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Stories about Vermont places you love, told by the people who live here. Visit www.happyvermont.com for more Vermont travel stories.
Nov 18, 2022
Vermont Place Names Offer a Glimpse into Local History
If you spend enough time in any Vermont town, you'll likely come across Vermont place names like Maple Corner in Calais, Snowsville in Braintree, and Hortonville in Mount Holly. These places are not official villages but rather unincorporated areas that are deeply rooted in the fabric of these communities. Jackson Evans, president of the Braintree Historical Society, has lived in Braintree for over a decade. “Place names are a real part of the history of any town,” Evans says. “So, when you're able to talk about those places or remember events that happened or people who lived in those places, it's a way to connect yourself.” Evans is a historian who also loves exploring Vermont Class 4 dirt roads on his bike. He talks about his love for the town of Braintree, its places, and history. Learn more on Happy Vermont: https://happyvermont.com/2022/11/18/vermont-place-names-podcast/
Oct 28, 2022
A Love for Restoring and Preserving Vermont’s Old Cemeteries
The Vermont Old Cemetery Association (VOCA), founded by the late Leon W. Dean in 1958, is a volunteer organization that restores and preserves public and private cemeteries that are neglected, abandoned, or in need of repair. His granddaughter, Dianne Leary of Charlotte, is vice president of VOCA. She talks about her grandfather's legacy and what volunteering in cemeteries means to her. https://happyvermont.com https://voca58.org
Oct 19, 2022
Locals Sing, Strum and Find Harmony at the Dover Town Hall
Open Mic Night, held twice a month, was started in 2018 by East Dover resident Linda Sherman. A singer, songwriter, and guitar player, Sherman has been passionate about music since childhood. For years, she's wanted to create a performance space in the community. In this episode of Happy Vermont, host Erica Houskeeper asks Linda Sherman about her lifelong passion for music, why she started Dover Open Mic Night, and the importance of performing in a safe, supportive space. Article and photos: https://happyvermont.com/2022/10/19/dover-open-mic-night-podcast/
Sep 19, 2022
Fall Foliage, Big Trees, and the Future of Vermont’s Forests
Vermont is gearing up for another foliage season. If anyone can talk about fall foliage in Vermont, it's Mike Snyder, Commissioner of Forests, Parks, and Recreation. Host Erica Houskeeper recently met with Mike in Mount Mansfield State Forest to discuss this year's fall foliage forecast. In this episode, Mike also shares the Vermont county with the most sugar maple trees, dives into details about big trees, and weighs in on private ownership of Vermont's forests. https://happyvermont.com https://vtcommunityforestry.org/places/big-trees https://fpr.vermont.gov
Aug 25, 2022
Main Street in Brattleboro
It’s tempting to describe Brattleboro as a mini-Burlington, but the town is very much its own place. Brattleboro’s Main Street is a vibrant place that's home to places like the Latchis Hotel and Theatre, which dates back to 1938, and Sam’s Outdoor Outfitters, a mainstay since the 1930s. A few doors down is the Brattleboro Food Co-op, which has been going strong since 1975. There’s a big focus on local in Brattleboro—local food, local shops, local art. Host Erica Houskeeper spent some time on Main Street to talk to people about why they love Brattleboro and what makes Main Street special. One of those people is Greg Worden, whose grandfather was raised in Brattleboro but moved away long before Greg was born. Growing up in the midwest, Greg had never met his grandfather or been to Brattleboro. But when a couple of college friends from the University of Missouri asked him to join them on a trip to their hometown of Brattleboro, Greg decided to tag along. He never left. Fifty years later, he's still calling Brattleboro home. Read more: https://happyvermont.com/2022/08/26/downtown-brattleboro-podcast/
Jul 27, 2022
Jackson’s Lodge, The Slash, and a Tiny International Lake
Along the Canadian border in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom is Lake Wallace, a small international lake in Canaan. There’s an area known as the slash–a treeless zone of land–that runs along the entire US-Canadian border. You can see the slash from the southeastern shore of Lake Wallace, where Jackson’s Lodge is located. Jackson’s Lodge is a family-owned vacation spot that’s been in the Jackson family since the 1950s. Gloria Jackson purchased the lodge and cabins from her parents in the 1980s. One of the cabins at Jackson's Lodge is located less than a dozen feet from the Canadian border. In the summer, you can swim, paddle or go boating into Canada, as long as you don’t set foot on Canadian land. Gloria grew up in Canaan and worked at Jackson’s Lodge in the summers as a child. She now runs the business with her partner, Mark Leveillee. Learn more at www.jacksonslodgevt.net Visit www.happyvermont.com for stories and podcast episodes.
Jul 8, 2022
A Rare (and Adorable) Cattle Breed from Vermont Makes a Promising Comeback
If you’ve ever visited the Dene Farm at Hildene in Manchester or driven by a small farm in Vermont, perhaps you've come across some unusual black and white cattle that look a bit different from Holsteins or Jerseys. These beautiful, speckled creatures are Randall Lineback cattle. Randalls originated decades ago on a farm owned by Samuel Randall and his son Everett in Sunderland. When Everett Randall died in the 1980s, the cattle were sold to other farms, where they lived in less-than-ideal conditions and nearly disappeared. Today, the cattle are considered critically endangered. But efforts to protect and preserve Randall Linebacks are well underway and making progress. Cynthia Creech rescued the breed in 1987—when only about 15 Randalls were left in existence. Together with farmers Phil and Dianne Lang, Cynthia Creech started the Randall Cattle Registry in 2001. Kim Pinsonneault, who works at the Dene Farm at Hildene and lives at the original Randall farm in Sunderland, now maintains the Randall Cattle registry. Host Erica Houskeeper spent some time in southern Vermont meeting with a few Randall Lineback owners, including Kim Pinsonneault and Michelle Porter, to find out what makes these cattle so special. https://hildene.org/visiting/estate/dene_farm https://happyvermont.com/
May 10, 2022
The Past Meets the Present at Basin Harbor
Basin Harbor along Lake Champlain is a family-owned resort that’s been around since the 1880s. The resort has weathered the Great Depression, wars, pandemics, and recessions, and through it all managed to thrive. Descendant Sarah Morris grew up at Basin Harbor, where she made lifelong friends and developed a strong work ethic under the guidance of her parents, Pennie Beach and the late Peter Morris. Now a fifth-generation host at the resort, Sarah can be found helping guests in the dining room, answering questions in the main lobby, and everything in between. As the resort gears up for another busy season, Sarah reflects on her time at Basin Harbor, what the future holds, and what she loves most about the place she calls home. www.basinharbor.com www.happyvermont.com
Apr 20, 2022
Local, Quirky and Old School: Erskine’s Grain & Garden in Chester
Inside Erskine’s Grain & Garden, a fixture in Chester since 1952, customers will find flower seeds, chicken feed, farm tools, and everything in between. The store, started by the Erskine family, is now owned by Janessa Purney and her husband, Burleigh Sunflower. The building, located in Chester Depot, is a reason alone to visit. With its creaky floors and sliding wooden doors overlooking the railroad tracks, Erskine’s is one of the more quirky, old-time grain and garden stores you’ll find in Vermont. https://erskinesgrain.com/ www.happyvermont.com
Mar 23, 2022
Maple Sugaring is a Family Affair at April’s Maple in Canaan
April’s Maple in the small town of Canaan is located on the Canadian border in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom. April Lemay grew up in Canaan, left home for college, and worked in the corporate world before deciding to return to her hometown. She now owns and operates April's Maple, a Vermont maple farm and cafe along Route 114. "I was anything but a farmer. I always thought I was destined to live in Boston or New York or somewhere a little less remote or rural," she says. "But the land was calling me back, and I didn't even realize it." https://aprilsmaple.com https://www.happyvermont.com
Mar 1, 2022
Ice Fishing in Vermont’s Champlain Islands
In Vermont's Champlain Islands, where the land is flat and surrounded by water, ice fishing is a big deal this time of year. For Vermonter Bruce Batchelder, ice fishing has been an important part of his life for as long as he can remember. A former educator and school administrator, Bruce and his wife Joanne have owned Holiday Harbor Lodge in North Hero for the past 16 years. On a recent mid-February weekend, Bruce was particularly busy hosting a group of ice fishing enthusiasts for the 42nd annual Islands Ice Fishing Derby in northern Vermont. In this episode of Happy Vermont, Bruce talks about what he loves most about this traditional sport that has deep roots in Vermont. www.happyvermont.com holidayharborlodge.com
Feb 21, 2022
The Tradition of Town Meeting: A Conversation with Former Governor Jim Douglas
Town meeting has been the basic system of governance for Vermont towns since the 1760s. But participation has been on the decline for several decades. Former Governor Jim Douglas talks about the importance of town meeting, and shares why he is worried that this powerful local tradition might fade away. www.happyvermont.com
Jan 31, 2022
Soaking Up the Outdoors with Forest Bathing Guide Duncan Murdoch
Duncan Murdoch, a former actor, is a certified nature and forest therapy guide. He started forest bathing workshops in Central Park before returning to his home state of Vermont in 2015. Forest bathing, which first originated in Japan, is a research-based practice for supporting healing and wellness through immersion in forests and other natural areas. In this episode, Duncan talks about leaving acting behind, the beauty of nature, and how being a forest therapy guide changed his life. Learn more about Duncan: https://natureconnectionguide.com or visit www.happyvermont.com
Nov 29, 2021
Selling Christmas Trees is a Family Affair at Russell Farm in Starksboro
Russell Farm in Starksboro has been in the Christmas tree business for 40 years. Located off Route 116 in Addison County, the family-owned former dairy farm is where locals and visitors flock to every November and December to cut their own Christmas trees. A visit to Russell Farm includes a horse-drawn wagon ride, hot chocolate, homemade cookies, and lots of holiday cheer. Host Erica Houskeeper talks with Russell Farm owner Dave Russell and his grandson Brandon about Christmas trees, the importance of tradition, and the future of the farm. Learn more at www.happyvermont.com
Oct 27, 2021
15 Years Back in Vermont: Old Favorites and New (to me) Places
Host Erica Houskeeper returned to her home state of Vermont in November 2006. In this episode, she shares some of her favorite areas of Vermont and talks about a few places she's come across and fallen in love with in recent years. You can find more Vermont stories by Erica on www.happyvermont.com.
Oct 14, 2021
Stargazing at Vermont‘s Stellafane Convention of Amateur Telescope Makers
Host Erica Houskeeper attended the annual Stellafane Convention of Amateur Telescope Makers in Springfield to see telescope makers in action. She also picked up some stargazing tips along the way.
Sep 27, 2021
Vermont Fall Foliage Outlook and Scenic State Lands to Explore
Host Erica Houskeeper meets up with Mike Snyder, Vermont's Commissioner of Forests, Parks, and Recreation to talk about how Vermont's fall foliage season is shaping up. They also compare notes about scenic Vermont state lands to explore this season and why fall foliage in the Green Mountain State is better than the rest.
Sep 16, 2021
Slowing Down and Finding Happiness in Woodstock
Patrick Fultz and Leslie Browne intended to buy a house in Woodstock, Vermont. Instead, they end up purchasing and renovating a motel outside the center of town. Host Erica Houskeeper interviews the couple about why they decided to move to Vermont and what advice they give to guests who are visiting the area.
Aug 30, 2021
The Roots of the Gilfeather Turnip Run Deep in Tiny Wardsboro
The small town of Wardsboro is where you’ll find a country store, local library, post office, and town hall. High on a hill just outside of the center of town is the farm where John Gilfeather developed the Gilfeather turnip, which is now the official Vermont State Vegetable. In this episode, host Erica Houskeeper talks with Wardsboro residents about John Gilfeather, the tight-lipped farmer behind the turnip and why the this heirloom vegetable is important to the community. Update 8/30/2021 7 pm: I just received word that the 2021 Gilfeather Turnip Festival has been canceled.
Jul 7, 2021
Dreams Do Come True for This Middlebury Small Business Owner
Not only is Susan Shashok an environmentally conscious entrepreneur, she’s also civic-minded. Susan served on the Middlebury selectboard for seven years and is the town moderator for Middlebury’s annual Town Meeting—a position vacated a few years ago by former Vermont Governor Jim Douglas. In this episode, host Erica Houskeeper talks to Susan about Caroline's Dream, the skincare company she founded 20 years ago. Susan shares the challenges and rewards of running a small business, and what it means to be an introvert, a Vermonter, and a healer. Learn more about Susan at www.happyvermont.com.
Jun 25, 2021
Returning Home to Run the Rochester Cafe
If you’ve ever driven down Route 100 through the town of Rochester, you’ve likely noticed the Rochester Café. Constructed in the 1880s, the building has been used over the years as a drug store, a bank, a dentist office, a barber shop, and even a funeral parlor. For the past 30 years, the building has been home to the Rochester Café. Last year, Rochester native Stephanie Lary returned to her hometown to be the general manager of the café. In this episode, Stephanie talks about coming home to run the same cafe that she worked at as a teenager and what she loves about Rochester. Learn more at www.happyvermont.com
Jun 9, 2021
Dirt Road Rambles in Vermont
Paulette Staats and Paul Shriver of Braintree have explored more than 40 Vermont dirt roads by foot ever since they became empty nesters. The retired couple share some of their favorite dirt roads and what they've learned about each other and themselves on their walks.
Apr 24, 2021
Kendra Knapik Makes a Splash in Vermont's Tiny Wine Industry
Winemaker Kendra Knapik spent part of her childhood in Vermont's Champlain Islands, where her grandfather operated a dairy farm and later a golf course. Kendra is a veterinary oncologist, and her husband Rob is a full-time professor and chair of the physics department at Norwich University. The vineyard is located in Grand Isle, while their winery – where they produce natural wine – is at their home in Stowe. In this episode, Kendra talks about her path to becoming a vineyard owner, incorporating sheep into the vineyard, and why she feels at home in the Champlain Islands. For more information about the vineyard, visit http://ellisonestatevineyard.com.
Mar 26, 2021
The Joy of Spring (Mini-Episode)
It’s March in Vermont, and those 60 degree days we’ve been having all week won’t last. They never do. Still, the first week of spring in Vermont turned out to be one of the warmest and sunniest in recent memory. Host Erica Houskeeper talks to neighbors, kids, and other Vermonters about what they love most about the spring season.
Feb 22, 2021
A Vision to Revive Historic Main Street in Danby
Nancilee Kennedy arrived in southern Vermont in March 1971 and moved to Danby a decade ago. In recent years, she began to worry about her small community. After the local general store in the heart of town closed its doors, Main Street became eerily quiet. She decided to do something about it. In November, she opened Danby Village Shops, a local marketplace selling food, toys, home decor, self-care products, clothing, and more.
Jan 30, 2021
Winter Swimming Adventures in Lake Champlain
Artist Katharine Montstream is a driving force behind the Red Hot Chilly Dippers, a dedicated group of adventurers that meet at Oakledge Park, Perkins Pier, or the Burlington waterfront for icy winter swims in Lake Champlain.
Dec 21, 2020
Love, Loss, and Cows on a Vermont Dairy Farm
Amy Richardson is a UVM alumna, mother of three, and Vermont dairy farmer. For 25 years, she's been part of the Richardson Farm, a dairy farm in Hartland that dates back to the early 1900s. In this episode, Amy talks about balancing farm life and family, the heartbreak of losing a parent, and everyday things that bring her joy. (recorded in August 2020)
Nov 30, 2020
Backcountry Skiing Along Vermont's Catamount Trail
The Catamount Trail features more than 300 miles of backcountry skiing in Vermont. The trail extends the entire length of Vermont, winding through towns, villages, and remote sections of the state. Matt Williams, executive director of the Catamount Trail Association, talks about what makes the trail special and offers tips on how beginners can try backcountry skiing this winter.
Nov 11, 2020
Vermont's 251 Club Inspires Exploration of Towns, Cities, Grants and a Gore
There are 251 cities and towns in Vermont, plus three gores and one grant. Some places you've probably heard of, like Burlington, Brattleboro, Woodstock, and Stowe. Then there are other places, including Lewis, Baltimore, and Victory, that are off the beaten path. Host Erica Houskeeper talks with Stephanie Young, executive director of the 251 Club, about the club's beginnings, what it offers, and why you should join.
Oct 26, 2020
How Captain Richard Phillips Changed the Trajectory of Alison Conant's Life
Alison Kosakowski Conant first came to Vermont in crisis mode. While working in communications for Maersk, a global shipping company, she rushed from her home in New Jersey to Vermont in April 2009. The Maersk Alabama had been hijacked by four Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. The ship’s captain, Richard Phillips of Underhill, Vermont, was taken hostage. As the crisis unfolded, Alison was dispatched to the captain’s home in the small town of Underhill to manage the intense media spotlight on the Phillips family. In this episode, Alison talks about her experience with Captain Phillips, as well as her decision to move to Vermont later on and create a life for herself as a mother, wife, communications professional, and farmer.
Oct 14, 2020
What Makes Vermont Weird?
Chad Abramovich loves to explore the weird side of Vermont. Things like abandoned buildings, mysterious legends, and obscure places are right up his alley. Chad talks with host Erica Houskeeper about what makes Vermont weird and shares stories about strange and mysterious places in the state.
Sep 28, 2020
The Prettiest Vermont Towns to Visit During Fall Foliage
Fall in Vermont is all about hiking, scenic drives, apple picking and exploring small towns. You can’t go wrong wherever you are in Vermont this fall—the leaves are changing across the state and there’s beauty to be seen in every direction. In the fall, there are dozens of scenic towns worth visiting, including Craftsbury, Peacham, Ripton, Dorset, and Wilmington. Here's a list of towns to explore and things to do along the way. You can learn more by visiting www.happyvermont.com
Sep 22, 2020
Why Vermont's Fall Foliage is Better than the Rest
Mike Snyder is the go-to guy for Vermont fall foliage updates. As commissioner of Forests, Parks, and Recreation, Mike is known as Vermont’s Chief Foliage Forecaster, providing weekly foliage reports to the media and state tourism office. In this episode, Mike chats with host Erica Houskeeper about the 2020 fall foliage season, the science behind why the leaves change, and what makes autumn in Vermont so special.
Aug 31, 2020
The Wild Fern Cafe Grows Community and Positivity in Stockbridge
Baker and musician Heather Lynne runs The Wild Fern on Route 100 in Stockbridge, Vermont. She spends part of her week baking, cooking, and filling to-go orders for sourdough bread, sesame bagels, locally sourced beef burgers, and pesto pizza. On other days, she is lining up musicians for drive-in concerts at the café’s outdoor pop-up stage or playing bass with her band, Rick Redington & The Luv. She opened The Wild Fern after Tropical Storm Irene upended the state, causing widespread damage to many Route 100 towns in 2011. After the storm, Lynne realized that Stockbridge needed some sort of community gathering place. Fast forward to 2020, and Lynne’s bread and bagel business has quadrupled during the pandemic. Her cafe's drive-in concerts, available by reservation only, are also drawing new customers. “The Wild Fern is attracting good humans, and I am super lucky,” she says.
Aug 18, 2020
The History of Burlington Builds a Following on Facebook
Bob Blanchard, who grew up in Burlington, Vermont, started a Facebook group last year that highlights the history of his hometown. With more than 10,000 followers, the popular Facebook page features old photos of Church Street, Battery Park, the Waterfront, local grocery stores, and neighborhoods around the city. Several times a week, Bob shares historic information that he has meticulously researched. In this episode, Bob shares historic details about Burlington, including stories about a ravine that ran through the middle of the city, a radio tower that stood behind a building on College Street, and how land along the waterfront was reshaped with mud and sand to accommodate the lumber industry. You can learn more by following the Burlington Area History page on Facebook.
Jul 20, 2020
Unusual and Beautiful Places in Vermont
When you think of Vermont, what comes to mind? Ben & Jerry's? Maple syrup? Host Erica Houskeeper shares entertaining details about Vermont and recommends unusual, beautiful places to visit in the Green Mountain State.
Jul 6, 2020
Where to Explore the Vermont Outdoors this Summer
Tara Schatz of Bennington is an avid hiker, camper, and outdoor enthusiast who writes about her adventures on BackRoadRambers.com. Tara's travel blog offers tips about kayaking, camping, hiking, visiting state parks, and road trips around Vermont. In this episode of Happy Vermont, Tara talks about camping at off-the-beaten path locations, exploring swimming holes, waterfalls, and hiking trails, and her favorite places in Vermont.
Jun 22, 2020
Mural Artist Kathryn Wiegers Paints the Town in Vermont
Artist Kathryn Wiegers is brightening up Vermont's downtowns with her giant, vibrant murals. Stroll along the streets of Rutland and you'll come across murals of elephants, giraffes, or even one that's a take on Rosie the Riveter as a COVID-19 essential worker. In Burlington, her colorful flower mural can be seen at Green State Gardener on Pine Street, while two new murals by Kathryn will be installed at the Hilton Hotel and the UVM Medical Center. In this episode, the mother of five and Rutland resident talks about the challenges and rewards of creating murals in public places, and why she loves Vermont.
Jun 9, 2020
Uncertain About the Future, Vermont Musician Roy MacNeil Lives for the Moment
Roy MacNeil of Greensboro, Vermont, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s Lymphoma in 2014. The diagnosis changed everything about his life, except for his love to create music.
May 18, 2020
Vermont Organic Dairy Farmer Abbie Corse Nurtures Her Family's Agricultural Roots
While growing up on her family's dairy farm in Whitingham, Vermont, Abbie Corse couldn't wait to leave and do something else with her life. But when faced with a choice about her future, she realized she couldn't walk away.
May 4, 2020
Charlie Emers Bakes Bread and Finds Happiness in Vermont
Vermont baker Charlie Emers has been a professional bread baker since 2001. The former lamp maker and veggie farmer talks about becoming a baker and making a life for himself in rural Vermont.
Apr 18, 2020
Vermont Cheesemaker and Literary Agent Angela Miller Learns the Meaning of Survival
Angela Miller of Consider Bardwell Farm in West Pawlet, Vermont, was on track to re-launch her cheesemaking operation, which had closed last fall. Then the COVID-19 outbreak happened, and the world changed.
Apr 1, 2020
An Innkeeper Finds Renewal in Ripton
When Chris Bullock's life took an expected turn, he returned to Vermont to run The Chipman Inn—the same inn his mother had owned and operated 40 years ago.
Feb 15, 2020
The Joys and Challenges of Running a Vermont Country Store
Running a general store means juggling many tasks at once—tracking inventory, running a cash register, posting on social media, and greeting customers as they walk in the door. For Jack Garvin—who has worked at the Warren Store in Warren, Vermont, for nearly 40 years—it’s also meant being an active community member, making lifelong friends, meeting a celebrity or two, and learning how to outgrow his previously shy nature and become a more outgoing individual.
Feb 1, 2020
Northeast Slopes: A Vintage, Volunteer-Run Ski Area
In East Corinth, Vermont, Northeast Slopes takes pride in what hasn’t changed since it opened 84 years ago. In this episode, we talk to Wade Pierson, who started skiing at Northeast Slopes as a young child in the 1960s. He’s now on the ski area’s board of directors and volunteers at the mountain.