tents. Along with craft shopping the ambiance is festive: live music, craft demos, kids activities, and a food court serving a menu to please any palate featuring Vermont craft beers.

Several Bennington organizations work together to in staging the Arts Weekend; The Bennington Chamber of Commerce, Better Bennington Corporation, Bennington Potters, and The Four Corners North group including Hawkins House Craftsmarket. And The Tap House at Catamount Glass, the Bennington Banner, as well as other galleries, The Bennington Museum, and The Old Castle Theatre Company.

While the Southern Vermont Art & Craft Festival is taking place at Camelot Village, the town of Bennington is busy and bustling with Vermont craft beer on tap and food vendors offering local farm to table fare. All this in the beautiful atmosphere that only Southern Vermont can offer. On Friday downtown is alive with First Friday. On Saturday August 6, the Homebrew Festival takes place at Four Corners North (County Street) from 12 noon to 4 with a free shuttle running to the craft show at Camelot Village. The Homebrew Festival is in it’s second year and features sampling from 40-50 different homebrews, as well as music and beer brewing related vendors.

The Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival runs 10-5 on Friday and Saturday and 10-4 on Sunday. The adult admission is $8 and kids and parking are free. All Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival details can be found at

So, come spend the weekend. Enjoy Vermont’s first town. Visit the festivals, eat good food, drink good beer, walk the downtown. Breath the air, relax, and become a Vermonter.

For a complete schedule keep checking

Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival Back Again in Bennington!

After a rousing success in 2013, the Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival is returning to Camelot Village in Bennington August 1, 2, & 3. 150 artists and artisans will display and sell their own handcrafted creations. The exhibitors will be housed in Camelot tents. In addition to the arts and crafts, there will be a Kids Zone, a food court, music, comic juggling, and Vermont Craft Beers.

Bennington was without a major craft show since the American Crafts Council departed Mount Anthony High School in 1972. In 2013 Craftproducers brought its famous Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival to Bennington. This event had been held at Hildene in Manchester for nearly 30 years. When Hildene announced that its Meadows would be converted into agricultural pasture land, Craftproducers was left without a venue for its summer show as well as the Manchester Fall Art and Craft Festival. As Necessity is often the Mother of Invention, Craftproducers listened to the overtures of the Bennington community and decided to move the Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival there. Craftproducers Fall Manchester event was successfully moved to The Practice Tee at Riley Rink in 2013.

Now in its second year in Bennington, word has gotten out among the artists and artisans. ‘Bennington is back!” Seemingly, memories of the former craft show in Bennington were vividly alive. After 30 years the craft community still remembered the original craft market. The public came out in droves and avidly bought an abundance of craftworks. With such stellar sales, the grapevine spread the news. This year applications came in at a much higher rate so there will be more exhibitors and the quality of craftwork will be improved.

The show is hosted at Camelot Village, home of the Southern Vermont Garlic Festival. Camelot Village is worth a visit on its own. It is a sprawling multi-leveled barn full of antiques, collectibles, and furniture. The Festival is located on their lawns and pathways. There is a lovely food court under the shade of tall maple trees where picnic tables are available too. A dining tent with tables and chairs provides shelter for eating lunch and listening to the live music. There is a different musical act daily: Saints and Liars on Friday, Bob Stannard and Those Dangerous Bluesmen on Saturday, and The Bondville Boys on Sunday. Comic juggler Jason Pipitone will provide the laughs with daily intermittent shows.

What’s a Festival without great food? This one will deliver delicious choices: wood over pizza, falafel, chicken wraps, vegetarian curry, steak sandwiches, Chinese dumplings, sesame noodles, Greek salad, sausage, pepper, and onion sandwiches, French fries, espresso and lattes, lemonade, ice cream, hamburgers and hot dogs, and kettle corn.

The Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival will be held August 1, 2, and 3 at Camelot Village, 66 Colgate Heights, on route 9, a little over a mile west of the Intersection of routes 7 and 9 in downtown Bennington. The Festival is open 10-5 on Friday and Saturday and 10-4 on Sunday. Adult admission is $8 and children are free. Rain or shine- under tents. No dogs, please. For more information, visit

Rockwell’s Arlington Models Reunion

by Susan Strano

During Bennington Arts Weekend (August 1-3), models who posed for Norman Rockwell while he lived in Arlington, Vermont (1939-1953) will gather at the Bennington Museum for their annual reunion. Taking place on Saturday, August 2, this event is free to all Bennington County residents and open to the general public with regular admission. The reunion brings together many of the over 60 models who posed for Rockwell during the Arlington years. The day includes an introduction by Jamie Franklin, curator at the Bennington Museum, sessions with models who will share their experiences, and a presentation by Matthew Miele, Founder/President of Quixotic Endeavors Film Company who talks about his upcoming film entitled “Our Neighbor, Norman,” based on the book, The Unknown Rockwell, by Buddy Edgerton and Nan O’Brien.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of Rockwell’s move to Arlington, VT where he made his home until his move to Stockbridge, Massachusetts in 1953. By 1939, Rockwell was an accomplished artist and illustrator, acknowledged as one of Americas most recognized illustrators for the Saturday Evening Post. However, it was his time in Arlington that was his most prolific. According to Rockwell, one reason he liked Arlington was that it “swarms with American types. I’m very comfortable with the local people.”

While in Arlington, Rockwell painted some of his most famous Saturday Evening Post covers including The Marble Shooter, The Babysitter, The Four Freedoms, Coming and Going, Shuffleton’s Barber Shop, The Gossip, Saying Grace, and “the Four Freedoms.” His last painting in Arlington was Breaking Home Ties. (Completed in Stockbridge, Massachusetts.)

Some of the models expected to attend this year’s reunion include Ruth McLenithan Skellie, Marble Shooter; Melinda Pelham and Lucille Towne Holton, The Babysitter; Mary Doyle Keefe, Rosie the Riveter; Mary Whalen Leonard, A Day in the Life of a Girl; Chuck Marsh, A Day in the Life of a Boy; Ann Brush Mason, Family Doctor; Clarence Decker, Going and Coming; Donald Hubert, Saying Grace; and Buddy Edgerton, Growth of a Leader.

Bennington Museum is located at 75 Main Street, Bennington. VT. Visit the or call 802-447-1571 for more information.

Photos Courtesy of Buddy Edgerton.

Hildene – From Rails to Trails and Bees to Boardwalk

The Hildene experience begins at the Welcome Center where guests get a glimpse of all that the Hildene mission: Values into Action encompasses. The carriage barn built in 1905 by presidential son, Robert Lincoln, is home to The Museum Store and interactive displays that include, telegraph, observation beehive, and a model Pullman train circling the perimeter at ceiling level. It is here that guests can access information on everything from Robert and Mary’s home and gardens to Hildene Farm and solar powered cheese-making facility, the Pullman car, Sunbeam, a new 600 foot floating boardwalk across Hildene’s wetland, and the 412 acre estate’s 12 miles of trails. A short video focuses on the history of the family in Manchester and another on the restoration of Sunbeam, highlighting Hildene’s past and present commitment to preservation, conservation and education. While walking is encouraged, transportation to the most sites is available and begins at the Welcome Center.

Most guests begin their stay with a visit to Robert and Mary’s home where the focus is on bringing their story to life. Three generations of President Lincoln’s descendants called this home for 70 years. Robert Lincoln, was the only child of President Abraham Lincoln and wife, Mary Todd, to survive to adulthood. He built Hildene, his ancestral home in 1905, after a successful career as attorney and statesman and while he was president of the Pullman Company, the largest manufacturing company in the world at that time. When it comes to family, as is the case in the home of many a son, a remembrance of Dad is often found. Hildene is no exception. In this case that son is Robert Lincoln and the famous father is of course, President Lincoln. Abe’s iconic stovepipe hat is just one piece of the thought provoking exhibit: “The American Ideal: Abraham Lincoln and The Second Inaugural.” The exhibit is set within the context of Lincoln’s greatest speech. Delivered during the Civil War, it harkens back to the then radical beliefs of equality, justice and opportunity for all, first enunciated in the Declaration of Independence.

The tour of the home traditionally concludes in the family’s formal garden surrounded by scenic vistas of the Taconic and Green Mountains. Jessie, President Lincoln’s granddaughter, designed the formal garden as a gift to her mother, Mary Harlan Lincoln in 1907. An American version of the European parterre, from late May through mid – June the garden is filled with more than 1,000 peony blooms. Throughout the summer and into the fall the spectacular floral hues are provided by perennials. The Cutting and Kitchen Gardens, Butterfly Garden, Observation Garden and Soft Fruit Cage are located behind the Welcome Center, a favorite area for kids, as it was for Robert Lincoln’s grandchildren more than 100 years ago.

Sunbeam, a 1903 Pullman palace car built during Robert’s tenure as president of the company, tells the story of Many Voices: those of the company, society, the Pullman porters and our voice as well. These voices are portrayed within the historical context of a timeline, between the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the Civil Rights Movement in 1963. This exhibit is a stop on Vermont’s African American Heritage Trail.

The Rowland Agricultural Center at Hildene Farm is designed for public viewing of the cheese-making process from milking Hildene’s herd of Nubian goats through processing and packaging to the aging room. Powered by solar panels and heated with a wood burning furnace, the operation is a model for sustainable energy practices and small scale farming. This year the 56 acre meadow in the valley below the mansion which was the site for most of the Lincolns’ farming operations is being returned to agriculture, growing Hildene’s sustainable footprint. Guests will be able to visit the meadow by foot by going down the Maple Trail or, for an additional fee, by a wagon ride that departs from the Welcome Center every afternoon at 2:00. While there they will be able to experience the adjoining wetlands, traversing them on the new 600’ floating boardwalk.

The Lincoln Family Home at Hildene is open daily year round from 9:30 am to 4:30 am. For more information visit or like us on Facebook.

Enjoy Art, Music and Nature at the Southern VT Arts Center

The 2014 season is in full swing at the Arts Center, with spectacular exhibits in both Yester House and the Elizabeth de C. Wilson Museum.

SVAC’s Permanent Collection, A Fresh Look is a treasure-house of important and rarely-seen paintings from the 19th and 20th century by local and European artists. The exhibition is on display in Wilson Museum through July 20. Admission is free for members; $6 for adults and $3 for students. Each Saturday at 11:00 there is a guided tour of the exhibition which offers unique insights and stories behind the works.

Several exhibitions are currently in Yester House through June 8, including Sky, a group exhibition portraying the heavens above us, along with four solo exhibits: impressionist Vermont landscapes by Robert Sydorowich; Angela Arkway’s luminous pastels; expressive animal portraits by Caryn King; and “The Hive Project” by Jessica Yager, over 80 works depicting honeybees and raising awareness on their disappearance. “Curtains Without Borders” is a photographic display of Vermont painted theatre scenery from local halls and community venues which hosted the likes of travelling musicians and vaudeville acts.

Opening June 14 in Yester House are solo exhibitions by seven artist members: Alan Nyiri, Barbara Pafume, Leslie Parke, Leslie Peck, Bonnie Rapaport, Cynthia Rosen and Elaine Witten. The annual Summer Members Exhibition takes place July 26 – September 4, a juried show featuring original artwork by the most talented artists in the region. All artwork in Yester House is available for purchase.

A major retrospective of the beloved Vermont artist Brian Sweetland will fill the galleries of the Wilson Museum, August 2 – October 26. Sweetland is remembered as an elegant plein-air painter of Vermont’s natural beauty who was a pioneer in the reemergence of classical painting.

Back by popular demand, our performing arts season includes a return of the dazzling 102 Years of Broadway, a revue of the greatest show tunes led by Neil Berg and his cast of Broadway stars. Tickets for this July 12 performance are on sale now through our website, Get ready to be captivated by the virtuosic skills of the world’s best ragtime/boogie-woogie piano player, Bob Milne on August 23. Tickets are on sale now.

Educational opportunities abound this summer at the Arts Center, offering adult workshops and art camps for kids. Check the calendar listings on our website for a complete schedule. Online registration is available.

The 100-acre campus of the Arts Center is the area’s premier destination to enjoy not only art, but nature as well. Enjoy a rambling walk through our Boswell Botany Trail, get a close-up look at our outdoor sculptures, hike the trails connecting to the Equinox Preserve, and picnic on our grounds.

Southern Vermont Arts Center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 – 5 and Sunday from noon to 5. We are located off West Road in Manchester, one mile from the Equinox Resort. Call (802) 362-1405 for more information.

Alice Neel/Erastus Salisbury Field: Painting the People

On view July 5 through November 2 at the Bennington Museum is Alice Neel/Erastus Salisbury Field: Painting the People. Though separated by one hundred years, the stunning portraits created by the 19th-century itinerant painter Erastus Salisbury Field and the 20th-century master Alice Neel have a remarkable resonance with one another. “Examining the artists’ cultural, political and social milieus, as well as the subjects of their paintings and what painting meant to them personally, this exhibition reexamines the relationship between Modernism and its romantic notions of the “folk” in order to bring viewers to a more nuanced understanding of these great artists and their work.” states curator Jamie Franklin.

This exhibition draws from the museum’s own collection of Field portraits, all sitters from Bennington County, while borrowing a strong group of Neel’s portraits from various private lenders. Three of the museum’s portraits by Field that will be on view rank among the artist’s best work and include Luman Preston Norton, c. 1840, Julius Norton, c. 1840, and Woman and Child, c. 1840. Also included will be one of Field’s most iconic images, the portrait of Sarah Elizabeth Ball, on loan from the Mount Holyoke College Art Museum. These masterworks are juxtaposed with the work of one of the most acclaimed American artists of mid-twentieth century, Alice Neel, whose works in the exhibition include a nude portrait of her estranged daughter, Isabetta (1934), along with Jenny Brand (1969), and Ginny and Elizabeth (1975).

Alice Neel (1900 – 1984)
Neel was a pioneer among women artists and a painter of people, landscape and still life. She trained at the Philadelphia School of Design for Women, and went on to become a painter with a strong social conscience and left-wing beliefs. It was in the 1930s while living in Greenwich Village, New York that she enrolled as a member of the Works Progress Administration for which she painted urban scenes. Portraits she painted embraced left wing writers, artists and trade unionists. In 1938 she moved to Spanish Harlem where she painted the Puerto Rican community, acquaintances, and neighbors. Decades later, she made an effort to re-engage with the art world as she painted a series of portraits that included artists, curators and gallery owners, among them Frank O’Hara and Andy Warhol. She continued to paint political personalities including black activists and supporters of the women’s movement. The 1970s found Neel creating portraits including a major series of nudes. While putting forth the female viewpoint, she dabbled with various degrees of eroticism in her paintings.

Neel exhibited widely in America throughout the 1970s including a retrospective exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York. She lectured on her work, and became a role model for supporters of the feminist movement. Elected a member of the National Institute of Arts and Letters, Neel received the highest formal recognition of artistic merit and national awards that included the International Women’s Year Award in 1976, and the National Women’s Caucus for Art Award for outstanding achievement in the visual arts in 1979.

Erastus Salisbury Field (1805 – 1900)
Erastus Salisbury Field showed an early talent for sketching portraits. In 1824, he traveled to New York City to study with Samuel F. B. Morse, but his instruction was cut short when Morse’s wife died in 1825. However, Field’s artistic pursuits continued and he set out on a 60-plus year career as a professional artist. During the 1830s, the artist produced hundreds of portraits (often completed in one day). His most notable work was created from approximately 1836 to 1840.

While the vast majority of the museum’s exhibition centers on portraits from Field’s more successful years, there is one major aspect of his late career that is important to the dialogue: Historical Monument of the American Republic 1867-1888. More than 130 relief panels are set into ten painted towers and begin with images of Jamestown and Plymouth, and include events such as the Declaration of Independence, and the Emancipation Proclamation, and concludes with locomotives traveling across iron truss bridges going to and from the Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. Scenes of chaos, oppression, and violence are reflected by events such as the Jamestown Massacre of 1622, and the Civil War, depicting bloody battles, massacres of African Americans, and the assassination of President Lincoln.

Historical Monument lays the groundwork for understanding Field’s socially progressive politics, his staunch abolitionist views, along with his artistic ambitions and complex use of allegory/metaphor, and helps to debunk myths about itinerant portrait painters’ supposed lack of skill. Weaving the triumphs and tragedies of the developing country into this work represents the complexity of Field’s talent. In discussing the figural bas-relief panels depicted in Historical Monument, Field stated, “The rule of perspective is departed from in great measure, in order to show the illustrations more clearly…” This points out much of what is often cited as “beautifully wrong” with early American folk art (flattened space, skewed perspectives, anatomical distortion) was not due to the artist being “untrained,” “primitive,” or “naive.” “Rather, these prototypical visual elements, so often associated with folk art, were often highly conscious aesthetic decisions based on a pictorial strategy that stressed legibility and a straight-forward, egalitarian presentation of facts.” states Franklin. In this one piece one gains insight into Field’s personal views, likely injected into his earlier portraits in more subtle ways, and his stylistic decisions. It is this understanding that allows the viewer to better understand Field’s earlier portraits in ways that likely resonated with Neel. Field’s embrace of the Jacksonian Democracy and its impact on his portraits can be true one hundred years later of Neel’s work.

“The whole 20th century has been a struggle between communism and capitalism,” stated Neel. This reflects her similar understanding of the good and bad of the country and the constant conflict within. While Neel is distinctively different from Field when considering love of country, they are very similar when championing the underdog and the sophisticated use of allegory. Her own portraits set their subject before the viewer’s eyes in an almost confrontational manner appealing to them with a ‘take me or leave me.”

About the Museum – New in 2014 are four newly installed masterworks by Anna Mary Robertson “Grandma” Moses, new iconic paintings by Paul Feeley, Helen Frankenthaler and Jules Olitski, and an expansive wall drawing by Jarvis Rockwell, along with the 1863 Jane Stickle Quilt, August 30 through October 13. Visit the museum’s website or call 802-447-1571.

Oil Painters of America Exhibit and Art of the Animal Kingdom

The Oil Painters of America (OPA) will hold its 23rd National Juried Exhibition of Traditional Oils at The Bennington Center for the Arts, June 7 – July 27, 2014. Artists, collectors and art enthusiasts will find an unparalleled collection of traditional oil paintings representative of the high quality of work being produced by professional oil painters today. An opening reception will be held for artists, collectors, the public and press on Saturday, June 7 from 5:30 p.m. to 8:00 p.m.

OPA’s membership is comprised of 3,400 artists from across the United States, Canada and Mexico. Over the years, OPA’s National Exhibition has garnered a reputation for being one of the premier art shows in the country receiving just over 2,000 submissions each year for consideration. Of those, only two hundred artists are selected to be a part of this exhibition. Total awards for this year’s National Exhibition are expected to exceed $75,000, including a $25,000 Gold Medal award.

The public is invited to view these exceptional works of art throughout the exhibition period. All pieces in the exhibition are for sale. Gallery will be open every day but Tuesday from 10:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Admission is requested.

In addition, painting demonstrations and other educational events will take place throughout the opening weekend beginning Wednesday, June 4 through Sunday, June 8. The public is welcome to attend these ticketed events but should register in advance. Demonstrations and lectures will be given by such distinguished artists and art professionals as Daniel Keys, Charles Movali, Zhiwei Tu, Kristen Thies and the editor of Southwest Art Kristen Koerth.

To register online or to preview the paintings, visit our website at or call (815) 356-5987.

In addition to the OPA National Exhibition, others exhibitions and sales on view this summer include Art of the Animal Kingdom XIX with Special Guest Artist Rosetta, Impressions of New England, the Small Works Show, Portraying the Human Spirit and the sixth annual Laumeister Fine Art Competition, juried by Brian Blood.

The Bennington Center for the Arts is a non-profit gallery located on Vermont Route 9 West(44 Gypsy Lane). For more information call (802) 442-7158 or go to the website at

Hildene for the Harvest and the Holidays

The flowers in the formal garden may be going into their winter sleep as fall approaches in late September but the pace of activity at Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home, between then and the first day of winter, December 21, is anything but sleepy. Fall is a time of unparalleled beauty in the surrounding mountains and a special time of celebration at the home of presidential son, Robert Lincoln.

As history would have it, Robert’s father, President Abraham Lincoln sent his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln and the couple’s son, Tad off for their first Vermont respite at the Equinox Hotel in 1864. They were met there by son, Robert, just graduated from Harvard Law School. Robert’s relationship with Vermont begun that summer at the age of 20 would ultimately bring him back to Manchester some 40 years later in 1903. The then captain of industry and president of the Pullman Company would purchase 500 acres upon which to build his ancestral home, Hildene. Thanksgiving was a special holiday at Hildene then and it remains so now, marking the beginning of the festive holiday season.

The cause for the special celebration of Thanksgiving at Hildene is also rooted in a little known historical fact. More than likely few Americans stop to consider the origins of celebrating Thanksgiving every year on the last Thursday of November. Why not a Friday or a Saturday? The answer lies in a bit of Lincoln history. On October 3, 1863, President Abraham Lincoln signed the first annual national “Thanksgiving Proclamation” designating the last Thursday of November as the official annual day of celebration for our nation. The Civil War president was hopeful that the end of the war was in sight and so viewed the holiday as a time for a weary people to pause and give thanks.

After Thanksgiving, the harvest décor fades and the holiday décor come into view. From December 6 through January 1, it is Christmas Eve 1912 at Hildene, and The Lincoln Family Home is looking as it should as Robert and Mary prepare for the holiday 101 years ago. The mansion’s windows are candlelit and there’s a fresh scent of balsam amidst floral flourishes and satin ribbon. A selection of holiday tunes from Robert Lincoln’s collection of Aeolian pipe organ music fills the house daily. On weekends local musicians bring the organ or Mary Harlan Lincoln’s Steinway to life with their talents. Even the tree has been cut and brought in from the woods. Its graceful boughs will be hung with lovely period appropriate ornaments and candles. Lights, sights, sounds, and scents of the season abound. For a schedule of music on weekends, visit the website in November.

On Saturday, December 7 and Sunday, December 8, The Museum Store at Hildene welcomes neighbors and new friends alike to the warmth of the Lincoln family’s one hundred year old restored carriage barn dressed in all its holiday finery. To the aroma of hot apple cider and fresh cider doughnuts wafting through the air, add the crisp fragrance of pine boughs, the sounds of the season and Vermont specialty food tastings and the mood is set for a unique holiday shopping experience. Distinctive items from Gilded Age to gardens line shelves and fill table tops, offering holiday gift choices for young and old alike.

Visitors year round complete their Hildene experience with a visit to the Pullman car, Sunbeam and Hildene Farm. During regular hours, 9:30 to 4:30, interpreters and staff are on hand to answer questions about the home’s history and famous residents. Admission is $16.00 for adults and $5 for children under 14. Members, volunteers and children under 6 are free. Self-guided tours are included in general admission. Reservations are required for guided tours of the home: $5 for adults; $2 for youth; children under 6, members and volunteers are free.

For more information visit, call 802.362.1788 or email

This Fall & Winter at the Southern Vermont Arts Center

Currently on display in Yester House and running through September 29, are three solo exhibitions by Alexandra Eckhardt, John Richards and Ron Vallario, along with Duets, a group exhibition featuring studies in contrast, complement and juxtaposition by the region’s leading artists.

Our popular annual family event, Art on the Hill, takes place on Saturday, September 28 from 11 – 3. Featuring art activities for kids of all ages, food, and live music, the event is free and open to the public.

Kate Gridley’s Passing Through: Portraits of Emerging Adults is on view in Wilson Museum until October 21. An important study of Vermont’s young adults as they emerge from adolescence, it combines classic portraiture with audio narratives accessible by mobile devices.

From October 5 – November 17 is our Annual National Fall Open, a juried exhibition of original oil paintings, watercolors, pastels, photography, mixed media and sculpture. Endings and Beginnings runs from November 23 – January 5, along with solo exhibitions by Ken Ahlering, Lesley Heathcote and Clarence King.

The Arts Center’s Winter Ball, a gala black-tie fundraiser, takes place on December 6 at the Equinox Resort in Manchester. Please call 802.362.1405 for more information or visit

Gallery hours are Tuesday – Saturday from 10 am – 5 pm, and Sunday from noon – 5 pm.

The Southern Vermont Arts Center is located at West Road, Manchester, Vermont, on a 100-acre campus overlooking the Battenkill Valley. Home of the Southern Vermont Artists, the Center is dedicated to making both the visual and performing arts an integral part of the life of its community and the region. For further information, please call or go to

Southern Vermont Arts Center
P.O. Box 617
Manchester VT 05254
802.362.1405 –

Standoff at the Henry Covered Bridge and the new McWaters Park

The original Henry Bridge was built in the late 1760s and was the site of a historically important event.

Early Vermont settlers purchased their homesteads from Benning Wentworth, the colonial Governor of New Hampshire. But New York land speculators sued, claiming that the land was actually part of the colony of New York and that the Vermonter’s deeds were invalid.

Their suit succeeded and In July of 1774 a posse of three hundred men, led by the sheriff of Albany, attempted to evict John Breckenridge from his farm on the south side of the Walloomsac. They were confronted at the Henry Bridge by the Green Mountain Boys. After a tense armed standoff, the posse turned around and marched back to New York.

Breckinridge kept his farm, and Vermont was born.

The land east of the Henry Bridge and north of the Walloomsac is a park named in honor of Rob and Jeanne McWaters a couple who have devoted much of their lives to the benefit of the village of North Bennington. The area nearest the covered bridge includes a small parking lot, picnic tables and a bench where visitors may relax and contemplate the river.

A group of local organic gardeners is planting a “permanent forest garden” at the western end of the park. This is a combination of nut and fruit trees, berries, legumes and other carefully chosen plants which are ecologically compatible and which will produce food indefinitely without the use of fertilizers or pesticides.

Bennington Arts Guild

Do you like fine art and crafts created by local artists? Do you enjoy meeting and talking to the actual artists and learning more about their work? Do you like to support local artists and artisans? Then you mustn’t miss the Bennington Arts Guild.

Organized, run and staffed by its artist members since 2005 and located at 103 South Street at the “Four Corners” of downtown Bennington, the gallery is a great place to find one of a kind pieces from local artists – everything from jewelry to furniture, paintings to pottery, photography and hand-turned wood to stained glass. The Bennington Arts Guild gallery has been voted Bennington’s top art gallery and called a “must-see” by the Boston Globe.

The Guild also hosts guest shows. From September 6th – 30th there will be a joint exhibition by two Bennington artists: Tony Conner’s plein air watercolor landscapes will be on view alongside Teru Simon’s sculptural ceramics. From October 4th – November 18th MaryJane Sarvis will have a show of hand painted fabrics, scarves, bags and pillows as well as photography. And from November 22nd through December the Guild will host its annual Holiday Show.

The gallery is open 10 – 6 Monday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday and 12 – 4 on Sunday. It’s closed on Tuesday and Wednesday. For more information visit the Guild’s website at or call (802) 442-7838.

Fine Art Exhibitions and Sales at “The Bennington”

Society of Animal ArtistsSeptember 1 – October 31
The Bennington is proud to again host this world-renowned group with their annual juried show, Art of the Animal. Many of the world’s finest wildlife artists will be represented in two galleries and all work will be for sale.

Plein Air VermontSeptember 7 – December 22
Forty artists have been invited by PAVT to paint scenes from the beautiful Southwestern Vermont area the first week in September. Lectures and opening sales events will take place September 7 and 8. An exhibition selected from the pieces painting during the event will be on exhibit and for sale at The Bennington until late December.

Vermont Watercolor SocietyNovember 16 – December 22
A show of approximately 50 pieces by members of the Vermont Watercolor Society will be juried by The Bennington and be on exhibit and for sale during the holiday season.
All work is for sale.


ShielingSeptember 14
Traditional Celtic
$30 in advance, $35 at the door

Russian DuoNovember 30
Russian Folk
$30 in advance, $35 at the door

For more information call 802-442-7158 or visit the website:

New Galleries and Exhibits Open at The Bennington Museum

by Susan Strano

Bennington Museum presents a wide-ranging collection of American art, focusing on the arts of Vermont, ranging from 18th-century portraits and decorative arts to Folk Art, Vermont landscape paintings, and 20th-century Modernism. Here visitors encounter the largest public collection of Grandma Moses paintings in the world as well as the largest collection of 19th-century Bennington pottery. The story of the Battle of Bennington is told in the museum’s Military Gallery. This summer, two new permanent galleries opened at the museum – Bennington Modernism and Gilded Age Vermont.

Bennington Modernism features works from the early 1950s through the mid-1970s by a group of avant-garde artists working in and around Bennington who led the nation in artistic thought and innovation. Among the artists of national and international stature with local ties are Pat Adams, Willard Boepple, Anthony Caro, Paul Feeley, Helen Frankenthaler, Patricia Johanson, Vincent Longo, Kenneth Noland, Dan Shapiro, David Smith and Tony Smith. This permanent gallery will feature a changing selection of works by these artists. At the center of this group was Paul Feeley, who was head of Bennington College’s art department that was recognized as one of the most dynamic hubs of creativity in the country. This disparate group of artists were united only by their embrace of abstraction and a common desire to move beyond Abstract Expressionism, which had dominated the American art scene since the mid-1940s. Collectively they explored such diverse strategies as Color Field painting, Minimalism, an early Conceptualism, and even proto-Pop.

Bennington was a leading industrial town in New England from the mid-nineteenth century through the mid-twentieth century — at its height around 1890 it was home to nearly three dozen individual mills along a two mile stretch of the Walloomsac River. With this industrial boom came economic prosperity. The mill owners built glorious homes, and filled them with beautiful art, furniture and decorative objects. Summer residents, many from Troy and Albany, New York, brought wealth to Bennington when they built new summer “cottages” or refurbished existing, often historically significant homes. Gilded Age Vermont highlights the industrial and cultural innovation of the region during this time through objects that were either made or owned in Bennington and the surrounding region, or created by artists with connections to the area. Featured in this gallery are elaborate Renaissance Revival furnishings and a stylish parlor organ manufactured by the Estey Organ Company of Brattleboro, Vermont. Frederick MacMonnies’ sumptuous portrait of May Suydam Palmer and the Martin Wasp, a luxury automobile made in Bennington by Karl Martin between 1920 and 1924 are on view, along with paintings by William Morris Hunt and glass and metal works by Lewis Comfort Tiffany. Collectively, these objects paint a vivid picture of innovation and prosperity from Vermont’s past.

Changing exhibits are on view throughout the year. Commemorating the 150th anniversary of the Civil War is Southwestern Vermont and the Civil War, on view through October 27. One of the museum’s masterworks, the 1863 Jane Stickle Quilt, will be on its annual display August 31 through October 14. 20th-century Vermont Ceramics will be on view through the end of the year as well as an exhibit of new works by Daisy Rockwell and Jarvis Rockwell: Wall Drawing. November 29 through December 30, visit Hidden Gems at the Festival of Trees with Family and Children’s Shopping Day on December 7 and the Grand Gala on December 14. The Grandma Moses Schoolhouse, George Aiken Wildflower Trail and Hadwen Woods compliment the museum property. Nearby is the Old First Church with the graves of Revolutionary War Soldiers and Robert Frost.

Located at 75 Main Street, Bennington in the Shires of Vermont., the museum is open every day September and October from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and closed on Wednesdays in November and December. Admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors, and free for students and children under the age of 18.

Restaurant Profile: The Bennington Station Restaurant

For a small town, Bennington has a fairly wide range of culinary experiences to offer. One restaurant in particular that has been in and out of the scene for the past two decades is the Bennington Station. Listed in the National Register of Historical places, the Station can be found in any Vermont guidebook as the original train depot for the town, which explains the soaring stone architecture and certainly makes it a landmark destination even before the food is tasted. The grand vaulted terminal is now the main formal dining room; the clerk’s quarters, now the well-appointed cozy barroom complete with discreet television screens; the Ladies Parlour (in those days waiting areas were segregated) boasts a roaring fireplace for passing snowy winter evenings. All this plus Chef Robert Andrew’s innovative menus is proof that the Station has definitively re-emerged as a hotspot in downtown Bennington life and a restaurant for every occasion.

With old-school pictures of Bennington in its founding years on every wall, and jazzy war-era music playing soothingly throughout the main establishment, the Station is at once elegant and homey and the menu speaks to this feeling as well. Show up in a tie with a date in a dress and heels to sit in a secluded candlelit romantic corner and share a perfectly tender fresh caught lobster paired with the chef’s selection of mellow and fruity pinot noir, or arrive in jeans for a quick fish and chips and Shipyard (one of the twelve beers on tap) at the bar after work — either way, you are welcome.

The menu is varied within the Americana tradition, which basically is the chef’s way of saying that he can prepare anything you desire and will prepare it well (indicative of his energy, creativity and confidence, all important qualities in a good chef). Surely he has his favorites that are highlighted in the extensive weekly specials menu. Reflecting the season and Chef Robert Andrew’s passion for high quality fresh food there is an abundance of choices.

The Station, like many forward thinking eateries, has joined the slow food movement meaning that where possible the ingredients are sourced locally and purchased fresh. In addition, only beef of the highest quality will do. The taste tells the story. After dinner, peruse the dessert menus which includes coffee drinks and a delectable selection of desserts.

In short, come to Vermont for the leaves and step inside the Station for a drink, pick up a menu, and prepare to be impressed.

First, Only, Oldest, and Tallest on The Shires of Vermont Byway

by Richard Smith

The only county in Vermont that has two “shire” or court towns is Bennington County hence the byway that runs through it on routes 7 and 7A is called The Shires of Vermont Byway. The first town from Massachusetts is Pownal, which was the first town in Vermont named after a Massachusetts governor. Pownal contains what may be the oldest house continuously occupied house in Vermont, the Mooar / Wright / DeVoet house.

Going north, the first town after Pownal is the shire town of Bennington which was the first town chartered in Vermont by Benning Wentworth of New Hampshire. The first resistance by the Green Mountain Boys to New York claims was in Bennington, which also has the tallest man made structure in Vermont – the Bennington Battle Monument. The ratification of the US constitution making Vermont the 14th state, the first after the original 13, took place in the first meetinghouse in Vermont in Old Bennington. Ethan Allen departed from the Catamount Tavern in Old Bennington and marched north with Green Mountain Boys to capture Fort Ticonderoga for America’s First Victory. Not so pleasant but the first person hung in Vermont, David Redding, was hung in Bennington.

The next town north of Bennington is Shaftsbury, which was the birthplace of Jacob Merrit Howard who was the sole author of the 13th amendment to the US Constitution, which was the first and only amendment passed during the civil war and it banned slavery.

After Shaftsbury is Arlington, which was home to Norman Rockwell from 1939-1952. The first of the
famous Four Freedoms, which were painted in Arlington, was Freedom of Speech. The descendents of the person who the painting was based on, James Edgerton, are also from Arlington. Rockwell’s first studio burned down but his second is still in existence in West Arlington. The first governor of Vermont, Thomas Chittenden, also lived in Arlington. Just north of Arlington is Sunderland with its Ira Allen Inn. It is said that Ethan Allen gave the first copy of his book “Reason: the Only Oracle of Man” to his wife while he lived in the Ira Allen Inn.

The last town on the Shires Byway is the shire town of Manchester where the oldest mail order retailer in the US, Orvis, was founded. The first son of Abraham Lincoln and Mary Todd Lincoln, Robert Todd Lincoln, built his magnificent family home in Manchester, which has 412 acres of spectacular scenery and history. Manchester also was the setting for first wrongful death murder conviction in the US as well as the place the first government, the Council of Safety, of the Republic of Vermont, met. The oldest long-distance hiking trail in the U.S., the Long Trail, goes through Manchester.

Manchester is the last town on the Shires Byway going north. But then again if you are going south on the Shires Byway it is the first.

Richard (Dick) Smith is a best selling author on Vermont history and gives tours for Backroad Discovery Tours

Plein Air Painters Run Amok in Southwestern Vermont This September

About forty of them—watch out!! They will sweep into our area on Tuesday, September 3, with their mobile French easels, paints, brushes and supplies, huge umbrellas and lots of bug repellent. And they will paint through the following week—nonstop—all over our towns and villages, and out into our glorious hills and valleys.

So, what is “plein air”? It’s French for “open air” or outside, in the sunshine, in the driving rain and wind… and in snow, if it’s winter. This creates some challenges, besides mere weather. The sun and clouds are always moving, which shifts the shadows, affects the colors, and radically changes what the painter sees. The artist needs to visually lock in a moment-in-time and paint that vision. Schlepping equipment and balancing outdoor factors is not easy. But these are professionals, and they happen to come packaged with an ingrained sense of humor and adventure.

Would you consider hosting one or two of the visiting artists? It’s for five nights; but all they need is a bed, a washcloth and towel. They are out painting by early morning, gone all day, and most appreciative for their free lodging. Contact Jeanne Conners at for more information.

Painting isn’t all that happens during the week, and the sheer fun and success of this event hinges heavily upon your participation. So here’s what Plein Air Vermont 2013 is cooking up for your enjoyment:

Thursday evening, 9/5, 6:30 – 9 p.m. – Charles Reid, nationally acclaimed artist and Plein Air Vermont juror, will do a watercolor demonstration and book signing at the Northshire Bookstore in Manchester.

Friday evening, 9/6 – During First Friday in downtown Bennington, plein air artists will paint in the downtown area, amid live music, good food, and much celebration.

Saturday post-noon, 9/7 – Be in downtown Manchester to watch the amazing “Quick-Draw Competition,” where more than 50 artists will gather to complete their plein air paintings in exactly two hours. You can buy a finished and framed painting—fresh and wet—right on the spot!

Saturday evening, 9/7 – Come to Bennington Center for the Arts on Route 9W in Bennington to enjoy live music, wine, and hors d’oeuvres while you preview the results of the week, more than 160 professional paintings of our quintessential corner of Vermont. All paintings will be for sale.

Sunday, 9/8, noon until 5 – Awards will be designated and presented by our plein air juror, Charles Reid. While Sunday’s exhibit concludes the week’s events, the Bennington Center for the Arts will continue to exhibit and sell paintings from the Plein Air Vermont collection through mid-December.

Plein Air Vermont is a non-profit organization under the auspices of Paran Recreations, Inc. Its board members will continue to plan and refine events for this week in September, so be sure to check our website ( ) periodically, and to Like us on Facebook.

The American Museum of Fly Fishing Presents: The Wonders of Fly Fishing

The sport of fly fishing is a centuries-old tradition enjoyed by many cultures and nations around the world. Throughout its history, fly fishing has benefited from the passionate relationship people have formed with the sport as well as the surrounding environment. It is this relationship and enthusiasm that has inspired significant innovations in flies, rods, reels, and natural resource management by innovators seeking both to improve the angling experience and to ensure the sport’s legacy for future generations.

The Wonders of Fly Fishing exhibition offers an opportunity to witness the evolution of the sport as documented by the outstanding collection of the American Museum of Fly Fishing. The next time you wade into a stream or step onto a flats skiff with your angling gear, take a moment to recognize the contributions made by so many.

The exhibition also includes a large saltwater fly fishing component to help introduce our 2014 exhibition and current project initiative.

This exhibition was made possible by the following sponsors: ORVIS and the Champlain Valley National Heritage Program.

Skyline Drive – A View to Remember

There’s no better way to enjoy the splendor of the Green Mountain State and the surrounding areas of New England than from the privately owned summit of Mount Equinox and the Skyline Drive!

At 3,848 feet above sea level, the summit offers breathtaking sunsets and panoramic views of the Green, White, Adirondack, Berkshire and Taconic mountain ranges. Several paved parking areas provide spectacular views, but most outstanding is the Skyline Drive itself as you drive along the crest of the mountain on your way to the summit. The Green Mountains, The Valley of Vermont and the White Mountains of New Hampshire may be seen to the east. The Adirondack Mountains of New York provide the backdrop to the west, and the Taconic and Berkshire Mountains of Massachusetts to the south. Guard rails have been installed almost the entire length of the drive making it one of the safest, best engineered, well constructed toll roads in the country. Construction of Skyline drive began in 1941, but was suspended because of the war until 1947, when it was completed. Today it remains as the longest, privately owned, paved toll road in the United States.

Begin your adventure at the Toll House on Historic Route 7A in Sunderland at an elevation of 800 feet. As Skyline Drive winds and twist its way up the mountain, it provides panoramic views of lakes, rivers and valley communities below. There are many vistas and areas for picnics along the 5.2 mile drive, which has a vertical gain of 3,248 feet to the summit. The serenity and beauty of the world famous Battenkill River may be seen meandering thru town, farm and woodland below. There is so much natural beauty that the drive to the summit is half the experience. However, the view from the summit is truly breathtaking and an experience you’ll not soon forget.

From Tracks to Trails: The Summer Experience at Hildene

Guests arriving at Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home in Manchester, Vermont are struck by its beautiful surroundings. The experience for them begins at the Welcome Center located in the Lincoln’s original carriage barn. It includes an observation bee hive, a “working telegraph” and a ceiling high model train with Pullman cars. Here visitors view a short video about the home and its famous inhabitants before embarking on their exploration of the historic site’s many venues.

With a stop at the house, guests discover the place that three generations of President Lincoln’s descendants called home for 70 years. The mansion, built in 1905 by Robert T. Lincoln, the only child of President and Mary Lincoln to survive to maturity, stands on a promontory between the Taconic and Green Mountain Ranges surrounded by spectacular views. The famous Battenkill flows through the valley below on its way to the Hudson River. Robert Lincoln named his ancestral home appropriately, Hildene, a word meaning “hill and valley with stream.”

Guests view Mary and Robert Lincoln’s home through the prism of the family that lived there. The couple built Hildene during Robert’s tenure as president of the Pullman Company; the largest manufacturing corporation in America at the turn of the 20th century. The home, renowned for its setting and wonderful gardens, exudes a simple elegance and sense of getaway, as this is how it was used by the family. The house tour is self-guided, with guided tours available for an additional fee by prior arrangement.

When it comes to family, as is the case in the home of many a son, a remembrance of Dad is often found. Hildene is no exception. In this case the presidential son is Robert Lincoln and the famous father is of course, President Lincoln, whose inspiring words are the focus of the thought provoking exhibit: “The American Ideal: Abraham Lincoln and The Second Inaugural.”

Guests will also encounter the Pullman Palace car, Sunbeam in a forest clearing accessible by walking trail or tram. The rail car came off the line in 1903, during Robert’s tenure as Pullman president. The completely refurbished executive office car with accommodations for family travel as well, includes state rooms, a dining salon, self-contained kitchen and staff quarters, sleeping accommodations for 18 and an observation area at the rear of the car. The car played a role in the lives of Presidents McKinley and Teddy Roosevelt.

The Pullman Company at the turn of the century was the largest employer of African Americans in the country, offering slaves freed by the Emancipation Proclamation and the 13th amendment jobs as Pullman porters. In spite of the exploitive environment in which they worked, these men were able to better their lives and those of their families, helping give rise to America’s black middle class.

With a timeline overview that spans the 100 years from the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 to the Civil Rights Movement and March on Washington in 1963, the exhibit at Sunbeam, “Many Voices”, highlights the voices of the Pullman Company, the Gilded Age passengers who traveled in the comfort of its sleeping cars, and the porters who provided the impeccable service that made travel by Pullman second to none.

A visit to the Rowland Agricultural Center at Hildene Farm and its cheese-making facility attests to the agricultural heritage of the Lincolns, while showcasing the merits of applying 21st century sustainability principles: small scale farming, use of renewable energy sources (solar and wood) and responsible forest management. The 40 by 100′ barn is designed specifically to house Hildene’s herd of Nubian goats and for public viewing of cheese-making from milking to processing, pasteurization, aging and finishing of signature Hildene farm cheeses. Guests can get to the farm and all sites at the historic attraction, on foot or by tram.

Many guests use Hildene’s extensive trail system to experience all the site has to offer up close. Approximately 8 miles in length, it can be walked or hiked and cross country skied or snowshoed in winter. As part of a project to upgrade the trails, Hildene grounds staff has been busy all winter constructing one hundred new elevated walkways that are sure to add to the enjoyment of the terrain. Work will soon be completed on a 300 yard floating boardwalk that is located on the part of the trail system that includes the 80 acre meadow, and an observation platform for the wetlands. The boardwalk will not be fully integrated into the general guest experience until 2014.

The Museum Store is located in the Welcome center and is open daily, a special space where a wide range of distinctive items from Lincoln to Gilded Age, gardens, history, nature, farm and Vermont specialty products can be found.

Hildene, The Lincoln Family Home is open daily, year round from 9:30 to 4:30. For more information visit, call 802.362.1788 or email

Southern Vermont Arts Center Opens All Its Doors

Center celebrates its 2013 Opening with seven new exhibitions

The Southern Vermont Arts Center launched its exciting new season with an opening reception on May 18th, unveiling seven new exhibitions in the Yester House Galleries and Elizabeth de C. Wilson Museum.

The Yester House features Printemps: Visions of Spring, a seasonal exhibition of works by regional artists. Also featured are exhibitions by Abby DuBow, Betsy Hubner and artists teaching at the Hay Madeira Education Center this summer.

The Wilson premieres a major exhibition, Our Fragile Home, a collaboration between Pat Musick and Jerry Carr, inspired by accounts of American and Soviet astronauts looking at Earth from space. The exhibition runs through July 14th, and then travels to The Housatonic Museum in Bridgeport and The Brattleboro Museum and Art Center.

The Wilson Museum also presents Portraits through Time: Selections from the Collection, underscoring the Arts Center’s rich history and tradition with works by past and contemporary member artists. Memorial Tribute: Abbe, Armstrong, McCabe and Webb, honors the work and contributions of four highly-respected women artist members.

The 2013 season at the Arts Center includes diverse art, music and performance events ranging from the Manchester Music Festival to the F3T Fly Fishing Film Festival presented by Orvis, and on to Neil Berg’s 101 Years of Broadway, and Bob Milne, celebrated ragtime / boogie-woogie pianist.

“Our doors are wide open for the community to come and celebrate the Arts Center,” said interim Executive Director, Seline Skoug. “There is so much to see and enjoy on this beautiful campus, from the galleries to the botany trails to the art workshops to terrace dining at Café Mamie. We hope all who come to enjoy the experience will stop by to say hello.”

The Yester House exhibitions run through the end of June and the ongoing exhibitions at the Wilson end October 21. For specific information on the opening and the exhibitions, see

The Southern Vermont Arts Center is located at West Road, Manchester, Vermont, on a 100-acre campus overlooking the Battenkill Valley. A membership association and home of the Southern Vermont Artists, the Center is dedicated to making both the visual and performing arts an integral part of the life of its community and the region. For further information, please call 802.362.1405 or go to

Join Oldcastle Theatre Co. for Laughter, Love, Intrigue and Music!

Oldcastle Theatre, a 42-year-old professional Equity regional theatre located in Bennington, Vermont, is opening its 2013 summer season in its fully renovated, accessible, and flexible theatre space in beautiful downtown Bennington, Vermont. Patrons can go for dinner within walking distance of the theatre, and then end their night with a wonderful night of excellent theatre in the new, air-conditioned space.

OTC opens its summer season with Other People’s Money by Jerry Sterner, which is running from June 21- June 30. This production’s actors include Paula Mann, Jenny Strasberg, Phil Lance, Paul Romero, and Richard Howe. The production will be directed by OTC’s Producing Artistic Director, Eric Peterson.

In Other People’s Money, a rich Wall Street investor seeks to profit by buying an aging New England manufacturing company and laying off the workers. A story about corporate greed and the people who fight it is full of intrigue, as the resourceful long-time owner decides to fight him off with the aid of a smart, beautiful young lawyer.

Midsummer’s offering is the new musical Northern Boulevard, running July 11 through July 21, with Music by Bennington native and film/Broadway/television actor Carleton Carpenter and Book by Kevin Brofsky. The musical follows the life journey of a young couple from WWII through the 1980’s, as they open a deli, raise a family, and go through good times and bad. It stars New York actors Gil Brady, Cotton Wright, Jessica Raaum, Cheryl Howard and Patrick Spencer, and local professional actors Christine Decker, Richard Howe and Amanda Elise Garcia. The production will be directed by Eric Peterson, with Musical Direction by Jeffrey Buchsbaum.

The final offering of the summer season is The Fox on the Fairway, a sidesplitting, rollicking comedy, by the author of Lend Me a Tenor and Leading Ladies, Ken Ludwig. Amidst three love affairs, a disappearing diamond, and objectionable sweaters, there’s a sizable wager at stake in this country club farce. Actors include Meredith Meurs, Patrick Ellison Shea, Peter Langstaff and Natalie Wilder. Running August 9 through August 25 – if you’re looking for an evening of laughter and fun, this is it.

Tickets for Oldcastle Theatre may be obtained by calling 802-447-0564. Tickets are $37. and student tickets are $10. A flexpass good for four performances is available for $125, and can be purchased at the theatre’s website, Performances are Thursday, Friday, Saturday at 8 pm, and Thursday, Saturday, Sunday at 2 pm. Northern Boulevard will also have Sunday night performances at 7 pm.

Gayle Garrison Gallery at The Bennington Arts Guild

June 7 marks the start of a show of Zentangle-inspired art in both 2 and 3 dimensions. Zentangle is a method of repeated, meditative, abstract patterning. Among those exhibiting will be Sadelle Wiltshire, CZT,and Ann Coakley, CZT, both certified teachers of the Zentangle method.

In July Bennington ceramic artist Joshua Primmer will exhibit his sculptural and functional stoneware while Jeanne Marklin of Williamstown, Mass., will show her hand-dyed art quilts.

In August a trio of well-known Vermont artists will have a combined show. Mary Angus will exhibit her blown and etched glass alongside Ellie Roden’s pressed flower art and Stacie Mincher’s jewelry and other accessories made from recycled zippers and vintage fabrics.

To wrap up the year, the Bennington Arts Guild will host its Annual Holiday Show of work by Guild members. For more information about the gallery or opening receptions visit

Summer Exhibits at “The Bennington”

This summer The Bennington will again offer a full array of fine art, both visual and performing, to be enjoyed by all in Southern Vermont. Whether looking for classical music, artwork of New England scenes, history of the covered bridges of Vermont, gypsy music, Navajo rugs, a national art competition, Irish or African ballads, The Bennington has it all.

In the Galleries the center will offer many of the shows our patrons have come to love – Art of the Animal Kingdom, Impressions of New England, American Artists Abroad, the Small Works Show. The Laumeister Fine Art Competition, now in its fifth year, will be juried by Peter Trippi editor of Fine Art Connoisseur and has become known as one of the best representational competitions in the country with work by not only established artists but new talent as well. The nationally renowned Society of Animal Artists will be back for their third exhibition. All artwork is for sale.

A new summer concert series has been organized by the center for 2013. Groups such as Caravan of Thieves (gypsy), Vance Gilbert (vocals/guitar), Katherine Chi (classical piano), Samite (African), Pearl and the Beard (percussion/harmonies), Cordis (contemporary quartet) are just a few of the performances that will be offered in the Edith Theater. Discounted season tickets are available.

As in years past, our permanent collections and exhibits will also be available to our visitors. Dioramas, documentaries, displays, maps and educational visuals of all kinds share the history of the iconic covered bridges of Vermont. This museum can be accessed directly from our newly remodeled lobby and gift shop. The work of Floyd Scholz, a Master Bird Carver, is always on display and a very impressive collection of artwork of and by Native Americans can be enjoyed on a daily basis.

The Bennington has been a feature of the area since its opening in 1994. With its seven art galleries, covered bridge museum and 313 seat theater it is a gem that should not be missed.

For more information, go to or call 802-442-7158. It is located on Vermont Rte 9 West.

Catamount Prowl and Gala

Bennington is going Cat Crazy this season!

Over thirty 7′ by 6′ sculptures creatively painted by area artists will be on the streets of Bennington, Vermont from May through October with a Gala and Auction on October 26.

Bennington has had two very successful Moosefests bringing whimsical fiberglass sculptures onto our streets to the delight of young and old. This year we have invited the elusive Catamount (Vermont Mountain Lion) to join the fun. Area Merchants and Businesses have Sponsored these Large and Small Catamounts and are working with the Chamber of Commerce and regional Artists to create a festive streetscape.

Bennington Arts Weekend – Performance, Craft, Arts

In association with the Southern Vermont Art and Craft festival, there will be a number of events throughout Bennington during the festival weekend, August 2-4, 2013.

On Friday August 2nd between 5-8PM there will be live entertainment on the Town Office Lawn, live entertainers scattered throughout downtown, and an Art Walk including approximately 12 galleries with openings and receptions.

There will be two special exhibits during – an opening called PhotoVoice at 443 Main Street. Students will be displaying their photos of Bennington and discussing how they view their community. The Historical Society will be presenting an exhibit on the architecture of downtown and the history of some of the buildings and businesses.

The Second Chance animal Shelter will be hosting a Sidewalk Chalk Art Contest in the middle of School Street, VAE will be creating a special performance, there will be carriage rides up and down Main Street, and Funtastic Fridays at the Village Chocolate Shoppe.

Art Making under the little top for all ages! For a small fee, one can spend time at the craft fair making art at our Make it, Take it Art Studio. Two and three dimensional art making tools and supplies will be available. Drawing, painting, plaster carving, wood burning or join in on a group sculpture. Demonstrations by VAE artists throughout the weekend.

Taste of the Shires Benefit for Vermont Arts Exchange, noon on Sunday. Live bluegrass music by Gold Town! Join us for lunch as area eateries, restaurants and inns share their delicacies along with beer & wine. All proceeds go to benefit VAE and its mission of bringing the arts to people of all ages, abilities and income since 1994.

Cultural Bennington Tent is your festival destination to learn about arts, history, culture, and events happening in and around Bennington. Enter to win a drawing for many prizes, and get the insider’s scoop on the area.

Bennington Plays Pivotal Role in Crafts History

Shoppers explore the wares of crafts people who create everything from jewelry to housewaresLate in the 1960’s, The Northeast Regional Assembly of the American Crafts Council moved its flagship enterprise, the Northeast Regional Craft Fair to Bennington. Their initial show was held in Stowe, VT and was called “Confrontation.” Seemingly everything in the sixties was a confrontation: civil rights marches, peace parades, multiple murders of political leaders (two Kennedys, Malcolm X, and Martin Luther King). This was the era women went braless and people openly smoked “grass” in the streets. There were revolutions worldwide, from Paris to New York City, Peking to Tokyo, the world was in a tumultuous uproar. The Beatles, The Stones, and Bob Dylan all crooned “the times are a changin” fueled by anti-Vietnam war fever and abundant LSD at universities.

American Craft Councils early Northeast Craft Fairs, from the late 1960s or early 1970s.

Even the prim and proper American Craftsmen’s Council felt the reverberations; in 1969, they changed their name to “American Crafts Council” so as to provide a bigger umbrella. That same year, the Crafts Council moved their “Confrontation” to Bennington and called it a much more commercially viable “The Northeast Regional Craft Fair.” The venue was Mount Anthony High School. Inside the lobby and the gym, down the corridors, craft booths were arranged in rows. These were the “chosen few,” the elite craft designers, many of whom were teachers at universities and famous craft schools like Penland in North Carolina and the Rhode Island School of Design in Rhode Island. While their craftwork was cutting edge contemporary, these artisans were sartorially sedate.

American Craft Councils early Northeast Craft Fairs, from the late 1960s or early 1970s.

Outside on the playing fields of the high school, the dress code was noticeably different. There were hundreds of craft exhibitors, all arranged loosely in rows, up and down the grassy field. Some had pop up tents and tepees, others built structures from wood, metal, cardboard, and plastic. Meanwhile, many craft booths were set up on blankets, with wares strewn casually here and there. Many of the exhibitors played guitars, nursed babies, and sipped wine or beer. While the scene was representative of many public gatherings in the late sixties, the craftwork displayed and sold was of very high caliber, even in this outdoor crafts bazaar component of the Craft Fair.

As is the case to the present day, craft festivals were vital markets for the craftspeople. At this show, there was a Wholesale Day – a day when only buyers from shops and galleries were allowed entry. This was Thursday when the buyers ordered products for future delivery to their stores. (In the early years, many of the larger craft shows had a “wholesale day, only for buyers.” The first wholesale only craft shows began in the 1980’s and these events were limited to bona fide, documented owners and buyers representing businesses; the general public was not allowed.

Back then the real money was transacted Friday through Sunday when the crowds swelled to more than 5,000 on any given day. Craft sales were brisk. The traffic gridlocks were memorable as Mount Anthony High School was not designed to accommodate a large influx of automobiles. Getting onto and off Route 7 created major congestion, even at the traffic light at the four corners, patience was stretched. However, hotels and restaurants were jammed packed for the weekend and the show contributed mightily to the local economy.

This was the beginning of an era which lasted up to the naughts of the new millennium. 72,000,000 million baby boomers arrived, seemingly out of now where. They craved “cool” things. They went to craft shows to buy: decorative objects for their homes and offices, personal adornments like jewelry and clothing, functional crafts for the kitchen and dining, sculpture for the garden and patio, and unique gifts for friends and family. Their thirst for craftwork has diminished recently as the boomers hit 6o. They no longer needed “stuff” for their homes as they were now downsizing. Their replacements, Generation X, were only 17,000,000. So, suddenly there were 55,000,000 fewer shoppers. As the 70,000,000 million Gen Y mature, graduate from college, get jobs, and have families there will be a resurgence in retailing. This augurs well for handmade craft work as this generation is predisposed to buying local foods and products.

When the ACC Northeast Craft Fair outgrew the Bennington location and left for the spacious Dutchess County Fairgrounds in Rhinebeck, NY, many Vermont artisans felt there was a void to be filled. In 1973 four intrepid and visionary Vermonters formed an organization called “Craftproducers,” the very same organization that is bringing back the craft fair to Bennington in 2013. (The founders of Craftproducers were Riki Moss, potter; Bob Burnell, The Stone Soldier, potter; John McCloud, woodworker; and, Charley Dooley, candle maker. Ever since, Dooley has been producing art and craft festival for 40 years.)

Meeting the artists and crafts people behind the wares is part of the craft show experience

So, 40 years later, the craft show has returned to Bennington: The 35th Annual Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival, August 2, 3, & 4 at Camelot Village, a mile west of Town on Route 9. The show was initially held in Manchester at the recreation area before it moved to Hildene meadows in 1984. It was a huge success, especially in the 1990’s when Stratton held the men’s tennis tournaments and later the LPGA golf tournament. Today Hildene no longer wants to be an event venue, rather an agricultural tourist destination. Their decision led Craftproducers to seek a new home for the craft show.

The organizers of the Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival are pleased with the enthusiastic welcome from the Bennington community. Current Craftproducers Owner, Tim Cianciola, says, “I am blown away by the friendly welcome and strong support from everyone in Bennington. I think we may be starting a new tradition.”

The Vermont Arts Exchange, the Bennington Museum, the Bennington Chamber of Commerce, Hawkins House Craftsmarket, Bennington Potters, Better Bennington Corporation, Fiddlehead at Four Corners Gallery, and others are actively involved in planning for the Festival. Together with the Bennington Banner and these local groups, Craftproducers is coordinating a town wide Bennington Arts Weekend. Details will be published on the website about the individual activities of each arts participant. For example, the Bennington Museum will have a craft related installation in the Decorative Arts gallery. It will also stay open later on Friday as it is also “First Friday” in Bennington. For details about First Friday events, visit

The actual Southern Vermont Art and Craft Festival will take place Friday through Sunday, August 2-4, at Camelot Village, the home of the Southern Vermont Garlic Festival. The hours are Friday and Saturday 10-5 and on Sunday 10-4. 140 juried artists, artisans, and specialty food makers will present their handmade works. Many of the exhibitors will be housed under brilliantly white Camelot tents while others will line up under their own canopies.

Live music will be played all weekend in the food court. Localvore caterers will serve organic wood fired pizzas, lobster rolls, grass fed burgers, sausages, sweet and savory waffles and crepes, sesame noodles, dumplings, salads, crispy tofu, local ice cream, Green Mountain Coffee, and more. Vermont Craft Beers and summer wines will be served in the Wine and Beer Café Tent. There are lovely shade trees on the property to afford delightful summer al fresco lunching.

The Vermont Arts Exchange will have its Arts Bus at the site providing kids activities and Thomas the Train will be there to ferry the small children here and there. All in all, The Festival promises to be fun as well as “the” place to shop for contemporary craftwork. And, it is just a few steps down the road to the Bennington Museum; check for what’s happening that weekend. It’s well worth a visit after or before the craft show.

First Fridays in Bennington

First Fridays in BenningtonThis summer Downtown Bennington celebrates the first Friday of each month from June to September. As part of the Vermont Council on Rural Development project, the “Downtown as a Designation” committee is planning a wide variety of activities for these first Fridays when most stores will be open until 8pm. From 5pm until 8pm there will be live music on the Town Office lawn, carriage rides along Main Street, historical society presentations and exhibits, sidewalk chalk competitions, the Photo Voice exhibit by local students, in-store sales promotions, dinner specials, and a gallery tour and Art Walk.

The Art Walk will involve local artists exhibiting their work in stores, restaurants and galleries. Maps will be provided indicating all venues and scheduled events. Mark your calendar and save the dates of June 7th, July 5th, August 2nd and September 6th and be ready to celebrate our town.

John Shannahan, director of the Better Bennington Corporation, states “The First Fridays event has been in the planning stages for a long time. The committed members of the VCRD initiative have designed an event that will be appealing to all ages.” He also adds “First Fridays is all about a celebration of the visual and performance arts, as well as the historical significance of our area. We are fortunate to have such a strong connection to both in our community.”

The June 2nd celebration will also include the official opening of the “Catamount Prowl” exhibit on the streets in downtown Bennington. Catamount Prowl, a Bennington Chamber of Commerce street art project, will be on display throughout the summer and into the fall.

For more information on First Friday or to learn on how your organization can participate please visit or call the Better Bennington Corporation at 802-442-5758.

Southwest Vermont and the Civil War

Brigadier General Edward H. Ripley, 1865Southwestern Vermont and the Civil War, is a two-part exhibition scheduled to coincide with and commemorate the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War. This exhibit on view at the Bennington Museum from May 25 through October 27 takes a close look at the local involvement of those who lived in the southwestern portion of Vermont in one of the most historic of national conflicts. It is comprised almost exclusively of selections from the museum’s extensive collection of Civil War archives and objects.

Opening on May 25, is The Fabulous General Ripley: Gen. Edward H. Ripley and the Capture of Richmond. This portion of the exhibit examines the Civil War service of this Rutland native and his significant role in the Union’s capture of Richmond, Virginia. At the outbreak of the Civil War, Ripley was a student at Union College in Schenectady, New York. He enlisted as a private in May of 1862 and, exhibiting strong leadership skills quickly rose through the ranks receiving an almost immediate commission as Captain of Company B of the ninth Regiment Vermont Infantry Volunteers. On August 1, 1864 he was brevetted to Brigadier General and placed in charge of the First Brigade, Third Division, 24th Army Corps. In this role, he led the first Union troops into Richmond, Virginia on April 3, 1865. The retreating Confederates had set fire to much of the city. Ripley was quickly placed in command. His first task was to quell the fires and subdue looting mobs. Ripley played a major role in saving Richmond from destruction and in the unofficial end of the Civil War. On April 9, the official treaty ending the war was signed at Appomattox, Virginia.

Among the interesting artifacts on display in this exhibit, is a “coal torpedo” used to inflict serious damage to enemy supply trains that was found by Ripley on the desk of Confederate President Jefferson Davis and artifacts connected to Libby Prison, notorious for its harsh conditions will be on view. These include the Confederate flag lowered by Ripley on April 3, 1865.

Bennington Boys (and Ladies Too): The Local Civil War Experience opens on June 7 and explores the role that local men and woman of southwestern Vermont played in the war as well as the impact it had on their lives. It provides insight into both the public and personal facets of the war. One of the highlights of the exhibition is an American flag featuring a 33-star canton, forming a variation on the “Great Star” pattern popular on the eve of the Civil War. It is appliquéd with the inscription, “Presented to the Bennington Boys of ’61 by the Ladies.” This flag was presented publicly to the soldiers of Bennington’s Company A, at the Old First Church, on June 5, 1861, with Governor Hiland Hall presiding. It was carried throughout the war, present at the Battle of Bull Run, and Lee’s surrender at Appomattox. Objects like this, and the many others on display, help paint a vivid picture of the sacrifices made by local soldiers and civilians in their effort to save the American union.

The Bennington Museum is located at 75 Main Street (Route 9) in The Shires of southwestern Vermont. Opening on July 20 are two new permanent gallery exhibits – Gilded Age Vermont and Bennington Modernism. The museum is open every day of the week July through October and closed on Wednesday other months. Hours: 10 am to 5 pm.  Visit the museum’s website or call 802-447-1571 for more information.

Scenery and History Along The Shires Byway

By Richard Smith

Historic Marker for Jacob Merrit Howard, writer of the 13th AmendmentThis easy 35 mile “Shires Byway” tour, from the Massachusetts border north through Bennington & on to Manchester, combines sites of national importance with gorgeous scenery & side trips. (You can also drive south from Manchester.) As you enjoy 14 state historical markers ( ) plus many other monuments and interpretative signs, please respect private property.

Start your odometer in Pownal, where Rte. 7 enters Vermont, drive north towards Bennington enjoying views of historic Pownal. (Side trip: see 1740s era Dutch homes such as the DeVoet House in Pownal Village.) At a little over six miles from the Massachusetts border, go left on Carpenter Road then immediately right onto Monument Avenue.

Drive one and a half miles to Old Bennington’s 1805 Old First Church (Vermont’s Colonial Shrine) which has Vermont’s oldest Protestant congregation. Park here. The plaque lying down in the center island indicates you’re on the spot where 700 British prisoners were brought after the resounding American victory at the Battle of Bennington, August 1777, two months before the Battle of Saratoga (Turning point of the Revolution). This spot is also where Vermont ratified the US constitution in 1791 to become the 14th state, the first after the original 13. The weathered private home on the corner is the former Dewey Tavern where Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, Walt Disney & other notables visited. The McCullough Mausoleum (north end of the fence) is on the site of Ethan Allen’s home from 1769 to 1775. From here, Allen went north on the Shires Byway (7A) to capture Fort Ticonderoga from the British on May 10, 1775 (America’s First Victory). The cemetery entrance map shows the site of Robert Frost’s (first U.S. poet laureate) grave & the mass grave of British (Hessians) & Americans who died at the Battle of Bennington. Drive north on Monument Avenue to the statue for the Catamount Tavern (former headquarters of the Green Mountain Boys who held off NY land claims).

Revolutionary War re-enactors at the Bennington Battle MonumentContinue to the 306-foot Bennington Battle Monument. Complete with elevator, adjacent gift shop and rest rooms, it is the tallest man-made structure in Vermont. From Monument Circle, take Walloomsac Rd. 500 yards to Fairview then half a mile to Silk. Follow Silk through the c1840 covered bridge to Matteson, then take Rice for less than a mile back to route the Shires Byway(7A) & turn left.

Heading north on historic 7A, at just over one mile is Robert Frost’s former Shaftsbury home (now a museum) where he wrote in 1922 “Passing by the Woods on a Snowy Evening” (part of his Pulitzer Prize winning book). Drive two plus miles further north to the Shaftsbury Historic District. At the Baptist church (Shaftsbury Historical Society), the historic marker describes where Vermont’s Jacob Merritt Howard, sole author of the 13th Amendment abolishing slavery & the basis of the film “Lincoln,” was born. Less than a half-mile north on 7A is the home of former Green Mountain Boy/Vermont governor, Jonas Galusha. Further north, just south of the corner of Old Depot Road 7A is the former Samuel Bottum “safe” house. Now a private residence, it was a stop on the Underground Railroad for runaway slaves.

About five miles more on 7A is Arlington. Ethan Allen lived in Arlington and his first wife is buried in the Episcopal Church cemetery. Norman Rockwell lived in Arlington (from 1939 to 1952) when he painted “the Four Freedoms.” As a side trip, take 313 West about four miles to the covered bridge & Rockwell’s former home/studio, the Inn on the Covered Bridge Green. Return along the scenic unpaved River Road. For another side trip from 7A, go east on East Arlington Road to East Arlington & view Revolutionary War era buildings (some, where Tories hid), an antique shop & a chocolate store. Heading north again on 7A, visit the Sugar Shack (Norman Rockwell prints/museum); go three miles to the Ira Allen House B&B where Ira & his brother Ethan lived. Go another 200 yards north, for a 200-yd. side trip on Hill Farm Road to the Ira Allen Cemetery for spectacular views of Mount Equinox (tallest mountain in the Taconics).

Another three miles north on 7A is Hildene ( ), the magnificent 412-acre estate of Robert Todd Lincoln, Abraham Lincoln’s only son to live to adulthood. Tour the mansion, gardens, Pullman car, etc. Abraham Lincoln descendents are buried in Dellwood cemetery next to the Hildene entrance.

The church and historic marker in Manchester VillageAnother half mile north in Manchester Village (with its historic marker) is the Equinox Hotel, established in 1769. In 1775, Ethan Allen passed though here on his way to capturing Fort Ticonderoga. In 1777, the first government meeting of the newly formed independent Republic of Vermont, took place in the original Marsh Tavern. Also in 1777, New Hampshire’s John Stark defied George Washington here & went South on the Shires Byway to the Battle of Bennington. Later, the Equinox hosted Mary Todd Lincoln in 1863 & 1864 and President William Howard Taft in 1912.

Continue on 7A into Manchester Center. At the large roundabout, turn right onto 11/30. The area from the roundabout to Highland Ave. housed factories which, among other products, milled neighboring Dorset’s quarried marble that ended up as Civil War tombstones or as part of famous buildings in NYC, Boston & Washington, DC.

For more information, please visit the Bennington & Manchester Chambers, Manchester’s Northshire Bookstore as well as their websites. Also, see the Shires Byway website:

Richard (Dick) Smith is a best selling author on Vermont history and gives historic tours for Backroad Discovery Tours.

The Shires of Vermont Byway

The Shires of Vermont BywayThe Shires of Vermont Byway is named for the scenic region it passes through from Vermont’s southern border with Massachusetts to its northern point where it intersects with the Stone Valley Byway in the heart of Manchester. This ribbon of road, US Route 7 from Pownal to Bennington, and VT Historic Route 7A from Bennington to Manchester, is the historic stretch that has connected the communities of the north shire and south shire for centuries. Historically, a “shire town” was a county seat otherwise known as the governmental center of the county.

Created in 2010, The Shires of Vermont Byway links the existing Molly Start Byway (Route 9, in the Southshire) and the Stone Valley Byway (Route 30, in the Northshire), to afford travelers a complete route through our region and is part of an almost complete circuit of byways across the entire state.

The Shires of Vermont Byway winds its way from south to north through the towns of Pownal,Bennington, North Bennington Village, Shaftsbury, Arlington, Sunderland, Manchester Village and Manchester Center for approximately 75 miles including side trips.

For more information about Vermont Byways, visit

Manchester Fall Art & Craft Festival

Same great show, new more spacious location!

Crowd outside enjoying the Manchester Fall Art & Craft Festival

The Manchester Fall Art & Craft Festival is taking the place of the formerly called Hildene Fall Arts Festival this year. The festival will take place in a new location as well, The Hunter Fairgrounds at Riley Rink in Manchester, VT. A more spacious location for a larger celebration!

The Manchester Fall Art and Craft Festival combines a market for handmade crafts, original art, live music, and an array of gourmet edible treats. Featuring artists from Vermont and beyond, this popular summer festival is a weekend destination for the whole family. “For many customers it’s an annual ritual to spend a day here, seeing their favorite exhibitors and meeting new ones, buying new works including gifts for the approaching holiday season,” said Tim Cianciola.

With over 180 Artists and Craftspeople, live music food tastings and more Tim Cianciola and his team at Craftproducers are emphasizing the excellent value people receive for the low price of admission. “A family of four can come to the show for around $20,” said Cianciola. “It’s a great day out for families, people interested in art, serious collectors, and people who love good food.”

The show comprises: exhibits from local, regional, and national artists and craftspeople. Visitors to the show can meet the artists in person and can browse several booths in one location. “This zany and talented bunch of artists and artisans have led interesting lives. Hear their stories, buy a piece of their work and take a bit of the artist’s personality with you. At its core, the festival is one of the top New England summer marketplaces for art and handmade crafts, and there’s plenty for people who are interested in more than the arts and crafts in the exhibitor’s tent.” said Cianciola.

The Manchester Fall and Craft Festival will take place September 28th-30th, from 10am-5pm at The Hunter Fairgrounds at Riley Rink, 410 Hunter Park Rd Manchester, VT. Adult admission $10, kids 12 and under free. Coupons are available at Live music will be offered on Saturday and Sunday. This art and craft festival is a rain or shine event, with food tastings, events for children, live music and free parking. Come on out and revel in the arts!

The Hildene Experience

1903 Pullman  Palace Car, “Sunbeam”

The experience begins at the Oscar V. Johnson Welcome Center where guests get a glimpse of all that the Hildene mission: Values into Action encompasses. The carriage barn built circa 1905 by presidential son, Robert Todd Lincoln, is home to The Museum Store and interactive displays that include, telegraph, observation beehive, and a model Pullman train circling the perimeter at ceiling level. It is here that guests can access information on everything from the mansion and gardens to the Hildene Farm and solar powered cheese-making facility, the Pullman car, Sunbeam, and the 412 acre estate’s miles of trails perfect for an autumn hike or a winter x-country ski or snowshoe trek. A short film focuses on the history of the family in Manchester and Hildene’s past and present commitment to restoration, conservation and education. Shuttle transportation to the various sites begins there as well.

Most guests begin their stay with a visit to the mansion where the tour focuses on the lives of the three generations of President Lincoln’s descendants who called this home for 70 years. Robert Lincoln, was the only child of President Abraham Lincoln and wife, Mary Todd, to survive to adulthood. He built Hildene, his ancestral home in 1905, after a successful career as attorney and statesman and while he was president of the Pullman Company, the largest manufacturing company in the world at that time.

The tour of the home traditionally concludes in the family’s formal garden surrounded by scenic vistas of the Taconic and Green Mountains. Jessie, President Lincoln’s granddaughter, designed the formal garden as a gift to her mother, Mary Harlan Lincoln in 1907. An American version of the French parterre, throughout the summer and into the fall, the garden’s spectacular hues are provided by perennials. The Cutting and Kitchen Gardens, Butterfly Garden, Observation Garden and Soft Fruit Cage are located behind the Welcome Center, a favorite area for kids, as it was for Robert Todd Lincoln’s grandchildren more than 100 years ago.

Sunbeam, a 1903 Pullman palace car built during Robert’s tenure as president of the company, tells the story of Many Voices: those of the company, society and the Pulllman porters. These voices are “heard” within the historical context of the time, midpoint between the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863 and the Civil Rights Movement in 1963.

The Rowland Agricultural Center at Hildene Farm is designed for public viewing of the cheese-making process from milking Hildene’s herd of Nubian goats through processing and packaging to the aging room. Powered by solar panels and heated with a wood burning furnace, the operation employs sustainable energy practices.

The Lincoln Family Home at Hildene is open daily year round from 9:30 am to 4:30 am. The home and grounds are also available for private functions corporate meetings and retreats, weddings and receptions. Larger groups, including schools and motorcoach tours are welcomed by reservation throughout the year. For more information visit or like us on Facebook.

Casablanca Motel Named a 2012 “Best of New England – Editors’ Choice” Winner by Yankee Magazine

Yankee Magazine's Editor's Choice, Best of New England

The Casablanca Motel has been recognized as a 2012 “Editor’s Choice” winner in Yankee Magazine’s Travel Guide to New England. This designation is awarded by Yankee’s editors and contributors, who name select restaurants, lodgings and attractions in New England to the exclusive list. For 36 years, Yankee Magazine’s Travel Guide to New England has been the most widely distributed and best –selling guide to the six state region, providing a comprehensive vacation planning tool and daily reference.

The Casablanca Motel is a unique Vermont experience with 9 single unit cabins and 1 suite cabin which are themed around Manchester and the Mountains. From our Norman Rockwell cabin to the Catamount Trail cabin, each represents a variety of accommodations to suit our guests’ needs. We offer all the amenities of your standard motel rooms without the standard ‘next to your neighbor wall’. Family pets are also welcome in select cabins. Our 3 acres of grounds offer bocce, volleyball, lawn games, charcoal grills, screened gazebo, lawn swings, and beautiful gardens to enjoy. Did we mention we are a Wildlife Habitat as well as a Green Motel and still only a mile from the Designer Outlet stores and downtown Manchester?

We are honored and thrilled to be chosen as “Best Retro Escape” in Vermont! Come see what makes the Casablanca Motel a Yankee Best of New England Destination!

Bennington Arts Guild

Bennington Arts Guild

The Bennington Arts Guild is always worth a visit with its wide range of reasonably priced art and craft items, all created by artist members who co-own and operate the gallery at 103 South Street, near the crossroads in downtown Bennington.

In addition to the main gallery in the front of the store, a second smaller space showcases the work of individual artists. During September Judy Kniffin will show her oil paintings alongside woven bags by Paula Kautz-LaPorte. October 6 to November 17 will be turn of Dan Barber and Colleen Williams who will display hooked rugs and porcelain respectively. And from November 22 the Holiday Art Show will focus on beautiful holiday gifts. Meet the artists and enjoy free refreshments at opening receptions on September 1 and October 6, both from 5 – 8 pm.

True Grid

Bill Scully, a Bennington College class of ’94 graduate, has built restaurants, re-energized a store, and singlehandedly revitalized North Bennington. Now he’s poised to deliver electricity in a way that could, well, change the world.

Bill Scully with the Paper Mill Covered Bridge in the background
Bill Scully with the Paper Mill Covered Bridge in the background.

“You gotta hate yourself a little to be this busy,” laughs Bill Scully, a man who, if that were true, would have to be the most self-loathing guy on the planet. Think we’re kidding? In the last 18 years—since Scully left Bennington College—he has: worked as a dishwasher; been a student of sculpture and architecture; assisted well-known artists such as Jenny Holzer and Maria Westerlund-Roosen; apprenticed at a local café; graduated to executive chef at the well-known Cambridge Hotel; opened the popular, award-winning restaurant, Pangaea, in North Bennington; enlarged it with Pangaea Lounge; bought and revamped the much-loved Powers Market across the street; launched a second restaurant, Allegro, in downtown Bennington; returned to the College as its director of dining services, which oversees not only the food for the whole campus but its numerous events as well; and, oh yes, took ownership of a dilapidated, vacant paper mill, in order to orchestrate a hydroelectric project that is likely to become the poster project for green energy across Vermont and possibly the country.

“I like to joke that in 18 years, I’ve moved two blocks…but that’s all I needed.”

Scully is a force, one whose diversity in his resumé is matched only by an unusual sincerity and humility of purpose. Each project he undertakes has, at its core, a deep desire to learn, to understand, and to do good. He remains, in the best sense, a consummate student. Take this latest power plant idea:

“I guess it started when I was talking with Liz [Coleman] in 2008,” he recalls. “I think we were having a glass of wine at Pangaea, and she basically said to me that she felt she and her peers had spent their lives educating an entire generation to disbelieve in government. It upset her, and it moved me. I decided right then that this conversation—what became The Democracy Project and now CAPA—was one I needed to be a part of.”

Scully, who had for years been wooed to come back to the College in a culinary capacity, finally agreed. But the opportunity for him was much more than food related. “I was starving to be part of the Bennington conversation again.”

As it turns out, for Scully the “Bennington conversation” did not stop at the campus edge. One year later, while driving home from his in-laws’, the chef tuned into an NPR report that was discussing the skyrocketing price of oil. “I had an epiphany,” he says. “We live in a mill town in Bennington; why aren’t we using water and gravity to naturally power this place? By noon the next day, I had set up an e-mail account to collect information on hydropower. I began looking at potential sites, and I started educating myself on the physics of this natural resource.”

But like everything Scully does, playing the student—whether in food, business, or green power—never stays a theoretical exercise for long. In 2009, he purchased the former, and very ramshackle, Vermont Tissue Mill, which sits above the Walloomsac River in Bennington, with the intention of restoring it as a hydroelectric power plant. What some might have seen as folly, he saw as the future.

“For a state that prides itself on being so green, it had been more than 25 years since Vermont had licensed hydro anywhere. It had become such a divisive issue that even though 97 percent of residents in Vermont supported it, no bill ever came out of committee because the fishing lobby, and key officials in government who supported them, would block it. I mean, it was so bad that neither side would even talk to each other.”

Many had come before Scully and given up, assuming their dream of using Vermont’s water sources to create a carbon negative —not just neutral, but negative—power supply was unattainable.

“Not giving up; well, I think that’s a classic Bennington quality,” Scully says. “When I want something, I’m not going to stop.” In pure CAPA form, he continues, “It became my goal to get everyone to the table.” And so he began the arduous process of bringing together the fishing lobby, which believed building dams would ruin profitable ecosystems, and local environmentalists, for whom green energy was a sacred cow.

“Look at it this way: The vast majority of the electricity used in Vermont is generated by two sources, Hydro Quebec and Vermont Yankee. Neither are Vermont companies. Less than 15 percent of Vermont’s electricity is generated by Vermont companies. That’s 85 percent of our energy dollars going out of the country when we’re the ones who own the natural resources. Does that make any sense?”

After months of stops and starts, visits to the Vermont legislature, promising speeches and daunting conversations, and a curious blend of activist dedication and Zen detachment, Scully and his team got the go-ahead to pursue hydro in Bennington. Although there are still hoops to jump—a permit from the Federal Regulatory Commission, not to mention the renovation on the mill itself—when all is said and done, Scully’s plant will generate 1.3 million kilowatt hours per year. With a standard home requiring 12,000 kilowatt hours per year, that equals more than 105 homes every year powered by nothing more than water and gravity.

“I like to tell people that this particular paper mill predates even the state of Vermont, and in fact, the document outlawing slavery was drafted on the paper this mill produced. So, compared to that, this doesn’t feel that revolutionary.”

And yet it is. Not only for those 105 homes but because the ultimate significance of Scully’s mill might just be how easily it becomes the prototype for the next generation of green energy.

Would that be enough for the man to take a rest?

“I guess we’re all motivated by some deep-seated psychosis,” he says. “I told my wife recently that mine goes all the way back to my first year at Bennington. My friend Andy, who lived with me and my mother, and who always wanted better for me than I wanted for myself, told me before I left for school, ‘If you screw this up, don’t come home.’ Six months later, when I was at school, he drowned in an accident. So maybe that’s why I never think I’m done. I am still trying to fufill a promise to an old friend. I like to keep filling my head with possibilities.”

Reprinted with permission from Bennington College from the Winter 2012 issue of Bennington magazine, published for alumni and friends of the college.

Madison Brewing Company

Madison Brewing Company

If you are a fan of beer, then you must visit this famed local brewery and restaurant. They feature seven brews of their own making, including favorites such as Old 76, Sucker Pond Blonde, Willoughby’s Scottish Ale, Bucks Honey Wheat, Wassick’s White Wall, Crowtown Pale Ale, and a changing seasonal brew. They offer a varied pub menu that includes vegetarian options, all-you-can-eat fish & chips (on Wednesdays), burgers, pasta dishes, and a children’s menu. Make sure to try the home-made chips! The atmosphere is welcoming and family friendly. Serving lunch and dinner, they are open seven days a week. Seasonal outdoor seating is available. This is a local favorite and you won’t be disappointed!

Delicious food at the Madison Brewing Company

Onwards and Upwards! Carrying on the Pottery Tradition in Bennington

Bennington Pottery

Onwards and Upwards! That’s what David Gil, the founder of Bennington Potters used to tell the members of his company. Bennington’s potters are still constantly improving, innovating, and attending to every detail to meet the demands of the changing world. Bennington Potters, today a small company of 10 dedicated potters and an equally dedicated sales and support staff, remains a significant player in the world market for dinnerware, bake ware and art pottery.

It’s all in the design: David Gil’s design oriented philosophy is the key principle guiding these potters into the 21st century. They adhere to Gil’s original quality design standard – as innovative and state-of the-art today as it was in 1948 when the company was founded – even though they are using clay forming methods that are primitive by today’s standards. It is all about the piece. Considerations of size, shape, look, feel, color, texture, durability, usability, comfort, ease, simplicity – the simple beauty of it all – is what goes into a piece made by Bennington Potters. This is why old customers return year after year and new customers wish they had found the place years ago. Are these potters proud of what they do? In a word: Yes. It shows. And visitors to the pottery can see it right away as they watch the potters work.

The hands-on tradition: Every piece of ware passes through at least 8 pairs of hands with some handling the piece 2 or 3 times before it is ready to be shipped or put on the store’s shelves. Liquid clay poured from a dairy farm’s milking hose or a shapeless nondescript hunk of firm clay will become a streamlined cup, plate, bowl, platter, or piece of bake ware. Each phase of production – from forming to firing – is carefully attended by these skilled artisans who both inspect and perfect at each step of the way. The potters work to the design, standard and pattern while the glazing techniques insure that no two pieces are ever exactly alike. There is a magical serendipity – individuality really – like that found in Vermont’s landscape. The processes are repeated hundreds even thousands of times, yet each piece is as fresh and new as if it were the very first one made. The hand to hand chain ends when the potters’ partners, the Grist Mill sales associates, hand the piece purchased to the customer. As they say at Bennington Potters: from our hands to yours.

Battle Day Weekend Events

Friday, August 17th

  • 11am – 2pm: Hot Sausage, Burgers, Hot Dog lunch will be available to purchase at the Bennington Fire Station
  • 4pm – Until gone: Chicken Barbecue Dinner, $10.00 per person at the Bennington Fire Station
  • 4pm – 9pm: Chinese Auction, at the Bennington Fire Station
  • 6pm – 8pm: Car Cruise – Parade at 8:15 pm Open to public, at the Bennington Fire Station
  • 6pm – 10pm: Las Vegas Night with DJ Ben Patten from Magic 590. Open to public, at the Bennington Fire Station

Saturday, August 18th

  • 7:30am – 12pm: VSFA Registration of Delegates, Bennington Firestation
  • 8am: Vendors, Bennington Fire Station
  • 8am: Pre-registration – Battle Day 5k Road Race at Bennington Monument, Old Bennington
  • 9:30am: Race to start and end at the Bennington Monument, Old Bennington
  • 8:30am: VSFA Memorial Service, Bennington Firestation, 3rd Floor
  • 10am – 12noon: Kids’ Day, Bennington Recreation Center, Gage Street. Sponsored by the Bennington Fire Department
  • 11:15am: VSFA Sports Committee Judges’ and Captains’ Meeting, Bennington Firestation
  • 11:30am: VSFA Sporting Event Parade Lineup, Bennington Firestation
  • 12pm: VSFA Sporting Event Parade, Bennington Firestation
  • 12:15pm: VSFA Sports Parade and Opening ceremonies, Bennington Firestation

  • VSFA Firefighters’ Muster Games – Awards immediately after the games, Bennington Fire Station
  • 6pm – 7pm: VSFA Annual Award Banquet Social Hour, Elks Lodge, Washington Avenue
  • 7pm: VSFA Annual Dinner and Awards Presentation, Elks Lodge, Washington Avenue

Sunday August 19th

  • 8am: Judges/Officers Breakfast Jensen’s Resturant 332 North Street
  • 8am: Vendors, Bennington Firestation
  • 8am – 10am: VSFA Registration, Bennington Firestation
  • 10am: VSFA Apparatus Judging, Bennington Firestation back parking lot ( VSFA Departments Only )
  • 10am – 12:30pm: Parade Lineup
  • 12:30pm: VSFA and Battle Parade begins, Main & Safford Street to Depot Street North on Depot Street to River Street, River Street to Firestation. Reviewing at intersection of Route 7 & Route 9. Length of marching route 1 mile
  • 4 pm: Trophies presented and raffle winners drawn

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Northshire Bookstore Receives Governor’s Award

Northshire Bookstore

Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT: The 2012 Governor’s Award for Environmental Excellence has been awarded to the Northshire Bookstore in partnership with Alan Benoit.  Northshire and Benoit won in the small business category because the, “Community bookstore Northshire has implemented renewable energy projects, installed a solar interactive education kiosk, and partnered with local architect Alan Benoit, who has provided over 30 workshops on various sustainable living topics at the bookstore for the general public.”

Chris Morrow, bookstore co-owner, has long had a commitment to environmental issues. “I have strong passion for working on the myriad issues facing our species and planet. ‘Environment’ is not separate from business or society – we live in a complex, interconnected world. I thank the State for recognizing our small efforts and Alan for working so assiduously on educating us on so many important topics.” Alan Benoit, local architect and owner of Sustainable Design commented, “I have always been looking for a way to increase public awareness about all things green.  My Sustainable Living presentation series has given me the opportunity to share my knowledge and that of other local experts with the community on the topics of energy, architecture, efficiency, gardening and sustainability.”

The Vermont Governor’s Awards for Environmental Excellence were established in 1993 to recognize the actions taken by Vermonters to conserve and protect natural resources, prevent pollution, and promote environmental sustainability.  To date, more than 170 efforts of Vermont organizations, institutions, public agencies, businesses, and individuals have been recognized. These projects contribute significantly to Vermont’s environmental quality and encourage others to take action. Secretary Deb Markowitz said, “We were pleased with the number of great applications we received for the Governor’s Awards this year. Vermont’s businesses, schools and individuals see that good environmental practices are not just good for Vermont but they also benefit the bottom line.”

The 2012 recipients of the Governor’s Awards will be recognized by Governor Peter Shumlin and Agency of Natural Resources Secretary Deb Markowitz on May 15, at the Vermont Businesses for Social Responsibility’s annual spring conference at the University of Vermont Davis Center.

Vermont State Parks in The Shires

Fishing at Woodford State Park. Photo credit: Jared Clark, Vermont State Parks
Fishing at Woodford State Park. Photo credit: Jared Clark, Vermont State Parks

Vermont State Parks offer a place to camp, play, relax, and explore! There are 52 state parks across the state, three of which are in The Shires, all offering a range of unique opportunities, such as great hiking, swimming, boat rentals, concession, vistas, wildlife viewing, and prime camp sites. Vermont State Parks’ website lists each park and the activities and amenities they offer as well as information on reservations, and lots photos of the parks and the people who enjoy them each year.

Woodford State Park (in Woodford, VT) is the highest elevation campground in the state at 2400’ above sea level. With easy trails, an open lake, and a bog to explore, it’s great for all ages. Woodford has boat rentals (canoe, kayak, and rowboats) 103 campsites, and is also a popular fishing location. If you stay overnight, be prepared to be awakened by an outstanding chorus of birds which serenade visitors, especially in the spring.

Lake Shaftsbury State Park (in Shaftsbury, VT) offers visitors a great beach and picnic areas, easy hikes around the lake, and a rental cottage. Row boats, pedal boats, kayaks, and canoes are all available for rent as well as a picnic shelter for large group gatherings. For those that need to refuel, a concession stand located in the park offers yummy snacks at reasonable prices.

Emerald Lake State Park (in East Dorset, VT) includes a small clear, clean, and cold lake where visitors can rent a kayak, canoe, pedal boat or rowboat. A concession stand, lakeside picnic tables, and a picnic pavilion for large groups are also available. 104 campsites are scattered on the heavily wooded ridge above the lake.

Day entry into the parks is $3/per person if you’re 14 or older, $2 for kids under 3-14 yrs. old and free for kids 3 yrs. old and younger. When you pay for entry into one park, you can get into all other for free that same day, so you can visit multiple parks if you’d like.

For more information or to make a reservation call our reservation center, 888-409-7579, Monday – Friday 9am – 4pm, visit, or send an email to

A Season Celebrating Legends, Legacy and History at SVAC

Legendary Blues perfornmer James Cotton. Photo by Paul NatkinThe Southern Vermont Arts Center, under the leadership of Executive Director, Joseph Madeira, announced their 2012 season of exhibitions and performances in their Arkell Pavilion. The new season spotlights artistic quality and excellence and continues on the tradition of presenting quality work by both regional and national visual and performing artists.

The new season will feature exhibits such as Legends of Rock and Roll: Photos by George Kalinsky, and Weatherbound: The Art of Jay Connaway. SVAC opens the Arkell Pavilion with nationally touring show Neil Berg’s 100 Years of Broadway and a season featuring performances by legendary performers like bluesman and Grammy award winner James Cotton, and Diamond Dave Sommerville, original lead singer of the DooWop group, the Diamonds.

Tickets for all shows can be acquired either by calling the Arts Center’s Box office at 802-362-1405 or going online to the website at

The Southern Vermont Arts Center, located on West Road in Manchester Vermont and now in it’s 79th year, is a non- profit organization 501(c)3 dedicated to making both the visual and performing arts an integral part of the life of our community and region. The Arts Center presents the finest quality exhibitions and performances; provides education and instruction in the arts; exhibits the work of member and guest artists, and provide opportunities for community service in promotion of excellence in the arts.

Cycling in The Shires

Mountain BikerCycling in The Shires of Vermont is alive and well. While several organizations are currently collaborating to create an official “ride now” map for the region in the future, in the present the sport is thriving. There are many events lined up for those who want to hit the roads and byways of southern Vermont and the neighboring Berkshires this summer for activities from recreation to racing.

Among them from north to south is the “Vermont Challenge.” This event originates at Stratton Mt. In its inaugural year this event offers 3-ride choices: The 4 day Grand Challenge; the 3 day Weekend Challenge and the 1- day Legendary “Gap” Century and Half Century. The Ride incorporates four major ski resorts and a signature town as key hosts for meals and lodging. In The Shires that town is Manchester. For more information on the “Vermont Challenge” visit

The Shires region’s signature race takes place in the spring of each year, this year it was held on May 5th and 6th. The “Tour of the Dragons” is a two-day, three stage event. The Saturday Time Trial and Downtown Criterium take place in Bennington, while the Sunday 62 mile Road Race takes place in Manchester and surrounding towns and is similar to the Tour de France where racers compete on cumulative overall time.

Other cycling events include The Mt Equinox bicycle hill climb… the premier event for bicycle masochists. This year it’s August 4. For info: There will also be the annual time trial series in Bennington. These are single rider timed climbs up Prospect Mountain. The starting point is the Woodford town hall, each 3rd Tuesday of June, July, and August.

For more information on all things cycling this summer in the Bennington area, you can email The Cycling Academy under the leadership of League of American Bicyclists’ certified instructor, Bruce Lierman, focuses on bike safety and the ways in which motorists and cyclists can share the road. It is Bruce’s hope that by providing people with more knowledge about bicycling, bikes will become a more common mode of travel on Vermont roadways.

Another contact for those interested in “Riding the Hills of Southern Vermont and Western Massachusetts is the Bennington Cycle Club. They can be found at For more information on cycling tours and Cycling Club Rides that combine routes in The Shires region and neighboring Berkshires visit

The scenery is magnificent, the challenges varied and the people along the way friendly. Come and discover for yourselves cyling in The Shires of Vermont and neighboring Massachusetts and New York.

The West Mountain Inn: A Vermont Country Inn Experience!

West Mountain Inn

Originally built in 1809 as a farmhouse, the West Mountain Inn in Arlington sits nestled on a hillside with the famous Battenkill River flowing at the base of their drive. A family run business for over 30 years, owner Amie Emmons is a second generation innkeeper of this secluded 20 room bed and breakfast getaway. With romantic, antique filled guest rooms, fantastic mountain views, local farm fresh dining, 150 acres of woodland hiking and snowshoeing trails, extensive gardens and friendly alpacas, the West Mountain Inn is a true Vermont country experience.

Guests can relax and explore the Inn’s beautiful grounds, trails and gardens or take just a few steps down the drive and go tubing, canoeing or fly fishing on the Battenkill. For cycling enthusiasts River Road offers a quiet, scenic ride past a horse farm and thru a historic covered bridge. Just 10 minutes from Manchester and an hour to Williamstown, MA or Saratoga Springs, NY; shopping, golf, summer theater and music events are all within a short day trip.

The Inn was chosen by The Knot in 2012 as a “Best of Weddings Pick” for Vermont venues. Their historic barn provides a rustic, elegant setting for receptions and the beauty of their grounds is the perfect backdrop for a classic Vermont country wedding.

Chef Jeff Scott partners with local farms and artisan food producers to bring guests the best in Vermont’s farm fresh, organic cuisine. The cozy tavern and dining room with fireside tables offers breakfast and dinner to Inn guest and is also open to the general public.

Each year the Inn hosts a many special groups and events. From musical house concerts to business conferences, holiday celebrations, yoga retreats or fly fishing seminars; they customize activities, menus and spaces around the needs and requests of each group.

West Mountain Inn is a place where you can slow down, be pampered and take in all the beauty and authentic hospitality that Vermont has to offer.

Summer Arts Highlights At The Bennington Center for the Arts

Crookston - Walking Alone

Crookston – Walking Alone

The Bennington Center for the Arts has now been in existence for almost twenty years but has never had a more impressive summer schedule. With fine art exhibitions such as the Oil Painters of America, the California Art Club and Artists for the New Century, and performers such as Tom Rush, those who relish the arts have a lot to look forward to in the coming months.

Better known as “The Bennington” by art collectors and artists from around the country, the Center opens this season with an exhibition of their own creation, Artists for the New Century. The show focuses on artists that have a wonderful talent but for any number of reasons have not yet receive the national recognition they deserve. “While many of the artists are fairly young, many just haven’t received the promotion or marketing to elevate them to the covers of the national magazines,” notes Gallery Director, Shirley Hutchins. This show opens the 9th of June and is a great opportunity for not only art lovers who want to see what is new on the art scene but also for collectors in the area as all of the art work will be available for purchase.

The following weekend is the opening of the seventeenth annual Art of the Animal Kingdom. This year the almost 100 piece show was juried by internationally recognized Wyoming artist Greg Beecham. Artists from around the country and abroad will display their work, with many coming to the opening festivities in on June 16th. The presentations and opening reception are open to the public on Saturday, free of charge.

The entertainment season at “The Bennington” opens with Mozart’s Abduction from the Seraglio, performed by the Hubbard Hall Opera Theater on June 16th. Additional events on the schedule include a classical pianist, classical guitarist and famed vocalist Tom Rush.

To see this calibre of both fine and performing art one usually has to travel to major metropolitan areas. As residents of this area, we have not only the beauty that surrounds us but the beauty inside the walls of “The Bennington”. Many people comment that they have driven by the Center time and time again but have never stopped. Perhaps this summer is the time to finally stop and see what they have to offer!

Rockwell Kent’s “Egypt”: Shadow and Light in Vermont

Autumn, 1923-27, Rockwell Kent 
(1882-1971) Oil on canvas, 34” x 44” Private Collection
Autumn, 1923-27 Rockwell Kent (1882-1971) Oil on canvas, 34” x 44” Private Collection

Rockwell Kent’s “Egypt”: Shadow and Light in Vermont, on view at the Bennington Museum, June 9 through October 30, 2012, is the first ever exhibition to focus on Rockwell Kent’s life and work during his years in Vermont, 1919-1925. Kent purchased a hill farm called “Egypt” on the slopes of Red Mountain in Arlington, Vermont, 20 miles north of Bennington, in the spring of 1919, on the heels of his trip to Alaska.

Concentrating on the years Kent and his family spent there, the exhibit draws attention to a time in his career when he solidified his reputation as one of the premier American artists of his time. Despite the avalanche of scholarly attention Kent received during the past fifteen years, the museum’s exhibition and its accompanying catalogue is the first comprehensive documentation of Kent’s life and work in Vermont.

Including many major, rarely seen paintings from the artist’s time in Vermont, as well as dozens of prints and drawings, this exhibition highlights a little-known aspect of the artist’s work. During his time in Vermont the artist was a transcendentalist and a mystic, a spiritual descendant of William Blake, Walt Whitman and Friedrich Nietzsche. A close look at the paintings, drawings, and prints that Kent created during this period reveals, sometimes simultaneously, both the shadowy recesses and light-filled aspects of humanity. In “Egypt” Kent was able to create a body of work that conveys the full spectrum of human emotion, from anguish to ecstasy. A focused examination of the artist’s time in Vermont reveals a complex, psychologically probing body of work that indicates an artist who found much inspiration in both the awe-inspiring physical landscape that surrounded him at “Egypt” and in his own internal musings on life, death, and man’s place in the world.

The Bennington Museum, located at 75 Main Street (Route 9), Bennington has the largest public collection of Grandma Moses paintings in the world as well as the largest collection of 19th century Bennington pottery. In the other 7 galleries, the museum presents a 1924 Wasp Touring Car, one of only twenty produced, military artifacts, one of the earliest ‘stars and stripes’ in existence, fine and decorative arts and more. The museum is just a short ride from Manchester, Williamstown, and eastern New York, and is open every day July through October. Regular admission is $10 for adults, $9 for seniors and students over 18. Admission is never charged for younger students or to visit the museum shop and café. Visit the museum’s website or call 802-447-1571 for more information.

Scenic Backroads

By Sharon O’Conner, owner of Backroad Discovery

Cars on Covered BridgeThe foliage season draws people from all over the world. Yes, the autumn leaves are beautiful, but many people miss the little details that make Vermont so very special! It has been nicknamed, “The State of Mind” by some … and one can well understand this euphemism when looking closely. Vermont is: rolling pastures surrounded by majestic mountains, rounded bales of hay dotting the hillsides and casting shadows in the late afternoon, crystal clear mountain streams gurgling through a wooded glen, immaculate well-kept homes garnished with colorful perennial flower beds, tiny family burial plots dating back to the time when our country was founded, obscure hamlets steeped in history and tradition. What Vermont is MOST about is its people (friendly, hard working, willing to help in any way) and how they choose to live!

This Green Mountain State consists of countless scenic routes and one of my favorites is a relaxing 45-mile route located in Bennington County. Pack a picnic lunch, fill the car with gas, and head out for a couple of hours of adventure, fun and a few surprises!

Start your trip at the intersection of 7A and River Road in the village of Manchester. This road winds through the valley between the Green Mountain and Taconic Mountain ranges. It is lined with stone walls and overhanging sugar maple trees. Watch for Hildene Meadows on the right (the site of many special events during summer and fall). Look for Burough Lane on the left (about 4 mi.) and follow to North Road. Continue on and make a left at Kelly Stand Road. The rock cluttered river beckons you to follow it along. A footbridge appears crossing the river. Where might it go? Why not find out? There are plenty of places to pull over and park the car. Take a stroll down the lane, picnic by the water, or sit on a fallen tree in the middle of the stream and ponder where the water began. Listen to the birds calling gently to one another or perhaps observe a moose and her calves lumbering to the waterside for a drink! After driving for about 4.5 mi. on Kelly Stand look for a water pipe on the left where you can refill your water bottle with the pure spring water.

Continue on and you will reach the Stratton Pond /Mountain Trailhead. There is a large parking area where you can leave the car and hike on trails averaging 2-6mi., or a l2mi. loop. If you are not a hiker travel back on Kelly Stand for approximately l.3 miles. A small parking area overlooks a spectacular view of the valley and distant mountains. Continue on and realize that you are in the wilderness, home to bear, moose, bobcats, coyotes, and loons. Notice the hidden homes seemingly untouched by technology.

Retrace your track back down the Kelley Stand to civilization, follow the sign to Route 7. This will bring you into the enchanting borough of East Arlington. Take a moment to visit the quaint theme shops, buy a piece of homemade fudge and sit by the waterfall. When you have finished, continue to the stop sign. Turn left onto East Arlington Road and then right onto Route 7A. You will pass the Norman Rockwell Museum (well worth a visit).

After the museum, travel a few hundred yards and turn left onto Route 313. Make another left onto River Road (.5 mi.), a bucolic byway which ambles alongside the Battenkill River. You will see canoeists winding their way downstream and fly fisherman hoping for tonight’s meal. The road is dotted with small antique stores, out-of-the-way inns, rolling pastures, and horse farms. Look for Covered Bridge Road and turn right. Stop to notice The Inn at Covered Bridge, which was Norman Rockwell’s studio for 14 years and the Battenkill Grange which is still the site of family potluck suppers and local gatherings. Take a walk through the Arlington Green Covered Bridge which was built in 1852 and touch the wooden pegs still holding the supports. Thrill the kids and honk the horn (only once) as you pass through.

Cars on BackroadTurn right onto Route 313, and then left onto Sandgate Road. Go 3.5 mi. and stumble upon one of my newest “backroad discoveries,” the Green River Inn. Stop by and ask the owners if you can visit the deck that they decided to build into the side of their mountain. If you have 4-wheel drive , you can drive up. If not, it takes about 1/2 an hour to stroll up the gentle slope. When you reach “the deck,” you will view one of southern Vermont’s most spectacular vistas! When you return, enjoy your favorite beverage on the Inn’s back veranda and make sure you visit the first floor hallway, which shows the enormous restoration process that owners Jim and Betsy Gunn have undertaken. Stroll around the grounds, take it all in and who knows? You may decide that you must spend just one more day in the area!

Where the Buffalo Roam

By Bette Reynolds

Townshend, Vermont

East Hill Bison FarmThe dream that Carl Steiner and his wife Eloise fulfilled began in 1991 on top of East Hill. East Hill is just outside of the villages of Townshend and Harmonyville. It started on their 175 acre farm with three animals; two one-year old female bison from the Perry Farm in Charlotte, Vermont and a South Dakota bull bison called Henry. Commonly known as buffalo in the USA, the correct scientific name is bison. The herd has now grown to twenty-eight head and continues to grow each year. This year alone has produced six healthy calves. The gestation period for a female bison is 275 days. An average newborn calf weighs 30 pounds, while adults often average 1300 pounds. The diet of the bison is very important to the quality of their low fat, low cholesterol meat. To supplement pasture, Carl feeds them a large round bale of hay (equivalent to 16 normal bales of hay) every three days. He also feeds them dried corn on the cob that has been run through a hammer mill. Salt is also important in their diet.

I was fortunate enough this year on the second day of summer to witness Carl calling his prize bull Henry up close to the 4600 volt electric fence. Henry protectively escorted his herd with calves, so that I may photograph them.

Buffalo meat is available upon request at the Steiner residence. Also available ready-cooked from East Hill Bison Stock are buffalo burgers at the Townshend Dam Diner. Stephanie will cook your burger to perfection. All East Hill Bison meat is Vermont inspected. There are no chemical additives or antibiotic feeding produce involved in breeding bison for meat. There have also been no allergic reactions to eating buffalo meat Buffalo are no longer an endangered species and now number 400,000 in the United States.

The Proud History of a Proud Ship

During the Revolutionary War, General Burgoyne, who was advancing south from Canada, committed the tactical error of out-marching his own supply teams. As he neared Saratoga, he detached a force of Hessians under Lt. Col. Braun to capture the supplies, munitions and horses held by the Revolutionaries at a nearby supply depot in Vermont. This force was met and decisively defeated by a brigade of New Hampshire Militiamen led by Colonel John Stark, a victory which contributed to Burgoyne’s ultimate defeat at Saratoga. The time was mid-August 1777, the battleground was Bennington, Vermont.

In its first tribute to this victory, the Navy assigned the name BENNINGTON to 1700 ton gunboat, sister ship of the gunboats LEXINGTON and CONCORD. Commissioned in 1891, the vessel was built as a three masted steam schooner and armed with six guns. She operated in South Atlantic and European waters until 1894 when she joined the Pacific Fleet.

Based out of Mare Island, BENNINGTON operated along the Pacific Coast of North and Central America and the Hawaiian Islands until the outbreak of the Spanish-American War. On 17 January 1899, while en route to the Philippines, she took formal possession of Wake Island. BENNINGTON cruised in Philippine waters assisting the U.S. Army in suppressing the insurrection until her return to Mare Island on 3 January 1901 when she was decommissioned. Recommissioned on 2 March 1903, she again cruised along the Pacific coast of North and South America until 17 August 1905 when the first USS BENNINGTON was permanently decommissioned.

The second ship to bear this historic name was the aircraft carrier BENNINGTON (CV-20) commissioned on 6 August 1944.

On 15 December, BENNINGTON got underway from New York and transited the Panama Canal on her voyage to the Pacific. The carrier arrived at Pearl Harbor on 8 January 1945 and then proceeded to Ulithi Atoll, Caroline Islands, where she joined Task Group 58.1 on 8 February. Operating out of Ulithi, she took part in the strikes against the Japanese home islands (16-17 and 25 February), Volcano Islands (18 February – 4 March), Okinawa (1 March), and the raids in support of the Okinawa campaign (18 March – 11 June). On 7 April, BENNINGTON’S planes participated in the attacks on the Japanese task force moving through the East China Sea toward Okinawa which resulted in the sinking of the Japanese Battleship Yamato and four destroyers.

On 5 June, the carrier was damaged by a typhoon off Okinawa and returned to Leyte for repairs arriving on 12 June. Her repairs completed, BENNINGTON left Leyte, 1 July, and during 12 July – 15 August, took part in the final raids off the Japanese home islands. She continued operations in the West Pacific supporting the occupation of Japan until 21 October. On 2 September, she launched 78 aircraft which participated in the mass flight over USS MISSOURI (BB-63) and Tokyo during the surrender ceremonies. BENNINGTON arrived at San Fransisco on 7 November 1945, and early in March 1946, transited the Panama Canal en route to Norfolk. Following pre-inactivation overhaul, she was decommissioned and placed in the Atlantic Reserve Fleet at Norfolk 8 November 1946. After 4 years in preservation, BENNINGTON on 30 October 1950, steamed from Norfolk to the New York Naval Shipyard for modernization prior to re-commissioning. For two years she received major alterations which expanded her operating capabilities as well as making significant changes to her dimensions and appearance. BENN now displaced 40,500 tons and gained 43 feet in overall length and 8 feet at the beam, a stronger flight deck, stronger elevators, and higher capacity catapults. BENNINGTON was prepared for her new role as a jet attack carrier, CVA-20.

On 26 May 1954, the port catapult accumulator burst, releasing hydraulic fluid under tremendous pressure throughout the adjacent spaces. Scarcely flammable in a liquid state, the fluid becomes highly explosive when in this vaporized form. Ignition from an undetermined source set off a series of violent explosions which rocked the forward part of the ship. Damage control parties quickly isolated and began battling fires. Casualties were treated at emergency dressing stations set up in hanger bay three. Despite damage to the propulsion system, the ship was able to continue underway, launching all her aircraft, and then with the wind abaft the beam, proceeded to Quonset Point. In all, 103 officers and men were killed or died of injuries received in the catastrophe. Over 200 others were injured.

The ship moored at the New York Naval Shipyard to undergo damage repairs and modernization. While there, Captain Raborn held Meritorious Mast during which 188 BENNINGTON sailors received Meritorious Mast Citations and letters of commendation. Captain Raborn gave special praise to these men who performed services far beyond the call of duty at a time when “heroism was commonplace.”

BENNINGTON operated off the East Coast from April until September 1955, conducting readiness training, carrier qualifications and evaluations of her mirror landing system which was installed in July of that year. Finally, on 8 September, BENNINGTON set forth on a 14,000 mile journey around Cape Horn to her home-port of San Diego arriving 20 October.

Her stay was brief, for 11 days later she passed Ballast Point heading towards the Far East and a return to the scene of her former triumphs more than ten years earlier.

BENNINGTON made two deployments to the Far East during the next two years. The first from 31 October 1955 until 16 April 1956, and the second from 12 October 1956 until 22 May 1957. During the latter cruise, she visited Sydney, Australia, taking part in the celebration of the 15th anniversary of the Battle of the Coral Sea. A three month routine yard overhaul at Hunter’s Point lasted until September followed by a period of nine months operating off the California Coast and performing shipboard training and carrier qualifications of West Coast Navy and Marine air groups. This training period was terminated in May, 1958, when the ship sailed for Hawaii and received her Operational Readiness Inspection. After successfully completing this exercise, BENNINGTON proceeded to Vancouver, British Columbia, where she attended the Centennial Celebration of British Columbia. The ship, along with units of British and Canadian navies, was reviewed by Her Royal Highness, Princess Margaret of Great Britain.

On 21 August, BENNINGTON made an additional deployment to the Far East, this time on less than a week’s notice. The ship, with Air Task Group 4 embarked, formed part of the famed Seventh Fleet during the Quemoy crisis. During the initial period of watchfulness, BENNINGTON steamed constantly for 43 days, launching around the clock patrols guarding the straits. After rest and recreation visits to various Far East ports, she returned to San Diego on 13 January 1959.

BENNINGTON has since become the most-up-to-date anti-submarine warfare carrier in the Pacific, home-ported in Long Beach since early 1963. Her history illustrates her tradition – a proud tradition of a carrier.

Southern Vermont Campgrounds: Information and Locations

West River BoatersSouthern Vermont’s campsites are located in Vermont’s more scenic areas of plush forests and crystal lakes. The sites provide all that is necessary to ensure a most exciting and pleasurable outdoor living experience. Come to Vermont and experience a vacation that will leave you with memories for a lifetime.

Emerald Lake State Park | Fort Dummer State Park | Jamaica State Park
Molly Stark State Park | Townshend State Park | Woodford State Park
Information on Facilities

Emerald Lake State Park
The 430-acre park is located along the side of Dorset Mountain with Emerald Lake, the head waters of Otter Creek, at its base. The area was historically important for its marble quarrying activities with the park lands once operating as a large farm and summer retreat before becoming a state park in 1960.
Facilities: The 105 campsites, including 36 lean-tos, are located on a heavily wooded ridge above Emerald Lake. Flush toilets, hot showers ($) and a dump station are provided. There is a small beach with snack bar and boat rental facilities. A hillside picnic area, as well as lakeside picnic tables are available. An open picnic shelter pavilion can be reserved for large group gatherings. Trails throughout the park and nearby provide great hiking opportunities. Swimming, fishing, and boating (no motors) are popular in the lake.
Area Attractions: Shopping in Manchester, historic Hildene and the Equinox Hotel, Manchester; Bennington Museum and Monument, Bennington; Wilson Castle and the Vermont Marble Exhibit, Proctor.

In North Dorset on Rt 7.

Contact Information:
RD Box 485, East Dorset, Vermont 05253 Summer: (802) 483-2001 Season: Mid-May to October (Columbus Day)

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Fort Dummer State Park
Located in the Connecticut River Valley, has 217 acres of forest land just outside of Brattleboro.

The park was named after Fort Dummer, the first permanent white settlement in Vermont. Built on the frontier in 1724, it was initially the gateway to the early settlements along the banks of the Connecticut River. Forty-three English soldiers and twelve Mohawk Indians manned the fort in 1724 and 1725. Later, the fort protected what was then a Massachusetts colony from an invasion by the French and Indians. Made of sturdy white pine timber,stacked like a log cabin, Fort Dummer served its purpose well.
The park overlooks the site of Fort Dummer which was flooded when the Vernon Dam was built on the Connecticut River in 1908. This site can be seen from the northernmost scenic vista on the Sunrise Trail. It is now underwater near the lumber company located on the western bank of the river.

Located in the southern foothills of the Green Mountains, the forest is more like those of southern New England than like a tropical Vermont forest. Southern tree species such as white, red and chestnut aoks, dominate the hardwood forest, which also contains beech, maple, yellow birch, and white birch.

An abundance of oak trees provides food and shelter for gray squirrels, turkeys, and deer. Ruffed grouse also inhabit these woods, attracted by its dense woody cover and open understory.

The campground has 51 tent/trailer sites and 10 lean-to sites. These are located in two adjacent areas and are served by two toilet buildings, both with hot showers($). There is a sanitary dump station, but no hookups. Also located within the park are a small picnic area, hiking trails, a play area, and a large open field.

Area Attractions:
Steamtown, Bellow Falls; Basketville, Putney; Flea Market, Newfane; Bennington Battle Monument, Bennington; Townshend Dam, Townshend; also, covered bridges in the area.

From Jct. I-91 (Exit 1, Brattleboro) & U.S. 5: Go 1/10 mi. N on U.S> 5, then 1/2 mi E on Fairground Road, then 1 mi S on Main Street and Olk Guilford Road.

Contact Information:
434 Old Guildford Road, Brattleboro, Vermont 05301
Summer: (802) 254-2610 / Winter: (802) 886-2434.
Season: Mid-May to September (Labor Day)

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Jamaica State Park
Jamaica State Park, now comprising 756 acres, was completed and opened to the public in 1969.

Previously, the area had supported a few small farms and a sawmill. The Brattleboro Railroad ran through the park. The old railroad bed in now used as the trail that leads along the West River to Ball Mountain Dam. The railroad operated from about 1892 until 1927, when a flood wiped most of it out.

The area at Salmon Hole, now used as the swimming area, was the site of a famous Indian Massacre in 1776.

Jamaica State Park is located on a bend of the West River about one-half mile from the center of the town of Jamaica. Nearby to the north is Ball Mountain. Hamilton Falls is located about three miles up Cobb Brook, which enters the West River upstream from the park. The West River has a very large drainage area extending from Weston and the southside of Terrible Mountain to Windaham on the east and Bromley on the west.

Every spring and fall, on one weekend in late April and early October, there is a water release on the West River from Ball Mountain Dam. This is a semiannual event for many kayakers and canoeists from all over New England.

The West River is also a favorite spot for many fishermen. The combination of slow running water and shallow fast ripples makes for some fine fishing.

There are 61 tent/trailer sites and18 lean-to sites that are spread out through the campground. Two rest rooms, complete with hot showers ($), are located in the campground. A picnic shelter and nature center is located near the picnic area and swimming hole. A hiking trail follows the West River and branches off toward Hamilton Falls.

Area Attractions:
Hamilton Falls; Hidene – Robert Tokk Lincoln’s home, Manchester; a theater and shops, Weston; Art Center, Manchester; Alpine Slide, Bromley.

From Jamaica go 1/2 mile N on Town Road.

Contact Information:
Box 45, Jamaica, Vermont 05343
Summer: (802) 874-4600 / Winter: (802) 886-2434.

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Molly Stark State Park
Molly Stark State Park is named after the famous wife of General John Stark of the Revolutionary War. The park is located along the “Molly Stark Trail,” Route 9, which bisects southern Vermont.

Originally, the first settlers used the area for farming. During the 1930s the Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) built fireplaces and a toilet building, but there is no evidence that this area was used by the public for camping even though local people may have used the land for picnics.

The area was designated and opened as Molly Stark State Park on July 2, 1960. The park has open lawn areas, woods, and Mt. Olga rising to the east where there is an old fire tower with spectacular views. The area is very popular during the fall foliage season for its colors, and also because it is located on one of the more popular travel routes.

Two camping loops consist of 23 tent/trailer sites and 11 lean-to sites. One rest room with showers($) is located in each loop. There are a play area and a picnic pavilion for large groups. A hiking trail starts from the park and goes up to the Mt. Olga fire tower.

Area Attractions:
Gondola, Mt. Snow; Vermont Historical Society, Norton House Museum, Hermitage Sugar House, and Game Bird Farm, 1836 Country Store Village, Maple Grove Honey Museum, Wilmington; Brattleboro Museum and Art Center, Brattleboro; Luman Nelson Wildlife Museum, Marlboro; Bennington Museum, Bennington.

From Brattleboro: Exit #2, I-91d, 15 miles W on Vt. 9.

Contact Information:
705 Route 9 East, Wilmington, Vermont 05363.
Summer: (802) 464-5460 / Winter: (802) 886-2434.
Season: Mid-May to October (Columbus Day).

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Townshend State Park
Townshend State Park is located at the foot of Bald Mountain on a bend of the West River. There is a view of Rattlesnake Mountain to the north from the ranger’s quarters.

A hiking trail leads to the summit of the mountain, a vertical climb of 1,100 feet from the campground. Geological features along the trail include waterfalls, chutes, and pools. From the top of the mountain, vistas provide views to the north, south, and east.

During the depression, a Civilian Conservation Corps (CCC) camp was based in the campground, which was part of a federal work program for the unemployed. The CCC laidouta large camping area and picnic area and constructed a stone house and steel fire tower. The house was built from stone quarried in the forest. Several handcrafted stone arch bridges, the work of local mason, can also be see in the Townshend area.

The park is mainly a camp area of approximately 41 acres include in the 856-acre Townshend State Forest. To the south of the camp area is Bald Mountain which rises to an elevation of 1,680 feet. Down the state park road to the north is the Townshend Dam Recreation Area managed by the Army Corps of Engineers. This provides swimming and other day use activities for visitors in the area.

The campground, situated in a wooded area, has 30 tent/trailer sites and 4 lean-to sites. There are two bathrooms, one of which has showers ($). A picnic shelter with a fireplace and three tables is attached to the ranger’s quarters. There is a loop trail to the top of Bald Mountain for day hiking.

Area Attractions:
Flea markets, Newfane and Townshend; Alpine Slide, Bromley; Village Store and Bowl Mill, Weston; Windham County Historical Museum, Newfane; Hildene, home of Robert Todd Lincoln, and the Jelly Mill, Manchester.

From Junction Hwy 30 and Town Road, go 3 miles north on Town Road.

Contact Information:
Route 1 Box 2650, Townshend, Vermont 05353
Summer: (802) 365-7500 / Winter: (802) 886-2434
Season: Mid-May to October (Columbus Day).

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Woodford State Park
Woodford State Park comprises 398 acres located on a mountain plateau (2,400 feet, the highest of all Vermont’s state parks) and surrounds Adams Reservoir. The hig elevation spruce/fir/birch vegetation provides an ideal setting for the park. Several lakes and ponds, as well as the vast Green Mountain National Forest, surround the area.

The campground has 103 sites including 20 lean-tos. The heavily wooded area surrounds the reservoir and offers great camping opportunities. Flush toilets, hot showers ($), and a dump station are provided. There is a small beach and picnic area near the dam with pit toilet facilities. Rowboats, canoes, and pakkle boats are available for rent. There are several hiking trails, including a 2.7 mile trail around the lake.

Area Attractions:
Bennington Museum and Monument, Park-McCullough Mansion, Hildene and the Equinox Hotel, Manchester; Norman Rockwell Museum in Arlington.

From Bennington: Go 10 mi E on Hwy 9.

Contact Information:
HCR 65 Box 928, Bennington, Vermont 05201.
Summer: (802) 447-7169 / Winter: (802) 483-2001.
Season: Nid_May to October (Columbus Day).

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Information on Facilities

Molly Stark Facilities
23 tent/trailer sites
and 11 lean-to’s
2 rest rooms with showers
play area and picnic pavillion

Woodford Facilities
103 camping sites
rest rooms with showers
dump station
picnic area
small beach

Jamaica Facilities
61 tent/trailer sites and 18 lean-to’s
2 rest rooms with showers
picnic area
nature center
swimming hole

Townsend Facilities
30 tent/trailer sites
4 lean-to sites
picnic shelter with fireplaces

Shaftsbury Facilities
15 lean-to’s for groups
pit toilets and rest rooms
developed beach
picnic pavillion
rowboats, paddle boats
and canoes to rent

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You Can’t Lose: The Hidden Benefits of Playing Games

By Martha Folsom

Pigs in the CloverPlato was a game player. He wrote that “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play, than in a year of conversation.” At some much more recent point in time someone decided that games, especially board games, were for children and that a sign of being “grownup” was the comment, “I don’t have time to play games.” Before that, game playing was not only the purview of children but also a very serious activity of grownups.

In Africa everyone plays MANKALA games. Boards carved into the stone of the pyramid of Cheops and the temples at Luxor and Karnak establish Mankala as one of the oldest games in the world. The children are usually relegated to playing in the dirt, while the elders have boards to play on. The higher the player’s status in the community, the more elegant their board.

A game of UR, with an inlaid ivory, mother of pearl and lapis board and playing pieces, was found in the excavations of the Royal Palace at Ur, and dates back five thousand years. The Greeks in Troy, the Celts in Bronze Age Ireland and Viking kings played NINE MENS MORRIS which originated in Egypt in 1400 BC and which found its way, later, into Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream. Francesco de Medici of Florence presented THE GAME OF GOOSE to King Phillip II of Spain sometime after 1574 and its popularity spread like wildfire throughout Europe.

Pigs in the Clover Here in America, during the 1880’s, there was a game called PIGS IN THE CLOVER. It was a dexterity puzzle, a simple, maze type game. It became such a rage that our own government was brought to a halt because the members of Congress were so engrossed in play.

The new millennium has brought with it a resurgence of game playing by grownups. Adults have returned to game playing as a social entertainment with family and friends. There are many reasons, the first being that it is fun. There is magic in playing games. That very aspect is one of the best reasons to play. Medical doctors have known for some time now that laughter is good medicine. It is good for our blood pressure to laugh and have fun. Games develop social skills by removing obstacles; psychological barriers and uneasiness among people who do not know each other well creating the sense of pleasure in company that is the basis of friendship.

Secondly, playing games is also good for our brains. Game playing requires knowledge, intelligence, memory, dexterity, the ability to plan, the ability to adjust and it fires the neurons in both our right brain and our left brain. Recently numerous tests have found that these are the activities that keep our brains younger. Confucius recommended the game of GO, played since 2000 BC, to the Chinese nobility as a means of keeping their minds lively. Two thousand years ago Cicero wrote, “Memory shrinks unless exercised.” One, more recent, study seems to indicate that adults who do brain activities, such as games, jigsaw puzzles and crossword puzzles were two and a half times less likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s Disease than television watchers.

Thirdly, games are a great value economically. Some very good games have extremely small price tags. Many games that cost a little more are less than a dinner out and/or a movie. Truly good games can be handed down from one generation to the next. Many game collections include playable games dating from the 1800’s.

Excellent quality games, both in design and play, created for older children and adults are being introduced to the American audience at a pace not seen in many years. Some of these games are from Europe, where game playing has always been a favorite pastime of families and adults. They have been translated into English and are usually exceptional games. Other new games are coming from a multitude of new small game companies in the United States and Canada that want to produce games with enduring play value. They are fun. There’s a whole new generation of great games waiting to be discovered. Visit a game store and as mathematician, Frank Armsbuster declared – “Play a game, get a brain!”

Martha K. Folsom is the current president of the Association of Game and Puzzle Collectors, an international organization devoted to the study and preservation of traditional games and puzzles. She also owns The Old Game Store, on Historic Route 7A in Sunderland, Vermont.

Londonderry, Vermont

By Bette Reynolds

South LondonderryNestled between the West River and three major ski resort mountains, is what is affectionately nicknamed “the Golden Triangle” which includes Londonderry and seven smaller surrounding towns and villages. Londonderry was established in 1780 and retains much of it’s historical flavor.

The current Executive Director of the Londonderry Chamber of Commerce is Jim Lind, a former schoolteacher and football coach from Manasquan NJ. Jim assumed the position in January 2001, and like many pilgrims to Vermont, has brought refreshing energy and enthusiasm to the Chamber. He has a vested interest in the area business, being a business owner as well as the Chamber’s director. Jim regards Londonderry’s economy with a smile, saying “we’ve come a long way this year !”

Jim and his wife, Lynn, own and operate the “Inn at Three Ponds” in Londonderry.

Jim works with Londonderry and the surrounding communities to produce activities for persons of all ages. Bondville holds it’s annual fair the end of August. Peru has an annual fair Sept. 22. This year will be the first year for a Pumpkin Decorating Contest and Scarecrow decorating Contest for the fall season. Also, on December 14 & 15th the public will be invited to a holiday Christmas Inn tour that will highlight the beautiful decorations of the Londonderry area country Inn’s.

In addition to special events, there are shops in town, restaurants, Inn accommodations and outdoor recreation. Londonderry is only a few miles from three major ski resorts, Magic Mt, which boast the best vertical drop for snowboarders and skiers alike. Straton Mt and Bromley Mt. are only six miles away and OkemoMt at Ludlow, is a short 20 miles.

For a change of pace, a visit can also be made at the nearby Weston Priory, a Benedictine Monastery, three miles north of Weston. The brothers are noted for their beautiful music and daily prayer in a pristine location.

For the outdoors person there are nearby campgrounds and state parks, two of which are in Jamaica and Lowell Lake, which is located near Magic Mt.

Camera enthusiasts should check out the beauty of the flowing West River. The area is ideal to experience the rustic charm of the fall foliage season.

South LondonderryHistorians may be interested in Londonderry’s active Historical Society. Curator, Patty Wiley is a descentent of one of the towns first families. Of special interest is the Society’s Museum, located in the Custer-Sharp House (circa1840), out on the Middletown Road. Bernadine and Arthur Sharp donated the house and its two acres to the Historical society in 1992. The Historical Society has made renovations to the barn to house cultural and social activities. Formerly housed in the town office building, the Historical Society relocated to the Custer-Sharp House in June, 2000. The Museum is open during the summer by appointment or on Saturday 10AM to noon. The barn is available for functions upon request.

Story by Bette Reynolds
Edited by Sabrina White
Historical postcard and photo courtesy of Patty Wiley

Robert Frost Stone House Museum Opens

Stone House in AutumnThe Robert Frost Stone House Museum, located in Shaftsbury, Vermont, will open to the public in after Labor Day in early September 2002. The museum is located on Historic Route 7A where Frost lived in the 1920’s and wrote one of his most famous poems, “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening.” The new museum will feature exhibits about Frost’s life and poetry with a special gallery to celebrate the great poem Frost wrote at the dining room table on a warm June morning in 1922. Frost called this poem, “my best bid for remembrance.”

Robert Frost came to Shaftsbury in 1920 at the height of his career as a poet. He owned two farms during the twenty-year period he lived there. During the first nine years at the Stone House, Frost wrote two books of poetry and won his first Pulitzer Prize. He was awarded three of his four Pulitzers during the Shaftsbury years.

Robert Frost at his home made writing desk - 1915The Stone House is owned by The Friends of Robert Frost, a national organization, founded by Carole Thompson of Bennington, Vermont. The property was acquired this past spring and the work to turn the residence into a museum is being completed over the summer. Ms. Thompson says, “We want to introduce the public to our new museum in time for the foliage season. It was Frost’s favorite time of year. The house looks wonderful in autumn colors.”

We asked Miss Thompson what inspired the idea of a Frost museum in Shaftsbury? She said, “Well, Frost lived the second half of his life in Vermont and he is buried in Bennington. That is a great honor for Vermont. His poetry still resonates in our beautiful landscape. You feel like you are living in a Frost poem when you visit Vermont. Every year, about twenty thousand people visit his grave site behind the Old First Church in Old Bennington. So, we thought a museum to honor his life was a good idea. The Stone House is the perfect place because he lived there and wrote some of his most memorable poems during the Shaftsbury period. It’s a beautiful historic house that dates back to 1769.”

There will be daily poetry readings at 2:00 o’clock and special events during the Frost Fortnight that starts on opening day and runs for three weekends. A walk on the grounds reveals many Frostian images including stone walls, birch trees, fields and woods, and some of Frost’s original apple trees.

Robert Frost continues to be America’s favorite poet. He was awarded 44 honorary degrees from the world’s most prestigious colleges and universities in recognition of his poetry and won the Pulitzer Prize an unprecedented four times. He was the first inaugural poet for John F. Kennedy in 1961 and traveled to Russia and South America as a good-will ambassador of American culture.

Lankes BookplateThe museum will also feature the woodcut art of J.J. Lankes who worked with Frost during the Shaftsbury years “decorating” Frost’s books of poetry. Lankes’ simple black and white designs were drawn from the living landscape and many are geographically correct and still recognizable today. The museum is offering a limited edition poster of a Lankes print featuring the Stone House standing beside a wheel rutted dirt road, which is now known as state road 7A. The design was made in 1923 as a personal bookplate for Frost.

The Friends of Robert Frost is a national organization created to appeal to Frost’s popular audience. Membership supports the Stone House Museum. Visit the website at to find out more about Frost and the goals of the organization.

The property can be reached by going north of Bennington on Rt. 7. Take Exit 2 for Shaftsbury and turn right at the end of the ramp onto Historic Route 7A. The museum is 7/10ths of a mile north on the left side of the road. The museum will be open through December 31. Hours of visitation are Tuesday through Sunday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is $5.00 for adults and half price for young people less than 18 years old. A small bookshop will offer books, posters, postcards and print reproductions of the Lankes collection. Call (802) 447-6200 for further information.

Scenic Backroads – Bennington to Wilmington: A Fall Tour That is a Big “W” Winner!

By Sharon O’Conner, owner of Backroad Discovery

Roadcut, Route 9Get set on this round trip sixty mile tour for many W’s: water, wind, wine, wide-angle 100 mile views, winding roads, Wilmington and many other wonderful W’s. Count the W’s!

Starting where routes 9 and 7 intersect in downtown Bennington (named after New Hampshire’s Benning Wentworth who chartered this first Vermont town), go east on route 9 – “the Molly Stark trail.” Molly (wife of General Stark) recruited New Hampshire colonists to help her husband and Seth Warner (of Green Mountain boys fame) beat the British/Hessians in the 1777 Battle of Bennington.

After passing the Appalachian Trail at five miles (nice stream) proceed another mile or so up route 9 to see some of the outcroppings (with chisel marks) of the Bennington Road Cut made for the 1872 Bennington-Glastenbury railroad.

Wind for another 5 miles through Woodford (highest town in Vermont) to reach a sign (on right) for the “George Aiken Wilderness” (almost no trails). George Aiken was the longtime Vermont senator who coined the phrase “Northeast Kingdom.”

Searsburg Wind TurbinesSearsburg Wind Turbines About two miles past the Aiken Wilderness, go right at Route 8 for about 2 miles to a cemetery on the left to see the largest wind turbine farm in the eastern US with its 130 foot diameter blades. The impressive 11 towers (located in Searsburg-population under 100) can generate enough wattage for 2000 homes.

Return to Route 9. Proceed another one mile (immediately after the second runaway truck stop) carefully look down on the right to see a massive black circular wooden aqueduct designed to take water several miles from a reservoir to our next point of interest. Proceeding from the aqueduct another one mile look for a large gray water tank straight ahead up on a hill. Then after another mile, see the gray water tank directly above a unique hydroelectric plant driven by water powerfully dropping straight down from that tank into the plant so the system doesn’t rely on the flow of river water.

Past the hydroelectric plant another mile, take a right over the Woods Road bridge, bearing left for about a mile on a dirt road along the water to a beautiful little spot for a picnic on Harriman Reservoir (also known as Lake Whitingham).

100 Mile View100 mile view Return to route 9. Proceed two miles to the Wilmington traffic light (explore Wilmington later) and then go about 4 1/2 miles (passing Wahoo’s eatery and the White House inn on the left) up Hogback mountain to see a spectacular wide angle 100 mile view of Massachusetts, Vermont and New Hampshire. There is a curio shop, museum and restaurant at the viewing area.

Bringham Young MarkerNow go back West towards Wilmington but after about 2 1/2 miles, take route 100 south about 5 miles to North River Winery (and regular wine tasting of Vermont wines) in Jacksonville. Brigham Young MarkerAn optional side trip is take 100 West in Jacksonville towards Whitingham for about one mile to Goodnow road then go left less than a mile to see the large but understated monument (in the outfield of a ball field) marking the birth place of Brigham Young. (Return to route 100 for few yards; take Wilmington Cross road to pickup route 100 north again bypassing Jacksonville.

From where Wilmington Cross comes out after a mile or so on route 100 go another two miles Boyd Hill road (Look for Flame Stables sign). Go left for about a mile to a little waterside park on Harriman Reservoir (Don’t turn right when Boyd Hill turns right). Returning from the park, take a left onto Boyd Hill for about 3 miles past some beautiful vistas.

At the end of Boyd Hill turn right for a mile past Ponchos Wreck Mexican restaurant to the Wilmington traffic light and continue north for a mile to Stowe Hill road where you’ll take a right. After 1.2 miles, look on the right for a small picturesque (now privately owned) covered bridge (originally used for sheep to walk across).

Adams FarmReturning to 100 go north 2 miles (Wheeler farm on left) then right on Higby Road for Adams Farm which has it all: hayrides, bonfires, animals, gift shop, etc.

Return south to Wilmington traffic light, explore Wilmington, then head West on 9 to Bennington. Imagine the colonists going along this route to Bennington to meet the British in Bennington!!!!

Did you count all the W’s on the trip? Actually Vermont is just one big W-Wonderful.

Grafton – A Step Back in Time

By Bette Reynolds

The man for whom the town of Thomlinson is named never visited the United States, much less Thomlinson. John Thomlinson, was a business representative of the British governor of New Hampshire, Benning Wentworth. Wentworth granted a charter in 1754 to the town of Thomlinson before the French and Indian Wars.

A group of Grafton children celebrate Flag Day dated 1911. They are standing on the front step of what is now the current Post Office and Town Hall. At the time the photo was taken, the building served as the library. Photographer unknown, image courtesy of Jennifer Karpin of Grafton Homestead.

The townsfolk thought they should rename their town. On Halloween, 1791, the honor of renaming the town was sold at public auction to a resident, Joseph Axtell, for the highest bid of five dollars and a jug of rum. He named it after his hometown of Grafton in Massachusetts. Uncoincidentally, this is the name of a local best-selling book, Five Dollars and a Jug of Rum, available at the Grafton Historical Society and other locations in the area; this is a history of Grafton.

Grafton was the home of Daisy Turner, descendent of slaves, age 104 in 1987, whose quote “Every one of those turning battles (Civil War), where victory was won, it was the Vermont boys who were there.”

In more modern times, a Budweiser television commercial was filmed complete with a team of eight Clydesdale horses in March 1986 for a Christmas scene. In 1987, the Chevy Chase film, “Funny Farm” was being filmed in the area and a local citizen’s home was used for the movie character’s house. The film crew meticulously decorated the building and lawn for winter, complete with plastic snow and icicles; cotton batting over rooftops and fences and the next day eight inches of heavy wet snow fell.

On my return visit to Grafton, I was delighted to meet the owners of The Grafton Homestead, Jennifer Karpin and Draa Hobbs. Draa also happens to be a jazz guitarist who performs throughout New England. The Grafton Homestead was built in the 1830’s, a short distance from Grafton Village. They offer a downstairs Morning Glory Room, or an upstairs three room suite with private entrance for your getaway.

Another splendid retreat is the Farmhouse ‘Round the Bend Bed and Breakfast, circa 1844. The bed and breakfast proprietors are Barry and Joan Shade. They are located on Route 121, one-third mile east of the village. They offer three guest rooms, one of which is aptly named The Blue Room Suite with a cozy sitting room. They also welcome children, ten years and older.

Grafton is the location of two fine real estate companies, Barrett & Company Realtors and Hughes Associates, Realtors. Barrett & Company Realtors takes its name from a prosperous ancestor, Captain John Barrett, who settled in Grafton in 1805 as a storekeeper. Barrett & Company Realtors is located on Main Street. Hughes Associates is located on Four Chimneys Road and specializes in Grafton property and surrounding areas.

A most fascinating attraction in the village on the Townshend Road is the Nature Museum. The director is Steve Lorenz. You’ll want to bring your camera and the children to view their innovative and interactive exhibits.

A unique antique shop makes its home in Grafton. Grafton Gathering Place Antiques, located off Route 35 on Eastman Road between Grafton and Chester is a two-story country barn. Peter and Mary Dill stock early country and period furniture and accessories.

“A most amoosing shop” in the old Firehouse is Firebarn/ Food & Stuff featuring gifts, Lionel trains, gourmet groceries, maple syrup and many other items, and is run by Pat Mack and her employee Phil Babcock.

I was fortunate to arrive on a Sunday afternoon and heard the oldest (1867) continuously performing Vermont band, the Grafton Cornet Band, rehearsing upstairs, as they have been doing since1939.

If all of these wonderful places and things aren’t enough to entice you to explore Grafton then I’ll mention one more place not to be overlooked, The Rusty Moose on Pleasant Street. Craftspeople Payne and Elise Junker, and their employee Margery Heindel invite you to visit their crafts gallery. Yes, there really is a Rusty Moose, he stands outside the shop! They offer unusual metal art, hand made soaps, pottery, scarves, jewelry and more.

Mount Snow and the West River Valley

By our backroads expert, Sharon O’Connor of Backroad Discovery Tours

Newfane Country Store

Newfane Country Store

Savor your morning at Mount Snow Resort (Rte.100, West Dover, VT). The mountain rises to 3,556 ft. In 1954, Walt Schoenknecht, borrowed $20 to use as a down-payment; hence, the former Reuben Snows Farm was transformed into a ski slope. It has since evolved into a year round sports mecca & haven for special fun events. The resort offers scenic chair lift rides, Mt. Bike schools & trails, a climbing wall, BMX & skate park, & 40 mi. of hiking trails. The Grand Summit Hotel, on premises, has a year-round outdoor pool, gourmet restaurant & 400 beautifully appointed rooms. Mt. Snow airport provides private tours & Mt. Snow Country Club is a beautiful public golf course.

Bear in Chair at Mary Meyer

Bear in Chair at Mary Meyer

From the entrance to Mt. Snow, take rte. 100N (9.3mi) to N. Wardsboro. After a general store on the left & Post Office on the right, Rte. 100 will make a sharp left turn, however, go straight across the bridge & turn right. Travel 2.7mi. & turn left onto Newfane Rd. Almost immediately to the right, look for a home with a variety of unusual lawn decor & a giant croquet set-up. On this bucolic dirt road, people will wave as you pass & you will enjoy Vt. at its best (8.1mi).

Enter Newfane, county seat or “shire” town. Explore the town Green & surrounds. The Village Market offers walking maps. Established in 1774, the village was called “Fane” & was moved from the hills to the flats in 1825, using ox-drawn sleighs. The entire village is on the National Register of Historic Places. Notice the Chittenden Bank. In 1884, bricks were hauled in by ox cart; the front bricks were 5 cents, the sides were 3 cents & the back were 2 cents (totaling $6,650). Since the town jail once adjoined a hotel, inmates got the same excellent food as the hotel guests! When visiting, Teddy Roosevelt remarked, “Some day when I’ve got a lot of reading to do & need a rest, I’m coming up here to commit some mild crime!” The Historical Society displays the famous people who were “bred & fed” here (Wed-Sun 12-5). Newfane Country Store has everything from penny candy to hundreds of handmade quilts & serves as the town’s original post office.

The Newfane Flea Market, 1 mi. north on Rte. 30, is the largest in NE & was started in the 1960s when the 5-acre parcel was offered as payment for a $500 grocery bill! (Open Sundays).

Travel north through Harmonyville & Townshend. The latter was twice devastated by fire; therefore many of the buildings are relatively new; a 2-acre village Green is the “happening” place. Grace Cottage Hospital (Vermont’s smallest) is located here. Mary Meyers Toy Factory/Showroom, 1 mile north, is VT’s largest stuffed toy maker & began as a family business over 60 yrs. ago.

Townshend Lake State Park

Townshend Lake State Park

Beyond Mary Meyer, you will see the Scott Covered Bridge (VT’s longest single span bridge). Soon after the bridge, turn left & cross into Townshend Lake State Park, a 41-acre, recreation area with swimming, boating, sailboarding, & hiking. There is a 2.7 mi. steep trail leading to Bald Mt., which meanders past waterfalls, chutes & pools. Upon leaving the park notice the 1700ft. wedge-shaped dam built in 1961 by the Army Corps of Engineers.

Continuing north, you will enter the burg of West Townshend, ancestral home of William Howard Taft. There is a photogenic church just past the 3 corners. The Windham Hill Inn, located in one of Vermont’s prettiest settings, is 1 mile up Windham Hill Rd.

North of town (1.2mi), turn left onto Rte.100S, looping back to Mt. Snow. The road passes through mountain wilderness & by boulder-strewn streams, known for their brook trout. Robert Frost stated that residents of this area are “bilingual;” they speak Yankee & American. Evening meal is still supper & noon meal is dinner. Children can be seen playing dice or hopscotch, fisherman are out catching their evening meal & many residents are enjoying life, watching the world pass by, from their front porches. This is truly… unspoiled Vermont!

The Vermont Covered Bridge Museum

Vermont Covered Bridge Museum in Bennington

Vermont Covered Bridge Museum in Bennington

Bennington, VT: Henry Wadsworth Longfellow described a covered bridge as a “brief darkness leading from the light to light.”

Vermont Covered Bridge Museum in Bennington The Covered Bridge Museum at the The Bennington Center for the Arts offers exhibits on the history of covered bridges in Vermont. Discover the history and legends of these wonderful structures in the world’s only museum dedicated to their preservation. Explore the exhibits on engineering, construction, tools, and creators. Build and test your own bridge designs on the computer work stations after viewing two video theatre productions on the past and present construction techniques and uses of covered bridges. A working model railroad shows the six Vermont railroad bridges while the museum’s interactive kiosk is available to plan your own tour of Vermont’s remaining covered bridges, five of which are nearby. Finally, marvel at the art and analysis of covered bridges by famous artist, Eric Sloane before browsing in the museum shop.

Enjoy your experience at The Vermont Covered Bridge Museum. While you are there, make sure to visit the additional displays and exhibits on view at the BCNCA, stroll the grounds, or simply enjoy the sweeping views.

Visit the Vermont Covered Bridge Museum’s web site

Danby: A Delightful Foliage Experience

By our backroads expert, Sharon O’Connor

This 15-mile backroad loop will take you through an historic village and one the most scenic areas in Vermont.

Starting at Depot Street & Route 7 in Danby (about 9 miles north of Manchester) proceed 500 feet on Depot Street noticing the historic buildings. Turn left onto Main Street going about 500 feet to the old-world Silas Griffith Inn (named after Vermont’s first millionaire) which has Vermont’s first phone on display in the lobby. Go back on Main Street for about 1000 feet to Brook Road. This area is listed in the National Register for Historic Places and is the place The Good Earth author Pearl Buck called home. Visit Vermont Country Bird Houses (Yankee Travel editor’s pick); have an ice cream at Sunnyside Cafe; look at the surrounding architecture. Nearby is the world’s largest underground marble (primarily architectural) quarry. However, it’s privately owned.

Proceed up Brook Road about two and a half miles until you see, on the right, a small dirt parking area then a guardrail. Look straight ahead (the road goes left) between the trees to a small opening. Park, walk a few feet to see a stunning Vermont waterfall.

Continue for another 1000 feet and take a left onto Keeler (dirt road) continuing for about half a mile to a T; make a left onto Edmunds. Keep on this dirt road for about one mile to a white house on the right. Look to your left. This is fabulous Vermont (no billboards, clean air, no noise). Former Vermont Governor Howard Dean apparently agrees; this view was featured on his website.

Go back down Edmunds going straight (don’t go right on Keeler or left on Danby Mountain), passing the Smokey House Center (this 5000 acre “outdoor classroom” helps teenagers)

At Brook (paved) go straight a half mile to Danby Four Corners and visit the general store for a Vermont experience. You are actually now in the Lake Champlain Basin with waters, fens, and rare plants that support the life of Lake Champlain.

Turn left on Danby-Pawlet Rd., go three quarters of a mile to Old Otis and turn right. Drive through unforgettable farms and beautiful scenery. After two miles (next turn after Fisk) turn right on Hoisington Cross (marked at the other end) for half a mile to a T . At the T take a right for 500 feet. Take Colvin Hill on the left for Vermont Valley views and the Green Mountain Lipizzans. After two and three quarters mile on Colvin Hill bear right. At the Stop sign go and stay left on Danby Hill (don’t go down Colvin Hill) for one and a half gorgeous miles back to Brook Road. Proceed into Danby making a right on Main and then left on Mt Tabor (on National Register) to Route 7. Try to visit the area studios, inns, farms & stables.

The “good earth” has blessed Danby with an abundance of architectural marble, water, clean air and the most precious of all natural resources – beauty.

A Very Suitable Marriage

Games like the English language are constantly evolving. Some evolve from the first successful game into others very similar. Some evolve several times before becoming popular. And sometimes, although rarely successful, there is a combination of two games into one.

GO is probably the most ancient game in the world. Confucius recommended the game to the rulers of his time. Perhaps spurred by the popularity of the movie A Beautiful Mind, or the book The Master of Go, this simple game of subtle complexities is once again capturing the imagination and devotion of hundreds of new players. The game board became the gameboard for the very popular game called Pente.

PARCHEESI was a game played in India with harem girls as pieces, and has evolved with every generation of Americans since it was first introduced. It became Broadway, Pollyanna – the Glad Game, Wahoo, Aggravation, Sorry, Trouble, Tock, Ludo, Homeward Bound and at least a dozen other games.

Some games go through numerous versions until one “sticks”. Take Scrabble. Originally an idea by Lewis Carroll in the 1800’s, Scrabble was designed by a man named Alfred Butts in 1931. Alfred made a game, which he called Lexiko. No one, neither Parker Brothers nor Milton Bradley was interested. He refined the game and renamed it Criss Crosswords. Too “highbrow” the reviewers said. Finally in 1948, a friend, James Brunot, offered to make the game. He renamed it “Scrabble” and began producing about 16 sets a day from a little red schoolhouse in Newtown CT. After a few years he was about to drop the game because sales were so slow. Then one week in July 1952 orders jumped from 200 to 2,500. And the rest is history. The games that evolved from Scrabble were many – among them Upwords and Pick Two.

Cribbage, on the other hand, evolved from a game seldom heard of any more. It is impossible to say exactly how old cribbage is, but the 17th century author of “Brief Lives”, John Aubrey, states that “Sir John Suckling invented the game of Cribbage”. Since the board was clearly adapted from earlier dice-game scoreboards and the rules of play appear to be descended from the English card game Noddy, perhaps Sir John Suckling only codified the game. During his lifetime Sir John was a poet, a well known courtier, and card player. He also liked to cheat and apparently made twenty thousand pounds this way. The speed of the game has made it popular throughout the years as a game for sailors. The four handed version is no longer as popular as it was in Victorian times when Charles Dickens wrote about it in “The Old Curiosity Shop”. Dickens’s Mr. Quilp, like Sir John Suckling, was a cheat. Cribbage players often turn into collectors, trying to find the most unusual cribbage boards.

In 1999, a Canadian game made an unassuming appearance at the New York Toy Fair. It was KINGS CRIBBAGE and it was a surprising marriage of the tried and true games of Scrabble and Cribbage. The game played on a board following the basic rules of Scrabble, so it was almost unnecessary to even read the instructions. After all, everyone has played Scrabble at one time or another. Instead of spelling words, the players put down Cribbage hands and scored points exactly as if they were counting their hands in a Cribbage game.

One’s first impression was that cribbage players wouldn’t find it as good as playing a game of cribbage and that the game would be destined for quick extinction. “It will never fly.” was one comment overheard that year. However, once someone played the game there was an instant addiction. The game brought new complexities to cribbage that delighted players and made them true fans. Not only that, it became a way for people who thought cribbage to complicated to learn to become familiar with the scoring pattern of cribbage.

Some “marriages” of games, while popular, don’t really offer more than the original games they came from and are “hot games” for awhile and then the “hot game” moves onto something else. KINGS CRIBBAGE was a truly new game that slowly won lifetime fans and it is obviously destined to become a standard classic game. Truly, it was a very suitable marriage.

Relax and Enjoy the Valley Villages of Londonderry and Weston

By Bette Reynolds

The Gazebo on the green in Weston

Nestled between the West River and three major ski resort mountains, in what is affectionately nicknamed “the Golden Triangle”, are Londonderry (established 1780) and Weston (established 1799), plus a half dozen other quaint towns and villages.

The three “great escape to the mountains” ski resorts are Stratton, Magic, and Bromley, only minutes away from the towns of Londonderry and Weston.

For a change of pace, a visit can be made to the nearby Weston Priory, a Benedictine monastery, three miles north of Weston. The brothers are noted for their beautiful music and daily prayer in a pristine location.

A most beautiful accommodation in South Londonderry on Route 100 in the village is the 1826 former Melendy Dairy Farm, which is now the Londonderry Inn. The homestead was turned into a country inn during WWII in 1942. The 25 room inn sits majestically on a knoll overlooking the sparkling West River and Glefe Mountain. Your hosts are Chrisman and Maya Kearn. In addition to her innkeeping duties, Maya Sarada Kearn is an expressionist painter and has her work on display and on sale at the inn’s gallery. She offers acrylic on canvas, watercolor on paper, murals and furniture art in addition to textile creatures.

In nearby Londonderry is the Magic View Motel, hosted by Lee Hafke, and the Frog’s Leap Inn, also in Londonderry, with hosts Kraig and Dorenna Hart. In the town of Landgrove is the Landgrove Inn, operated by Maureen Checchia.

For your choice of exquisite lodging in Weston, there is available for your pleasure, The Inn at Weston. The innkeepers are Bob and Linda Aldrich with Scott Hendricks, innkeeper/wedding officiant and Max Turner as the executive chef.

The inn is situated on six manicured acres near the West River and includes two buildings, the Main Inn, the Coleman House and a barn that are reminiscent of the mid 1800’s. The original building, which includes the dining area, was build in 1948 as a working farmhouse with connecting stable and barn. Speaking of stables, the Pfister Farm in Landgrove owned by Carl Pfister offers year round activities with his Belgian and Pencheron horse teams to delight you in spring, summer and autumn with carriage and wagon rides and whisk you away in a sleigh in the winter.

Now if you are really serious about putting down roots in one of these serene areas, then I suggest you contact Mary Mitchell Miller Real Estate for available rentals or to purchase property. Hilary and Alan Chalmers or Claudia Harris will meet you and your needs with local real estate and are located in the village of Weston.

Finally, don’t forget to stop by the Weston Marketplace for all of your daily supplies and gasoline for your vehicle.

Chester: Gateway to the Green Mountains

By Bette Reynolds

The friendly and thriving village of Chester, established in 1776, is located northwest of Rockingham, VT on Route 103, near the Williams River.

Main Street today.

Main Street Chester today is alive with shops and eateries

Nearby off of Route 103 at Brockways Mills is Rockingham, VT, and on the Williams River Road is the Inn at Cranberry Farm. Just reaching the inn is a pleasure: one travels on a very well-maintained dirt road and through the Worrel covered bridge, and perhaps you will be lucky, as I was, and travel parallel, or in the opposite direction, with the Green Mountain Flyer en route to Chester.

Once one has climbed the gently sloping road, you will notice the cathedral-like presence of the structure. The exquisite building rests on 60 acres of meadow and forested hillside, which boasts a swimming pond.

The innkeepers Carl and Pam Follo with sister Josie Colarusso maintain 10 guest rooms and a separate addition of four suites with all of the amenities, such as massage tubs, telephone, TV, air conditioning, fireplace, and individual private decks

Main Street circa 1912.

Main Street circa 1912. Looking east from Carpenter’s Dry Goods store, Chester, Vermont. Historic postcard courtesy of Chris and Ann Curran.

While shopping in downtown Chester, stop in at the Hugging Bear Inn & Shoppe, owned by Georgette Thomas, who stocks over 10,000 teddy bears.

Across the street is another beautiful Victorian building which houses resident chef Keith Turner’s casual fare restaurant, Raspberries and Thyme.

A new business in town is the Chester Music Shoppe on Main Street, owned by Gary and Domenica Coger. They carry new and used CDs, vinyl, DVD and VHS in addition to instruments, sheet music, and accessories.

On Route 11, one mile north of Chester is a cozy, charming establishment, Motel in the Meadow, managed by Pat and Ron Budnick. A gift shop is on site and has many Vermont products up for sale.

Now what outing is complete without a stop at an antiques shop? The Stone House Antique Center with helmsman Andy Esser offers 20,000 square feet of a variety of antiques, collectibles, folk art, primitives, and much more.

John’s Car Corner: A VW Owner’s Paradise

By Bette Reynolds

John Hamill, owner of John’s Car Corner stands next to a newer model VW Bus.

John’s Car Corner truly is the home of “The People’s Car,” as the car is still affectionately called. While it is fortunate that the originator of the phrase back in the 1930s (Germany’s then dictator Adolf Hitler) is no longer with us, we are equally fortunate that the Volkswagen is, and perhaps is even more popular than ever.

VW bugs first began to appear in our country in the early 1960s. Popularity grew slowly at first, as American drivers were still in love with muscle cars such as the GTO and the Mustang. Volkswagens were very gas efficient, but gas wars had driven the price of gasoline down to 30 cents a gallon and less, and nobody at that time was worried about the supply.

Things began to change toward the end of the 1960s. The Federal government invested billions into the new Interstate Highway System, making driving everywhere and anywhere easier than ever before. More and more people drove cars, and with the oil embargo in the 1970s, gas costs rose. Suddenly the inexpensive, economical VW was becoming very popular!

All of this brings us to John’s Car Corner. John Hamill began to repair and service VW’s in the mid 1960s. John expanded and opened a used VW dealership in 1974, buying and selling a car he truly loved. John moved to his current location on Route 5 in Westminster in 1984. John has opinions on all Volkswagens, but will tell you “the heart and soul of the whole Volkswagen scene is the Type II, which is the Transporter, camper, van combination.”

John easily has the largest new and used VW parts and accessories inventory in the Tri-State area. Even better, John is always ready to help with information and advice for your specific VW needs. You can stop in and visit over a cup of coffee, always freshly brewed. John remarks that all models and years are covered, and he has an extensive VW library. Inside, the walls, shelves, and cases are filled with memorabilia on display. One print on the wall at John’s Car Corner depicts a tour of Germany’s Wolfburg VW Motorworks in the mid 1930’s. This is the factory that produced the tough, fuel economical basic “bug”, and the convertible model.

Available at John’s is everything Volkswagen; from key chains to floor mats – anything you might need to personally outfit your own VW.

The VW has done a lot of growing up since the Flower Power 1960’s and “Herbie the Love Bug.” Today’s VW’s are a classic made modern while staying true to it’s original roots as “The People’s Car.”

Are you a VW fan? Or are you simply a fan of the automobile in general? You will find yourself in good company at John’s Car Corner.

Exploring the Burgs of the Green Mountain National Forest

By Sharon O’ Connor

Indian Rock

The entire state of Vermont was cited as one of the “Top 50 Destinations of a Lifetime” in the bi-centennial issue of National Geographic Traveler! Discover why our state enjoys this prestigious status: take an afternoon to explore backroads deep within the Green Mountain National Forest. On this route you will get a sampling of the entrepreneurship of our people, the simplicity and allure of our quaint villages and the serenity and splendor of the wilderness.

All of this brings us to John’s Car Corner. John Hamill began to repair and service VW’s in the mid 1960s. John expanded and opened a used VW dealership in 1974, buying and selling a car he truly loved. John moved to his current location on Route 5 in Westminster in 1984. John has opinions on all Volkswagens, but will tell you “the heart and soul of the whole Volkswagen scene is the Type II, which is the Transporter, camper, van combination.”

Larry the Llama

Start at the junction of Routes 11 & 30 (a few miles east of Manchester). Follow Route 30 East 1.3m and notice a colorfully creative Indian face painted on a roadside boulder. Turn left onto French Hollow Rd. (3/10m), bear right and proceed 2.8m, turn left then quick right into driveway with the name “Eustace.” This is the home of French Hollow Alpacas, owned by Bob & Lou. Please call 802-297-9353 before arrival; they will enthusiastically introduce you to their “pets” and their alpaca business, which supports Vermont and American fiber mills. Alpacas are gentle, graceful members of the camel family; their fiber is 2nd softest in the world, surpassed only by the vicuna. You’ll have a chance to touch the animals, learn about their habits and uses, plus view a plethora of alpaca products. Ask to see Larry, the guard llama; he loves to have his picture taken with people.

When leaving, turn left, go 4/10m & make a right. Notice Stratton Mtn. looming in the distance (1.7m). The Indian name for Stratton is Manicknung, translating to “Home of the Bear.” Turn left (1.8m); follow to Rt. 30, make a left entering the burg of Bondville (1.8m). Winhall Market greets you with the aroma of barbeque chicken, baked goods and VT-made delights. Just past the market, turn right onto Stratton Access Rd. and park in the lot 3.7m in on the right. Stratton was founded in 1961 and has grown into a 4-season resort area and mecca for hikers and mountain bikers. Visit the mountaintop, via the gondola, for spectacular mountain/valley views. At the base, the Swiss-like village is dotted with unique shops and eateries.

From the parking area, turn right and proceed down the lesser-traveled backside of the mountain (1.8m) bearing right onto Pikes Falls Rd. Follow this about 2.5m to Rt. 30, turn right and go 1/4m, and visit the Butterfly Heaven/Bird Aviary. This family-run establishment is a world “set apart.” Walk among exotic butterflies, birds, fish and more in a 3000 sq. ft. indoor tropical paradise.

Travel back to your starting point; turn west on Rt. 30. Explore Jamaica with buildings dating to the 18th and early 19th century. Jamaica State Park is believed to have been an Abenaki Indian Village with archeological evidence dating back to “before the white man!” The park is the site of the National Canoe & Kayak Championships held in May. A hiking trail to the exotic Hamilton Falls starts here; ask the ranger for a map and hiking conditions. Proceed west on Rt. 30 passing “Horses for Hire” (4.7m) offering wooded trail rides. Just beyond, Outback Steakhouse is a hide-away which has a riverside deck for hungry or thirsty travelers.

Route 30 West will bring you back to the starting point & offers a wonderful view of the slope-sides of Bromley mountain.

Sharon O’Connor is a regular contributor to THIS IS VERMONT and is our resident backroads expert. Sharon has been in love with Vermont ever since she first visited and is owner of Backroad Discovery.

Take a Hike in Bennington

By Steve Hinchliffe

The Green Mountains run the length of Vermont and are a part of the Appalachian Mountains, which extend north through Canada. The Appalachian Trail is the world’s longest linear National Park and extends 2,150 miles from Georgia’s Springer Mountain to Katahdin in Maine. Paralleling the Appalachian Trail for 100 miles is the Long Trail. The Long Trail follows the main ridge of the Green Mountains for more than 270 miles, from the Massachusetts line to the Canadian border. An additional 175 miles of side trails complete the 445-mile Long Trail system. The Long Trail was built between 1910 and 1930 by the Green Mountain Club, and is the oldest long-distance hiking trail in the country. One of the many day hikes in the area exposes visitors to both of these great treasures:

Kids in the Woods

The Long Trail/Appalachian Trail intersect Route 9 only 4.5 miles east of Bennington. Rated moderate in Green Mountain Club’s “50 Hikes in Vermont”, Harmon Hill starts with a steep ascent up a series of stone steps. After 1/2 mile, the trail levels out and continues through a combination of thick forest and open meadows. At its 2,325 foot summit, you will find views of the Bennington Monument, the Taconic Range, and Mount Anthony. The total distance is 3.7 miles and is best enjoyed during the summer and early fall.

Before venturing out on any hike, be sure to check with your local outfitter to be updated on trail conditions. Several excellent guide books are available and are a valuable tool before, during and after your hike. The proper clothing and equipment will help insure a pleasurable experience and memories to hold until your next visit to the Green Mountains.


All Aboard! A Ticket to Adventure on the Green Mountain Railroad

By Bette Reynolds

Photo by Kathy Cloutier

This summer plan to hop on board all three Green Mountain Railroad excursion trains. They have added to their Green Mountain Flyer schedule (which covers Bellows Falls and Chester) the new White River Flyer, running from White River Junction to Norwich’s Mountshire Museum. A third train, The Champlain Valley Flyer, runs from Burlington to Shelburne. All provide wonderful scenic outings with a historical flair perfect for the whole family.

Special "Mystery Train" sponsored by a bus group charter included passengers dressed in period attire. Photo by Bruce Cloutier.

Special “Mystery Train” sponsored by a bus group charter included passengers dressed in period attire. Photo by Bruce Cloutier.

At the Green Mountain Flyer is a friendly, knowledgeable conductor, Bruce Cloutier, a former grade school teacher and Keene State College instructor. He began training, pardon the pun, with the Green Mountain Railroad in 1989 and began working full-time, forty hours a week in 2001. Bruce’s enthusiasm and expertise in his craft will immediately put any first time travelers completely at ease.

When you board the Green Mountain Flyer, you will be riding in fully restored 1930’s passenger coaches pulled by a vintage diesel locomotive. The antique coaches feature windows that open for Vermont fresh air and breathtaking scenery. The many scenic treats on the round trip ride between Bellows Falls and Chester include the Connecticut and Williams Rivers, and views of two covered bridges, the Lower Bartonsville and the Worrel bridges, respectively.

The Chester Depot Station was built in 1872 and was restored in the 1980’s. A “must do” on your outing is to stop and browse at the Depot Square Gift Shop at the train station in Bellows Falls. They offer everything from Vermont state welcome tiles to train Christmas tree ornaments.

Conductor Bruce Cloutier switching tracks. Photo by Bette Reynolds.

Conductor Bruce Cloutier switching tracks. Photo by Bette Reynolds.

The Depot Station also has display and exhibits as well as historic photos, and of particular interest, two prints on loan to the shop: one is of the Square in Bellows Falls at Christmas, circa late 1930, and the other is of a steam engine being loaded with coal.

To add some movie trivia, the Green Mountain Railroad has been the location for several popular movies. In 1998, the movie “The Cider House Rules”, in which Michael Caine won a supporting actor Oscar in 1999, for portraying a doctor in an orphanage, while struggling with an ether addiction. A Jim Carrey film, “Me, Myself and Irene,” with his then girlfriend Renee Zellweger, had a few scenes with the railroad freight cars in South Burlington. The late, great, Oscar-winning actor James Coburn’s last film “American Gun” was partially filmed at the Chester Depot with a WWII backdrop.

So when in Vermont, wherever you are, you will be close to one of the three Green Mountain Railroad excursion trains. Treat yourself and the whole family to a wonderful way to experience Vermont. Hop on board!

The Game is Afoot!

By Martha Folsom

“Come, Watson, come!” he cried. “The game is afoot.” Thus would begin a great mystery. Mr. Holmes also recognized the game inherent in the chase.

Sherlock Holmes found his way into literature in 1887. Within two years Americans were playing a board game called Game of Detective published by R. Bliss and we have been sleuthing our way around mystery games every since. In 1904 the first of many Sherlock Holmes games was produced. He more recently made an appearance in the game 221B Baker Street The Time Machine published in 1996. Next to Mr. Holmes, perhaps the most renowned mystery character in the world of games, is Mr. Ree. Now out-of-print and known only to game collectors, Mr Ree was published for 29 years from 1937 to 1966. (Quite a long life in the world of games) In 1967 Case of the Elusive Assassin was designed by Sid Sackson and published by Ideal Games.

Sid Sackson (1920-2002) was known by many people in the game world as “the greatest game designer in the world.” Certainly he was one of the most prolific and America’s premier game designer without question. Throughout his adult life, he designed more than 700 games, nearly 150 of which were published in his lifetime. His 1962 game Acquire has become a classic in it’s own time, and was inducted into the Games Magazine Hall of Fame. No longer available, Sackson’s game Can’t Stop was the fastest selling game in Parker Brothers history.

In 1971, Sid Sackson redesigned the Case of the Elusive Assassin eliminating the board and transforming it into a card game. Renamed SLEUTH, it was published by 3M. This classic game of deduction presents a case in which a valuable piece of jewelry is missing. Through strategic questioning, you gather bits of information and skillfully discover the clues to solve the mystery. Even though SLEUTH had gone out of print it was fondly remembered and after Sackson’s death in 2002 arrangements were made between his family and a newly formed game company to reproduce the game. Once again mystery fans can enjoy this great card game.

In Britain a mystery game named Cluedo had become extremely popular. In 1948 Parker Brothers licensed the game to produce it in the US and it became Clue. Clue has undergone many changes in its graphics over the years. There have also been licensed Clue games featuring everyone from Alfred Hitchcock to The Simpsons. However, the ever popular and sought after 1949 original board has been reproduced and is still available for its many loyal fans.

One of the newest entries into the shadowy world of mystery games is the elegant Mystery of the Abbey. Both beautiful and extremely playable this game appeared in 2003. While it follows the pattern of Clue, in that a murder has been committed and the players must determine the doer of the terrible deed; game players will find that Mystery of the Abbey offers the opportunity for intelligent questioning and moves with a more satisfying speed towards its conclusion.

Another difference between Mystery of the Abbey and Clue, is the addition of cards, which affect the moves that the players can make. While it takes an hour to an hour-and-a-half to play, the play feels more rapid and satisfying. It is also more intense as players sense their opponents gleaning an insight from some small remark. There is more sophistication and strategy than in a game of Clue. The board is beautifully illustrated with the names of the rooms of the abbey in Latin. Pawns are monk figures case in stone and there is a bell to ring to bring the players back to the chapel for an exchange of information. Even the suspect sheets are delightfully illustrated. Mystery of the Abbey makes an excellent family game as children as young as eight years old can play while adults find it immensely satisfying as well.

Mystery games are so much fun. You get to solve the crime, find the guilty party and be a hero without the tedious footwork of the real life detective. You don’t get rained soaked while on stakeout and you can still eat donuts while you deduce. Why be a real detective when you can get it all in a great game? Elementary, Dear Watson, you wouldn’t.

Martha K. Folsom is the current president of the Association of Game and Puzzle Collectors, an international organization devoted to the study and preservation of traditional games and puzzles. She also owns The Old Game Store, on Historic Route 7A in Sunderland, VT.

Fall Foliage Backroad and Revolutionary Tour

By Sharon O’Connor

Fall Foliage in Southern Vermont
By Sharon O’Connor

This spectacular 29-mile foliage tour covers back roads from Bennington to Manchester (you can also start at Manchester & drive south). You will be taking the basic routes used by the Green Mountain Boys during the Revolutionary War. They traveled north from Bennington to capture Fort Ticonderoga in May 1775 which was the first Colonial victory of the Revolution. Two years later, on August 16, 1777, the Green Mountain Boys went south through Manchester, and turned the tide at the Battle of Bennington. This victory prevented the British from capturing supplies stored in Bennington for the battle of Saratoga, the turning point of the Revolution.

Bennington Battle Monument

Bennington Battle Monument
By Sharon O’Connor

Start by visiting the top of the Battle of Bennington Monument, Vermont’s tallest structure, for spectacular mountain views. Proceed 500 yards south down Monument Ave. to the small monument for the Catamount Tavern (on the left). This is where Ethan Allen (leader of Green Mountain Boys) & others conceived the idea of capturing Fort Ticonderoga & using its cannons to drive the British from Boston. Proceed 500 feet to the photogenic Old First Church cemetery, which contains the graves of over 75 revolutionary war soldiers. The graves are marked with flags placed by the DAR. Robert Frost is also buried here. On the SE corner of Route 9 & Monument Ave, is a marker where Ethan Allen lived. The old house on the corner to the west is the former Walloosmac Inn (now a private residence) where Thomas Jefferson, writer of the Declaration of Independence, stayed.

Backtrack to the Bennington Monument; take a left at Walloomsac St. for 300 yards, then a right onto Fairview for about half a mile, then a right onto Silk. This takes you through the Silk Covered Bridge. After one & a half miles on Silk, cross the street to Mattison for about 300 yards, then go right onto Rice (for less than a mile) to historic route 7A (Ethan Allen Highway). Take a right (south) & go 300 yards to Hunter’s Grill for an awesome fall vista. Turn around & go north on 7A for about thirteen miles to Arlington which was once called “Tory Hollow” because so many British sympathizers lived in the area. Stop at the St. James Church cemetery where Ethan Allen’s wife & two children are buried. Go back 100 yards past the Norman Rockwell Gallery (Rockwell painted the Yankee Doodle mural) to East Arlington Rd. Go one block east on East Arlington Rd., noting the blue house with two markers, which indicate where Ethan Allen also lived. Continue for a little over one mile on East Arlington Road (taking a right at the Chippenhook Store) into quaint East Arlington. Past the Yankee Peddler & Bearatorium, the deep red house on the right was used to hide Tory sympathizers. Oddly, the gristmill next door had been built by Remember Baker (Allen’s cousin), an American Revolutionary hero.

Revolutionary headstones at the Old First Congregational Church in Bennington

Revolutionary headstones at the Old First Congregational Church in Bennington By Sharon O’Connor

Proceed back to the Chippenhook Store & make a right (north) for three & a half miles, passing through the Chiselville Covered Bridge. At Hill Farm Rd. go left 300 yards to the Ira Allen Cemetery. (Ira was Ethan’s brother) providing a dramatic view of Mount Equinox. Go back to Sunderland Hill Rd. (which becomes River Rd); turn left; go north four & a half miles passing the Battenkill River. At the end of River Rd., the land straight ahead is where the Green Mountain Boys camped the night of August 15, 1777 prior to going south to the Battle of Bennington. Turn right onto 7A & go 700 yards to the Equinox Hotel & Marsh Tavern where the Green Mountain Boys gathered. Marsh was the first Tory sympathizer to have his land confiscated to help pay for the revolution.

End your journey at the statue of the Green Mountain Boy opposite the Equinox. Notice how he faces west towards New York…Saratoga and Ticonderoga.

The Molly Stark Trail Scenic Byway

By Tordis Isselhardt

It’s official! Route 9, spanning Vermont from the New York State line west of Bennington to the New Hampshire State line east of Brattleboro at the Connecticut River, has been certified as “scenic” with things to see and do all along the way — something generations of travelers have known for years!

Back in September 1936 this stretch of road was dedicated as the Molly Stark Trail, with an historical pageant in Wilmington and cavalcade of cars from Bennington and Brattleboro over “forty miles of hard surfaced road, mud free and dust free, over hills and through valleys that were once a menace and a discouragement to the traveler.” It was already a favorite recreational excursion for the motoring public and the heavily traveled southernmost route across the Green Mountains.

In July 2003, Route 9 – by now re-engineered and resurfaced and relocated a number of times – was designated by the Vermont Transportation Board as the state’s third officially designated Scenic Byway, joining the Connecticut River and Lake Champlain Byways.

It was a long process. A citizen steering committee representing communities along the Byway met to discuss their mutual interest in seeking Byway designation with open meetings to resolve conflicting points of view. Representatives from the Bennington County and Windham County Regional Commissions provided staff support. An independent consulting firm prepared a comprehensive Nomination Package documenting that Molly Stark Trail Scenic Byway possesses all six possible intrinsic qualities: scenic, historic, recreational, cultural, archeological, and natural.

“From the New York State border, the byway traverses an agricultural landscape in the Valley of Vermont with stunning views of the Taconic and Green Mountain Ranges. Traveling east from Bennington, the Molly Stark Trail climbs into the Green Mountain National Forest.

After ascending nearly 2,000 vertical feet and passing through the scenic mountain towns of Woodford and Searsburg, the byway drops down into the Deerfield River Valley, home to the Harriman and Somerset Reservoirs, and the historic town of Wilmington.

Continuing to the east, the highway passes Molly Stark State Park and then reaches the breathtaking overlook at Hogback Mountain. A final winding descent out of the mountains leads through the hill farms and forest of Marlboro and into Brattleboro, where the Molly Stark Trail meets the CT River Byway.”
Brattleboro provides access to the CT River Byway – and historic buildings put to new uses. Historic postcard courtesy of Images From The Past.

Brattleboro provides access to the CT River Byway - and historic buildings put to new uses.

The consultants also prepared a mandatory Corridor Management Plan outlining how the resources will be protected, enhanced, promoted, and made available to the public, and every five years each Vermont Byway is reviewed to ensure that the intrinsic qualities that were used as justification for the original designation remain intact.

The Vermont Byways Program mirrors the national program to enable qualified byways to seek national designation as either an All-American Road or a National Scenic Byway. In 2005 the CT River Byway – 500 miles of roads on both the New Hampshire and Vermont sides of the river, just re-designated at the state level – submitted an application to become a National Scenic Byway. If successful, they will be assured national marketing exposure on maps and other publications, and on the National Scenic Byways web site at

Once designated, state byways can apply for grants to pay for improvements along the corridor that will benefit and sustain the byway. The Molly Stark Trail Byway Council, successor to the initial steering committee, was awarded $138,573 in state enhancement grant funding in 2004. Once the appropriation bill is passed in Washington, money will flow to Vermont, and then to the Council.

One enhancement is already in place,. A bronze statue of Molly Stark, wife of the Revolutionary War General, John Stark, was dedicated in downtown Wilmington in June 2004, thanks to the generosity of a direct descendant.

Soon, travelers along the Molly Stark Trail Scenic Byways can look forward to a series of interpretive kiosks at sites in Bennington, Woodford, Wilmington, Marlboro, and Brattleboro; a brochure locating and describing byway highlights; a website; and distinctive byway signs to make their trip even more enjoyable and memorable!

Images From the Past Brings History To Life

In well-researched, richly illustrated books, Images from the Past brings people and places to life for readers. “Terrifically entertaining and informative popular history,” as one reviewer put it, but since our books are well grounded in solid research, it is also history you can trust. Our award-winning books shed new light on familiar historical events and personalities – and bring neglected ones out from the shadows.

Norman Rockwell At Home in Vermont; The Quotable Calvin Coolidge; Rudyard Kipling in Vermont; and Remembering Grandma Moses are among the most popular of our 20 books now in print. You can see them all on our web site

Historic postcard courtesy of Images From The Past

Backroads Discovery Tour: Pownal

By our Backroads expert, Sharon O’Connor

Picturesque Pownal, VTThe following tour will take you through the town of Pownal, which is often referred to as “gateway to Vermont.” Pownal has an over-abundance of elements which make it a nature lover’s delight: panoramic mountain/valley views, rustic farmhouses and barns, endless rolling fields of corn, wandering stone walls, glistening ponds, rivers and streams. Its 3,500 residents take great pride in the simplicity and beauty of the 6 sq. mi. area. and have made definite plans to preserve these elements for generations to come.

Start at the jct. of routes 7 & 9 in downtown Bennington. Go 6 miles South and turn right onto North Pownal Rd. Almost immediately, turn left onto Center St. This is “downtown” Pownal Center; composed of a community church, town hall, garden shop, cemetary and several residences. Notice the historical marker stating that Pownal was one of the first settlements in Vermont, dating back to 1724 when the Dutch arrived. Revolutionary war hero Ethan Allen and the famed Green Mountain Boys also frequented this route.

Return to North Pownal Rd. and proceed .5 mi to a pull-over on the right. The long mountain/valley view is breathtaking and straight ahead is the point where three states meet. (VT MA, and NY.) Appoximately 2.3 mi. past the pullover, bear left onto Route 346 South. On the left, a marker commemorates the fact that two US presidents lived & taught here. (Chester Arthur & James Garfield).

Continue .5 mi and park on the right in a small lot. This is the sight of an 18th century gristmill and 19th century woolen/cotton mill. French-Canadian immigrants and children worked in these mills. (One such worker, Annie Laird, was the inspiration for the child labor reform stamp issued by the US Postal Service in 1998). In 1936 the mill reopened as the Pownal Tanning Co., which converted sheep and cow hides to leather. A decrease in leather demand forced the operation to close in 1988. You may walk across the metal bridge, which spans the Hoosick River and overlooks man-made waterfalls. This site has been enviromentally cleaned up by a $1,850,000 Superfund. (state provided $1,365,000 and the town paid $485,000).
Pownal affords travelers numerous scenic views and picturesque rural countryside.

Scenic View of Pownal, VTLooking across Route 346 you will notice a large rock ledge named “Weeping Rocks” by the Native Americans. Legends tell of a tribal territorial war and massacre in this area. During the spring & summer there is a constant dripping of water (weeping) down the sides of the rocks.

Continue 2.5 mi., bearing left in Pownal. This will bring you to route 7 South. Proceed for .3 mi for a view of the old racetrack. this was founded in 1963 and was home to thoroughbreds, harness racers, & Greyhound dogs. this once thriving operation, home to over 100,000 fans per season, was closed in 1984, but is now slated for redevelopment into a mixed residential and commercial area. It is in current use for large events, such as the upcoming Bennington-Hemmings Car Show in September.

Head north on Route 7 and turn right onto Mann Road (.3 mi. past the Pownal View Barn). Proceed .2 mi. for an awesome mountain/valley view. The United Nations selected a photograph of this valley view to symbolize “peace.” The photo appeared on the cover of the U.N. bulletin in October 1946.

Go to 7 North for .2 mi. and turn right onto Barber Pond Rd. Follow and turn left onto Middle Pownal Rd., (.8 mi.), bearing left when the road turns sharply. At the stop sign, go straight onto a dirt road. about .3 mi. past the sign, the trees will produce a “tunneling effect.” You will pass through rolling valleys between the Green Mt. and Taconic Mt. ranges. Notice the Bennington Monument off in the distance. At about 3.8 mi., turn left at the stop sign. This will return you to your starting point.

Sharon O’Connor is a regular contributor to THIS IS VERMONT and is our resident backroads expert. Sharon has been in love with Vermont ever since she first visited and is owner of Backroad Discovery.

Browsing for Used Books in Bennington

By Telly Halkias

“WWe just don’t have bookstores like this back home!”

Indeed, second-hand bibliophiles are unique creatures of nature onto themselves. Coming from all different demographics, be it economic, political, age, religion, gender, race, it makes no difference: these are people are passionate about two things: reading, and a bargain.

Once in their used-book sanctuary, this common love for all things bound and printed seems to engender in them a willingness to open up on all sorts of ideas and topics. Quite often, and most likely with total strangers, they find themselves enmeshed in the vibrant give-and-take of symposia as broad as the past national elections, to as narrow as the proper technique for raising African violets. In the midst of this world of ideas, though, a common lament is often heard: places like this are disappearing. The ability to take refuge, even for a few minutes, in the shelter of books which seem to loyally stand guard on a way of life now slowly fading, cannot be measured in any way, except appreciation.

We explain to them that as long as this love exists, we will keep the fires burning. Vermont is a treasure trove of such cozy corners. Bennington’s landmark second-floor store, Now And Then Books, has seen many changes over the last quarter century, but remains as vibrant and relevant today as ever.

Our reads can be from the most esoteric – “I wonder if you have something on the engineering of canals and waterways in Holland during the early 1900’s?” – to the fleeting: “I’m leaving tomorrow for ten days in the Caribbean, and I need some seriously trashy beach reading to match my margarita intake!” Moments later, both these customers, a tourist and a local, male and female, leave the store happily clutching their new-found friends, while together discussing the challenges of raising school-age children. The used bookstore? Common ground indeed.

Of course, one store alone can’t find, or stock, everything, nor can it provide limitless opportunities at browsing surprises. However, in staying relevant, the next generation of second-hand book dealers now conducts rare and out-of-print book searches, takes special orders, markets aggressively, and leverages technology to get their customers the best possible deals. Not to mention sending you along to other local attractions, shopping, or recommending a great restaurant… in Bennington, there is plenty of everything!

Finally, if you’re traveling onto other points in Vermont, we are more than happy to refer you to specific used bookstores which are VABA (Vermont Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association) members at your point of destination, or along your route of travel, that may also scratch that itch for further treasures, and warm new friendships.

Telemachus C. Halkias, “Telly,” is a member of the Vermont Antiquarian Booksellers’ Association, a Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce Board Director, and owner of Now And Then Books, which is on the 2nd Floor of 439 Main Street in Bennington. At 50,000 volumes, it is the area’s largest used bookstore.

A Gold Mine in the Green Mountains: Discover Park-McCullough

“Gold!” was the cry of the nation when Vermonter Trenor Park headed west to California with his wife Laura, and his daughter, Lizzie. A year earlier, Laura’s father, former Governor Hiland Hall, had been appointed by President Millard Fillmore to settle land claims on the new frontier. To be sure, the search for gold was a gamble, but Trenor Park was no prospector. This self-made lawyer amassed a fortune in enterprise reality and in the management of the mines of John C. Fremont.

To see the fruits of Park’s fortune, one must travel not to California, but to North Bennington, the secluded Vermont village where Park would build one of the most glorious country estates in New England. Atop a hill at the corner of Park and West Streets, Park-McCullough’s central cupola still rises 50 feet above nearby trees and homes. The splendor of this three-story, 42-room “cottage,” waits for visitors in its original 800-acre context.

The tradition of the “Big House,” as it is locally known, continued when Lizzie Hall Park married lawyer and future California Attorney General, John G. McCullough. He was a steamship and railroad magnate and in 1902 was elected Governor of Vermont. Thus, visitors to Park-McCullough will not only experience the grandeur of the estate, but also understand the extravagant lifestyle made possible through vast wealth obtained during San Francisco’s Gold Rush era, and later added to through business dealings in finance, railroads, steamship lines, and speculation.

Park-McCullough is a time capsule, preserving 100 years in the life of one family. Nearly all of the over 100,000 items in the collection, including artwork, furniture, artifacts, clothing, toys, and literature, belonged to the family and have remained in their original context within Park-McCullough for decades. The 19th century European artwork acquired by Trenor Park remains a vital part of the collection. The desk, embosser, inkwell, and ledger used by Governor John G. McCullough remain in his study. Lizzie’s portable writing desk and her many architectural and design renovations remain an intrinsic part of the Park-McCullough experience.

Changes made in the 1940s and 50s, such as linoleum flooring and a Hotpoint dishwasher in the butler’s pantry take their place next to the magnificent Victorian furnishings. Personal items such as hairbrushes, books, pictures, eyeglasses, puzzles, and stereoscopes, show that this majestic mansion was also a family home.

Park-McCullough is not just a house; the surrounding buildings, grounds and gardens are an important part of the experience at the estate. The original 1865 carriage barn houses horse-drawn buggies, carriages, and sleighs. Guests can also see the wood-paneled horse stalls and grooming area, as well as the 6-bay garage added for the family’s first automobiles. The past steps on the heels of the present at Park-McCullough when weddings, concert series, receptions, croquet leagues, meetings, cocktail parties, and other special events take place in the gardens, in the carriage barn, and on the wicker-furnished veranda.

Park-McCullough is a unique treasure that documents a grand and glorious time in America’s history-no visitor leaves disappointed. The mission of Park-McCullough House Association, Inc. is the preservation, conservation, and restoration of its buildings, grounds, and collections to be shared with the public for its education and enjoyment. For more information contact Park-McCullough at 802-442-5442 or

Backroads Discovery! Fall and Civil War Background

By Sharon O’Connor

A scenic trip involving Civil War ties in Vermont? What ties are there? For openers, Vermont lost more people proportionately than any other northern state; it was the first to offer troops to the north and it was the first state to ban slavery in its constitution.

While looking at gorgeous Green Mountain and Taconic Mountain scenery, this tour highlights local ties to the Civil War. If you start in Bennington, (you may also start in Manchester), explore Bennington, then start at the Bennington Chamber of Commerce information booth. Head north on historic route 7A, realizing that this region produced the tough men Vermont recruited for its elite and colorful crack “Zouave” company. After enjoying twenty miles of scenery on 7A note the beautiful Inn at Ormsby Hill in Manchester which was the home of Edward Isham, law partner of Robert Todd Lincoln (Robert was Abraham Lincoln’s only child living to maturity). This Inn possibly served as an Underground Railroad safe house.

One mile north from the Inn is the entrance to the magnificent 412 acre Hildene (, the former home of every generation of Abraham Lincoln’s descendents. (A nominal fee to this non-profit national treasure gets you a mansion tour, a spectacular view of the Vermont Valley, Civil War exhibits, stove pipe hat, etc) Fifty feet past Hildene, on 7A, is Dellwood Cemetery (“many have said the most beautiful cemetery in Vermont”) containing the grave site of Jessie Lincoln Randolph, Abraham Lincoln’s granddaughter.

Continue north half a mile to Manchester Village noting the Equinox Hotel. This is where Abraham Lincoln’s wife, Mary Todd Lincoln and her son Robert Todd Lincoln stayed in 1863 &1864. Abe Lincoln was to visit the following year but was assassinated. Across the street is the lovely 1811 House Inn which was owned for over thirty years by Mary Isham, Abraham Lincoln’s granddaughter, who later lived in Hildene.

Leave 7A at the Skinner Library taking West Road about three miles to route 30. Go left for half a mile then turn left onto Dorset West Road. After about 2 miles on West Road, stop at the corner of Nichols Hill Road. Looking at the awesome view to the east, note the small out-cropping of an abandoned marble quarry known as the Gettysburg quarry (tombstones at Gettysburg came from that quarry). The “Kent House” on the corner is the former home of Lincoln Isham, Abraham Lincoln’s great grandson, who was in Dorset for over 20 years.

Continue on West Road about a mile to Church Street and make a right. Proceed for half a mile through quintessential Dorset Village (listed on the National Register of Historic Places). Turn right on route 30, go about two and a half miles to Morse Hill Road, then go three and a half miles to route 7A. Turn right (south) on 7A for less than 2 miles past the wonderful Inn at Willow Pond which hid slaves in a basement (intact today) on the Underground Railroad route. Continue south two and a half miles to Barnumville Road.

For a side trip take scenic Barnumville Road two miles to Johnnycake Road. Original research from Hildene discovered that the Cummings family who lived in the Johnnycake area during the Civil Was had the largest loss of a life (seven family members) by a single family due to any US war.

Backtrack to historic 7A and go south for about two miles, returning to the 1811 House (and Bennington to the south).

This backroad tour of the spectacular Taconic and Green Mountains should give you a feel for the surprising ties southwest Vermont has to the Lincoln family and events in the Civil War, along with a greater appreciation of our beautiful state. Please contact local historical societies, Bennington Museum, Hildene, the Inns, etc. for elaborations and additional information.

Robert Frost: Poetry, Prowess and Play

“Robert Frost: Poetry, Prowess and Play,” the current exhibit at the Robert Frost Stone House Museum, explores Frost’s interest in sports. Frost played softball and tennis well into his eighties and owed his longevity to the mile or two he walked every day. He often composed poems as he walked using the rhythm of his body to create the meter. Frost believed that poetry flowed more naturally from physical exertion than from sitting at a desk.

Frost once said, “I have always thought of poetry as prowess – something to achieve, something to win or lose.” “I look on the poet as a man of prowess, just like an athlete. He’s a performer.” To Robert Frost, life was a continual game of two sides in opposition that was resolved in a sort of play.

The poet was a player of words, “words that become deeds.” He played to win. The idea of friendly competition permeates Frost’s life and poetry. His “opponents” were fellow writers who vied for ideas, publishers, prizes and the attention of critics and academics.

Frost’s favorite baseball team was the Boston Red Sox; his favorite player was Ted Williams. After attending an all-star game in Washington in 1956, Frost wrote a story for Sports Illustrated, “A Perfect Day – A Day of Prowess.”

Frost’s analogy on tennis is famous: “I’d sooner write free verse as play tennis with the net down.” When it came to boxing, Frost once wished the writer had the same satisfaction as a champion fighter: to be declared winner with a knock-out punch. He said, “I hate prize fights where the victory is dependent on the referee’s decision; it seems too much like the arts.” His uncollected poem, “John L. Sullivan Enters Heaven,” is exhibited in autograph form.

The Robert Frost Stone House Museum is located on Historic Route 7A in South Shaftsbury, Vermont. It is open daily (except Monday) from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The museum’s permanent exhibits feature Frost’s life and art in the historic house where he lived in the 1920s. The “Stopping by Woods Room” is totally devoted to Frost’s beloved poem “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” written at the dining room table on a hot June morning.

Picture of Robert Frost batting at Ripton VT, 1940 from the Peter J. Stanlis Frost Collection, Robert Frost Stone House
Picture of Robert Frost batting at Ripton VT, 1940 from the Peter J. Stanlis Frost Collection, Robert Frost Stone House

Was Vermont Ever A Colony?

By Tyler Resch
RR 1 Box 533 • North Bennington, Vt. 05257 • 802-447-7839

While many visitors admire what they think is Vermont’s “colonial” architecture, that term is subject to great dispute. One’s perspective depends on whether one believes Vermont was ever a colony.

Was Vermont a colony?

Surely it has never been a colony since it was given the name “Vermont,” which is short for the French words for “green” and “mountain.” If you think it was, then who was its colonial governor? And what country was its “mother”?

Only in the sense that this territory was once officially a part of New York can one argue that there was ever colonial status. We’re talking about the era between 1664 when King Charles II granted a large territory to his brother, the Duke of York – whose name the new province assumed – and 1777, when “Vermont” declared its independence.

It was out of the turmoil of this dispute with New York that the independent Vermont Republic emerged. Nobody’s colony, this little nation was self-sustained, complete with its own coinage, postal system, customs, regulation of weights and measures, naturalization of citizens, and correspondence with other governments. Its population was about 85,000. Vermont wanted to be a state, no question about it. Dummerston author Frederic Van de Water’s 1940s book accurately called it “the reluctant republic.”

Vermont became the fourteenth state in 1791 only after adjudication by a special commission, and payment of $30,000 by Vermont to New York to settle all pending land claims. As such, Vermont was the first to join the Union of the original thirteen. A convention of all towns in Vermont was held at Bennington early in 1791 and voted, not quite unanimously, to ratify the U.S. Constitution and thus qualify for statehood.

Statehood settled the conflict, as a matter of fact, with New York. But formal legal resolution did not occur until 1933 when the United States Supreme Court decided a boundary dispute between New Hampshire and Vermont. The court accepted as fact that Vermont had been created by citizens’ forcible resistance “which assumed the proportions of a revolutionary movement.”

Therefore, when you admire Vermont’s “colonial” architecture, think twice about the implications of that adjective. Most of what passes for “colonial” style is actually “colonial revival” anyway. That is what 19th-century esthetes wanted us 20th centuryites to think of as “colonial,” and many of us seem willing to fall into their trap.

An example of “colonial” architecture. Shaftsbury, Vermont

Rockwell Exhibit Finds New Home at Battenkill Gallery

The Mears family has owned and operated The Sugar Shack on the banks of the Battenkill in Arlington for more than two decades, constantly adding to its inventory and diversifying the experience for its visitors. From humble beginnings in their original building where a generous dose of Vermont hospitality was served up along with maple syrup made on property, pancake mix and a few Vermont food products, the business has continued to grow. The store now features everything from homemade pies, cookies and fudge to Vermont souvenirs, tee shirts to teaspoons and seasonal favorites like cider donuts each fall. Several years ago a restaurant, Jonathan’s Table was added to the venue providing the Arlington community and visitors alike with fine food served in a friendly atmosphere.

With the kids grown and Patti Mears set to retire after more than 30 years as a high school social studies teacher, the Mears’ acted on yet another opportunity to not only grow the family business, but this time to preserve an important Arlington cultural resource in peril of being lost. They recently purchased the collection of Norman Rockwell Saturday Evening Post prints from Joy Henrichson of the longstanding Norman Rockwell Exhibit at the Arlington Gallery. With Henrichson’s building for sale, the Mears’ and Joy saw the benefit of keeping the Rockwell/Arlington connection intact at their Battenkill Gallery, a new attraction on site at The Sugar Shack. No sooner had they begun to install the collection in summer when buses began to arrive as early as Labor Day weekend. The Arlington Gallery Exhibit had been a popular tourist destination and regular stop on many motorcoach itineraries for years. Now the Mears believe it will continue to thrive in its new home.

An Arlington resident for years, Norman Rockwell was noted for his paintings of everyday people and situations. His art tells stories of middle class America and possesses a humor that has delighted generations of Americans. He was a meticulous craftsman, his illustrations showing careful observation and great technical skill. One of his most famous works, “The Four Freedoms”, depicting freedom of speech, of religion, freedom from want and fear, was painted in Arlington with his neighbors as his models.

Works in this category include ceramics by Karen Karnes, known as the “grandmother of American ceramics”, as well as textiles woven over the past thirty years by self-taught weaver Carol Crawford, and unique jewelry and distinctive pieces created with the revolutionary new material Precious Metal Clay by professional jeweler Jennifer Kahn and master artist Celie Fago. Their work and their intriguing stories are all representative of the theme Living by “Making”.

His connection to his friends and neighbors in town is an important reason why in addition to the scores of reproductions of the artist’s Saturday Evening Post covers, the exhibit includes photos and stories of the local townsfolk, who were models for his paintings, Ritchie Mears’ uncle among them. A short introductory video includes interviews with models and Arlingtonians who knew Norman.

Plans for the future include expansion into two other buildings on the property: the sugar house will double as the site for a small theater and gallery where a collection of Post covers that show Rockwell’s connection with each of the 50 states will be displayed. In the fall of 2010, the couple expects to focus exclusively on Arlington in another of their buildings. When completed visitors will be able to view “before and after” photos of many of the local sites found in Rockwell’s Arlington area illustrations and can expect to see the faces of other well known Arlington residents.

In his biographical introduction to Norman Rockwell the Illustrator published in 1946, Jack Alexander describes his friend this way, “Rockwell’s Common Man was earthily American – his characters wore the natural dignity of the ordinary man who prefers to carry his own weight if given the chance – Rockwell liked his characters.” Alexander further explains that, “The reason rural Vermonters make such good models, Rockwell thinks, is that they are a proud breed who would die before trying to be like anyone else, and have their individuality marred by attempts at imitation.”

Rockwell says of himself and his illustration work, “I guess I am a storyteller and although this may not be the highest form of art, it is what I love to do.” Americans must have loved it too since this iconic artist was also prolific, producing more than 4,000 illustrations, his work spanning more than half a century. Fourteen of these years were spent in Arlington from 1939 to 1953 on River Road where he and wife Mary raised their boys in their country home on the Battenkill, something for this small Vermont town to celebrate.

As for the proud new owners of the collection, the Mears say, “They are happy to be in Arlington, Vermont located in the heart of the beautiful southwest region known as The Shires.” They feel fortunate to live and do business in a place they love for the same reasons in the 21st century that Norman Rockwell loved it in the first part of the 20th, its people!