“And every fair from fair sometime declines.” Except in Vermont. Obviously, the Bard had never been here in September. September in Vermont feels like a reward for good behavior. It’s like a long weekend after a particularly challenging workweek. The harvest is in, the kids are back at school, the air smells of apples. It’s time to celebrate.
Which is exactly what Vermonters do this time of year. Fairs and Festivals crisscross the state. I thought I’d mention a few here, in case you want to make plans.
The Vermont State Fair in Rutland runs through this weekend. This fair dates back to 1846. It’s one of the oldest agricultural state fairs in the country. According to Vermontstatefair.org, “The fair became popular enough that, in 1849, the Rutland Railroad began putting extra cars on their trains to bring people from all over Vermont and Western New York to visit.” This fair is wonderful and very traditional: pig races, pulling contests, agricultural displays and demonstrations, petting zoo, rides. Attending, you’ll feel like a character in something written by E.B. White. Saturday is Bluegrass day and the Demolition Derby!
Small Farms Food Fest at Shelburne Orchards, September 14. This festival is just about the sweetest event in the Champlain Valley. The orchard is a beautiful place right on the Lake; the festival celebrates local farms, local food, and local music. Come hungry.
The Tunbridge World’s Fair, September 17-20. The Tunbridge Fair, started in 1867, is legendary. In the way that the Woodstock Music Festival shapes our concept of an era, The Tunbridge Fair colors our notion of much of Vermont. Once famous for girlie shows (some run by the local sheriff’s department) and unlimited celebratory beverages, this annual fair has more recently cleaned up its act. Today it is known for family-friendly activities such as farming demonstrations, “working antiques displays, horse and ox pulling, horse racing, cattle and horse shows, junior exhibits, floral and 4-H exhibits, contra dancing, gymkhana, and many free shows.” (from the Tunbridge World’s Fair Facebook page). And like Shelburne Orchards, Tunbridge is such a beautiful place, it’s worth the trip regardless of what’s happening in town.
Shelburne Farms Harvest Festival, September 19. Entitled “A celebration of Vermont farms, forest, and future,” the Harvest Festival is as good a reason as any to visit Shelburne Farms. This 3,800-acre lakefront farm “renowned for its innovative practices, hackney horse breeding enterprise, and grand family residence,” is the quintessential agricultural estate designed by landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted, Sr. The harvest festival features traditional craft and agricultural demonstrations, educational exhibits focused on energy and the environment, children’s activities, and of course, food.
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