Spotlight: Circus Terrificus

The Women’s Community Club of Grafton is assembling a show of circus acts to thrill the young and old in the style of the famed Cirque du Soleil. Featured will be three Vermonters whose talents were honed at this famous Canadian circus: Elsie Smith and Serenity Smith Forchion, who toured for four years as duo trapezists in Cirque du Soleil’s Saltimbano show, and Bill Forchion, acrobat, character actor, and Cirque veteran (and Serenity’s husband). The event promises fun for all ages, with popcorn and treats and circus items for sale. A children’s show will be presented at 2 p.m. with a general public show at 7:30 p.m. VIP tickets for the evening performance includes a pre-show reception and a meeting with the performers after the show. All profits will go to the Women’s Community Club of Grafton Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarships to qualified students every year to further their higher education. The club has been awarding scholarships since the 1950s....

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It’s a tough job, but somebody had to do it: What does aging maple syrup in a bourbon barrel do to flavor that’s already Grade A? Quite a bit, actually.

Our publisher had emailed me a photo of a bottle of Baker Farm Bourbon Barrel Aged Pure Maple Syrup. “Already on it,” I said. She was reassured until she saw the text of the story, which showed that we most certainly were not on it. Turns out, I had thought the image that she sent me was illustrating the product of Saxtons River Distillery, which produces maple liqueur. The photo of a big flask-o-booze sitting in my email? It’s a flask, all right — a flask of maple syrup. Sugar farmers Dennis and Deborah Baker of East Dummerston are putting a new spin on maple syrup — at least new by our standards — by aging it in charred white oak seven-to-eight-year-old bourbon casks from Kentucky’s bluegrass region. Packaging gimmick? Or a novel twist on a venerable Southern Vermont tradition? Intrigued, we decided to do some investigative journalism ourselves, largely because we had let too much time elapse with the misunderstanding. Our high-school intern did the legwork on the story — literally — by walking to the Brattleboro Food Co-op to get some local ice cream. He soon returned with Walpole Creamery’s Sweet Cream, made just across the river in Walpole, N.H. (walpolecreamery.com). We divvied up the pint for our focus group — a publisher, an editor, a copy editor, a graphic designer, and an intern — and I solemnly drizzled the syrup onto our respective servings. It made an impression. “Wow, that is amazing,” one taster said. “It’s pretty amazing,” said another. If that’s not consensus, I don’t know what is. Baker’s product was unmistakably maple syrup, but the oak barrels brought out (or, more likely, added) some distinct and interesting complexities to it. “It definitely tastes kind of alcoholic, slightly fermented,” said our intern dreamily, wise beyond his years, or at least beyond his legal capacity to have any frame of reference for the comparison. The Bakers’ product was unmistakably maple syrup, but the oak barrels brought out (or, more likely, added) some distinct and interesting complexities to it. We detected a complex flavor profile: smoke, vanilla, honey, caramel. I tasted pistachio. “I can’t quite place that flavor,” I said. The ice cream long gone, I poured another sample straight onto my spoon. Several times. All, of course, in the name of research. * * * Just in the nick of time, Dennis Baker returned from vacation and told one of our reporters a little bit about it. The bourbon barrel-aged inspiration was not precisely original with their son, John, 33, of Burlington, according to his father. Several other producers “up north” have been making the bourbon-enhanced...

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WEDDINGS: Wedding profile: Michaela and Zach

Wedding profile: Michaela and Zach Theme. Earthy elegance. We wanted a wedding that reflected who we are and also the natural beauty of Southern Vermont. Our wedding was very DIY. We made all of the decorations by hand, including pinwheels and birchbark candle holders. We also printed all of our invitations with a handmade letterpress. Zach designed the invitation and drew the sketch of the knot. My mom baked gluten-free carrot cakes, and one of my best friends decorated the cake to look like birch bark. We tried to tie in all of the elements in our ceremony, which is how I came up with the idea for the pinwheels…they provide a way for us to appreciate wind. Apparently all of the pinwheels started to spin like crazy at our ceremony when we had our first kiss. Why Southern Vermont? We wanted to be married in Marlboro because we both graduated from Marlboro College and feel strong ties to the area. We were married at our professors’ house in Marlboro in a beautiful and intimate ceremony. We chose the White House Inn in Wilmington for our reception, both because of its proximity to Marlboro, and because of how impressed we were with the accommodations and staff. Something borrowed? My Mom’s pearl earrings. Something new? My shoes: sparkly gold Toms shoes from the company’s wedding collection. Something blue? A garter that Zach actually ended up wearing. We decided to mix up the tradition a little bit. Reception. We had Samirah Evans come and play for us with her Handsome Devils. It was amazing, and they provided us with a wonderful dance party. Our flowers were done by Carie Kowalski, a wonderful florist from Marlboro whose work reflected my style of earthy and...

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SPOTLIGHT: Two Exhibitions Devoted to Arts and Disabilities

Organized by VSA Vermont, a statewide non-profit organization devoted to arts and disabilities, and curated by Greensboro artist Paul Gruhler, “Engage” is a juried exhibition showcasing art created by 35 Vermont artists with various disabilities. “More Like You Than Not” is organized by Bennington Museum curator Jamie Franklin as a complement to Engage. This exhibition takes a look at some of the varied contexts in which artists with disabilities have worked in Vermont and the surrounding region during the last 200 years. The art in “More Like You Than Not” — a quote from Vermont artist and autism activist Larry Bissonnette — reminds us that we all share a universal humanity. Indeed, we are all more alike than...

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Farmers’ Markets

Farmers Markets Bennington: Walloomsac Winter Farmers’ Market, Feb. 16, March 15, April 19, 10a-1p, at First Baptist Church, walloomsac.org, 802-688-7210. Brattleboro: Brattleboro Winter Farmers’ Market, Saturdays through March, 10a-3p, at the River Garden, downtown Brattleboro, postoilsolutions.org, 802-869-2141. Dorset: Dorset Winter Farmers’ Market, Sundays through Feb. 19, 10a-2p, at J.K. Adams Kitchen Store on Rte 30, dorsetfarmersmarket.com, 802-876-7080. Ludlow: Ludlow Farmers’ Market, every Saturday through April 2, at Masonic Lodge, 9a-1p, ludlowfarmersmarket.org, 802-734-3829. Montpelier: Capital City Farmers’ Market, first and third Saturdays through April, 10a-2p, Vermont College of Fine Arts gym, montpelierfarmersmarket.com, 802-223-2958. Norwich: Norwich Farmers’ Market, Feb 9, March 8, April 12, 10a-1p, at Tracy Hall on Main St, Norwich, norwichfarmersmarket.org, 802-384-7447. Rutland: Rutland Winter Farmers’ Market, Saturdays through May, 10a-2p, at Old Strand Theater in downtown Rutland, vtfarmersmarket.org,...

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WEDDINGS: Say Bake to the Cake: Some regional pros give inside advice to help you plan one of the most visible parts of your ceremony
Feb13

WEDDINGS: Say Bake to the Cake: Some regional pros give inside advice to help you plan one of the most visible parts of your ceremony

WEDDINGS Say Bake to the Cake Some regional pros give inside advice to help you plan one of the most visible parts of your ceremony By Katherine Cox Every couple wants to put their personal touch on their special day, whether it’s the venue, the vows, the theme, or the cake. Yes, the cake. The cake is one area that a couple can truly display their personalities and interests. On display at the reception, the cake can speak volumes about the bride and groom. “Most of the time, the wedding cake is a showpiece,” says Irene Marston of Irene’s Cakes by Design in Ludlow. There are endless varieties of cakes and designs to sift through, and wedding cake makers suggest the first place to go is the Internet. There, couples can explore photos of cakes and learn more about specific bakers so that when they meet, they can discuss options and narrow down their decisions. “We tell couples to go with the design they like, then we can make the cake fit their budget and theme,” said Ronna Gendron of Ronna Gendron Cakes in Alstead, N.H. “I have some couples who know exactly what they want: the look, the flavoring. Others have no idea.” Gendron’s specialty is “the artistic part”: making flowers and figurines from edible gum paste, a malleable dough that dries rigidly. “I love getting creative with flowers,” she says. Design elements can range from real flowers to edible flowers, casual or elegant, and lifestyle themes writ large in sugar. Gendron especially likes clients who want their special interests incorporated into the cake design. “I love it when they get unique and personal,” she says — that allows her to work more creatively. For one couple from New York, Gendron made a huge cake to resemble an apartment building. Another couple whose dogs were a big part of their lives had chocolate paw prints all over the white cake. Yet another couple who were getting married on a ship chose a life-preserver motif. “They also felt like they were saving each other,” Gendron says. Timing is crucial Even if a couple has no fixed idea of what they want their wedding cake to say about them, bakers in the region urge brides and grooms to think about whom they want to make their cake and to do so as soon as they have a date. “The sooner, the better,” says Dave Kelly of Sticky Fingers Bakery of Dover. Timing is crucial, especially if it’s a busy season for weddings, so Gendron suggests that couples book early. Four to six months is the typical lead time for most...

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Spotlight: Hot Pot

A new exhibition from Brattleboro Museum & Art Center, “Hot Pot” will explore contemporary artistic expression in China. A hot pot is a communal dish of many ingredients in which each retains its distinctive flavors and textures. An integral part of Chinese culture for over 1,000 years, the hot pot serves as a metaphor. The volume and diversity of art being produced in China today is enormous and in many ways resistant to categorization. The exhibition explores three themes: image and identity, environment and politics, and reinterpreting artistic traditions. “Hot Pot” will feature more than 100 works in all media by two dozen artists, filling the museum’s six galleries and sculpture...

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SIDEBAR: Bringing yourself to the bling
Feb13

SIDEBAR: Bringing yourself to the bling

Bob Borter has been making jewelry in Brattleboro since 1984. (Lynn Barrett) Bringing yourself to the bling Following is contact information for the artisans and businesses listed in this piece. • DK Walter: 81 Main Street, Brattleboro; 802-722-9620; davidwalterjewelry.com. Tues.–Sat. 10–6. • Gallery in the Woods: 145 Main St., Brattleboro; 802-257-4777; galleryinthewoods.com. Mon.–Sat. 11–5:30, Sun. 12–5. • Renaissance Fine Jewelry: 151 Main St., Brattleboro; 802-251-0600; vermontjewel.com. Mon.–Sat. 10–5:30, Sun. 11–4. • Borter’s Jewelry Studio: 103 Main St., 2nd floor, Brattleboro; 802-254-3452; bortersjewelry.com. Tues.–Fri. noon–5:30. Additional hours by appointment. • Evan James Ltd.: 48 Main St., Brattleboro; 800-382-6583; evanjames.com. Mon.–Thurs. 10–5:30, Fri. 10–6, Sat. 10–5. • Adivasi: 8 Flat St., Brattleboro; 802-258-2231; adivasi.com. Mon.–Sat. 10:30–6:30, Sun. 11–4. • Verde: 133 Main St., Brattleboro; 802-258-3908; verdeforgardenandhome.com. Mon.–Thurs. 9:30–6, Fri. 9:30–7, Sat. 9:30–6, Sun. 11–5. • Boomerang: 12 Elliot St, Brattleboro; 802-257-6911; boomerangvermont.com. Mon.–Thurs., Sat. 10–6, Fri. 10–7, Sun. 10–5. • Penelope Wurr Fine Contemporary Glass: 167 Main St., Brattleboro, 802-246-3015; penelopewurr.com. Mon.–Sat. 10–6, Sun. 11–5. • Silver Moon Adornments: 29 High St., Brattleboro; 802-254-9600; silvermoonvt.com. Tues.–Sat. 10:30–6. • Altiplano: 42 Elliot St., Brattleboro; 802-257-1562; altiplano.com. Mon.–Sat. 10-6, Sun. 11-5. • Malisun Jewelry and Thai Imports: 44 Harmony Place, Brattleboro; 802-258-1124. Sun. and Mon., 10-4; Wed.-Sat. 10-6. • Delectable Mountain Cloth: 125 Main St., Brattleboro; 802-257-4456; delectablemountain.com. Mon.–Thurs., Sat 10–5, Fri. 10–6:30, Sun. 1–5. • Brilliance: 56 Elliot St., Brattleboro; 802-254-4460; brilliancebest.com. Mon.–Sat. 9:30–6, Sun. 11–5. • Vermont Artisan Designs: 106 Main St., Brattleboro; 802-257-7044; vtart.com. Mon.–Thurs., Sat. 10–6, Friday 10–8, Sunday...

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SPOTLIGHT: Charlie Hunter’s Sugaring Season Paint Out

Sugaring season is a special time, and Charlie Hunter invites you to join a hardy crew of adventurous artists for an unforgettable five days of painting outdoors during one of Vermont’s most unpredictable seasons. Each day, the group will meet for coffee and an array of alarmingly calorie-laden pastries, then head out to one or another of Hunter’s favorite painting spots — a sugaring operation, a working farm in Grafton, to the industrial village of Bellows Falls — and then engage in a late afternoon critique session. Hunter also offers more formal demonstrations of his distinctive painting technique and time is devoted to working one-one-one with artists who wish to explore particular areas of interest. Those participating will head out from the Grafton Inn each day, returning each evening to discuss the day’s work and challenges, to socialize, to learn from one another. Patrons can sign up for just one to all five days, with or without lodging and meals. Lunch and dinner are provided each...

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Life as a poem put to paper: Guilford’s Verandah Porche releases new poetry collection

Life as a poem put to paper Verandah Porche and her literary friends moved to an abandoned farm in Guilford in 1968 to create what would become a legendary commune. And she wanted her life to be a poem. Porche, 67, has just published a new collection of poems, Sudden Eden, an autobiography in verse. As she has lived a rich life filled with family, friends, farming, lovers and farewells — good birthing, good food, good conversation, good lovemaking, good pies and good politics — the reading is rich as well. The title Sudden Eden has many layers of meaning to Porche. One refers to her coming to Vermont to create a kind of peaceable kingdom for herself. She is the daughter of first-generation Jewish Americans, which leads her to another meaning of the title. “I write poems all the time,” Porche said. “If I’m driving, I can write sideways. I started writing songs at a certain point because it was so dangerous to write and drive. Songs you can sing and repeat and they stay in your mind...

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WEDDINGS: Mount Snow Valley

WEDDINGS: Mount Snow Valley The Mount Snow Valley provides numerous options for a destination wedding, including a winery with vistas of two states, and many charming inns that host tented weddings on their grounds. The Mount Snow Resort features spectacular mountain views or indoor ballrooms. Cooper Hill Inn boasts wedding couples can get married on “top of the world.” Owned and operated by the same family for over 80 years, Boyd Family Farm specializes in Vermont country weddings and offers truly custom wedding floral designs. Barn weddings are a specialty of the Colonel Williams Inn in nearby Marlboro. The Inn’s barn is the largest post & beam barn in Southern Vermont and dates to circa 1770. the innkeeper can even don the Colonel’s authentic uniform upon request. From florists to superb bakeries, country inns and dining options, the Valley is a perfect venue for a destination...

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SPOTLIGHT: RAMP art auction

The Rockingham Arts and Museum Project (RAMP) Art Auction and Raffle is a great way to spend a Sunday afternoon with artists and friends: with the suspense of bidding for great art for a good cause. More than 60 regional artists and performers contribute their time and artworks for this 11th annual benefit, including Charlie Hunter, Steve Procter, Natalie Blake, Phyllis Rosser, Chris Sherwin, and Robert McBride. Proceeds benefit the work of RAMP, a nonprofit that is dedicated to “revitalizing the community by developing awareness of the arts, creating vitality in the community with the arts, and demonstrating that the arts favorably impact the local economy,” according to its founder Robert McBride. You can purchase tickets in advance or at the door: $25 each or five for $100. Artists reception on Sunday, April 7 from 2-4p. View the work during BF3F on Friday April 19,...

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