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Mud Season Humor | New England's Newest Tourist Draw

Mud Season Humor | New England’s Newest Tourist Draw
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Roadside Attractions
Every spring, Vermont’s 8,700 miles of dirt roads provide surefire entertainment to Green Mountaineers as they watch people from away drive luxury cars on byways that anyone with the common sense of a turnip would think twice about. “It’s drama, comedy, and suspense all at once,” says Elwood Peabody of Turnbuckle, Vermont, who admits that his TV hasn’t worked in quite a while.

Shoe Business
What do you do when spring thaw brings an end to snowshoeing? “Try mudshoeing,” says Dan Schwartz of Schwartz’s Sporting Goods in Newridgetonbury, Connecticut. “They look a lot like snowshoes because, well, they are snowshoes,” says Schwartz, who also carries a complete line of biodegradable mud boots from Wanderers Supply. “If you get stuck, just step out of them,” he says. “By summer, they’ll be mulch.”

Unnatural History
The Mud Museum, located in the charming village of East Mildew, Vermont, features such exciting and educational exhibits as Hiram Bostner’s “Old Faithful” tow chain, which pulled 1,037 cars and trucks from the muck before it snapped a link and was retired in 1984. Don’t miss the innovative “mud shovel,” a variation on the snow shovel that never really caught on. Minutes of fun for the whole family!

Face Values
Why pay top dollar for a mud facial at some fancy-schmancy resort? Stop by Homer Tidley’s Spa in Mittibittiwittisquam, Maine, for a bargain-basement beauty treatment that’ll leave your skin as clean and refreshed as those high-class sessions–without emptying your pocketbook. “This is organic, free-range mud,” says Homer, who harvests it from his own farmyard, where it’s enriched by contributions from his livestock.

Moat Cuisine
Stop by the Bluebell Diner in Frost Heaves, New Hampshire, and enjoy a Caffe Mudchiato–a hearty blend of generic coffee, aged to perfection on the back burner for several days and then blended with just enough cream and sugar to remove it from the Toxic Substances Control List. Try it with Muddy Road ice cream (basically Rocky Road, melted), or a helping of “mudloaf”–meatloaf fortified with oat bran–so thick you won’t be able to get your fork out of it.

Muddy-Road Rally
Come to Wilburton, Maine, for the second annual Muddy Roads Rally. This year, entrants will receive extra points if they locate any of last year’s participants, several of whom haven’t been seen since they left the starting line.

Bobbing for Boots
Here’s a new party game that’s all the rage at mud-season gatherings. Stick your arm into that tub of muck and see what you can pull out: a pair of shoes, hiking boots, hubcaps–maybe even a complete front axle!

Moveable Feats
Real Yankees take mud season in stride, the same as snowstorms. Oldtimersin East Wickwich, Rhode Island, recall the Great Mud Slide of 1983, which moved the town hall a half-mile down the road. “We keep meaning to move it back,” says long-time resident Edna Pillsbury, “but we’ve been busy, what with the annual Wiener Festival and all.”

Down to Earth Art
Held annually in West Stocktonborough, Massachusetts, the Berkshire Mud Sculpture Invitational draws artists from as far away as Albany. Watch them at work, including Lloyd “Mudhen” Fletcher, whose winning entry from last year–a full-sized replica of the Mayflower–was described by one attendee as “quite moving, especially after the rain started.”

Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Ken Sheldon

Author:

Ken Sheldon

Biography:

Humorist Ken Sheldon is a lifelong resident of New England, except for two brief stints when he lost his way and lived in California. (He has pretty much recovered.) His humor column “Only in New England” appears in every issue of Yankee Magazine. He is the author of "Welcome to Frost Heaves,” a humorous collection of stories from “the most under-appreciated town in New Hampshire,” written as Fred Marple, the unofficial spokesman for Frost Heaves. As Fred Marple, Ken has appeared at church basements, town halls, and the homes of most of his friends, usually right around dinner time. He would love to hear from you with your tales of life in New England, although being a true Yankee, it may be awhile before he gets back to you. You can email Ken at ken@kensheldon.com.
Updated Monday, April 1st, 2013
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