Attention Foodies: Vermont Cheesemakers Festival

Vermont Cheesemakers Festival
Vermont Cheesemakers Festival
July 20, 2014

Tickets are going fast for the sixth annual Vermont Cheesemakers Festival set for Sunday July 20, 2014 in Shelburne, Vermont.

Vermont is the premier artisanal cheese state, with 44 cow, goat, and sheep cheese makers throughout the state.

The 2014 Cheesmakers Festival will offer cooking demonstrations, cheese-making demonstrations, and tasting seminars.

2014 Vermont Cheesemakers Festival

The Cheesemakers Festival takes place at the historic Shelburne Farms, a scenic 1,400-acre agricultural estate with a working farm and inn, on the shores of Lake Champlain.

The event features:

  • over 40 award-winning cheese makers
  • over 200 products to sample and purchase
  • local wineries, breweries and distilleries & artisan food producers

Festival runs from 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM.

Vermont Cheesemakers Festival
Vermont Cheesemakers Festival

Tickets are available online here, but act quickly because they are already 75 percent sold out.  Tickets cost $50 plus a $3.25 box office surcharge.

Seminars include “Sweet & Stinky,” “Beyond the Curd,” and “A Vertical Tasting.”

The Vermont Cheese Trail

If you can’t make the event, there is a do it yourself tour of the Vermont Cheese Trail, with 12 cheesemakers open to the public.

I’ll be in Ann Arbor that weekend, but this looks like a fun event to keep in mind for the future.

Darn Tough Socks Make My Day

Darn Tough Vermont Socks
Darn Tough Vermont Socks

Experienced travelers know that the key to a pleasant journey is comfortable footwear.

When we were in Vermont last fall, I discovered some great Merino wool socks at a local outfitter — Sam’s in Brattleboro.

Sam’s occupies at least three buildings in downtown Brattleboro, across the street from the Latchis Hotel where we stayed.

It is one of those stores with an endless selection of hats, gloves, coats, boots, sweaters, and of course socks.

The socks — Darn Tough Vermont — are manufactured in the Green Mountain State.

I bought a couple of pairs, and now I am a convert.

There are a variety of styles for men, women, and children:  socks for hiking; socks for skiing; socks for running; and socks for everyday wear.

The socks come in different weights, sizes, lengths, and colors, and they all have an unconditional lifetime guarantee.

If our socks are not the most comfortable, durable and best fitting socks you have ever owned, return them for another pair, or your money back.

Vermont Country Store
Vermont Country Store

These socks are expensive, but sometimes you can find bargains on last year’s styles.  I wear mine around the house, for walking the dog, and when I know I’ll have to take my shoes off  at airport security.

You can purchase the Darn Tough socks directly from the manufacturer.

They are also available from outfitters like REI or on

We found a huge display of Darn Tough Vermont socks at the Vermont Country Store in Rockingham.  This is a really fun store that sells all kinds of old fashioned candies, toiletries, toys, and everything else made in Vermont, from cheese to maple sugar candies, to rugged clothing.  Be sure to check out the upstairs loft for discounted merchandise!

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Vermont to DC — 4,000 Points on Amtrak — Quite the Deal!

Amtrak's VermonterI reeled in a great deal on a round-trip train ticket from Vermont to Washington, DC for the Thanksgiving holiday.

For just 4,000 points, you can travel the entire length of the Northeast corridor on Amtrak — over 500 miles.

I transferred 8,000 Chase Ultimate Rewards points to my Amtrak Guest Rewards account to purchase a round-trip ticket for my daughter.

The points transferred instantaneously!

The retail price of the round-trip ticket on her travel dates is $239.

Points redeemed in this fashion are worth 3 cents apiece.  This is a value proposition!

I earned these points through routine spending on my Chase Freedom credit card.

Amtrak Guest Rewards has a number of blackout dates around popular holidays when award tickets are not offered.  Fortunately, there was no problem with our preferred travel dates.

Amtrak used to run a train to Montreal — “The Montrealer” — but dropped the line when Congress cut back funding.

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Keene Pumpkin Fest a Smashing Success

Pumpkin Festival Keene NH 2013
2013 Pumpkin Festival Keene New Hampshire
Joel Shprentz Photo

The “highlight” of our trip to Vermont last weekend was the Pumpkin Festival in Keene, New Hampshire.

The community was competing to win the Guinness World Record for the largest collection of simultaneously lit Jack-o-Lanterns.

2013 Pumpkin Festival Keene New Hampshire
Joel Shprentz Photo

Thousands of people hauled their carved pumpkins to the town square.

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Planning a Trip to Vermont on Points and Miles

Vermont Academy, Saxton's River, Vermont
Vermont Academy, Saxton’s River, VT
Image by M. McCardle

We are headed up to southern Vermont this weekend for a family get together.

The leaves should be at their peak, and we are looking forward to visiting rural New England.

This is an costly trip for us, so we will try to use points and miles to mitigate the expense.

We are using a Southwest Visa credit card for most of our expenses because we are participating in a holiday promotion to earn bonus points.

The major elements of the trip are:  

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How Do You Like Them Apples!

Apples to iPods

We are looking forward to our trip next month to southern Vermont!  Fall is my favorite season in New England.  The leaves should be spectacular, and if we are lucky, we will be able to go apple picking.

If we are really lucky, we may even pick up another kind of Apple!

This year marks the 7th annual Apple to iPods promotion by the Vermont Department of Tourism.

Specially-marked wooden apples are hidden in 15  pick-your-own apple orchards all over the state.

If you find one of the unique wooden apples, you’ll win an Apple iPod or  iPad!

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The Real Deal: Moore’s Inn in Saxtons River, Vermont

My family took a grand tour through New England this Spring, visiting schools in five states. One place we visited was the small village of Saxtons River in Southeastern Vermont.  Saxtons River is a quintessential Vermont village, complete with a covered bridge, a general store, and a white steepled church.

Moore's Inn Saxtons River, VT
Moore’s Inn Saxtons River, VT
Photo by Susan Lampe-Wilson

At one time, thanks to the water power provided by the Saxtons River, the village had a thriving woolen mill, saw mill, grist mill, tannery, distillery, clock manufacturer, and hotel.  The mills are closed now. Today, the major employer is Vermont Academy, an independent secondary school founded in 1876.

The historic village is remarkably intact, looking much as it did 100 years ago.  In fact, the entire village is designated an historic site  and is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  

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