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Adventures in the Berkshires and Southern Vermont

Bring on the holiday cookie swap! Recipes and tips from baking experts Santa’s Land, U.S.A. A ‘New England tradition’ since 1957

Thanksgiving at The Guthrie Center

Plus: The new Williams Inn Winterlights at Naumkeag

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2019


TABLE OF CONTENTS

17 34 41 50

Bring on the cookie swap!

Recipes and tips from baking experts

A Guthrie Center tradition

A Thanksgiving meal for those who need one

Holiday Gift Guide

Santa’s Land, U.S.A.

Gifts for everyone on your list, from the finest UpCountry merchants

Southern Vermont’s North Pole

New England farmhouse meets sustainable chic A new Williams Inn welcomes the public with new look and new location 

12

Gather in gratitude Contemporary Thanksgiving prep pales in comparison to past celebrations 

69 Winter festivals

38

72 10 things not to miss

Christmas Days This store celebrates Christmas every day of the year 

8 Contributors

24

‘Alice’s Restaurant Massacree’ A song, turned movie, lives on as anti-war anthem 

7 From the editor

57

Winterlights shines bright with holiday spirit Walk through a twinkling wonderland at Naumkeag 

63

Photo Essay The search for the perfect Christmas tree 

77 UpCountryOnline.com | 5


FROM THE EDITOR

UpCountry Magazine has, for the second time in its three years of existence, been named the New England Newspaper & Press Association’s “Specialty Publication” of the Year — in other words, we’re New England’s Magazine of the Year once again! It’s a high honor and a banner achievement for which we can all take a great deal of pride. I refer you to the right — where it lists each and every person who has a role in this publication — to see who all puts in the effort to make UpCountry a standout magazine. That page, however, doesn’t list the many contributors who’ve written and photographed the features that have appeared within these pages during the past year. It also doesn’t include the names of those in the advertising sales force who ensure we have the fuel to run this engine, so to speak. Thank you, all. To that end, we’re all extremely grateful to the advertisers who continue to support UpCountry Magazine. When you advertise in UpCountry, you’re connecting with the best readers in New England and you’re doing so in the region’s finest magazine. Awards aside, nothing beats the feedback I hear from readers who are effusive in their praise for UpCountry. That kind of praise, you can’t hang on a wall. It goes directly to the heart. Thank you. Kevin Moran, Executive Editor kmoran@berkshireeagle.com

Publisher Fredric D. Rutberg

frutberg@berkshireeagle.com

Vice President Jordan Brechenser

jbrechenser@berkshireeagle.com

Executive Editor Kevin Moran

kmoran@berkshireeagle.com

Editor Jennifer L. Huberdeau

jhuberdeau@berkshireeagle.com

Proofreaders Margaret Button Dave Coffey Lindsey Hollenbaugh Tim Jamiolkowski Jimmy Nesbitt Art Director Kimberly Kirchner

kkirchner@berkshireeagle.com

Paginator Rob Langsdale Regional Advertising Managers Berkshire County, Mass.: Kate Teutsch kteutsch@berkshireeagle.com

Bennington County, Vt.: Susan Plaisance

splaisance@manchesterjournal.com

Windham County, Vt.: Jonathan Stafford jstafford@reformer.com

UpCountry Magazine is a publication of New England Newspapers Inc.

On the Cover: Plates of Christmas cookies ready to enjoy. Photo by Jennifer Pallian. Story, page 17

UpCountryOnline.com | 7


CONTRIBUTORS

Robin Anish [“Gather in gratitude,” page 24] a former caterer in the Berkshires, writes about food from her home in Lenox, Mass., for The Eagle, Banner, Journal and Reformer.

Anne Archer [“Christmas Days,” page 57] lives in Manchester, Vt. She is a regular contributor to the Manchester Journal.

Heather Bellow [“A Guthrie Center tradition,” page 34] is the Southern Berkshires reporter for the Berkshire Eagle and a member of the paper’s investigative reporting team. She has two grown children and lives in Great Barrington.

Kevin O’Connor [“Santa’s Land, U.S.A.,” page 50] is a Vermont native and Brattleboro Reformer contributor.

Visit us online at UpCountryOnline.com

8 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | November/December 2019

Jennifer Huberdeau [“New England Farmhouse meets sustainable chic,” page 12] is editor of UpCountry magazine. She also pens the column “Mysteries from the Morgue” for The Berkshire Eagle.


Adventures in the Berkshires and Southern Vermont

SEPTEMBER/OCTOBER 2019

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UpCountry wins top honor UpCountry Magazine was named the 2019 Newspaper of the Year in the Specialty Publications category in the New England Newspaper & Press Association’s annual competition. The award was announced Oct. 10 at the New England Newspaper Awards Luncheon held at the AC Hotel Marriott in Worcester. For UpCountry, its win in the Specialty Publications category is its second in its three years of existence. It took the top honor in the division in 2017 and was named a Dis-

tinguished Newspaper of the Year, a runner-up to the top honor, in 2018. Unlike other newspaper competitions nationally, this one is judged by a jury of newspaper readers from New England, according to The New England Newspaper & Press Association. Jurors evaluate the quality of reporting and writing, use of photos, design and presentation, digital offering, and overall utility and value. They also consider whether the newspapers inform, educate, entertain, inspire, motivate, lead, and whether they reflect

and care about the community they serve. “It is heartening to be recognized by our peers for the great work our reporters, designers and editors do day in and day out. It is even more terrific to see UpCountry awarded for excellence three years in a row — taking the top award twice. While I dare not choose favorites among our publications, UpCountry has a special place in my heart, as it was created on our watch,” said Fredric D. Rutberg, the publisher, president and co-owner of New England Newspa-

pers Inc., which operates The Berkshire Eagle, Bennington Banner and Reformer and UpCountry. UpCountr y, launched in January 2017, is a glossy, bimonthly magazine. Runners-up in the 2019 competition included the Business News of Providence, R.I., and Mainebiz of Portland, Maine. The New England Newspaper & Press Association is the professional trade organization for newspapers in New England and represents more than 450 daily, weekly and specialty newspapers. • UpCountryOnline.com | 11


The Williams Inn, which opened mid-August, is owned by Williams College. Photo provided by the Williams Inn

New England farmhouse meets sustainable chic A new Williams Inn welcomes the public with new look and new location By Jennifer Huberdeau WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass. Kevin Hurley often hears that the New England farmhouse perched at the corners of Spring and Latham streets looks like it always has been there. And, Hurley, the general manager of the recently opened

$32 million, three-story Williams Inn, is fine with that sentiment. After all, the 64room hotel was designed to be reminiscent of a classic New England farmhouse. “It’s one of our best compliments,” he said, during a recent tour of the hotel, which is owned by Williams College and managed by Waterford

12 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | November/December 2019

Hotel Group. Step inside the 58,000square-foot interior and you’ll find a cozy, yet contemporary New England farmhouse design blended seamlessly with all the technology and features of a brand new hotel. Upon entering, guests are greeted in the spacious lobby that boasts three cozy seating

areas and a large fireplace. Touches of the contemporary farmhouse design are seen throughout — Goshen stone, wood floors and barn doors, both functional and decorative. Just off the lobby is a reading area, a nook with comfy reading chairs and a bookshelf stocked with reading materials provided by the Williams Col-


lege Bookstore and art books from The Clark Art Institute. The shelves also are stocked with games, curated by Michele Gietz of Where’d You Get That!? Guest rooms are only located on the second and third floors, while a full-service restaurant and 3,200-squarefoot meeting and event space (including a 2,800-square-foot ballroom) make up the rest of the first floor. “We want the hotel to have a residential feel,” Hurley said, pointing out several other nooks designed to allow intimate conversations and gatherings in public spaces. “It’s understated, well-appointed, just comfortable. It feels like where you are right now has a real sense of place. It’s not bright and shiny, nor does it have that feel of something that will be outdated in a few years.” Color palettes of muted blues, greens, golds and purples, he said, carefully were chosen by the college’s design team and are used throughout the building and guest rooms. The hotel boasts two one-bedroom king suites and 62 guest rooms, all equipped with Eurotop mattresses, high-quality linens, 55-inch high-definition televisions, Wi-Fi and in-room refrigerators. The two king suites offer spacious bedrooms with a private bathroom, a large living room with a powder room and wet bar, as well as panoramic views of downtown Williamstown. “One fun thing we do in all our guest rooms is, we have a compass and a copy of a Berkshires outdoor guide,” Hurley said. “We want this to be the respite at the end of the day, where you can sleep in a very comfortable bed, watch TV and relax. But really, while you’re here, [we want you] to connect with the outdoors and have that sense that you’re not in the middle of the city right now; there’s so much to do in

the area.” With a focus on sustainability, he said the rooms have larger, refillable high-quality shower products in the bathrooms, eliminating the traditional one-use plastic bottles. Every guest room also has refillable glass water bottles that can be filled with sparkling or filtered water at the gourmet coffee, tea, and water station located on each floor. “We’re going for LEED Gold certification, so there are quite a few sustainability features throughout the building,” Hurley said. “One of the sustainability features is that lights in the room are activated by the key card, which really is, again, to minimize our footprint.” Other energy-saving features include a highly efficient exterior envelope — a high-performing facade using insulation; high-performance windows and other energy-efficient systems. A solar array will offset a portion of the hotel’s

energy consumption. The hotel, which opened in August, replaced the former 100-room Colonial-themed hotel of the same name. The older inn, which closed July 31, was purchased by Williams College in 2014. The college decided to replace the hotel with a more sustainable venue located in the heart of the town’s commercial district. “Our hope is that the new Williams Inn serves as a welcoming spot for locals and visitors alike to gather and enjoy the scenic atmosphere,” Fred Puddester, vice president for finance and administration at Williams College, said in a statement. Cambridge Seven Associates, the architectural firm hired by Williams College to design a sustainable, yet chic, space, created the hotel with three distinct but complementary sections. The “main house” is the white clapboard and stone farmhouse; the white clapboard “bunkhouse” features

event space on its lower level and guest rooms on its upper floors, and the red “barn” is home to The Barn Kitchen & Bar, the hotel’s restaurant and bar. “From the boldness of color and design [of its exterior], the thought process is to define the restaurant as its own space,” Hurley said. “It’s part of the hotel, so the guests can have that full experience while they are here, but it’s meant to have its own identity and be a standalone restaurant that’s its own place, something that locals will want to come and frequent and be here a few times a week. “Part of that, in the design, is the pedestrian bridge that was designed to give it its own sense of arrival, so you’re not even really going through the property at all.” The Barn — it’s open to the public — seats 62, and it offers a main dining area with a lounge and bar area. Patio seating and two private dining areas also are available. Its

The contemporary farmhouse theme is carried throughout the 64-room hotel. Photo provided by the Williams Inn

UpCountryOnline.com | 13


The Barn Kitchen & Bar is open to the public. Photo provided by the Williams Inn

breakfast, lunch and dinner menus are filled with familiar New England classics. “It’s a farm-to-table menu, full of fresh ingredients that are cooked properly and simply,” Executive Chef Kevin DeMarco said. Working with local farms and distributors allows the menu to reflect the season and seasonal produce offerings. “The way we’ve built the menu, there are certain ingredients that change out daily. What the farms bring to us is what shows up on the plate,” DeMarco said. This, he said, will allow diners who frequent the restaurant on a regular basis to continually experience dishes in a new way. For those looking to host executive functions, conferences or events, such as weddings, the hotel has 3,200 square feet of space set aside. A 400-square-foot gallery, filled

IF YOU GO ...

The Williams Inn 101 Spring St., Williamstown, Mass. 413-458-9371, williamsinn.com

The Barn Kitchen & Bar 103 Spring St., Williamstown, Mass. Reservations recommended by not required: 978-784-7602, thebarnwilliamstown.com/reservations

Hours: Breakfast: 6:30 a.m. to 10 a.m. daily Lunch: 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily Dinner: Sunday through Thursday, 5 to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5 to 10 p.m. The bar is open Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sunday, noon to 10 p.m.

with artwork from current and retired Williams professors, functions as a cocktail recep-

14 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | November/December 2019

tion space. The gallery flows into the 2,800-square-foot ballroom,

which can be adapted to an individual or group’s needs. “It divides into three equal sections,” Hurley said, “each with fully integrated audio-visual systems. We have three separate dropdowns, so each area has its own separate display. And we can separate the room into thirds or two-thirds.” The ballroom can accommodate up to 390 people for a cocktail-style function, 180 people for a seated function, or 150 people seated with a dance floor. The ballroom also has its own outdoor patio space (as does the restaurant, complete with firepit and Adirondack rockers), with retractable awnings and unobtrusive heat lamps to warm the air on chilly nights. For those seeking to host an outdoor function, there’s 3,500 square feet of greenspace that can be tented for those events. •


Bring on the cookie swap! A sweet way to gather with family and friends

At the end of the cookie swap, each guest goes home with a sampling of every cookie at the party. Berkshire Eagle File Photo

By Jennifer Huberdeau If you’re like the rest of us, the holidays are not only the “most wonderful time of the year,” they’re also the busiest. There’s shopping to do, presents to wrap, meals to plan, family and friends to visit, parties to attend, decorations to be put up and cookies to bake. If you’re looking for a creative way to spend more time with family and friends, you might want to host a cookie swap. It’s a fun way to spend some quality time with others and bring home delicious treats to share with your loved ones. What’s a cookie swap, you ask? It’s a great way to ensure that you have dozens of cookies, and a variety of them, on hand at the holidays. And the best part? You only have to make one type. Traditionally, the host of the cookie swap invites 10 to 15 people to participate. Each guest brings a specific number of cookies to the party. The host

determines how many dozen cookies participants bring, but typically, six dozen is the rule. At the end of the party, each guest goes home with the same number of cookies they arrived with, but instead of just one kind on their platter, they have a sampling of every cookie that was at the party. If you’ve never attended a cookie swap or exchange, the idea of making six dozen cookies might seem like an insurmountable task. Or, you might think that your contribution needs to be a masterpiece with meticulously piped frosting and perfect icing that’s dusted with colorful sanding sugar that glistens when the light hits it just right. It doesn’t. To put your mind at ease, we sought out a few experts — Brandi Scalise, a Pittsfield, Mass., resident and author of “Cookie Classics Made Easy”; Charlotte Rutledge, King Arthur Flour’s recipe testing and development manager; and Gesine Bullock-Prado, cook-

book author, host of “Baked in Vermont” on Food Network, and pastry and baking instructor at Sugar Glider Kitchen, a baking school she runs in Hartford, Vt. — for cookie-making advice for bakers of every level.

chocolate kiss in the middle or the jam-filled ones, those are fairly easy to execute, too.

Q: What cookies work best for a cookie swap?

Q: What types of cookies would you suggest a novice baker make for a swap? For a baker looking for a bit of a challenge?

Bullock-Prado: Family recipes are my favorite cookie swap contributions because they are meaningful and introduce your friends to a bit of your history. They don’t need to be fancy, just delicious.

Bullock-Prado: Novice bakers should steer toward drop cookies. They tend to be more forgiving and less prone to being overworked. Macarons are always great for bakers in need of a challenge. I also suggest florentine.

Rutledge: Refrigerator cookies/slice-and-bake — you’ll get a lot of cookies out of one batch of dough, and you can make swirl, checkerboard and other patterns with two different colored/flavored doughs, so they’ll look pretty, too. And thumbprints are always popular. Whether they are the peanut butter with a

Scalise: I say, keep it simple. I like one-bowl recipes that make large batches. I also don’t read directions, I just start with the wet ingredients and mix them and then add the dry ingredients. I don’t mix them separately. In the end, it all comes out great. People shouldn’t be scared and intimidated by making a cookie. UpCountryOnline.com | 17


Rutledge: I think the sliceand-bake option is great for a novice. Drop cookies are also a good choice, but are maybe less festive-looking. For more of a challenge, stamp cookies would really up your game. Stamp cookies — those made with a cookie stamp/press — have become really popular lately. They require a little more effort, but you can get really pretty cookies without having to go the icing decorating route.

Q: When attending a cookie swap or just gifting cookies, what is your go-to cookie?

pe, so they don’t try. I literally just throw stuff in the mix. If you put extra baking soda in, keep going — it’s going to put a little bit more air in the mix, but it’s not going to destroy your cookies. Rutledge: The spacing of unbaked cookies on a baking sheet can throw people off, particularly for scoop and drop cookies, which tend to spread into one another. I like to stagger my cookies on the pan to be able to get more on the pan while avoiding them baking into one giant, mis-shapen cookie. Bullock-Prado: Overmixing the dough is the biggest sin.

Once you add flour, stop just before it’s completely incorporated. That means the dough will look a bit piecey, with some flour flecks that are unincorporated. Because most doughs are chilled before baking, when you transfer doughs to plastic wrap to chill, you can gently fold the dough over to incorporate any loose flour. This ensures a tender, not a tough, finished cookie. Remember, it’s not just the mixing stage where you can overwork the dough. When you roll out cookie dough, you’re also working the dough, i.e. creating gluten. Be gentle from the get-go and you’ll have perfect cookies.

Q: Any tips for frosting cookies? Bullock-Prado: Practice piping with royal icing on parchment to get a feel for different techniques and consistencies. Outline piping and flooding aren’t that hard to master once you get a sense of the right consistency for both. Having a few piping bags and piping tips makes your work neater as well.

Q: For our readers that have had a bad experience when baking cookies, burnt edges and the like,

Rutledge: My new holiday cookie favorite is the Hot Cocoa Cookie [see recipe, page 20]. They’re a type of thumbprint cookie, easy, and super chocolatey. I’m also a huge fan of shortbread. You can bake them in many different shapes. Many of [King Arthur’s] recipes have you bake the dough in a round cake pan, then cut wedges while still warm, for nice, sharp edges. Bullock-Prado: I am a fan of butter cookies, German butter cookies, specifically. I developed a browned butter cookie [See recipe, page 21] that I adore for its simplicity and its deliciousness. Scalise: Winter in the Berkshires [see recipe, page 21] is great for a cookie swap. It’s a fun spin on a mint chocolate chip cookie. It’s like an adult version of the Girl Scout’s thin mint cookie.

Q: What are the most common mistakes people make when baking cookies? How can they avoid it? Scalise: I find a lot of people are intimidated by baking in general. They’re scared they are going to mess up the reci-

Arrange all the cookies on a table with copies of the respective recipes near each.

18 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | November/December 2019


what advice would you give them? Scalise: Everyone’s oven is different. You’re going to start smelling the cookies when they are almost done. When that happens, go check them, as they are probably going to be done. Remember, you know how you like your cookies; my mother likes them crunchy and leaves in [a little longer], but I take them out right away. Rutledge: Bake in the middle of the oven, one pan at a time. Home ovens are extremely variable, so, unless you know where your ovens hot spots are and whether it has top or

bottom (or both) heating elements, it can be hard to get consistency across two pans of cookies baking at the same time.

Q: Any tips for our cookie swap hosts and participants that will make it a little less stressful? Bullock-Prado: You don’t want to commandeer your participants’ baking experiences, but you do want to ensure that there’s a variety of cookies to swap, so I’d put a helpful list of different types of cookies in the invitation to give your guests

some inspiration. Scalise: Cookie cutouts are great and easy. You spread the cookie dough out over the whole pan, bake until the edges are golden brown and then cut into bars or cut out shapes with cookie cutters. From there, you can decorate them how you want. Rutledge: Bar cookies are often overlooked. They are a quick and easy way of getting a lot of cookies in a single bake, and you can use cookie cutters to cut them into festive shapes (just be sure your cutter is thick enough to cut through the whole bars).

Tips for hosting a cookie swap (Adapted from “Cookie Craft Ideas” by Valerie Peterson and Janice Fryer and published by Storey Publishing.)

GETTING READY Establish how many cookies each person should bring. (At The Berkshire Eagle’s annual cookie swap, everyone brings six dozen cookies and a “few extras” for snacking.) Include this information on the invitation, and ask everyone to let you know what kind of cookies they are bringing to the swap. Remind guests to bring copies of their recipes. They should bring enough copies for each guest attending the swap. You’ll either need to provide containers for each person to take home their cookie loot or tell those participating to bring extra containers of their own. Decorative tins or boxes can serve as party favors. Provide snacks and drinks so those attending won’t be tempted to eat all the cookies they’re supposed to bring home. (This is where the “few extras” come in.)

PARTY TIME Arrange all the cookies on a table, with copies of the respective recipes near each.

Berkshire Eagle File Photo

Let everyone know how many cookies to take of each variety on the table. To figure this out, divide the number of cookies each person has brought by the number of participants. If each person brings six dozen cookies (72) and 15 people attend, each person takes home four of each variety. (72 divided by 15 equals 4.8) You’ll have a few cookies of each variety left over. Extra cookies can be split between the guests (someone always wants to take home one or two more of their favorite type) or eaten on the spot.

UpCountryOnline.com | 19


HOT COCOA COOKIES Recipe courtesy of King Arthur Flour and kingarthurflour.com

1 teaspoon baking powder ½ teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon espresso powder, optional, for enhanced flavor

The holidays are for family, giving and chocolate. At least that’s what I’ve always known them to be. This recipe, made with premium hot chocolate mix, studded with semisweet mini chips and topped off with a bittersweet disc, is a tribute to those indulgent traditions.

1 large egg

— Charlotte Rutledge, King Arthur Flour recipe testing and development manager

Topping

Yield: About 5 ½ dozen

INGREDIENTS Cookies 1/2 cup unsalted butter, at cool room temperature 1/2 cup King Arthur hot chocolate mix* 1/3

cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract 1 ¼ cups King Arthur unbleached all-purpose flour 1 ½ cups mini chocolate chips 1/2 cup cocoa nibs, optional

5 ½ dozen Belcolade bittersweet discs, or other high-quality chocolate wafer peppermint crunch, cocoa nibs, or chopped nuts, for garnish

DIRECTIONS Preheat the oven to 375 F. Lightly grease two baking sheets, or line with parchment. To make the cookies: Combine the butter, hot chocolate mix,

Hot Cocoa Cookies. Photo provided by King Arthur Flour.

20 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | November/December 2019

brown sugar, baking powder, salt and espresso powder in a mixing bowl. Beat until mixture is smooth.

Take the cookies out of the oven and press a chocolate disc into the center of each cookie.

Weigh your flour; or measure it by gently spooning it into a cup, then sweeping off any excess. Add the flour to the cookie mixture, stirring to combine.

Remove the cookies from the oven once again, and sprinkle the melted chocolate disc with your garnish of choice.

Add the egg and vanilla, and beat until thoroughly combined.

Mix in the chips and cocoa nibs.

Drop the dough by teaspoonfuls onto the prepared baking sheets — a teaspoon cookie scoop works well here. Space the cookies at least 2 inches apart. Bake the cookies for 8 to 9 minutes, until the surface is set but the cookies aren’t quite fully baked.

Return the cookies to the oven for 1 to 2 minutes longer, until the chocolate begins to turn shiny and softens.

Allow the cookies to cool on the baking sheet until the chocolate discs are set.

Store well-wrapped cookies at room temperature for a week or so; freeze for longer storage.

*King Arthur’s hot cocoa mix is a proprietary blend of sugar, ground chocolate, dry milk and cocoa powder. If you’d like to use a store-bought hot chocolate mix, it’s recommended trying to find one with a similar list of ingredients.


WINTER IN THE BERKSHIRES

MINT DOUBLE CHOCOLATE CHIP

Excerpted from “Cookie Classics Made Easy” by Brandi Scalise. Used with permission from Storey Publishing

Excerpted from “Cookie Classics Made Easy” by Brandi Scalise. Used with permission from Storey Publishing

This cookie makes Brandi Scalise think of standing outside in the middle of winter with a candy cane in a cup of hot chocolate.

In the mood for a Girl Scouts Thin Mint cookie? This is the adult version of the classic.

Yield: 3 dozen

INGREDIENTS

INGREDIENTS

1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature

Yield: About 3 dozen

1 ¼ cups (2 ½ sticks) butter, room temperature

1 cup granulated sugar ½ cup firmly packed dark brown sugar

4 candy canes, broken into bits, or ¼ cup peppermint stick bits

2 eggs

1 ½ cups firmly packed light brown sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

2 eggs

¼ teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons baking powder

½ teaspoon baking soda

1 tablespoon mint extract

½ teaspoon salt

cup Hershey’s Special Dark unsweetened cocoa powder 2/3

1 tablespoon peppermint extract

2 cups all-purpose flour

cup Hershey’s Special Dark unsweetened cocoa powder 2/3

Winter in the Berkshires. Photo provided by Katie Craig/Storey Publishing.

2 cups all-purpose flour

1 cup powdered sugar

½ cup white chocolate chips 2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS Preheat oven to 350 F. Line one cookie sheet with parchment paper.

Combine the butter and peppermint candy in a large mixing bowl and beat, preferably with an electric mixer. Add the brown sugar, eggs, baking powder, salt and peppermint extract. Mix well, occasionally scraping the sides of the bowl. Add the milk, cocoa powder, flour, white chocolate chips and semisweet chocolate chips and mix until well combined. Using a 1-inch cookie scoop or a rounded teaspoon, scoop out the dough and drop 1 inch apart on the parchment-lined cookie sheet.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until you can smell a wonderful chocolate aroma filling the air. Let cool on the cookie sheet for

2 cups semisweet chocolate chips

5 to 10 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack and let cool fully.

THE VERMONT Excerpted from “Cookie Classics Made Easy” by Brandi Scalise. Used with permission from Storey Publishing This chewy cookie is filled with all the rich maple flavor you would expect from a cookie called Vermont. Yield: 3 ½ dozen cookies

INGREDIENTS 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, room temperature 1 ½ cups firmly packed brown sugar 1 egg 2 teaspoons baking powder ½ teaspoon salt 1 tablespoon maple extract 1 tablespoon pure maple syrup

2 ½ cups all-purpose flour 1 cup chopped walnuts (optional)

DIRECTIONS Preheat the oven to 360 F. If you’re not using nonstick cookie sheets, line them with parchment paper.

Combine butter, brown sugar, eggs, baking powder, salt, maple extract and maple syrup in a large mixing bowl. Mix well, preferably with an electric mixer, occasionally scraping the sides of the bowl. Add the flour and mix until well blended. Add the walnuts, if using, and mix again until well blended. Using a 1-inch cookie scoop or a rounded teaspoon, scoop out the dough and place about 1 inch apart on the cookie sheets.

Bake for 15 to 17 minutes, until the edges are darker in color. Transfer to a wire rack and let cool.

DIRECTIONS Preheat the oven to 375 F. If you are not using nonstick cookie sheets, line them with parchment paper.

Combine the butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, mint extract, baking powder, salt and baking soda in a large mixing bowl. Mix well, preferably with an electric mixer, occasionally scraping the sides of the bowl. Add the cocoa powder, flour and chocolate chips, and mix well again. Using a 1 ½-inch cookie scoop or a large rounded teaspoon, scoop out the dough and roll it between the palms of your hands into balls. Roll the balls in the powdered sugar, then place about 1 inch apart on the cookie sheets.

Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, until you can smell a wonderful chocolate aroma filling the air. Transfer cookies to a wire rack and let cool UpCountryOnline.com | 21


BROWN BUTTERBROWN SUGAR COOKIES Recipe courtesy Gesine Prado and gbakes.com Yield: 30 cookies

INGREDIENTS 1 cup unsalted butter, room temperature plus 2 tablespoons 1 cup dark brown sugar, packed 1 large egg

Lightly flour your work surface and roll the dough to between ⅛-inch and ¼-inch thick. Stamp out shapes — I, obviously, chose a tree — and place it on a parchment-lined sheet pan about an inch apart. Bake for 10 minutes, turn the sheet pan 180 degrees and bake for 5 to 10 minutes more, or until the edges of the cookies start to brown. Allow the cookies to cool completely.

ROYAL ICING

1 large egg yolk

Yield: Makes approximately ½ cup

1/4 cup sweetened condensed milk

2 cups confectioner’s sugar

1 tablespoon vanilla bean paste or extract 3 cups all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon salt

DIRECTIONS In a large saucepan, melt the cup of butter over low heat. Continue cooking the butter until it simmers, starts to brown and gives off a nutty aroma. Carefully pour the melted butter into a small container, leaving as much of the brown bits on the bottom of the pan behind. Immediately add the reserved 2 tablespoons of butter and allow to melt into the body of the brown butter. Stir and refrigerate to solidify, about an hour.

Fill a pastry bag with a small open tip with the royal icing. Use a piece of baker’s twine to tightly close the bag up top to keep the icing from crusting inside the bag. (TIP! Place a damp paper towel at the bottom of a tall glass. Whenever you take a break from piping, place the bag and tip in the glass, tip touching the paper towel, to keep the tip from crusting over) Outline each cookie and allow the royal icing to crust over about 30 minutes.

1 ½ teaspoons powdered egg whites

This is also the consistency of icing you’ll use for piping decorations on top of the cookie.

Gel food coloring

For flooding:

For piping:

Whisk together the confectioner’s sugar and egg white powder. Add water and just a touch of dye, add water 1 teaspoon at a time, until you create an icing with an almost pastelike consistency that, when piped from a small open tip, keeps its shape. Stir well so that there are no lumps, but don’t stir so much that you aerate the icing.

The ingredients are the same as for piping, but add enough water that the icing spreads. It should have the consistency of ketchup.

When flooding, have a toothpick handy to push the icing into corners. You can use a pastry bag with a slightly larger open tip than for piping. Allow the flooded cookies to set. This can take much longer than you’d like, usually a few hours.

Combine the solidified brown butter and brown sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on high until light and fluffy. Add the egg and egg yolk, mix to combine.

Recipe courtesy of Robin Anish This is a good cookie recipe for Christmas. The flavors are right, and the dough can be made way ahead of time.

INGREDIENTS 1 ½ cups flour ½ teaspoon cinnamon ¼ teaspoon salt 1 ½ sticks butter (¾ cup) unsalted butter, softened 6 tablespoons granulated sugar ½ teaspoon freshly grated orange zest ½ cup shelled, unsalted pistachio nuts, coarsely chopped cup dried cranberries, coarsely chopped 1/3

1 large egg, well beaten ¼ cup coarse sugar

DIRECTIONS Whisk together flour, cinnamon and salt.

In a mixing bowl, use an electric mixer to cream butter, sugar and zest until light and fluffy. On low, gradually add flour mixture until dough comes together in clumps. Dough will be stiff. Add pistachios and cranberries and mix to work throughout the dough. Press dough together then cut into two equal pieces. Form each half into a log about 1 1/2 inches in diameter. Wrap each log in wax paper or plastic and refrigerate until very firm, about 2 hours.

To bake, preheat oven to 350 F. Brush beaten egg wash over logs on all sides. Spread coarse sugar on a piece of wax paper or plate and roll logs in sugar to coat well.

Scrape down the bottom and sides of the bowl. Add the sweetened condensed milk and vanilla. Mix to combine. Add the flour and salt all at once and mix until just combined.

Cut each bar crosswise into ¼-inch-thick slices. Arrange cookies an inch apart on ungreased or parchment-lined baking sheets. Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until lightly golden.

Transfer the dough to a sheet of plastic wrap and press into a disk. Cover completely and refrigerate for 20 minutes.

Line a few sheet pans with parchment. Preheat oven to 350 F.

PISTACHIO CRANBERRY ICEBOX COOKIES

Brown Butter-Brown Sugar cookies. Photo provided by Gesine Prado.

22 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | November/December 2019

Cookie dough logs can be made ahead of time and frozen. •


24 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | November/December 2019


Gather in gratitude Contemporary Thanksgiving prep pales in comparison to past celebrations By Robin Anish Historians tell us that the first Thanksgiving feast celebrated by the Pilgrims bears little in common with the Thanksgiving feasts of today; but, what they do share in common is the reason for the feast. Then, as now, families and friends gather in gratitude for all that is good, and that’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? Today, turkey is the highlight of our Thanksgiving dinner, but it would not have been so at the first Thanksgiving dinner. Venison was considered a delicacy and took center stage along with lobster, mussels, oysters and the fish that were so prolific in the waters of Cape Cod. Wildfowl, ducks and geese were eaten, but turkey was not as plentiful at the time, so it is uncertain as to whether it was part of the meal. The progression of turkey becoming the symbol of Thanksgiving began in the early 1800s and, over time, the turkey was adopted as the recognized symbol of Thanksgiving in America. Gaining in popularity, turkeys were having to be mass-produced, but without refrigeration and trucks for

transport, the only way they could be brought to market was with a turkey drive — in other words, to make them walk. No means of refrigeration meant the turkeys had to be brought to the slaughterhouses alive. Turkey drives were chal-

and encourage the turkeys to keep moving. As eager as the drivers were to get the turkeys to their destination, the turkeys still ruled the roost; so, as soon as dusk approached, these feisty birds called it quits for the day and

made ready for roasting? H o w e a s y p re p a r i n g Thanksgiving dinner is today. Still, we fuss about how tedious a job it is when, instead, we should be reminded of that first Thanksgiving for which the Pilgrims worked so hard yet

Could you imagine trekking through the woods, hunting in hopes of bringing home a Thanksgiving turkey or waiting for the droves of wild turkeys to trot into town to be made ready for roasting?

lenging. Huge flocks of turkeys ambled miles and required constant tending to by drivers so the fowl didn’t wander off or fall prey to coyotes and other predators. A nice fat turkey is most desirable, but with miles of walking, turkeys lost weight, so a covered wagon carried feed that was scattered along the trail to help maintain weight

settled in to roost for the night. You can’t fight nature’s ways. The turkeys would hit the road again when they were good and ready, leaving the drivers no choice but to comply. Could you imagine trekking through the woods, hunting in hopes of bringing home a Thanksgiving turkey or waiting for the droves of wild turkeys to trot into town to be

were most grateful. By comparison, preparing a Thanksgiving dinner today couldn’t be easier; and that, we can be grateful for! A stuffing of cornbread and smoked oysters is reminiscent of that first Thanksgiving. So, think of the Pilgrims and be grateful when you bring this delicious stuffing to your Thanksgiving table.

Turkey is the highlight of our Thanksgiving dinner, but it would not have been so at the first Thanksgiving. Photo by Metro Creative

UpCountryOnline.com | 25


Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate family and friends. Photo by Metro Creative

CORNBREAD STUFFING WITH OYSTERS INGREDIENTS 8 ounces smoked oysters, drained 2 large, unpeeled apples, diced 1 stick butter One 14-ounce bag cornbread stuffing mix 3 ribs celery, small dice 1 large or 2 smaller yellow onions, small dice 4 slices thick-cut bacon, diced Salt and pepper to taste

1/3

cup chopped parsley

2 1/2 cups turkey or chicken stock

DIRECTIONS Fry bacon slices until just crisp, drain reserving 1 tablespoon bacon drippings. Over medium heat, saute onions, celery and apples in butter and bacon drippings until onions are translucent. In a large mixing bowl, toss the stuffing mix, onions, celery, apples, bacon, and parsley until well mixed. Gradually add just enough stock to moisten the stuffing, gently tossing to mix. Add more or less stock as de-

26 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | November/December 2019

sired. Fold in the smoked oysters. Taste for salt and pepper. Cooking stuffing in the turkey adds a lot of flavor to it, but baking stuffing in a casserole dish is an easier option. Preheat oven to 350 F. Place stuffing in a buttered 9-by-13inch baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 20 minutes, or until the top is lightly browned. Do not overbake, or stuffing will be dry. If it appears dry while baking, add a bit more stock. To stuff the bird, it is necessary to use a good thermometer and to roast the turkey until

it and the stuffing reach 165 F. Loosely stuff the cavity no more than three-quarters full so the stuffing has room to expand. In general, the pop-up timers that come with most turkeys aren’t always accurate. Use a thermometer to check for doneness. Removing the stuffing from the turkey to a dish for serving is best, but if you like the idea of serving directly from the bird, as I do, remove any leftover stuffing soon afterward. It is recommended that stuffing not be stored in the turkey. Happy Thanksgiving! •


28 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | November/December 2019

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In addition to the annual Thanksgiving Day meal, The Guthrie Center offers a free weekly lunch provided by donations from local farms and stores. Berkshire Eagle File Photo

A Guthrie Center tradition A warm and comfy Thanksgiving meal for those who need one 34 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | November/December 2019

By Heather Bellow GREAT BARRINGTON, Mass. The week of Thanksgiving, Michael Roller and his staff at Samel’s Deli in Pittsfield won’t just be cooking up their usual fare. They will start peeling additional potatoes and chopping extra items. By Wednesday, they will have eight donated turkeys roasting and the gravy made. On Thursday, all of it will get shipped in insulated containers to a place in Housatonic where, every day, flows the giving and receiving that is Thanksgiving. A free meal will be served at the Guthrie Center, the former Trinity Church, owned by musician Arlo Guthrie. “It just feels really good to do something nice,” Roller said. “That’s all you really need.”

George Laye, the center’s general manager, would agree, especially on this holiday. “We’re all about Thanksgiving here,” said Laye, who with staff orchestrates the free community meal for 150 every year. “It’s what we stand for here — helping folks. That’s every day for us. It’s in the blood of the whole mission.”

A local legend While the Guthrie Center also hosts a free community meal every week, the Thanksgiving meal is a tradition that found its feet there in the 1960s (then home to Alice Brock, owner of Alice’s Restaurant in Stockbridge) amid a truly iconic American tale of littering that includes a classic beatnik/cop run-in.


Guthrie’s satirical, talking blues song, “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree,” was born from that now-famous Thanksgiving Day incident, after what he later called the “biggest crime in the last fifty years” in little sleepy Rockwellian Stockbridge. In 1969, the feature film “Alice’s Restaurant” — it’s based on the song and arrest, directed by Arthur Penn and starring Guthrie — forever etched the former church at the corner of Division Street and Van Deusenville Road into memory, just like the song lyrics. The story, song and Guthrie’s vision have stretched into the decades since not only bringing other performers to this off-the-beaten-path venue, but also spreading love in the community and inspiring more

of that giving spirit in others. In addition to hosting free community meals, the center also offers other programming, such as tutoring and nondenominational services. But it’s Thanksgiving that gets the full Guthrie treatment. In addition to his traditional performances of “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree” — this year, he’s performing at the Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center in Great Barrington and at Carnegie Hall in New York City, a 52-year tradition that will end this year — Guthrie and his family often attend the community meal, though it isn’t about celebrity. “It doesn’t turn into an Arlo thing,” Laye said. “It’s just another family that’s here, and so that’s a sweet thing.”

RIGHT: Dressed turkeys wait to go into the oven in the kitchen at Samel’s Deli and Catering in Pittsfield. BELOW: In this file photo, Ramiro Medina, prep cook at Samel’s Deli and Catering, cuts up some butternut squash for Thanksgiving dinner at the Guthrie Center. Berkshire Eagle File Photos

UpCountryOnline.com | 35


Thanksgiving Day ‘like it’s supposed to be’

TOP: Austin Daly, sous chef at Samel’s Deli and Catering, seasons a turkey being prepped for the Guthrie Center. ABOVE: Rebecca Smith and George Laye in the kitchen of the Guthrie Center in Great Barrington. Berkshire Eagle File Photos

36 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | November/December 2019

Laye said the free community meal has been served up here every Thanksgiving for 14 years. It’s a happy tradition that often sprouts more volunteers than the place can handle. “We get a lot of regulars and people who just moved to town,” he said. And this includes people who simply want to serve those people “We’ve had calls from California saying that they wanted to come and volunteer.” Laye and the few other staff organize it, and volunteers do the rest, including giving rides to people who need them. “There are some people who really don’t have a place to go — like seniors,” Laye said. “It’s warm and comfy. We just want everyone to have a really good relaxed Thanksgiving Day like it’s supposed to be.”

Paying it forward

Relaxation will happen later on in the day for Roller. His wife will put their own turkey in the oven. But he’ll still cook. But it might be too late for football. Instead of relaxing, he’ll be at the Lenox Club, which hires Roller to do the Thanksgiving meal for about 75 members. But what he does for those who come to the Guthrie Center, he does out of love. Usually, he’ll get everything donated by his suppliers, including the green beans, cranberries, potatoes, butternut squash, stuffing, rolls and those eight turkeys, about 22 pounds each. If he doesn’t get everything he needs, he’ll spring for it himself. Roller and his staff have cooked the Guthrie meal for about 12 years, taking over from Roberto Flores, after he sold the Seven Hills Inn, where Roller did catering. The food gets cooked up


at Samel’s on Elm Street, and shipped hot down to Housatonic, where the legions of volunteers are ready and waiting. Roller is already busy. He has a kitchen staff at Samel’s of about six to eight. He also caters throughout the county. He does about 20 to 30 weddings every year, runs the cafe at the Medical Arts Building, the Lenox Club kitchen and food service at Jacob’s Pillow in the summer. All of this spells success. He is grateful and wants to show it. “We’re really lucky here and doing well at Samel’s, and this is a way to give back to the community,” he said. “To acknowledge that we are as successful and happy and well-fed as we are.” “They are absolutely the most wonderful people in the world,” Laye said of Samel’s. Laye says it’s such a gift to give not only a meal and community, but the oppor-

tunity to have a cold turkey sandwich at about 10:30 p.m. on Thanksgiving. “It’s a very important thing to me,” Laye said, noting that all attendees get leftovers to take home. He pointed to others who donate, like Taylor Rentals, which supplies the tables and tablecloths. “It’s really formal and wonderful and really homey,” he said. And Taft Farms, around the corner, has donated pies in recent years and “has always been there for us.” But what about music? “Sometimes,” Laye said. “If it happens, it happens. We don’t try to push it. But it’s kind of fun when it happens.” For Roller, there will always be music on Thanksgiving. “I always make a point to listen to ‘Alice’s Restaurant’ during the day,” he said. •

TOP: The Guthrie Center, at the former Trinity Church, owned by musician Arlo Guthrie, was once home to Alice Brock, owner of the former Alice’s Restaurant in Stockbridge. ABOVE: Arlo Guthrie performs “Alice’s Restaurant” at the Guthrie Center in Great Barrington in this file photo from Nov. 23, 2015. The performance was part of a tour celebrating the 50th anniversary of the song. This year, Guthrie is celebrating the 50th anniversary of the movie of the same name. Berkshire Eagle File Photo

UpCountryOnline.com | 37


‘ALICE’S RESTAURANT MASSACREE’

A song, turned movie, lives on as anti-war anthem By Heather Bellow STOCKBRIDGE, Mass.

The police chief sure taught those two teens a lesson. He arrested them for litterin’, threw them in a cell, fined them, and made them haul the trash up the hill after heavy rain. “Police Chief William J. Obanhein of Stockbridge said later the youths found dragging the junk up the hillside much harder than throwing it down,” The Berkshire Eagle reported in an article about the 1965 Thanksgiving Day arrest. “He said he hoped their case would be an example to others who are careless about disposal of rubbish.” One of those teens was an 18-year-old Arlo Guthrie, who had attended the nearby Stockbridge School. And the world would soon hear about how “Chief Obie,” as he was known, unwittingly set himself up as a different kind of example — a small-town version of the institutional mentality that orders the absurdities of war. It was all in the song, “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.” When Guthrie was later drafted for the Vietnam War, it was the littering charge that would make Guthrie “morally unfit,” he tells us in “Alice’s Restaurant Massacree.” He also says that he had tried other strategies to dodge the draft, like appearing murderous at his exam with the psychiatrist — “Shrink, I want to kill! I

want to kill!” — and making sure he was hung over. The ironies detailed in Guthrie’s musical monologue went far. Officer Obie’s finger wagging didn’t have as much mileage as Guthrie’s satire, which was also turned into a film starring him, directed by Arthur Penn. That movie celebrated its 50th anniversary in August. And now, Guthrie’s tradition of Thanksgiving music begins again. He’ll be playing at the Mahaiwe Center for the Performing Arts on Nov. 23, then at his annual Carnegie Hall concert Nov. 30 in New York City — his last. And the Guthrie Center in Housatonic, in the former Trinity Church where all that trash originated in 1965, will hold its annual community Thanksgiving meal. If only Chief Obanhein had known what he was dealing with. He got his word in with the teens, and with reporters, but the tale lives on as anti-war art in the way of Joseph Heller’s “Catch-22,” or Kurt Vonnegut’s “Slaughterhouse Five.” “Obie said he was gonna put us in a cell He said ‘kid, I’m gonna put you in a cell I want your wallet and your belt’ I said, ‘Obie, I can understand your wantin’ my wallet, so I don’t have any Money to spend in the cell, but what do you want my belt for?’ and he said

38 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | November/December 2019

‘Kid, we don’t want any hangins’ I said, ‘Obie, did you think I was gonna Hang myself for litterin’?’” This conversation allegedly happened in Stockbridge. Norman Rockwell was still alive and living in town. “They got three stop signs, two police officers, and one police Car, but when we got to the scene of the crime, there was five police Officers and three police cars, bein’ the biggest crime of the last fifty Years and everybody wanted to get in the newspaper story about it And they was usin’ up all kinds of cop equipment that they had hangin’ Around the Police Officer Station.” If that wasn’t enough, Guthrie tried to dodge by getting drunk the night before and telling the draft board psychiatrist he wanted to “kill, kill, kill,” but they told him to get a “moral waiver” because of the littering charge. It was in Lee District Court that Guthrie and his friend Richard Robbins pleaded guilty and each paid a $25 fine. They had tried to take it to the Great Barrington dump but found it closed on Thanksgiving Day. We know the rest.

But it wasn’t just holiday garbage, as it turned out. The trash had been accumulating in the former Trinity Church — it’s now The Guthrie Center — then owned by Alice and Ray Brock. That is Alice of “Alice’s Restaurant,” which was in Stockbridge. The couple had been host to beatniks like Guthrie, who had helped pack the trash into a red Volkswagen bus. “The junk included a divan, plus nearly enough bottles, garbage, papers and boxes to fill their Volkswagen bus,” The Eagle reported, noting that it was dumped into the Nelson Foote Sr. property on Prospect Street. “Chief Obanhein told the court he spent a ‘very disagreeable two hours’ looking through the rubbish before finding a clue to who had thrown it there.” It was a scrap of paper that police traced back to the church, Guthrie and Robbins. The legend lives on. In July, someone dumped a pile of refuse in and around the Guthrie Center’s dumpster while a renovation to the building was underway. There was even a couch with weeds growing between the cushions. A sign attached to it said: “Officer Obie made me do it!” •


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Putney Mountain Winery: 8 Bellows Fall Road, Putney, Vt. 802387-5925. putneymountainwinery.com

Nejaime’s Classic Gift Basket Everyone loves a gift from Nejaime’s! Our festive collection of beautiful and impressive specialty gifts are perfect for every season and occasion. Ready-made or customized, available with ORGANIC wines! Giving a wine and food basket to clients, family and friends has never been easier – check out what’s NEW! Delivery and shipping available. • 10 unique designs, $30-$150.

Nejaime’s Wine Cellars: 60 Main St., Lenox, Mass. 413-637-2221. 3 Elm St., Stockbridge, Mass. 413-298-3454 • nejaimeswine.com

Crown Jewelers Inc.: 5 Cheshire Road, Ste. 21, Pittsfield, Mass. 413-442-9073. crownjewelersinc.net

Tasty Treats Spirited Wine & Food Elegant Gift Baskets Choose from a wide array of elegant gift baskets bursting with fine wines and gourmet goodies! Ready to go or custom-made for you with delivery and shipping available, these baskets are the perfect way to give special gifts they’ll remember for years to come! • Prices start at $40. SPIRITED: 444 Pittsfield Road, Lenox, Mass. 413-448-2274. spirited-wines.com

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Gifts for the Home Fred Swan Prints In addition to framed prints by artist Fred Swan, we carry Eden’s Angels and Forever in Blue Jeans collectibles. Browse our selection of gift and home décor items, educational toys, Vermont maple products, and the largest selection of art and drafting supplies in the state of Vermont. We have thousands of items in stock or shop online. Open seven days a week. Pictured: “Evening Glow” by Fred Swan. • $ 159.99 Jay’s Art Shop & Frame Gallery: Rte. 7, South Street, Bennington, Vt. 802-447-2342. jaysartshop.com

Garden Terrarium Kit Give a Green Garden – in a terrarium that is. This terrarium kit will get their green thumb off to a good start. Kit includes glass terrarium and cover, necessary soil layers, and decorative accents plus building and care instructions. Additional Terrarium plants are available at Ward’s. Many terrarium styles include kits from $34.99 to $79.99. Ward’s Nursery, Garden Center & Christmas Shop: 600 Main St., Great Barrington, Mass. 413-528-0166. wardsnursery.com

Homegoods Trillium Home and Garden offers goods that are practical, useful, functional, well-designed and beautiful. Trillium: 119 Main St., Brattelboro, Vt. 802-490-2030

Hand-held Leaf Blower This 36-volt lithium ion leaf blower comes with charger and four batteries. • $349.99 HD Reynolds: 52 Church St., Cheshire, Mass. 413-743-9512. reynoldslawnmower.com

Whitney’s Gift Card Gift Card includes a card with plantable flower seeds on it. Whitney’s Farm Market: Rte. 8, Cheshire, Mass. 413-442-4749. whitneysfarm.com

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Fine Apparel Anai Haie Jewelry Trendy jewelry at affordable prices. A beautiful selection of refined sterling silver pieces that are perfectly designed to be layered, stacked and worn on their own. • Starting at $29

Harry Otter Socks Unisex casual dress cotton crew sock! The otterific boy wonder, opens clams with a swish of his stick. Typically fits men 4-12 and women 6-14. • $16

Crown Jewelers Inc.: 5 Cheshire Road, Ste. 21, Pittsfield, Mass. 413-442-9073. crownjewelersinc.net

Newport Sock Exchange: 468 Thames St., Newport, R.I. 27 Coogan Blvd., Mystic, Conn. 401-437-4400. newportsockexchange.com

Multi Color Blue Leather Handbag Leather handbag in bright fashion colors. Choose from a wide range of available accessories, including wallets and eyeglass cases. • $90. Museum Facsimiles Outlet Store: 31 South St., Pittsfield, Mass. 413-499-1818. museumoutlets.com

Alasham CottonCashmere Pullover Cashmere Topper Soft and comfortable Cashmere Topper/Ponchos are great for keeping you warm without adding any weight. Pop it over your outfit to add a splash of color. Wear it outside for an extra layer of warmth. Comes in 10 colors! • Regular price: $159.95. On sale for $119.95. Purple Plume: 35 Church St., Lenox, Mass. 413-637-3442

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Cotton-cashmere quarter zip pullover with 100% cotton wrinklefree sport shirt and cap toe cognac shoes from Florsheim. • Pullover: $99.50. Outfit: $325. Steven Valenti’s Clothing: 157 North St., Pittsfield, Mass. 413-443-2569. stevenvalenticlothing.com

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Blown Glass Ornaments Blown glass ornaments, hand-blown in studio. • $25-48 Cheshire Glassworks: 24 South St., Cheshire, Mass. 413-743-7828. cheshireglassworks.com

Stylish Spiral Engagment Ring by Sylvie This dazzling spiral engagement ring features a 1 carat round brilliant diamond atop a spiral shank with diamonds cascading halfway down. • Mounting starts at $1595 Crown Jewelers Inc.: 5 Cheshire Road, Ste. 21, Pittsfield, Mass. 413-442-9073. crownjewelersinc.net

14k Estate Jewelry Rings and more with semi precious stones, emeralds, sapphires, peridots, agates, tanzanite, citrine, and diamonds. • $50-$9000. Berkshire Hills Coins and Estate Jewelry, Inc: 222 Elm St., Pittsfield, Mass. 413-499-1400 berkshirehillscoin.com

All That Glitters

Ed Levin Signature Bracelet The iconic Signature bracelet by E.L. Designs - Ed Levin Jewelry. Available for women and men. Mark special family moments and important events with a gift of this bracelet. Available in sterling silver, gold, or sterling silver with gold wraps. Unique expandable design allows for easy on-off and is available in different sizes for a perfect fit. • $264 Hawkins House: 262 North St., Bennington, Vt. 802-447-0488. hawkinshouse.net

“Time” Hourglasses Classic objects with a contemporary twist, like these Time hourglasses by HAY, are part of a carefully curated selection of objects offered at the Williams College Museum of Art Shop. • Large/30 min. in yellow, $30; Medium/15 min. in pink, $18; Small/3 min. in black, $15. Williams College Museum of Art Shop: 76 Spring St., Williamstown, Mass. 413-597-3233. wcma.williams.edu

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Holiday Trappings Santa This striking Santa figurine is one of several available at Christmas Days, located on Route 7A between Manchester and Arlington, Vt. Celebrating its 50th anniversary season under continuous family ownership and management, Christmas Days offers a wide variety of decorative and gift items certain to brighten your holiday season. Whether it’s an ornament for your tree, a tabletop figurine, a nativity set, a Christmas village, a Nutcracker or a waterglobe - just to name a few - Christmas Days has something you are likely to want. Stop by or visit online at xmasdays.com, or call 802-362-2516. • $64 Christmas Days: 6279 Vt. Rte. 7A, Arlington, Vt. 802-362-2516. xmasdays.com

Norman Rockwell’s “Home for Christmas” (Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas) Print Norman Rockwell’s painting, done for McCall’s December 1967, has come to symbolize Christmas in America. Rockwell takes you on a Christmas Eve walk along Stockbridge’s main street, past the public library, the antiques and gift shops, the old town office, Rockwell’s own studio and to the rambling Victorian hotel. McCall’s reached out to its national audience by adding, “Wherever you happen to hail from-city, suburb, farm or ranch-we hope you will have, for a moment, the feeling of coming home for Christmas.” The Museum is the only source where every purchase directly supports the legacy of Norman Rockwell. • $35-170 Norman Rockwell Museum: 9 Glendale Road, Rte. 183, Stockbridge, Mass. 413-931-2239. nrm.org

Hand Puppets Assorted Folkmanis puppets — so real looking, you’d swear they move by themselves! Choose your favorite animal: dog, bunny, lizard, the backyard animals shown here and lots more. • Bobcat: $10.50, barn owl or moose: $46. Other styles: $7.50-$65

“The Night Before Christmas” Grandma Moses Notecard Collection This beautifully packaged set of 24 cards is inspired by Grandma Moses’ paintings commissioned for her only illustrated book titled “The Night Before Christmas.” Featuring four different scenes originally painted in 1960, this is the first time these images have been published apart from the book. All cards are blank so you can personalize each message to family and friends or give the set as a wonderful holiday gift. Order online at store. benningtonmuseum.org • $24.95

Bennington Museum: 75 Main St., Bennington, Vt. 802-447-1571. benningtonmuseum.org Anna Mary Robertson “Grandma” Moses (1860-1961) An Authorized GRANDMA MOSES™ Product © 2019 Grandma Moses Properties, Co, N.Y. Published Exclusively by Bennington Museum, Bennington, Vermont

The Gifted Child: 72 Church St., Lenox, Mass. 413-637-1191. thegiftedchild.net

O Tannenbaum Series by Michel Design Works A luxurious collection of foaming hand soaps, large bath soap bars, kitchen towels, and home fragrance diffusers. The O Tannenbaum collection boasts a lovely fragrance comprised of dry amber notes, toffee, and moss. Unforgettable and unique items for everyone on your Christmas list. The Gift Garden: 431 Main St., Bennington, Vt. 802-4477222. thegiftgardenvt.com

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Santa’s Land, U.S.A: A ‘New England tradition’ since 1957 Southern Vermont’s North Pole a nostalgic step back to simpler times

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Santa’s Land, U.S.A. has been called a “time capsule of far more innocent days.” Photos by Kevin O’Connor

By Kevin O’Connor PUTNEY, Vt.

Log on to the website for Santa’s Land in the Vermont town of Putney and it might seem that Saint Nick has replaced his elves with computer engineers. But meander 4 miles off Interstate 91’s Exit 4 to the Christmas-themed amusement park and you’ll find comfort and joy in what hasn’t changed. When the self-described “New England tradition” opened in 1957, the property offered fair-weather visitors the opportunity to step into a wintry forest seeded with picnic tables, playground swings and clapboard cottages blanketed in Styrofoam snow. “The project is designed to appeal to children and their UpCountryOnline.com | 51


David Haversat, who purchased the park in 2017, has restored much of the original 1950s architecture. BELOW: a child visits with Santa Claus. Photos by Kevin O’Connor

elders alike,” the local newspaper reported of the 40-acre site promising homegrown products, such as maple syrup, and an on-site post office with its own cancellation, “Santa’s Land, U.S.A.” Now sitting in the shadows of national attractions packed with thrill rides and namebrand characters, the property might seem quaint. But no pizzazz is no problem for adults who first visited as children. “We’ve been coming for years,” said one mother escorting three generations of family. “It’s relaxing.” That’s because as the outside world keeps shifting, the memories inside do not. Walk under the canopy of towering trees and you still can smell the evergreens. Hear the whistle of the miniature train. See the same tracks circled by the same 52 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE | November/December 2019


No pizzazz is no problem for parents who first visited the park as children. Photos by Kevin O’Connor

plywood candy canes. The fact that it all seems smaller and simpler only adds to its stature. Big was the hope back when New Jersey native Jack Poppele founded the park six decades ago. The local paper reported news of his plans next to a photo of Vermont officials viewing blueprints of the state’s first stretch of interstate highway that promised to cut travel time and cultivate tourism. Santa’s Land flourished under Poppele and the succeeding Brewer family, which operated the property from 1970 to 1998. But the turn of the current millennium brought a series of unexpected challenges. In 2003, an outsider proposed turning the pine-covered property into a $6 million “Silverado” cowboy attraction complete with a Wild West saloon,

staged high-noon shootouts and live buffalo. Skeptical neighbors in Putney, population 2,621, noted the prospective buyer had yet to file permit paperwork and, after a bar fight, faced court charges. But they could see the need for renovations, be it through the peeling paint or persnickety petting zoo animals. Visitors soon offered warnings on travel websites: “In Southern Vermont, where most folks’ thoughts turn to when recalling those Currier & Ives Christmas card images, how could this have happened?” The park, facing rising expenses and reduced attendance, has changed hands several times. Take the woman who purchased it in 2013. “It was maternal instinct,” she explained. “I couldn’t see capitalism destroying family UpCountryOnline.com | 53


Animatronic elves greet guests as they enter Santa’s Land. Brattleboro Reformer File Photo

“Sometimes people don’t spend as much time together as a family. This is something that may remind you of the past. An iPad or an app will never take that place.” — David Haversat, owner, Santa’s Land U.S.A.

tradition and family values.” A year later, she was in court, after running out of money to care for the animals. Santa’s Land shut in 2014.

But the Christmas season is known for miracles. Enter Connecticut magician David Haversat, a childhood fan who bought the site in 2017.

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“Considering its condition, the park could easily have been wiped away by a purchaser hoping to redevelop the large property,” the Preservation Trust of Vermont noted. Instead, Haversat has restored much of the original 1950s architecture and artifacts, as well as added a historic 32-horse carousel from Coney Island’s Astroland. “To many who have loved the place over the decades, the reopening was a thrill only matched by the delight of children seeing it for the first time,” the trust said in granting the new owner a preservation award. Santa’s Land is open Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. until Christmas, with more information available at

santaslandusa.com or on its Facebook page. “A time capsule of far more innocent days,” the Vermont weekly paper Seven Days has opined of the park. “A delightfully kitschy time was had by all.” Haversat, for his part, hopes the storybook ending is only the beginning. “The internet has changed a lot of things,” he told the press upon purchasing the property. “Sometimes people don’t spend as much time together as a family. This is something that may remind you of the past. An iPad or an app will never take that place.” Santa’s Land in the Vermont town of Putney has welcomed visitors since its opening in 1957. •


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A glass ornament resembling a stick of butter commemorates a comical Christmas moment for the McKeever family. Photo by Anne Archer PREVIOUS PAGE: photo by Anne Archer

By Anne Archer SUNDERLAND, Vt.

With a smile that defines joy, Linda McKeever recalls the wintry day when her daughter, Megan, then 2 years old, was standing in the hallway of their house with an open stick of butter in her hand. “Megan, are you eating butter?” Linda asked. The girl looked at her mom while she inserted her finger into the butter. Megan then placed her finger, equipped with a smear of gold-

en goodness, into her mouth and said, “no.” This comical memory — it’s replayed every Christmas via digitized video — is commemorated by a glass ornament resembling a genuine stick of butter. A decoration like this might sound untraditional, but for Linda and Andrew McKeever, owners of Christmas Days since 1987, it’s the perfect addition to the family tree. Christmas Days has specialized in glass ornaments since Linda’s parents, Vi and

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Bill Day, opened the store in July 1969. Today, with ornaments like Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Wonder Bread, dreidels, slabs of bacon, unicorns (popular this year, along with sloths) and squishy cupcakes, the yearround Christmas store has developed a reputation for being the place to go for those hardto-find curios. “Just yesterday a woman walked in looking for a passport ornament,” Linda said with a chuckle. “I showed her the two different types we have.”

Linda’s passion for handpicking unique items has her walking through 12 floors full of Christmas decorations, plus “a ton of showrooms” every January. Her attention to detail and eye for the wacky, along with her classic interior decorating instincts, are what make visiting Christmas Days, at any time of the year, a spectacle. Upon entering the store, you are transported to Christmas, whether it’s a sweltering July day and you’re looking for a vacation souvenir or it’s


a colorful September day and you’re ready to start some serious Christmas shopping. Around ever y corner, themed trees — some are covered in felt animals, some in landmarks from around the world, others in traditional baubles — stand tall like fashion models as they wait to be admired. Plump Santas from all origins — Jolly Old Saint Nick, Kris Kringle, Father Christmas — bake cookies, check naughty and nice lists, deliver elf-wrapped gifts and sleep in hammocks in undisclosed tropical locations. A wall of Byers Choice Christmas carolers are dressed for winter with hand-knitted scarves wrapped tightly around their necks and bonnets tied underneath chins. Their charm and ability to conjure up a simpler time leaves the biggest bah humbug wishing he could shrink to the singer’s size and join them in a hearty round of “Deck the Halls.” While the store is filled with almost everything imaginable that’s related to Christmas (and a few things not so traditionally Christmas, like a Willie Nelson or Dolly Parton tree ornament), it isn’t just the merchandise and displays that have kept this family-owned business open for 50 years. “The magic of retail is having people discover,” Linda said. “I want people to have an emotional, tactile, ‘memories of Christmas’ shopping experience when they walk into the store.” Linda glows like a bubble light when she talks about her customers. Over the years, she has enjoyed hearing stories of holiday traditions and childhood memories; memories that include trips to Christmas Days to meet the “real Santa” and to pick out an ornament. Now, these children of Christmases past are bringing their children to the store. Playing hostess to multiple generations is a role Linda takes seriously. “I like to have something for everyone,” she said. And

LEFT: Christie Palmer, of Pownal, Vt., looks at some Christmas ornaments at Christmas Days Gift shop in Sunderland. Bennington Banner File Photo BELOW: A wall of festive trimmings. Photo by Anne Archer

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IF YOU GO ...

Christmas Days 6279 Vermont Route 7A Sunderland, Vt. 802-362-2516, xmasdays.com Hours: 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. daily Open: 11 months of the year; closed mid-January to mid-February

ABOVE: The exterior of Christmas Days is decorated for the holidays all year long. RIGHT: Ellen Hains packages a purchase. Photos by Anne Archer

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this includes decorating advice, like how to properly light a Christmas tree. “You start from the trunk of the tree and go up and down each branch, looping as you go along,” says Linda. “And, I always tell people; ‘don’t skimp on the lights.’ “ If you follow Linda’s technique, your tree becomes 3D and each ornament appears to have a spotlight shining down on it. Just walk around the store and you’ll notice how the lights, skillfully wrapped around each limb, create a sparkle like a star in a midnight sky. Linda’s decorating advice is only the beginning of a long practice of customer service for this family-owned business. From a colorful selection of silk, satin or burlap ribbon in a variety of prints, Linda ties bows of all sizes for all things. You buy the ribbon; she does the tying at no extra charge. And, with a hand like a steady surgeon, she personalizes your purchases that are soon to be lifelong memories. With a store like Christmas Days, there’s no reason for Christmas to sneak up on you like a stealthy elf. You have all year to find the perfect ornament — either for you, family or friends. Maybe that perfect ornament is a stack of pancakes or a knitted monkey wearing a ski hat. Or maybe it’s a stick of butter. Christmas Days has it all. •


Winterlights shines bright with holiday spirit (and 240,000 twinkle lights)

Walk through a twinkling wonderland at Naumkeag By Jennifer Huberdeau

STOCKBRIDGE, Mass.

Winterlights is back, and it’s bigger and better than ever. The popular holiday lights show returns to Naumkeag, the 44room Gilded Age mansion and garden estate of three generations of the Choate family, for its second year starting Nov. 21, with new displays and a new garden “room” decked out in lights. And this year, Winterlights at Naumkeag is doubling down on the number of lights it will have on display. There will be nearly 240,000 LED lights shimmering and twinkling over its 8 acres of terraced gardens — double the 120,000 that Winterlights debuted with last November.

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“The big new addition this year will be the Chinese Garden,” said Brian Cruey, general manager at Naumkeag and director of The Trustees of Reservations’ properties in the Southern Berkshires. “We’re refining a few things and adding a couple of new things here and there. It will feel like a totally new experience, even if you came last year. “And we’ll still have some of last year’s favorites — the Rainbow Road, the Candy Cane steps and as many cider doughnuts as you can eat.” Designed by renowned landscape architect Fletcher Steele and Mabel Choate, Naumkeag’s garden is made up of several smaller garden “rooms,” including the Peony Terrace, the Linden Walk and Ronde Pointe, as well as the Afternoon, Rose, Evergreen and Chinese gardens. Naumkeag is one of three Trustees properties to host Winterlights this holiday season. The holiday light show also returns to Stevens-Coolidge Place in North Andover, Mass., for a second season as well. A third garden property, the Eleanor Cabot Bradley Estate in Canton, Mass., will debut its own version of Winterlights this month. “We had about 22,000 people come through last year,” Cruey said of Winterlights’ success at Naumkeag during the 2018 season. “We were all completely overwhelmed, in a good way. It was wonderful to see everyone’s reactions to Winterlights, and it’s really

PAGE 64: Naumkeag’s Linden Walk will be transformed into “Rainbow Road” for Winterlights. “Rainbow Road” is one of several popular displays returning to the holiday light festival at the historic estate and gardens. LEFT: Naumkeag’s iconic Blue Steps are decorated for the Winterlights festival. Berkshire Eagle File Photos

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amped us up for this year.” During the 2018 show, Naumkeag’s gardens were washed with colors — reds, greens, yellows, blues and purples; while fountains, dormant in cold weather, were made to shoot frozen blue spouts of colored lights into the air. Cruey said visitors can expect that and more this season. “Last year was great. We were so thrilled [with the turnout],” he said. “When you go into these things, you don’t know what it’s going to be like in your first year. It’s hard to gauge. It was great that people responded the way they did, and I hope they feel the same

way about it and some of the other new things we’re doing this year.” There’s always room to improve, Cruey said, noting that returning visitors should notice a stark difference when it comes to the property’s entry and exit points, especially at the off-site parking lot at the Marian Fathers National Shrine of Divine Mercy. “We learned a lot of lessons last year. We’re working on logistical issues, on a much more elaborate time-ticketing system with a better bus and transportation system to and from [off-site parking at] the Marian Fathers,” he said. “We

know that everyone had a great experience once they got to the property. From a customer service standpoint, we want our guests to have a great visitor experience the entire time they are with us.” One thing that won’t change is Naumkeag’s focus on community. “We’re going to continue some of our community nights for service members, teachers/ educators, first responders, and a few other groups,” Cruey said. “We’ll also be donating blocks of tickets to CHP, Berkshire United Way and the Berkshire Literacy Network. We’re committed to welcoming the

community in a meaningful way and introducing people to Naumkeag.” A highlight of hosting events that extend out the property’s normal season, he said, is bringing in local residents from the Berkshires and neighboring counties who never have been there before. “And we’ve seen many of those people come back for our other programming or just for a tour,” Cruey said. “Not only are we introducing them to the property, we have people coming back to visit as a result of coming to Winterlights. It’s nice to have that support continue throughout the year.” •

The Evergreen Garden is decorated for Winterlights. Each “garden room” is distinct in decoration and connected to each other for visitors to admire. The nearby Chinese Garden joins the festivities this year. Berkshire Eagle File Photo

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The Afternoon Garden at Naumkeag is decorated with poinsettia-shaped lights. Berkshire Eagle File Photo

IF YOU GO ...

Winterlights at Naumkeag Where: 5 Prospect Hill Road, Stockbridge, Mass. When: 5 to 8 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays, Nov. 21 to Dec. 31 (Members-only Preview Days on Nov. 21 and Nov. 22. Closed Thanksgiving Day.) Also open Dec. 23, Dec. 30 and Dec. 31. Check The Trustees of Reservations’ website for information on community nights and other festivities. Admission: Preregistration required. $12 for Trustees members; $17 for nonmembers; free for children 12 and younger. Tickets: Online at thetrustees.org/things-to-do/ special-events/winterlights-tickets-naumkeag.html Information: thetrustees.org/things-to-do/ special-events/winter-lights.html

Parking: Due to the high number of participants expected, parking will be off-site at the Marian Fathers National Shrine of Divine Mercy. A shuttle will take you from the parking area to Naumkeag. Use the entrance at the end of Pine Street (GPS Coordinates 42.291684, -73.308797). The first shuttle will leave promptly at 5 p.m. and the last shuttle returning to the parking area will leave Naumkeag at 8:30 p.m. Cancellations: Winterlights will only be canceled if a snow emergency is declared. Cancellations will be announced on Naumkeag’s Facebook page. Tickets for a canceled night will be redeemed on any other date.

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Celebrate the season at these winter festivals Festival of Trees 2019: Heroes Berkshire Museum Pittsfield, Mass. Nov. 16- Jan. 5

TOP: Santa hugs an excited passenger aboard the Santa Express in Bellows Falls. Bennington Banner File Photo ABOVE: The Berkshire Museum’s Festival of Trees. Berkshire Eagle File Photo

Who inspires you? Festival of Trees 2019: Heroes celebrates those who motivate us to reach great heights, attempt the impossible and change the world. This year, more than 100 dazzling holiday displays, designed and decorated by local businesses, schools

and organizations, will honor heroes of every type, from the action-packed caped crusaders of the silver screen to the everyday heroes in our community. Annual Festive Preview Party takes place 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Nov. 15. As a special treat, Festival of Trees After Dark, held from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturdays, allows visitors to explore a twinkling holiday forest, created when the galleries are only lit by the lights on the trees. Information: berkshiremuseum.org

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No one celebrates the holidays quite like Manchester. The festivities kick off Thanksgiving weekend and continue for six weeks of festive events and activities. Annual favorites include the Historic Inn Christmas Tour on Dec. 7 and 14, the Lighted Tractor Parade on Dec. 7 and the Elf Express train ride on Dec. 21 and 22. Other activities include a holiday artisan market, concerts, pop-up shops and more. Information: manchestervermont.com

Bellows Falls Santa Express Bellows Falls Union Station Bellows Falls, Vt. Nov. 24

Take a magical train ride with Santa Claus, the Grinch and caroling elves to the North Pole and back aboard the Santa Express (the historic Green Mountain Flyer). The train departs from Bellows Falls Union Station on Nov. 24 at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. The entire ride lasts about two hours and 45 minutes, about an hour each way, with a 30- to 45-minute stop at the North Pole (Chester Station). Tickets, available online or at Village Square Booksellers and Phoenix Books Misty Valley, are $25 for ages 13 and older; $20 for children ages 2 to 12; and free for younger than 2 (seated on an adult’s lap). Information: sustainablevalleygroup.org

Manchester Merriment Manchester, Vt. Nov. 30 - Jan. 1

Holiday Train Rides

Berkshire Scenic Railway Adams, Mass. Nov. 29-Dec. 22 Celebrate the holidays with the Berkshire Scenic Railway’s Hoosac Valley Train Ride. The service, which runs between Adams and North Adams, offers two special train rides during the holidays. Its family-friendly Tinseliner Train Rides are a 1950s Christmas-style train ride with a visit from Santa Claus. The trip includes a layover at the PopCares Tree Lot, where riders can pick out a tree for pickup later. The train has multiple departure times on the weekends of Nov. 29-Dec. 1, Dec. 7-8, Dec. 14-15 and Dec. 21-22. The adults-only Mistletoe & Martini Holiday Cabaret Train, departing at 6:30 p.m. Nov. 30 and Dec. 14, features live holiday music by Ron Ramsay and Samantha Talora. The cabaret trains are BYOB beverages and snacks. Tickets can be purchased online. Information: berkshiretrains.org

FROM TOP: The Elf Express. Bennington Banner File Photo Santa Claus greets the passengers aboard the Berkshire Scenic Railway’s Tinseliner Train. Berkshire Eagle File Photo The Reindog Parade is an annual highlight of the Williamstown Holiday Walk. Berkshire Eagle File Photo

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The Manchester Lighted Tractor Parade. Bennington Banner File Photo

30th Stockbridge Main Street at Christmas Stockbridge, Mass. Dec. 6-8 Celebrate Norman Rockwell’s painting of the quintessential New England town at Christmas with this annual favorite that culminates in a recreation of the scene, complete with vintage automobiles. Highlights include holiday readings around the hearth, a children’s singalong, Holiday House tours, caroling, a luminaria walk and a holiday concert. Information: stockbridgechamber.org/ visit/stockbridge-mainstreet-at-christmas

36th Williamstown Holiday Walk Williamstown, Mass. Dec. 6-8 This annual festival has everything: cookie decorating, hot chocolate, visits with Santa Claus, a pancake breakfast,

5-kilometer fun run, Christmas tree showcase, beer garden, Penny Social and Reindog Parade. There’s also reading of “A Christmas Carol,” screening of “Elf,” craft fair, comedy review on the steps of the post office and more. Information: williamstownchamber.com

Hildene Holidays

Hildene, the Lincoln Family Home Manchester, Vt. Dec. 6-Jan. 1 Experience Hildene, the estate of Robert Todd and Mary Lincoln, as guests visiting the couple for the holidays in 1912 would have. The house remains decorated throughout the month, and on weekends, musicians will be on hand to play the Lincolns’ 1908 Aeolian organ and Steinway piano. Information: hildene.org

Winter Wonderland Member Show

Southern Vermont Arts Center Manchester, Vt. Dec. 6-15 In December, the Southern Vermont Arts Center will transform its galleries into a winter wonderland. In the Yester House, winterthemed art from Southern Vermont Arts Center member artists will deck the halls. In addition, a Holiday Market, and a vendor and artisan craft fair, will be held the weekends of Dec. 7-8 and Dec. 14-15. Join SVAC on Dec. 6 for its tree lighting and a Sip n’ Shop event at 5 p.m. Information: svac.org

25th Light Up the Holidays Dalton, Mass. Dec. 7-15 This longtime December tradition celebrates its 25th anniversary. The festivities begin with the 11th Handmade Holiday Festival at the Stationery Factory on Dec. 7-8 and continue throughout the week. On Dec. 14, luminarias will line the

streets as local businesses hold open houses, offer specials and treats, and host musical guests during the Light Up the Holidays Parade. Follow Santa Claus and his elves as they make their way along Depot and Main streets to the Dalton CRA for the tree lighting. Santa also will stop by the Dalton CRA on Dec. 15.

35th Wassail Weekend Woodstock, Vt. Dec. 13-15 For one weekend in December, the entire town of Woodstock transforms into a holiday wonderland. Enjoy breakfast with Santa Claus, tour some of the town’s most historic homes, take in a concert, eat like royalty at the Wassail feast, shop for friends and family at the pop-up markets and take a step back into the 19th century at Billings Farm. And last, but not least, don’t forget to attend the 35th Wassail Parade. Information: woodstockvt. com/events/wassailweekend •

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10 things not to In Southern Vermont... 8th Brattleboro Film Festival Latchis Theatre Brattleboro 802-257-2461, brattleborofilmfestival.org Nov. 1-10 The all-volunteer Brattleboro Film Festival returns to the Latchis Theatre for its eighth year with a slate of independent and award-winning productions that offer viewpoints and characters often unseen in mainstream media. The festivities kick off with a public reception Nov. 1. The festival culminates Nov. 10, with a chance to view the festival favorites. The winning flick will be shown that night, after viewings of the three runners-up. A film schedule is available at brattleborofilmfestival.org.

What’s better than a dining experience timed with the full moon? How about a dinner and a guided hike through the Equinox Reserve? At the Equinox Resort, you can do both. After your guided hike through a portion of the Equinox Preservation Trust’s 900 acres, dine on a seasonal menu at the waterfront Pond Pavilion. Not up for a hike? A car package can be provided. Dinner is $85 per person. Reservations are required.

New England Center for Circus Arts Brattleboro 802-254-9780, necenterforcircusarts.org Nov. 8-9

Full Moon Dinner Series The Equinox Golf Resort and Spa Manchester 802-362-4700, equinoxresort.com Nov. 9 and Dec. 14

Bennington Museum Bennington 802-477-1571, benningtonmuseum.org Dec. 7 and Dec. 14 The Bennington Museum rings in the holiday season with The Festival, a three-part celebration made up of the exhibition, The Gala and a family day. This year, the exhibition will celebrate Robert Frost, with over 30 regional artists creating works of art in response to his poetry. Museum admission is only $3 on Dec. 7 for Family Day and Children’s Shopping Day. (Children who bring a personal care item or nonperishable food item for the Bennington County Coalition for the Homeless will be admitted for free.) Santa and Mrs. Claus will be on hand from 1 to 3 p.m. and craft-making activities will be available throughout the day. A children’s shopping boutique, offering gifts priced from $1 to $15, will be available from 10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.

‘XOXO Moongirl’ / Circus Cabaret

The New England Center for Circus Arts hosts the Almanac Dance Circus Theater’s original show “XOXO Moongirl,” on Nov. 8. According to the show’s description: “Magical realism and true events intersect as solo performer Nicole Burgio navigates her family’s home, plagued with domestic abuse and complicated relationships … This is not a traditional circus or theater performance. This is a new wave of storytelling.” (This production contains themes of domestic abuse and unbreakable hope. Recommended for audiences 14 and older.) On Nov. 9, NECCA hosts a Circus Cabaret featuring guest performers from all over the country. Check the website for times and ticket prices.

The Festival

Photo provided by the Bennington Museum

Hooked on the Holidays American Museum of Fly Fishing Manchester 802-362-3300, amff.org Dec. 7

Join the American Museum of Fly Fishing from 1 to 3 p.m. Dec. 7 for its 11th Hooked on the Holidays gallery program. Celebrate the sport of flyfishing, an important Manchester pastime since the 19th century. This family-friendly event includes tying clown flies, decorating cookies, making holiday cards, coloring fly ornaments and more. Refreshments will be served.

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The Gala, from 7 to 10 p.m. Dec. 14, the museum’s biggest annual fundraiser, celebrates the works of Frost written during his time in Vermont from 1920 to 1938. The evening features holiday fare by Chef’s Consortium, a cash bar with themed cocktails, seasonal music by the Mount Anthony Union Chamber Singer, and the gypsy jazz of Hot Club of Saratoga. Tickets are $100 per person ($85 if purchased by Nov. 16) with Young Poets Society pricing — $1 per year of age, through the age of 35. Tickets can be purchased online or by calling the museum.


miss this winter In the Berkshires... The New Pornographers Mass MoCA North Adams 413-662-2111, massmoca.org Nov. 14 Canadian indie-rock supergroup The New Pornographers stops by the Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art for a standingroom-only performance in the Hunter Center. The concert is just one stop on the group’s whirlwind tour for its latest album, “In The Morse Code Of Brake Lights.” Tickets are $35 in advance, $45 day of and $65 for preferred seating.

Arlo Guthrie: 50th anniversary of ‘Alice’s Restaurant’ Mahaiwe Performing Arts Center Great Barrington 413-528-0100, mahaiwe.org Nov. 23

Celebrate the 50th anniversary of the movie “Alice’s Restaurant” with Arlo Guthrie. Guthrie will be joined onstage by longtime collaborators Terry “A La Berry” Hal, Steve Ide and Carol Ide. His daughter, singer/ songwriter Sarah Lee Guthrie, opens. Tickets are $29-$79

‘The Nutcracker’

Albany Berkshire Ballet Pittsfield 413-445-5382, albanyberkshireballet.org Dec. 7-8 Albany Berkshire Ballet celebrates its 45th production of “The Nutcracker” with four performances at Barrington Stage Company. Performances are at 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. Dec. 7, and at 1:30 and 6 p.m. Dec. 8. Performances also will take place in Springfield, as well as in Albany, N.Y., and Burlington, Vt.

The Red Lion Inn Collections Tour

The Red Lion Inn Stockbridge 413-298-5545, redlioninn.com Dec. 7 and 14 Curious to know the history of the curios, paintings and more that fill the shelves, walls and corners of The Red Lion Inn? Take an hourlong, behind-the-scenes look at Norman Rockwell’s early works, furniture original to the inn, Gloria Swanson’s shoes and the rest of the collectibles on display. The free tour, which typically takes place every Saturday at 11 a.m., meets in the inn’s lobby.

Sugar Plum Fairy Tea Party

The Clark Art Institute Williamstown 413-458-2303, clarkart.edu Dec. 15 Enjoy an afternoon of Nutcracker fun! Start with a magical tea party with

Shoes once belonging to Gloria Swanson are on display at the Red Lion Inn in Stockbridge. Berkshire Eagle File Photo

the Sugar Plum Fairy and stay for an encore broadcast of the Bolshoi Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker.” The tea party will feature savory sandwiches and a selection of sweet treats, as well as hot chocolate, tea or coffee. The tea party runs from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., followed by the broadcast in the auditorium. Tickets for the tea party and the broadcast are available separately or at a combined price. Tea party tickets are $25 for adults; $16 for children. “The Nutcracker” broadcast tickets are $18 for adults; $11 for children. Tickets for both events, combined, are $38 for adults and $23 for children. Make your reservations by Dec. 10.

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UpCountry Magazine’s

Christmas Tree Directory Where to find the perfect Christmas Tree in the Berkshires and Southern Vermont. Wards Nursery & Garden Center 600 Main St., Great Barrington, Mass.

Ward’s Nursery & Garden Center offers beautiful live Christmas trees as well as an extensive selection of decorations and festive trimmings to go with it. When you get your tree from Ward’s, the staff give it a fresh bottom cut, trim the trunk, net the tree for easy transport, and even load it up and tie it to your car. Open Daily, 8 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. Holiday hours: Closed Thanksgiving, Nov. 28. Christmas Eve: 8 a.m. - 4 p.m.; Closed Christmas Day. Dec. 26th: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m. wardsnursery.com • 413-528-0166

Mattison’s Christmas Tree Farm 551 Rod and Gun Road, Shaftsbury, Vt.

Mattison’s Tree Farm has thousands of trees to choose from. Family owned and operated for over 30 years, you’re certain to find the perfect tree at Mattison’s. Choose a pre-cut tree or cut your own. They have table-top trees, 9-foot trees, and every size in between. No matter the size or shape you choose, every tree is the same low price - $45.00! Give them a call; they offer wholesale too! Open 9 a.m. until dark, seven days a week. mattisons-christmas-tree-farm.business.site • 802-379-4219

Holiday Brook Farm

100 Holiday Cottage Road, Dalton, Mass. Holiday Brook Farm is a fourth generation farm nestled in the beautiful Berkshire hills of Western Massachusetts. They proudly offer fresh, locally-grown Christmas trees each year, along with grass-fed beef and lamb, pastured pork, organic vegetables, eggs, maple products, hay, compost, firewood and more. The public is welcome to visit the farm store, meet the animals and just stroll around to enjoy the incredibly beauty of the farm. Open Thursday-Saturday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Thanksgiving-Christmas Eve: Open Sundays, 11 a.m. - 4 p.m. holidaybrookfarm.com • 413-684-0444

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The search for the perfect Christmas tree

Sophal Nhim ties down a Christmas tree for a customer at Holiday Brook Farm in Dalton, Mass. in December 2016. Berkshire Eagle File Photo

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Tips for picking the perfect tree from the National Christmas Tree Association Source: realchristmastrees.org

Measure your space

Be sure you know what size (height and width) you need before heading to the retail lot. Measure the ceiling height in the room where the tree will be displayed. The trees in the field look small when the sky is the ceiling. Don’t overbuy. Measure the width of the area of the room where the tree will be displayed. Most trees on tree farms are trimmed to an 80 percent taper. So, a tree that’s 10 feet tall will be 8 feet wide at the bottom. A tree that will fit in the room vertically might be entirely too big horizontally.

Think about what type of decorations you will be using

Some species have more open foliage, stiffer branches or longer needles.

Do a branch/needle test for freshness

Run a branch through your enclosed hand — the needles should not come off easily. Bend the outer branches — they should be pliable. If they are brittle and snap easily, the tree is too dry.

Look for other indicators of dryness or deterioration

Indicators might include: excessive needle loss, discolored foliage, musty odor, needle pliability and wrinkled bark. A good rule of-thumb: When in doubt about the freshness of a tree, select another one. If none of the trees on the lot looks fresh, go to another lot.

Safety first

Go to a retail lot that is well-lit and stores trees in a shaded area.

Ask questions about the trees at the lot

Ask the retailer when he/she gets the trees: are they delivered once, at the beginning of the season, or several shipments during the season? Often, a tree obtained soon after its arrival on the retail lot will be very fresh because it was cut recently. Also, ask the retailer which tree type performs best in your climate. Some types will last longer and remain fresher longer than others in different climates. 78 | UPCOUNTRY MAGAZINE


THIS SPREAD, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: A family searches for the perfect Christmas tree at Chanticleer Christmas Tree Farm on Barker Road in Pittsfield, Mass. Berkshire Eagle File Photo Dustin Manix, crew boss at Elysian Hills Tree Farm, in Dummerston, Vt., uses a bone saw to cut down a tree that he is bringing to the tree stand. Brattleboro Reformer File Photo It takes the strength of four to pull a giant blue spruce through the netting machine at West Wind Tree Farm in Cheshire, Mass. in this December 2013 photo. Berkshire Eagle File Photo

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Christmas trees at Holiday Brook Farm in Dalton, Mass. in December 2016.Berkshire Eagle File Photo

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Profile for New England Newspapers, Inc.

UpCountry Magazine, November/December 2019  

Holiday cookie swap recipes and tips from baking experts; Santa’s Land, U.S.A.; Thanksgiving at The Guthrie Center; The new Williams Inn; Wi...

UpCountry Magazine, November/December 2019  

Holiday cookie swap recipes and tips from baking experts; Santa’s Land, U.S.A.; Thanksgiving at The Guthrie Center; The new Williams Inn; Wi...