It may be hard to believe right now but, soon, warm days and cool nights will start the flow of sugar maple sap and it’ll be sugaring time in the Mad River Valley – not only that but Sugaring Festival time!
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Vermont is known for many things – skiing, hiking, beautiful foliage, welcoming inns – but did you know about the state’s burgeoning wine industry? If not, you soon will as their success and fame can only grow – and what better way to get acquainted than with a visit to one or more of the many Vermont wineries?
There’s no stopping the current growth of Vermont’s wineries. Our state’s unique and popular fruit wines have been a regional specialty for decades but the proliferation of Vermont’s fine wines, hard ciders, and meads rival the state’s production of syrup – and that’s saying something!
Some of this success is due to up and coming grape species that work well in Vermont’s shorter growing season. Marquette, Frontenac, and La Crescent grapes thrive in Vermont’s climate and soil to create award-winning wines. Vermont wineries are also some of the only ones in the country producing the sweet and delicious dessert wine made from grapes left on the vine until they freeze: sweet ice wine!
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Have you been reading “Top 10” lists over the last few weeks? If so you will have you see lists of almost everything under the sun, Top 10 Ugliest Cars, Top 10 Best Places to Live, Top 10 Best Companies to Work For, Top 10 Best Universities, and who knows, maybe even a list for the Top 10 Best Top 10 Lists!
Well… here’s our “Top 4” list – Four Great Reasons to come Ski in the Mad River Valley this Winter.
1. Mad River Glen – Mad River Glen – Ski It If You Can. Seriously, don’t miss out on skiing this legendary co-op owned ski area. Ranked by Ski Magazine as one of the most challenging on the east coast of the US, Mad River Glen provides an opportunity for skiers of all levels to ski a variety of trails on natural snow though narrow trails which follow the terrain. Riding the Single Chair, chairlift is an absolute must! Lessons, ski shop and General Stark Pub are hillside amenities. Down hill, telemark, and cross country skiers will love MRG but be warned snowboarders… you will have to look elsewhere for your downhill excitement as no snowboards are allowed.
2. Sugarbush Ski Resort – As one of the largest ski areas in the northeastern US, and with two mountains to choose from, Lincoln Peak and Mount Ellen, snowboarders and skiers alike will enjoy the range of it’s 111 trails from beginner slopes to the more challenging black diamond runs. Sugarbush is locally owned and offers lessons, a variety of places for foodies, ski shop and accommodations.
3. Blueberry Lake Cross-Country Center– Is a cross country skiers’ delight. Designed for the average skiers, outdoor enthusiast can enjoy the classic or skating style of skiing or can snowshoe on the 11 trails which includes 30km of groomed trails. Ski and snowshoe rentals are available as are lessons. Pre-skiing age children can also enjoy the outdoors in the comfort of a pulk which can also be rented. And for dog lovers, your well behaved dog is welcome and please, remember to clean up after your pooch.
4. Olé’s Cross-Country Center – Offering about 40km of groomed trails, lessons, rentals of both skis and snowshoes, a deli and friendly staff, Olé’s beckons to cross-country skiers of all ages to come and enjoy winter. With relatively flat terrain skiers can explore the trails while getting great mountain views and if quiet woodland trails are your choice you’ll find them here too. There are about 15km reserved for snowshoeing only and today’s modern snowshoes are a lot easier to walk in that the old, oversized ‘tennis rackets’ and you don’t need special boots, your regular winter boots fit these snowshoes nicely.
The Mad River Valley offers skiing of all sorts, comfortable B&Bs and slope-side accommodations, friendly folks, great food, beautiful shops, gorgeous mountains, stately trees, as well as wonderful snow, more mountains, more trees, more snow and lots of fresh, crisp mountain air.
Get your mittens and scarf ready and consider this your invitation to visit Vermont, winter in its natural state. Come experience skiing at its best. We’re ready and waiting for you…what are you waiting for?
The movie White Christmas is indeed a classic and a must see Christmas movie in our family and perhaps yours too. The holidays are not complete without a visit, via DVD, to the the Columbia Inn in Pine Tree, Vermont.
Starring Bing Crosby and Danny Kaye as successful broadway producers, and Rosemary Clooney and Vera-Ellen as a sister, singing act, a twist of fate brings the foursome to The Columbia Inn in Pine Tree, in late December. Dreaming of a white Christmas and that “Vermont should be beautiful this time of year, all that snow” the four arrive and find, to their great disappointment, that there is no snow at all. The sisters find, with few registered guests, their singing contract is to be cancelled. Meanwhile, the two men discover that the innkeeper is their former commanding general.
Despite the lack of guests and the challenge of the weather, the four decide to stay and the story develops as a light-hearted romance suitable for family viewing. With songs sung by Crosby and Clooney and beautiful dancing by Vera-Ellen and Kaye, the movie is a good way to spend a winter evening.
While there is no Columbia Inn, there is West Hill House B&B in Warren, Vermont, a place to enjoy a white Christmas and winter in all its glory.
We can predict with some degree of certainty that we will have a white Christmas and we most certainly have a copy of the movie for you to watch!
Skiing at Mad River Glen and Sugarbush will be in full swing with people from around the world enjoying the opportunity to ski some of New England’s best slopes. On the Sugarbush golf course just behind our Handsome Red Barn, is a perfect hill for sledding on one of the Mad River Rocket Sleds created here in Warren. If your pace is slower, there are miles of cross-country skiing at Olé’s and Blueberry Lake only 10 minutes from West Hill House B&B. If skiing isn’t for you, our snowshoes are perfect for exploring around our property or farther afield.
If you’re not an outdoors type or your skiing days are past, there are numerous artisan shops, small stores and coffee shops to visit but that will have to wait for another blog.
If a white Christmas to you means looking at snow through a window, how about curling up in a big chair by the fireplace and losing yourself in a good book, or playing a board game with your special someone.
If you are dreaming of a white Christmas look no further than Vermont in winter. Winter in its natural state!
Farmers markets seem to be on the rise of late and that’s a good thing. Sustainability begins with locally grown and prepared food, as well as other goods, and a farmers market fosters a greater sense of community between growers, artisans, and their clientele – all of whom are likely neighbors!
Not to say that “outside” visitors aren’t welcome to the Waitsfield Farmers Market. On the contrary! A sense of local pride that wants to be shared is part of the farmers market dynamic – and what better way to share said pride than by sending the results of your hard work home with someone from a different town, state, or country?
Farmers markets are a fun and colorful way to buy fresh and locally produced food – or even things like crafts and flowers. It’s also a great way to get to know a community, as farmers markets, by their very nature, provide a very authentic atmosphere.
The Waitsfield Farmers Market is located on the Mad River Green in Waitsfield, Vermont and runs from the middle of May through the middle of October. One of the best farmers markets around, the Waitsfield Farmers Market offers fresh produce, flowers, seedlings, honey, wool, eggs, locally and humanely raised meats, cheeses, maple syrup, vegetables, and many other farm products. There are also Vermont-made fine art and handcrafts, Vermont cider and beer, baked goods, and prepared food. Better yet, every Saturday features a different offering of live entertainment provided by local musicians so you can tap your toe as you shop. There’s even free wifi!
Farm fresh produce and meats, prepared foods ready to be eaten, handmade crafts and local art, live music … all in all, perusing the booths at the Waitsfield Farmers Market is a great way to spend a Saturday morning in Mad River Valley!
Saturdays from 9 to 1pm
mid-May to mid-October
Mad River Green
Mad River Valley Lodging
West Hill House B&B is a strong supporter of farm fresh food, sustainability, and the local, Mad River Valley community. Earlier this year we became involved in the Muddy Boots CSA program because of this commitment to ourselves, our community, and, of course, to YOU, our guest! We’re proud to be able to offer farm-to-tummy produce when we can in our breakfasts and other treats.
Stay at West Hill House B&B for an exceedingly comfortable and guilt-free, certified “Green Hotel” experience – and be sure to visit the Waitsfield Farmers Market for more of what makes the Mad River Valley the special place it is!
As the last few months have demonstrated, the Mad River Valley loves its art – and we’re not done yet! Labor Day weekend sees the arrival of the 44th Annual Mad River Valley Craft Fair: August 30 & 31, 2014.
The 2014 Mad River Valley Craft Fair is 100 of the region’s top artists and artisans displaying and selling their wares in a festival-style atmosphere that continues to attract visitors from all over Vermont and beyond.
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The Green Mountain Stage Race will take place August 29 – September 1, 2014, offering, as always, 4 days of exciting and challenging racing in the mountains of Vermont. We are honored to have had many accomplished cyclists stay at West Hill House B&B for the Green Mountain Race and look forward to the event again this year!
If you are coming into town for the race and need lodging in the Mad River Valley, here are a few perks to staying with us you might consider:
AND: If you are staying with us and finish in the top three in your class on any of the first three stages we will comp your room for that night!
You can register for the race online or by mail to: Green Mountain Stage Race, LLC P.O. Box 1172 Waitsfield VT 05673.
While future Olympians partake in races here, anyone can enjoy the beautiful vistas from our quiet back country roads, perfect for cycling. We can help you with everything you need to get your cycling trip underway. Bikes are available for rent at the Sugarbush Adventure Gear Shop, a few miles down the road, and we can provide you with maps and directions for miles of well-maintained blacktop routes.
If you would like to mountain bike, Sugarbush offers biking on some of their ski routes in the summer months.
And just what is “Plein Air Painting” you ask?
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Held every August in towns around Mad River Valley, the Vermont Festival of the Arts has a simple mission: to support and promote existing Vermont art while also encouraging new art and artists. And by “art” Vermont Festival of the Arts means *all* art – from pottery to painting, culinary arts to music, from the classic to the avant garde.
The Vermont Festival of the Arts is made up of primarily free events and, along with exhibitions, offers workshops, seminars, and demonstrations for all ages, disciplines, and levels of ability. This festival truly does have something for everyone!
Here are just a few of the offerings from this year’s festival:
Leonard Nimoy’s Vincent
Originally performed by Leonard Nimoy himself, Vincent is an intimate, one-man play full of drama, conflict, humor, and beauty adapted from the actual letters between Vincent van Gogh and his brother, Theo.
Beethoven to Bernstein – Two Centuries of Piano Duos
Hear the nationally acclaimed Transcontinental Piano Duo of Elaine Greenfield and Janice Meyer Thompson as they work their way up through the musical decades with truly entertaining and educational, 4-handed piano pieces.
Mosaic Shard Workshop – You Break It You Make It!
A two-day mosaic shard workshop led by the artist in her Waitsfield studio. Learn how to plan, design, and grout ceramic shards for exterior or interior mosaics.
Mural Painting – at the Village Country Creemees
Help transform a blank wall to a spectacular work of public art by adding your efforts to the new valley mural at the Waitsfield Creemee Stand.
Sidewalk Art Show and Sale
View and purchase paintings resulting from the Great Vermont Plein Air Paint-Out! Meet the artists and gain insight into their processes.
And of course much, much more!
August 1st through Labor Day, 2014
For a full schedule of events, locations, tickets, and other details, please visit: valleyartsvt.com.
Vermont Festival of the Arts Lodging
West Hill House B&B in Warren, VT is the perfect choice for your Mad River Valley vacation. With nine individually decorated guest rooms, delicious breakfasts, lush, quiet grounds, and Quaich Single Malt Scotch bar, you’ll feel positively spoiled.
And what is the Waterbury Arts Festival?
This annual festival-cum-block party of the arts in Waterbury is a collection of more than 80 vendors showcasing their fine art plus food, drink, and live entertainment. Last year’s celebration brought in thousands of visitors from all over who took home all manner of one-of-a-kind jewelery, crafts, home furnishings, apparel, and fine art – and this year is looking to be even bigger and better.
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