Kidding Around Stay on a goat farm in Townshend
State of Mind
Insider travel tips from Happy Vermont 12
Inn and Out
Meet the Pitcher Inn’s adventure guide
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A PRIL 2021
Hope Springs Eternal In this issue of Staytripper, we spot signs of spring and sow seeds of hope. The snow has melted (fingers crossed), crocuses have emerged, and we’ve already hit 50-degree days when some cold-hardy Vermonters get out the shorts and flip-flops. (You know who you are.) Along with the warming weather, the pandemic is slowly ebbing and restrictions are easing on travel and multi-household gatherings — aka getting together with our friends. Finally, we can say the days ahead look brighter. But safety still comes first, of course. We invite you to make the most of mud season but continue to emphasize outdoor or socially distanced options. Will you wander through an expansive sculpture park in Manchester? Stroll among carved granite at a Websterville quarry? Cuddle a goat at a Townshend farm? Even relatively close-to-home destinations can be transporting.
FIELD DAY..................................... 4 Stay in style, goat-adjacent, at Big Picture Farm
— CAROLYN F OX, EDITOR
BY MARGARET GRAYSON
PURSUIT OF HAPPINESS........... 8 Erica Houskeeper on the evolution of her Vermont travel website and podcast BY DAN BOLLES
TREK AND TREAT........................ 10 A trio of early spring walks and nearby eats
BY MELISSA PASANEN
ADVENTURE CAPITAL................ 12
From hiking to paragliding, Sam Chambers is the Mad River Valley’s go-to guide
BY KEN PICARD
Stroup Family Sculpture Park.............. 14
St. Johnsbury 8
Billings Farm & Museum..................... 14
Brattleboro Museum & Art Center....... 15
Exploring the state? Follow the pins to find the fun in this issue.
8 Rupert ON THE COVER: Lucas Farrell with daughter Maisie at Big Picture Farm in Townshend PHOTO BY LOUISA CONRAD
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Bennington SEVEN DAYS STAYTRIPPER APRIL 2021
Stay in style, goat-adjacent, at Big Picture Farm BY M A RGA RE T G R AYS ON • email@example.com
INFO Big Picture Farm, 1600 Peaked Mountain Rd., Townshend, 221-0547, bigpicturefarm.com
SEVEN DAYS STAYTRIPPER APRIL 2021
oat kidding season begins in earnest in April, when those tiny, unruly creatures — all ears and knees and hooves — emerge into the world determined to sow as much joyful chaos as possible. On Big Picture Farm in Townshend, where many of the 45 goats are currently expecting, the babies come first as a trickle, and then as a flood. “The week after their due date is normally when we have one of those crazy days where there’s a billion babies,” said Louisa Conrad, who runs the farm with her husband, Lucas Farrell. They make goat’s-milk cheese and caramels and offer luxurious farm stays in three different buildings. The couple moved to Townshend 11 years ago to work as caretakers for the farm’s previous owners, Ann and Bob Works, who operated a sheep’s-milk cheese business. Conrad and Farrell — an artist and a poet, respectively,
who’d both attended Middlebury College — had previously apprenticed at Salisbury’s Blue Ledge Farm to learn the ins and outs of milking and cheesemaking. Over the last decade, they’ve bought the 100-acre Townshend property in pieces, finally becoming full owners three years ago. Now Conrad and Farrell live there with their two daughters, the goats, chickens and a couple of extremely fluffy livestock guard dogs. Available for rent on the property are a sprawling farmhouse, a twobedroom barn and a brand-new tiny house. Originally built in 1790 and since renovated, the farmhouse can sleep up to 16 people in spacious rooms with loads of light. It features beds built by a local timber framer, cozy window seats and other nooks and crannies, and quirky bathrooms — including one that contains a perfectly circular Japanese soaking tub. Conrad said that, pre-pandemic, the farmhouse was often booked for retreats,
PHOTOS COURTESY OF LOUISA CONRAD COURTESY OF BLAKE WHITMAN
Clockwise from top left: Goats at the pond; Colt Barn master bedroom; Nutmeg and her kid; Gertrude Stein Suite at the farmhouse; a scene during kidding season; herd heading to barns; Maisie with a kid
family reunions and elopements. In the last year, families have booked it for longer stays to work remotely or quarantine in the isolated corner of southern Vermont. Social distancing is easy at Big Picture Farm, and guests are welcome to explore the farm’s acreage and spend time with “the ladies,” as Conrad calls the goats. “They’re so wonderful, and there’s not a lot of chances to really go in with goats in a non-institutional setting,” she said. “Part of our mission is to spread the word on good animal husbandry.” The goats are a mixture of Alpine, Nubian and Saanan breeds. They love a good chin scratch. Many of them are pregnant, but Conrad and Farrell keep their retired goats around, too. “Just because they’re big and fat does not mean they’re pregnant,” Conrad said with a laugh. At the end of kidding FIELD DAY
» P.6 SEVEN DAYS STAYTRIPPER APRIL 2021
Field Day « P.5 season, they’ll keep five or six babies and sell the rest. The family also raises chickens and maintains a garden, an orchard and berry bushes on what Conrad said is a “homestead scale.” Every year, they raise three pigs to butcher. Guests are welcome to request eggs and pork for their stay. Last year, Conrad and Farrell added a smaller building, called the Colt Barn, to their Airbnb offerings. And in September, they broke ground on the Solar Cabin, a well-designed miniature space with a loft bedroom, situated down the hill from the other houses. It’s right next to a large solar panel installation, hence the name. Depending on the season, the Solar Cabin and Colt Barn may be used for staff and not available for rental.
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Clockwise from top left: Curious George with a kid and guard dog Elvis; Solar Cabin; Paradise field; Maisie with two kids
Buying Big Picture Farm in three different real estate transactions allowed the couple to take on only what they could afford and manage at the time. Conrad calls the roundabout route to full ownership “really unique.” “Land transfer is such a tricky thing, especially right now in the United States with so many old farmers,” she said. “So we were really lucky that [the previous owners] were willing to work with us and help us.”
Part of our mission is to spread the word on good animal husbandry.
PHOTOS COURTESY OF LOUISA CONRAD
The pandemic has forced many small farms to shift their focus to direct-toconsumer sales. Conrad said that, while they used to rely on distributing their cheese and caramels to some 1,400 stores across the country, their online sales jumped enough to make up for the decline of in-person shopping. If Conrad ever has any doubts about farm life, seeing her 4-year-old interacting with the animals wipes them away. “This is definitely the best way for her to be growing up,” she said. Bringing in guests, beyond providing income, lets her share that feeling with other families. “The last few people in the farmhouse had three kids … I would come in in the morning, and one of their girls was up in the hayloft, like, cuddling with a kitten,” Conrad said. “It’s nice to see people really be able to be independent and enjoy the farm.” m
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Pursuit of Happiness PHOTOS COURTESY OF ERICA HOUSKEEPER
Erica Houskeeper on the evolution of her Vermont travel website and podcast BY DA N BOL L E S • firstname.lastname@example.org
uring her five years as the communications director for the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing, Erica Houskeeper routinely fielded calls from out-of-state journalists looking to report travel pieces about Vermont. Unfailingly, those dutiful, if perhaps unimaginative, scribes would hone in on the same rather generic aspects of the Green Mountain State. “They wanted to know about foliage, skiing and Ben & Jerry’s,” Houskeeper recalled. “And I was always like, ‘There’s so much more! Vermont is so much more interesting than that.’” Since 2009, Burlington-based Houskeeper has set about proving that statement, first through her travel blog and website Happy Vermont, and in the last year via a podcast of the same name. She’s also launched a line of T-shirts and hoodies with graphics designed by her husband, Dave Barron — you might know him from the hugely popular Bernie Sanders hair-and-glasses logo he designed in 2015. Houskeeper has quietly become something of an unofficial state ambassador and a champion for getting off the beaten path. In a February post on the Happy 8
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Vermont website, for example, she fueled appreciation for a decidedly different side of Vermont skiing than glitzy resorts: the state’s small ski hills — places such as the homey Hard’Ack Recreation Area, a St. Albans sledding and skiing hill that’s well beyond the gaze of most travel guidebooks and websites. In a recent podcast episode, she profiled Katharine Montstream, a Burlington visual artist who founded the Red Hot Chilly Dippers, a group of winter swimming enthusiasts who regularly swim in icy Lake Champlain. Houskeeper reports with a journalist’s rigor — she was one for many years — and writes with a fan’s infectious enthusiasm. You can’t help but want to bomb down Hard’Ack on an inner tube after reading that post. But you also get a sense of what the hill means to its community. “I don’t want to do hotel reviews or write itineraries,” she explained. “I’m interested in people. I want to write about a town and what makes it interesting or special.” While the site is a beacon of positivity befitting its name, the origins of Happy Vermont grew out of something else entirely.
Clockwise from top left: A barn and dirt road in Richmond; Erica Houskeeper with her husband, Dave Barron, and their daughter Phoebe; North Branch Trail System; Jericho Center Country Store; Merck Forest & Farmland Center
INFO Learn more at happyvermont.com.
COURTESY OF ANDY DU BACK
GETTING UNSTUCK IN MUD SEASON Mud season is a tricky time to explore Vermont. The ski season is winding down. Most hiking trails are closed until they dry out. Finicky weather adds complicating layers, literally and figuratively. Oh, and there’s still the pandemic to consider. Houskeeper offered a few fun ideas for making the most of Vermont in early spring.
HIT THE ROAD Fun fact: Vermont has more dirt roads than paved roads. “You maybe don’t want to drive them,” Houskeeper cautioned, “but I like walking them. And Vermont has so many beautiful dirt roads.”
In 2011, she and Barron welcomed daughter Phoebe. Later that year, Houskeeper left her job with the state. After taking some time for herself and her family, she “I was anything but happy when I started it,” reinvested in Happy Vermont. The site as it exists now Houskeeper said. The first version of Happy Vermont emerged in started in about 2013. “I love how Vermont makes me feel,” Houskeeper 2009. At the time, she and her husband were expecting said. “I love the beauty and all the offbeat things you’ll their first child. But midway through the pregnancy, find out about it. It’s not just this postcard place. It’s they lost the baby. more interesting than that.” “I started the project to help me deal with grief,” Happy Vermont is geared toward Houskeeper explained. “We had locals and nonlocals alike. During been planning for this family and all the pandemic, it’s been a valuable rethese dreams, and then everything source for staycationing Vermonters. was just gone. And I felt like I Still, Houskeeper estimated that needed something to plan or nurabout 75 percent of her audience ture, something to do with myself, ERICA HOUSKEEPER hails from outside of Vermont — because it was a really lonely time.” Houskeeper was still working for the state tourism mostly from the Northeast, within driving distance. So while she’ll write posts on, say, scenic routes in the department in 2009, which somewhat limited what she fall to cater to tourists, that’s about the extent of her could write about due to potential conflicts of interest. concessions to traditional travel writing. In fact, during But Happy Vermont nonetheless became a personal the pandemic, Houskeeper said she’s felt a responsibilcreative outlet for her to post pictures and observations of her local travels — state parks, winding rivers, the ity not to paint the state as a tourist destination. “I didn’t want to be like, ‘Hey, come to Vermont!’” foliage along Route 100. “It was a way to find community and way to express she explained. But since most of her focus is on people and offbeat places, she added, “I didn’t have to change myself,” Houskeeper recalled. things up that much.” Houskeeper, who works as a freelance writer and photographer for nonprofits and higher education, said she doesn’t have grand ambitions for Happy Vermont. She hopes to incorporate video at some point. And she plans to improve her podcasting skills, which she acknowledges are a work in progress. “My vision is just to keep going,” Houskeeper said. “It’s never gonna make me rich, but it really energizes me and makes me feel connected and alive and happy.”
In particular, she highlighted Darling Hill Road in East Burke and North Street in Montpelier, with its views of the Worcester mountain range. Or you could go to a town such as Landgrove in Bennington County or Ripton in Addison County, where most of the roads are unpaved. “It’s pretty easy to figure out where they are,” she said. “Just look on Google Earth.”
I love how Vermont makes me feel.
GENERAL APPEAL You might call ahead to make sure they’re open, she said, but visiting general stores is a particular niche pleasure for Houskeeper. “They need support more than ever,” she said. “There are so many good ones … and they’re so cool.” To get you started, Houskeeper recommends the Warren Store, the Jericho Center Country Store, the Ripton Country Store and the South Woodstock Country Store.
HAPPY TRAILS While mountain hiking is generally impossible until spring arrives in earnest, there are other scenic places to stretch your legs. Walking trails abound in Vermont, some with views to rival even the most splendid peaks. Houskeeper suggests the North Branch Trail System in Montpelier and Shelburne Farms as destinations. But for her, the Merck Forest & Farmland Center in Rupert is a cut above. “It’s stunning,” she said. SEVEN DAYS STAYTRIPPER APRIL 2021
Trek and Treat A trio of early spring walks and nearby eats BY M E L ISSA PA S A NE N • email@example.com
Chase Brook Town Forest Fayston; trailfinder.info/print/trails/trail/chase-brook-town-forest
FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
SEVEN DAYS STAYTRIPPER APRIL 2021
FILE: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
COURTESY OF LAWSON’S FINEST LIQUIDS
hroughout the pandemic, I have stayed sane, and active, by getting outside and exploring nature at least one day every weekend. During summer and fall, I was up for ambitious, full-day hikes. Colder days are better suited to briefer forays, but Mother Nature still delivers the much-needed reprieve from endless video meetings and household chores. As we slowly move from a long winter into early spring, it’s best to plan your outing carefully to avoid squelchy trails. If you’re going on a walk, the Green Mountain Club recommends sticking to low elevations and south-facing slopes — and turning around if you encounter mud. Tread patiently and gently as you assess the conditions, even if that means covering less ground. Rather than race to the view, I wind through the woods at a leisurely pace, relishing the journey as much as the destination. I pause to admire shelf fungus marching up tree trunks, touch velvety emerald mosses carpeting old stone walls and peer skyward to spot the woodpecker responsible for that ratatatat. Part of the fun has been finding new-to-me places to investigate. Sometimes the destinations are super close: How did I not know there’s a suspension bridge and a troll in Shelburne? Others have long been on my list, such as the striking Millstone Trails winding quarry-side through Barre and Websterville. And then there is the draw of nearby good eats. I’m what they call “foodmotivated.” I’d probably walk along the banks of the River Styx if it put me in the vicinity of a maple milkshake. Luckily, Vermont offers far more pleasant options. Here are three.
The Mad River Valley is a favorite, year-round outdoor destination for my family. The oasis of great food and drink along Waitsfield’s Main Street doesn’t hurt. On a recent but still-snowy day, my husband identified our destination in Fayston’s Chase Brook Town Forest on AllTrails, and we planned a late grazing lunch for after our walk. The small parking area and trailhead for the town forest are easy to find, right across from the Fayston Elementary School next to a lovely old barn. A sign explains that in 2005 the Town of Fayston bought the 72-acre forest, “part of an iconic hill farm … now managed by the Fayston Conservation Commission for environmental education, community recreation and wildlife habitat.” I could imagine happy schoolchildren running the length of the bridge over the Chase Brook at the start of the trail. I would love to return in warmer weather to sit on the double Adirondack chair overlooking the water. We thoroughly enjoyed our mellow trek of less than three miles round trip to a nice clearing and view at the top. There were plenty of downed logs and small streams to investigate. As one AllTrails user said, “Good for kiddos!” Driving back down into town, we called in our takeout order to the MAD TACO for a mix of their very good tacos, including carnitas, smoked pork belly and house chorizo. While we waited for our bagged order to appear in the window, we zipped across the parking lot to CANTEEN CREEMEE for an “appetizer” of a small maple milkshake and a small cherry-maple twist. And then we popped across the road for beer from the LAWSON FINEST LIQUIDS’ drive-through and cider from the MAD RIVER TASTE PLACE. The latter has the best selection of Vermont cheeses and a wide array of other local specialties.
Millstone Trails Barre and Websterville; millstonetrails.org
“No one likes to explore on an empty stomach,” proclaimed a sign in the window of South Barre’s Citgo gas station, which houses RICKIE’S INDIAN RESTAURANT. I couldn’t agree more. We were headed to explore the granite quarries of Barre and Websterville and planned to grab some finger foods, such as vegetable pakoras, from Rickie’s. But I learned later from co-owner Gary Singh that the menu has been streamlined for lack of help. His wife, Kelly, is the cook and also took our order. Gary recommends calling ahead. We had not, so we snacked on a trio of satisfying deviled egg halves while waiting about 10 minutes. The restaurant is currently takeout only, so we ate in our car amid steamy wafts of cumin and curry. Our saag paneer was topped with the softest cubes of freshly made paneer I have ever had, and the aloo chole was chunky with chickpeas and potatoes in a crimson, warmly spiced chile-tomato sauce. Both came with perfectly fluffy rice, as naan is also off the menu right now. If sandwiches are more your thing, head to downtown Barre to check out the creative menu of grilled cheese options at the MELTDOWN or grab a very good sandwich from the case at AR MARKET. (Note that both Rickie’s and AR are closed on Sunday.) Well fed, we headed to Millstone Trails. We parked on Barclay Quarry Road toward the south end of the trail system and walked a loose four-mile loop, meandering through woods of birch, relics of the industrial past, and striking crags and piles of granite. Along the way, signs explaining the history of the quarries and those who worked there brought the past to life. Eventually, we crossed Church Hill Road and arrived at the start of the path to Grand Lookout, marked by a pair of nascent columns emerging half-carved out of granite blocks. (To get to the lookout more quickly, park at the Brook Street lot in Websterville.) The roughly half-mile approach to the Grand Lookout is rich with stunning views, informative signage, and engaging carvings and statues. One wall of granite blocks boasts a pair of owls, a dinosaur, a gladiator helmet and more. Four Ionic columns soar around a statue of Hephaestus, son of Zeus and Hera. He was, it turns out, the god of stone masonry. A bit of Greek mythology, for sure, but far from the River Styx. m
LaPlatte Nature Park
From left: Suspension bridge at LaPlatte Nature Park; Lawson’s Finest Liquids beer; a creemee sundae at Canteen Creemee; Mad Taco platter; troll at LaPlatte Nature Park; fudge from the Shelburne Country Store; carvings along the Grand Lookout path at Millstone Trails; sandwich from AR Market
One busy weekend called for an outing that would fit into a 90-minute window. My friend Kathy had posted photos of a walk in Shelburne involving a troll, and I needed no further encouragement. Shelburne’s LaPlatte Nature Park covers about 145 acres and includes community gardens off LaPlatte Circle, where many people park to walk on the interconnected looped trails. The closest access to the troll is to park behind the Shelburne Market and enter at the sign. Walk down the hill and bear left to reach the gently undulating suspension bridge and search for the troll. (Part of the fun is finding the creature, so I won’t give too much detail — but the full-size figure is perched where you might not expect.) Shelburne Parks & Recreation staffers cannot confirm how the troll came to reside here; he seems to have arrived within the past year. “Town officials will leave him alone as long as he behaves,” director Betsy Cieplicki said with a laugh. You can make the walk as long or as short as you want, looping through the woods and down by the river. As the weather warms, it’d be lovely to stop for a picnic at the table and stools on the near side of the bridge. Other charms along the way include an arch of vines woven together over the pathway and a sweet garden gate where one of the trail spurs ends at the road. There’s even a history lesson about Ira Allen’s saw and gristmills, which date back to the late 1700s. With history on our minds, we stopped at the SHELBURNE COUNTRY STORE before heading home. The building has housed a general store for more than a century and is known for its warren of rooms and wide assortment of candy, including throwbacks such as chocolate bull’s-eyes and Tart N Tinys. But I was there for the fudge. It’s made fresh daily by co-owner Deb Mayfield. She told me that at least 20 flavors are on offer at any time, from among 200 total. I acquired two small chunks: Maple Northern Delight, which layers chocolate and maple fudge with caramel and peanut butter cups to great effect; and Tiger Fluff, made with chocolate and divinity fudges and a peanut butter ribbon. Creemees return in April, Mayfield said. Those are old-school, too: maple, chocolate or a swirl.
COURTESY OF SHANNON ALEXANDER
SEVEN DAYS STAYTRIPPER APRIL 2021
Adventure Capital From hiking to paragliding, Sam Chambers is the Mad River Valley’s go-to guide BY K E N P IC A R D • firstname.lastname@example.org
am Chambers often has his head in the clouds. While some people might take that remark as an insult, the adventurer and professional outdoor guide in Warren considers it his life’s calling. Whether he’s leading a group of hikers up Mount Mansfield or teaching someone to paraglide off Lincoln Peak, Chambers loves to gain altitude to elevate his attitude — and those of his clients. In December, the Pitcher Inn in Warren hired Chambers as its new experience director, which he admits “sounds like I should be at Club Med teaching shuffleboard.” Actually, Chambers is a longtime resident of the Mad River Valley with a knack for finding outdoor activities that his clients might enjoy, then making them a reality. The rustic yet luxurious 11-room Pitcher Inn offers visitors a romantic getaway, as well as gourmet dining second to none. Yet one need not pay $400 to $800 for a night at the inn to avail oneself of Chambers’ services. He gets hired out privately all the time. His menu of adventures is long and diverse to accommodate guests’ varying levels of fitness and ambition. In winter, Chambers’ professional guidance might involve little more than taking someone ice skating at an outdoor rink in Waterbury or teaching them to skate ski on trails at Ole’s Cross Country ski center in Warren. Chambers might guide more adventurous guests on a day of backcountry snowshoeing or Alpine skiing at Slide Brook Basin, a remote wilderness area in the shadow of Mount Ellen near Sugarbush Resort. For winter clients more inclined to ride the wind, Chambers can teach people how to snow kite or ski rig, either on a valley field or at Sand Bar State Park on Lake Champlain. A ski rig, he explained, is a contraption with two snow skis canted slightly outward toward their edges for stability, with a wooden boat mounted on top, non-skid foot straps and a windsurfer sail.
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PHOTOS: JEB WALLACE-BRODEUR
“It goes like you wouldn’t believe on snow-covered ice,” Chambers said, adding that it’s not uncommon to sail along at 30 miles per hour across a snow- or ice-covered lake or field. In warmer weather, Chambers leads bicycle tours in the valley, takes people fly-fishing on the Mad River and guides hikers up Burnt Rock Mountain, just south of Camel’s Hump. One of his favorite activities is leading horse tours at the Vermont Icelandic Horse Farm in Waitsfield. Chambers grew up on a horse farm in southeastern Pennsylvania and spends many days each year paragliding and horseback riding in Iceland. So he’s quite familiar with the small, sturdy and good-natured mountain horses. Come spring and summer, Chambers’ more popular activities include tubing and kayaking on the Mad River, as well as standup paddleboarding on Blueberry Lake, the latter of which he calls “one of the most spectacular mountain lakes around.” Chambers will teach the truly adventurous how to paraglide at Sugarbush — or he’ll set them up for a ride with his tandem instructor. Chambers himself doesn’t compete in paragliding at the a personal trainer and confidante, “Sam [gave] me aid international level, but he’s trained top-ranked pilots whenever I needed it,” added Murphy — “sometimes who compete in the Paragliding World Cup. when I didn’t even know I needed it.” Chambers has always made his living outdoors. The Chambers refers to that ability to intuit what people 65-year-old has a degree in need, even when they might forestry from Penn State not know it themselves, as University and another in InnSaei, an ancient Nordic exercise physiology from the word from Iceland that University of Vermont. He translates as “to see within.” first visited Vermont at age “When I take people out, I 12, then moved here for good try to intuit what they want. in 1976 to ski Mad River Glen, I don’t second-guess them,” Jay Peak, Sugarbush and he said. other local hot spots. But Chambers, who treats In the years since, outdoor excursions as equal Chambers has managed the parts exercise and meditaUVM ski team, worked as astion, emphasized that his SUZE EDWARDS sistant coach of the women’s adventures aren’t just about gymnastics team and coached ski racers at Mad River bicycling really hard or skiing really fast. If you only do Glen. that, he said, you miss so To locals in the Mad River Valley, Chambers is also a much of the natural beauty colorful character with a penchant for storytelling and a of the Mad River Valley. commitment to community service. “Hey, you can push it all “He’s quite a man about the world,” said Suze you like,” he said. In conEdwards, co-owner of Sugar Fish seafood market in trast, “I’ll be watching for Waitsfield. She and her husband, Bob “Skipper” Conrad, that moose or coyote track. plan to offer sailing on Blueberry Lake this summer. A I’ll be listening for that jack-of-all-trades, Chambers is helping them fix up their bird and tell you which fleet of small sailboats. one it is by its sound. I’ll “You’re looking for adventure, call Sam Chambers,” tell you what tree that is by Edwards added. “He’ll take you sailing. He’ll take you its leaves, and what every paragliding. He’ll do it all.” plant is, and how we eat “He’s a pretty intriguing guy [with] a lot of depth to them, or not.” him,” agreed Mike Murphy of Warren. Murphy was in So where are Chambers’ a bad motorcycle wreck in 1977 in which he lost his leg, favorite places for finding spleen and use of his left arm. And yet he still skis and coyote and moose tracks or rides motorcycles. He credits Chambers for helping him gathering wild mushrooms? remain active. “Most of them are hidden,” he said. If you want to “He’s been phenomenal at keeping me healthy and know where they are, he added with a sly grin, “Come fit through that whole ordeal,” Murphy said. As both and find me.” m
You’re looking for adventure, call Sam Chambers. He’ll take you sailing. He’ll take you paragliding. He’ll do it all.
Clockwise from left: Sam Chambers outside the Pitcher Inn, Nordic skiing at Blueberry Lake Cross Country Center and in his car gearing up for adventure
INFO Learn more at pitcherinn.com.
SEVEN DAYS STAYTRIPPER APRIL 2021
"Dance of Love, Dance of Life" by Bob Wilfong
Southern Vermont Arts Center, 930 SVAC Dr., Manchester, 362-1405, svac.org.
BILLINGS FARM & MUSEUM 69 Old River Rd., Woodstock, 457-2355, billingsfarm.org. Opens for the season on April 9; see website for season schedule and special events.
of his works in a meadow along the center’s winding driveway. Today the park has grown into the largest sculpture garden in Vermont, with approximately 40 artworks, said executive director Anne Corso. In May, “Force” — an exhibition in partnership with Salem Art Works featuring progressive contemporary art — will add even more.
COURTESY OF BILLINGS FARM & MUSEUM
From indoor art galleries to 120 acres of forestland with trails flanked by the Green and Taconic mountains, the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester offers plenty of eye candy. Perhaps the most unique sightseeing option on this campus is the Stroup Family Sculpture Park. In 1956, sculptor Simon Moselsio showed some
If March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb, April means it’s time to meet those lambs! Billings Farm & Museum is just the place to commune with fuzzy baby sheep — not to mention calves, steers, goats, chicks, bunnies and Mother Nature. Norman, a 2020 lamb at As an operational dairy farm Billings Farm & Museum dating back to 1871 and a modernday nonprofit focused on education and sustainable agriculture, Billings and its 200-plus acres of cropland offer an experience of rural Vermont farm life steeped in history. Visit on opening day, April 9, and get free Vermont-made ice cream. The Baby Farm Animal Celebration follows on April 10 and 11 — the babies will be in the barn, ready for up-close viewing, and families can get ready for gardening season by planting heirloom seeds in cups to take home. Sheep Shearing & Herding is on April 24 and 25, with demonstrations, hands-on crafts and sheep’s-milk chocolate caramel made by chef Emery Gray. 14
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COURTESY OF SOUTHERN VERMONT ARTS CENTER
STROUP FAMILY SCULPTURE PARK
“With such a In the area… large and expansive campus, people can • DANA L. THOMPSON really create their MEMORIAL PARK, own experience 340 Recreation Park Rd., here,” Corso said. Manchester, 362-1439, “You could hike manchester-vt.gov/parks up the driveway; • HILDENE, THE LINCOLN you could hike FAMILY HOME, 1005 Hildene through the trails; Rd., Manchester, 578-1788, you could sit at hildene.org any of the picnic • MOONWINK, 4479 Main benches and bring St., Manchester Center, your own lunch … 768-8671, facebook.com/ We see people of all moonwinkvt ages and abilities of activity coming out and walking.” While there’s an admission fee for the indoor galleries, which in April showcase student art from southern Vermont, as well as member works, it’s free to stroll the grounds — and dogs are welcome. Among the park’s most notable sculptors are Kenneth Noland and Pat Musick, said Corso. Nearby trails connect to Nature Conservancy paths, making a loop to Equinox Pond or a hike to Equinox Mountain possible. And a family-friendly story walk, installed last summer to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, features books highlighting the experience of women and girls. “It was part of our ongoing effort to create more outdoor programming so that people could participate if they didn’t feel comfortable coming inside the gallery,” Corso said. “These days, people are outdoors and enjoying the fresh air and the safety of being in the fresh air.”
In the area… • FARMHOUSE POTTERY, 1837 W. Woodstock Rd., Woodstock, 457-7481, farmhousepottery.com • WOODSTOCK FARMERS’ MARKET, 979 Woodstock Rd., Woodstock, 457-3658, woodstockfarmersmarket.com • YANKEE BOOKSHOP, 12 Central St., Woodstock, 457-2411, yankeebookshop.com
“Last year, we made these two events an online celebration because we were not able to hold them in public” due to the pandemic, noted Marge Wakefield, Billings’ community relations coordinator. While safety protocols will be in place this year, she continued, “If people can’t come, or choose not to, we’ll have lots of pictures on our website and some videos, as well.” On quieter days, explore Billings’ walking trails, which wind about a mile along the Ottauquechee River. A children’s story walk will be set up along pasture fences. As the weather warms and the crops grow, guests can explore a quartet of themed gardens — heirloom, victory, pollinator and pizza — and, in late summer, the Sunflower House, a maze-like creation planted annually by the Woodstock Inn & Resort’s master gardener. Return throughout the year to watch both plants and animals grow.
C AROLYN F OX
Destinations BRATTLEBORO MUSEUM & ART CENTER From the outside, the Brattleboro Museum & Art Center looks deceptively small. But visitors will find a spacious, high-ceilinged lobby with open exhibition areas on both sides; additional shows are tucked into a warren of rooms in this former train station. The architectural details of the historic building, refurbished in 1972, compellingly frame the contemporary art it now houses. The BMAC opened five new exhibits in mid-March, and their diversity is typical of the nonprofit’s mission to both serve the local community and bring in engaging artists from the region and country. A group exhibition titled “All Flowers Keep the Light” was postponed for nearly a year because of the pandemic, but given the heartbreaking human toll of COVID-19 it feels even timelier. Works by seven artists focus on the symbolism of flowers to represent loss. That original intention was expanded to acknowledge ruptures in society, as well. Inspired by a line from poet Theodore Roethke, “Deep in their roots all flowers keep the light,” the exhibition could be seen to represent the hope of spring — and vaccines. The prints in Jennifer Mack-Watkins’ exhibition, “Children of the Sun” draw from a groundbreaking magazine for Black children of a century ago, The Brownies’ Book; and from accounts of Vermont storyteller and poet Daisy Turner (1883-1988). The baby doll faces in Mack-Watkins’ prints are more than cherubic. If the title “Palm Oil, Rum, Honey, Yellow Flowers” suggests “island,” that’s no accident. Artist Kenny Rivero’s autobiographical drawings reference AfroCaribbean “ancestry, spirituality, and matriarchy,” according to his artist statement. His works also address
COURTESY OF WILL HOWCROFT/BMAC
10 Vernon St., Brattleboro, 257-0124, brattleboromuseum.org. Five new exhibits on view through June 13.
"On Reflection" (installation detail) by Adria Arch
everything from masculinity to sexuality to cosmology, yet, casually rendered on found paper, manage to look lighthearted. Visitors to BMAC will find utter joy in “Glasstastic.” Now in its 10th year, the annual exhibit features glass creations by professional artists based on drawings by K-6 students. Expect new fantastical creatures as well as “some familiar friends” in a Blast From the Past gallery. Adria Arch found a more fluid inspiration — the Connecticut River — for her kinetic installation titled “On Reflection.” A roomful of tumbling, swirling, gently curved shapes might be just what you didn’t know you needed. Curator Mara Williams invites viewers to “experience it with the unfettered wonder of a child.”
In the area… •
BONNYVALE ENVIRONMENTAL EDUCATION CENTER, 1223 Bonnyvale Rd., West Brattleboro, 257-5785, beec.org GRAFTON VILLAGE CHEESE’S BRATTLEBORO SPECIALTY CHEESE & WINE SHOP, 400 Linden St., Brattleboro, 246-2221, ext. 101, graftonvillagecheese.com MOCHA JOE’S CAFÉ, 82 Main St., Brattleboro, 257-7794, mochajoes.com
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