The Sweet Season
The Sweet Season
By now many downcountry folks have already traded in snow shovels for lawn rakes but in Vermont March signals the start of the Sweet Season. It is a time when massive snow storms give way the next day to blue skies and a warming sun that touches your cheeks with sloppy little baby kisses.
March's cold nights and warm days start the sap running and sugarmakers are working at a full-tilt boogey to distill the sap into maple syrup. A word to the wise: although Massachusetts and New Hampshire abut our borders, no syrup is better in the whole world than Vermont maple syrup. The Sugar Maple is, after all, our state tree while in Massachusetts it is the American Elm and in New Hampshire the White Birch.
On March 25th and 26th come join the townspeople of Whitingham in celebrating its 15th Annual Maple Fest. This free two-day event will feature a craft fair, cooking contest, horse drawn sleigh rides (snow is not necessary) at Twin Valley Middle/High School, seven miles from Wilmington on Route 100 South. Eight local sugarhouses are open to visitors who wish to see first hand how “Vermont's gold” is made. Maps for the self-guided tours are available at the school. More information can be found at the Whitingham Maple Fest Facebook page.
In conjunction with the Maple Fest, on Saturday and Sunday morning local organizations will offer all-can-eat Pancake Breakfast at the Jacksonville Municipal Center. Also at the Municipal Center on Saturday, the E-Z Rider Snowmobile Club will host an old-fashioned Sugar on Snow supper. There is nothing like sour dill pickle to complement a sugar on snow desert.
Skiing is still front and center at Mount Snow which has a full schedule of events for skiers and snowboarders of all ages. March 24-26 is the return of the Reggaefest with three days of music and outdoor fun. Two competitions on tap for the hardy and fool-hardy are pond skimming and the duct tape derby. On April 1st is the one-day 9th Annual Brewers' Festival.
March is a great time to explore the 14-mile Valley Trail that connects Wilmington and Dover. Depending on weather conditions, the year-round recreational path is a delight for snowshoers, cross-country skiers, hikers or bicyclists. Get in on the newest valley rage by hopping on a fat tire bike. Rentals are available at Equipe Sport at the foot of Mount Snow. Pick up a picnic lunch at The Roost in Wilmington, Snow Mountain in Dover or anyone of a dozen markets or restaurants to take with you. There is also access from the trail to a number of eateries. Maps are available at the Chamber of Commerce building (www.visitvermont.com), 21 West Main Street, Wilmington and most lodges. Pick a route, take a hike.
Sale-ing Adventures:. As local businesses wind down from a busy winter season and are restocking for summer, this is the time to do a little bargain hunting at the many shops, galleries, clothing and sport stores in the Village of Wilmington or tucked into small shopping plazas in Dover. You will be surprised at all you can find.
As I write this on March 10th, snowflakes are gently swirling around and with 8-12 inches of snow predicted for next week. Winter fun in Vermont is far from over.
Guest Author Susan Johnson