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Christmas in Vermont

Christmas in Vermont
1 vote, 5.00 avg. rating (89% score)

For many residents and visitors, Misty Valley Books, on the green, is the heart of Chester. This independent bookseller offers frequent author’s readings and hosts a “New Voices” weekend at a church in Stone Village in January, featuring first-time novelists. Past flyers for this event paper the walls in the store’s “Archives” (the bathroom), picturing a number of current best-selling authors.

“This store is an extension of ourselves,” explains Lynne Reed, when asked why Misty Valley also sells Persian carpets and offers French courses. (Husband Bill Reed has taught in Africa and France as well as in Vermont schools.) It’s also a place to find a schedule for Chester’s Green Mountain Festival Series (winter dates November 22, January 10, and February 28; 802-875-4473) and a trail map to the town’s hiking/snowshoeing trail.

According to Jo-Ann Silver, whose Park Light Inn specializes in romantic getaways, Chester’s crossroads status is also part of its appeal. In addition to steering guests to their choice of four nearby ski areas, Silver can also hook them up with Extreme Adventures’ Willy Williams, a guide qualified to introduce neophytes to ice climbing and extreme sledding as well as cross-country skiing and snowshoeing.

Chester’s Overture to Christmas

Events are spread over two weekends, December 6-7 and 13-14 this year. The first Saturday is Children’s Day. Youngsters assemble around noon for a marionette show at the Wright Library, followed by story hour at Reed Gallery. Each child leaves with a book and a candy cane. Then there’s ornament making at the neighboring First Baptist Church, while kids wait for Santa and Mrs. Claus to arrive on a fire engine. After the tree lighting, Santa receives his petitioners at The Fullerton Inn. The day ends with an evening choral concert at First Baptist. The second Saturday in December features caroling and the reading of the Christmas story. The “Polar Express” excursion train from Bellows Falls to Chester Depot runs both days of the second weekend (at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.). Details at: okemovalleyvt.org

Grafton Turns Back the Clock

Arriving in Grafton (population 650) during snow season is like entering a Christmas card. Although it’s an easy drive to several ski resorts, Grafton on a wintry night seems a long way from anywhere. But serious cross-country skiers know Grafton. The 30-kilometer trail network at Grafton Ponds is meticulously groomed. Trails meander off from the warming hut, out over meadows, and up into the woods on Bear Hill, where there’s plenty more back-country skiing. The complex also offers rentals and great venues for tubing, ice skating, and snowshoeing.

Grafton’s attractiveness today owes as much to the Windham Foundation — incorporated in 1963 by a wealthy family with ties to the town — as it does to nature. The organization bought up most of the central village, buried the power lines, revived the general store, and then tackled the imposing three-story Old Tavern. Craftsmen renovated and winterized it, and even added an elevator, all while carefully preserving the building’s historic detailing.

The holidays are a busy time at the Grafton Village Cheese factory, producing some of Vermont’s best prize-winning cheddars. Visitors are welcome to learn how 6,000 to 10,000 gallons of buttery milk from Jersey cows are processed daily, from cutting the curd to waxing the wheels and blocks of cheese. Different colors connote age and flavor, and visitors are welcome to sample.

Within its few streets, Grafton offers a surprising amount to savor, especially once you adjust to its pace. Step into the vintage 1811 Butterfield House, now home to the town library. Stop by The Nature Museum and be amazed by the extent of its exhibits, both interactive and stuffed.

Then step into the Jud Hartmann Gallery and find yourself in the midst of lifelike Iroquoian and Algonkian warriors and chiefs. Hartmann is nationally known for his limited-edition bronze sculptures of the Woodland tribes of the 17th- and 18th-century Northeast. Then stroll around the corner to Hunter Artworks and on up the road to Gallery North Star, hung with a variety of New England landscapes.

Woodstock’s Winter Welcome

“Summer people” began arriving in Woodstock (population 3,232), the shire town of Windsor County, in 1875, with the completion of a railroad trestle and spur line from White River Junction over Quechee Gorge. The town’s year-round resort status was assured in 1892 with the opening of the lavish Woodstock Inn, which drew guests from New York and Boston — even in winter for snowshoeing and skating. And then in 1934, America’s first rope tow began hauling skiers up Gilbert’s Hill.

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7 Responses to Christmas in Vermont

  1. Debra Harris December 10, 2008 at 9:49 am #

    Oooh how this ole yankee wishes she could be in Woodstock for the WWW.

    I fell in love with Woodstock over 20 years ago, to me that whole area truelly is “Heaven on Earth”.

    I enjoyed ths little write up & history on the area and the holiday goings on.

    Have enjoyed many meals in Bentlys, have purchased many toys in the drug store basement, have had many a photo taken by the little brook, enjoyed ice cream cones in the summer time while strolling the streets and breathing in every little detail to relive over & over in my mind. The fall foliage is spectacular in Woodstock……every where you look is ablaze in God’s colors……..just breathtaking.

    Thank you for allowing me the opportunity to “travel back in my minds eye”……..espicailly as I sit here in Fl in the middle of Dec in 75 degree weather.

    Blessings,
    Debra Harris

  2. Deb Powers December 12, 2008 at 8:07 pm #

    The house which you featured in Christmas in
    Grafton, VT. is the home which has been in my family for
    literally centuries. The Grafton house was built by many “greats” before me
    and stands now hundreds years after it was built. It remains in the family now
    owned and maintained by my parents. What happens with the next generation
    is yet to be determined. But memories are as vivid today as when I was
    a child visiting Gram at the house. Thank you for such a wonderful tribute.
    Sincerely,
    deb powers

  3. Carmella Gagnier December 18, 2009 at 5:55 pm #

    I too wish I could visit Vermont one more time. My mother was born in Winooski and we visited many times while growing up. I’m in my 85th year and still remember the good times. Have a niece in Burlington which was my last visit to Vermont in 2002.
    I’ve always loved the Fall in Vermont. Sicerely, carmella Gagnier

  4. Theresa Curran December 7, 2010 at 8:22 pm #

    I was lucky enough to call North Central VT home for 9 years – Christmas was extra special there – and always will be. It may be a 1000 miles and another lifetime away now, but it will never be out of mind. Thank you for the beautiful pictures.

  5. Robert Kirsch November 22, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

    WOODSTOCK IS GREAT BUT IF THERE YOU HAVE TO CHECK OUT THE JENNY FARM ON JENNY ROAD OFF 106 SOUTH OUT OF WOODSTOCK. SAY HELLO TO FORREST GUMP WHEN YOU GET THERE……THIS IS THE ROAD HE RAN ON IN THE MOVIE.

  6. cazznco@yahoo.com November 22, 2011 at 1:11 pm #

    Oh my, homesick in Kabul! Happiest Holidays: Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years too!

  7. Jeannette Pompi November 22, 2011 at 1:55 pm #

    Vermont is just this side of heaven. I, too, have fallen in love with her splendour, her green mountains, her streams, her covered bridges, and her people. I am Southern by birth, and still in South Carolina, but I hope to be a Vermonter when the next fall foliage season arrives. Will create my own ‘Funny Farm” way of life.

    Blessings to all you tough, survivors who call your self natives. I will be there with you soon.

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