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Fireworks & More!

One of my favorite days of the year is coming up; the 4th of July! First and foremost, Independence Day is a time to remember the history of America and what those that came before us went through to give us this beautiful country. It commemorates the signing of the Declaration of Independence when the thirteen colonies became free from British rule.

While the 4th of July is about remembering the history of America, it is also celebrated by spending time with your family and friends. The 4th is typically the first real kick off to summer, which is so exciting! Even better, the hope is that you have an extra long weekend to keep the celebration going!

What is the best part of Independence Day? FIREWORKS! Start the holiday weekend off right on July 3rd with fireworks at Plymouth Notch! Join in the fun beginning at 9pm to sing patriotic songs prior to the fireworks show, which will begin at dusk! This has always been one of favorite firework displays and should not be missed! 

Another great option on July 3rd is to head to the Grafton Ponds Outdoor Center in Grafton, VT. Here they have a spectacular show put on by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra. After the show, is a beautiful fireworks display! Bring a picnic dinner and enjoy a great summer evening! This is a ticketed event; or purchase them at MKT: Grafton, Village Square Booksellers, and Vermont Artisan Designs.

This year, Ludlow will be hosting their fireworks on Thursday, July 4th, at the West Hill Recreation Area. The Chris Kleeman Band will be playing from 7-9pm and food will be served by Goodman’s American Pie, Squeels on Wheels, and the Simply Asian Food Truck! Make it a full evening with the family with music, a picnic and fireworks kicking off at dusk!

If enjoying the history of America is something you are interested, you came to the right place because in the heart of the Okemo Valley is the Calvin Coolidge Foundation, the birthplace of the thirtieth President of the United States. Did you know that President Coolidge was born on Independence Day? This day is commemorated at the Foundation with public readings, a ceremony, the Coolidge Cup National High School Debate Tournament, and a screening of "Recollections of 1919 and the Boston Police strike with President Coolidge”. This is a great event to commemorate the United States and President Coolidge. 

There are so many fun events to attend and things to do for the 4th of July, but as you are celebrating next week, please remember why we have this holiday, but also enjoy the time with your friends and family!

Strawberries Galore!

Nothing makes it feel more like the start of summer than being able to go strawberry picking! It is finally time to head to your favorite local orchard or strawberry patch to pick your own strawberries.

My favorite place to go strawberry picking is Wellwood Orchards in Springfield, VT, only a 20 minute drive from Ludlow. During strawberry season, they are open 7 days a week, 8am-6pm, however, the best time to go is early morning before it gets too hot or busy. If you go on the weekend, you must go in the morning anyway because you can’t miss out on their homemade fresh cider donuts! Check out the other items in the country gift shop, anywhere from baked goods and cider to local crafts! They also have a petting zoo, making strawberry picking the perfect outing for the whole family!

This Saturday, June 22, is Wellwood Orchards Strawberry Festival from 10am-3pm, a must-see summer event! Spend some time picking your own strawberries and make sure you take a wagon ride through the orchard and then check out the live music by John Sullivan Band, Alison Turner, and Dan O and more! There will also be over 45 local vendors including food booths, artists, and more! Even better, admission to the event is free! Of course the country gift shop and petting zoo will be open, as usual! This is truly a fun event with something for everyone!

If you are looking for more strawberries, head to the Plymouth Strawberry Festival at Plymouth State Park on June 19th, from 5-7:30pm. This is a great community event sponsored by the Plymouth Volunteer Fire Department & First Response Services. All funds raised go to support various organizations within the community, including the emergency services. The festival offers a delicious BBQ and most importantly, strawberry shortcake for dessert! This is a family event with plenty of activities to keep your little ones entertained!

Don’t worry, if you don’t make the festivals or aren’t able to go strawberry picking, go to a local farm stand and I am sure you will find some of the sweetest berries around! While strawberries are so good without doing anything to them, make your own strawberry shortcake or try your luck at a delicious strawberry rhubarb pie! Happy picking (and eating)!

It's Time for Summer!

June is one of the best months of the year because it is FINALLY summer! This is the time when everyone starts getting outside, especially those that don’t get out during the winter months.  It is also the start of summer BBQ’s, swimming, and weekend events!

To start off the second weekend of June, join us at Jackson Gore at Okemo for the 2019 B2VT Finish Line Party. This is a party to celebrate the finishers of the B2VT bike ride from Bedford, Massachusetts to Ludlow, Vermont. This ride is also known as the Battlefield to Vermont and let me tell you, this 149 mile ride certainly feels like a battle, an uphill battle at that! The riders complete 9,000 feet of climbing, including 3 significant climbs. This long and strenuous ride calls for a party at the finish line where there will live music by Ruby Street, BBQ, and cold beer! What more could you want on a beautiful summer day?!

Also on Saturday, June 8th, is Vermont’s Free Fishing Day! This event happens annually and gives everyone, residents and non-residents of Vermont, the opportunity to fish without a license. If you have never fished before or don’t get to go very often, this is the perfect chance for you to head out to your favorite river, pond, or lake throughout Vermont to cast a line and hopefully catch some fish! The Okemo Valley has several great areas to fish including the Black River, Lake Rescue, and Echo Lake. Make sure you show us your fish if you have any luck!

Another fun outdoor activity to do in the summer is to play some golf! We are so lucky to have the Okemo Valley Golf Club right in our backyard, as it is a premier course and has something for every level. This summer, for the months of June and July, OVGC is offering a Ladies Golf Clinic every Sunday where you can touch up on your skills and learn about different topics each week. Additionally, starting June 23rd and continuing Sunday’s thorough July, OVGC is offering Summer Junior Golf Clinics. This is a great opportunity for young golfers to get into the game. Of course, the golf course is also open 7 days a week for regular play!

One of my favorite events of the summer is the Plymouth Strawberry Festival at Plymouth State Park on June 19th, from 5-7:30pm. This is a great community event sponsored by the Plymouth Volunteer Fire Department & First Response Services. All funds raised go to support various organizations within the community, including the emergency services. The festival offers a delicious BBQ and most importantly, strawberry shortcake for dessert! This is a family event with plenty of activities to keep your little ones entertained!

The last weekend of June offers a Yoga Weekend Intensive at Go With the Flow in Ludlow. This workshop is being instructed by Boston-Based Senior Teacher, Raquel Marra. There are classes offered Friday through Sunday, all of which are available by the class or you can register for the whole weekend. This is a great way to restore your body just in time for the craziness that summer brings!

We hope that you are able to soak up all the sunshine you can get and take advantage of the long summer days ahead!

Vermont Maple Open-House Weekend!

If you are a Vermonter, you know that Vermont has more than 4 seasons. One of our additional seasons, the best one in my opinion, is maple sugaring season! Since we have had such a cold and snowy winter, the Vermont sugaring season has been delayed. However, many Vermonters around the state are finally getting their trees tapped and have been able to start boiling! You know what this means, right? Fresh maple syrup!

Every year, all of the sugar houses in Vermont open their doors for the Vermont Maple Open House Weekend. This year, it is March 23-24th. Spend your Saturday or Sunday taking a drive to some of our favorite local sugar houses for yummy treats and to learn more about the sugaring process!

If you frequent our blog, you know that we are a huge fan of Green Mountain Sugar House, especially their maple creemees. This weekend, they will be open and offering complimentary sugar-on-snow, maple cream donuts, maple coffee, and maple milk! However, you shouldn’t leave without purchasing a maple creemee or a gallon of delicious maple syrup! They have started boiling, so hopefully you will be able to catch a glimpse of the action!

Another local favorite of ours is Papa John’s Sugar Shack! This is a small, family-owned operation, but you can tell that they put a lot of hear into what they do. They will be open for the Vermont Maple Open House weekend with many maple products to test, as well as waffles and with any luck, fresh maple syrup! This wonderful family loves teaching about how maple syrup is made, so make sure you take a tour of the sugar house!

If you have time, travel a bit further to Shrewsbury to Smith Maple Crest Farm for their open house. On Saturday, they are holding a pancake breakfast in support of the Shrewsbury Community Sharing Project, of course with their maple syrup. They will also have samples of maple syrup, sugar-on-snow, maple cotton candy for sale, and other refreshments. Keep your fingers crossed for good boiling weather and check out their boiling demo to learn more about making maple syrup!

If you want to find other sugar houses in Vermont or even if you just want to know more about how maple syrup is made, visit Vermont Maple! If you are looking for ideas on how to eat or drink maple syrup, check out last week’s blog for ideas!

Vermont Gold: Maple Syrup- Part 1

What is the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Vermont? My answer is always MAPLE SYRUP! Because who doesn’t love syrup! Maple syrup is good on and in practically everything and for every meal.

    The obvious choice is to have maple syrup on pancakes or waffles. There is nothing quite like waking up in the morning and having someone cook you breakfast, especially when syrup is involved. Those fluffy pancakes and delicious waffles are the things that dreams are made of. Have you ever tried warming your maple syrup in the microwave before putting it on your breakfast? Let me tell you, there is nothing better! However, breakfast isn’t complete without a hot cup of coffee. Instead of sugar, try adding a little bit of maple syrup. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!

    Maple syrup is also a necessity with lunch. Did you know that a ham and cheese sandwich goes GREAT with maple syrup? I know, sounds strange, right? This isn’t an ordinary ham and cheese sandwich though, it’s a monte cristo. The bread is actually french toast, with warm ham and melted cheese. This sounds delicious already, but to top it off, you dip the sandwich in maple syrup. This makes the perfect brunch meal!

    You also can’t go wrong with incorporating maple syrup into your dinner either. A very “Vermont” thing to do is simply to have breakfast for dinner, so you can double up on those pancakes and waffles, or dive into some eggs with maple breakfast sausage. However, there are so many options for adding maple syrup into your dinner or even substituting it as a healthier option than granulated sugar! I like using maple syrup in stir fry or in my recipes for slow cooker meatballs.

    Last, but most definitely not least, is dessert! Obviously maple syrup and dessert go hand-in-hand. One of the easiest choices is vanilla ice cream with maple syrup. I know it sounds simple, but it is the best combination. If you want to get really fancy you could try maple creme brulee or maple cheesecake. You can even make it a healthy dessert by roasting bananas with maple syrup and cinnamon!

    Now, to be a true Vermonter, you must have sugar on snow, which is good any time of the day. Here’s how: Heat syrup and butter in a pot on the stove (about 1 quart of syrup per stick of butter). Make sure you watch it carefully and stir regularly. You will need a thermometer because when the syrup reaches 234 degrees fahrenheit, it is ready to be poured over the snow. Poor it slowly and carefully. If the syrup sits on top of the snow, it’s ready! Peel it off and enjoy!

Stay tuned for next week’s blog on how syrup is made and where to get it in the Okemo Valley! In the meantime, let us know your favorite way to have maple syrup!

 

It Snowed at the Summit; Get Your Season Passes NOW!

    The announcement everyone has been waiting for; it SNOWED for the first time at the Summit of Okemo on Saturday, October 13th! While you couldn’t see it from the village of Ludlow, the live cams on the mountain caught it on video!

    Now that it snowed, it finally feels like winter is just around the corner. If you haven’t gotten your 2018/19 season pass to Okemo yet, now is the time to do it! Okemo has SO many options, that you can be sure to find one that works for everyone.

    While Okemo has always been an EPIC mountain, with the sale of Okemo to Vail Resorts, we are now a part of the Epic pass! There are two Epic options; the Epic Local and the Epic Pass, but both of which give you unlimited and unrestricted access to Okemo! Other unlimited and unrestricted mountains are Crested Butte, Mount Sunapee, Breckenridge, Wilmot, Mt. Brighton, Keystone, Afton Alps, Arapahoe Basin, and Stevens Pass. That means 10 mountains full of adventures waiting to happen! Not to mention, there are 17 other mountains to access on a more limited basis, including Stowe right here in Vermont!

The other option is the Epic Pass, which gives you access to 65 resorts all around the world! With this pass, you get access to all of the unlimited mountains as the locals pass, but also has the additions of Vail, Whistler Blackcomb, Northstar, Stowe, Perisher, Beaver Creek, Park City, Heavenly, and Kirkwood!  That leaves 46 other mountains that also give you on-snow options throughout the season. Get your Epic Local or Epic Pass today before rates go up!

If the Epic pass isn’t for you, Okemo still has the Ultimate, Classic, and Midweek passes available. The Ultimate Pass truly is ultimate and gives you great benefits when skiing at Okemo such as retail, culinary, and preferred parking discounts! If you are looking for a basic pass, but still allows you to enjoy Okemo whenever you want, check out the Classic Pass! New this year, as well, all Ultimate and Classic Pass Holders will receive 50% off the then-current window lift ticket price at all Vail Resorts-owned resorts! Finally, if you don’t like the weekend crowds, Okemo still has the Midweek pass, which will give you access to the lifts Monday-Friday during non-holidays.

We hope you are just as excited as we are to hit the slopes this season! Let it snow!!

 

Fall in the Okemo Valley

    If you have never experienced fall in Vermont, then you are seriously missing out! It is such a magical time and truly is the essence of what Vermont is all about. The Okemo Valley is one of the best places to spend during this time and Columbus Day weekend is the peak! Here is a sneak peak of our favorite things Vermont things to do this weekend!

Take a Hike:

View from Fire tower    There are so many amazing hikes to experience within a 30 minute drive of Ludlow and all of them are the best during foliage season. Of course, one of the most popular hikes in the Okemo Valley is the Healdville Trail that leads you up the backside of Okemo. Pack a picnic lunch and take a break at the top with a climb up the firetower at 3,340 feet!
    Deer Leap in KillingtonAnother great hike is Deer Leap in Killington. This hike is 1.9 miles of a beautiful wooded trail that leads to a peak and opens up to grand views of Killington, Pico, and beyond! Better yet, you can bring your dogs! After your hike, head to Longtrail Brewery for some lunch.
    For a hike with different scenery, check out Cascade Falls in Weathersfield. The hike is about 2.9 miles from the trailhead to the summit. Along the way, you will find 84ft and 60ft waterfalls that are absolutely breathtaking. If you are looking for a day hike, continue on your way to the various peaks of Mount Ascutney!

The Sights:

   Buttermilk Falls One of the most well known sites in Ludlow is Buttermilk Falls in the Okemo State Forest. There are 3 waterfalls to check out on a short nature hike along the river. The river is surrounded by exquisite fall colors and provides a peaceful place to enjoy the great outdoors.

   The Pinnacle Another popular local spot is The Pinnacle of Ludlow off of Commonwealth Avenue. There is a short secondary road that you can drive up if the gate is open, or you can choose to park at the bottom for a nice walk to the top. The Pinnacle has giant rocks to climb that overlook the entirety of Okemo Mountain. While this view is amazing all year long, it is exceptionally magical during the fall foliage.

Shopping:

    You can’t come to Vermont for a weekend getaway without going to the Vermont Country Store, either in Weston or Rockingham. This store holds all of the best items this Green Mountain state has to offer. You can fill up on samples of Vermont cheeses, meats, and dips and leave with a brown bag full of old fashioned candy. The store also carries many Vermont products, such as soaps and clothing. We promise you won’t leave disappointed. 
    If you are in Ludlow, you must stop by the Green Mountain Sugar House, located on Lake Pauline. You can stock up on maple candy and maple syrup, but the best item is their Maple ice cream. If Vermont had a taste, it would taste like a Maple Creeme!

Activities and Events:

    A personal favorite fall activity of mine is apple picking and the best local place to go is Wellwood Orchards in Springfield. Take a walk into the orchard to pick your own apples or catch a ride on the hay wagon for the real Vermont experience. Wellwood also has a petting zoo that is great for all ages!

Okemo Valley Golf Course    Another great activity is to play a round of golf at the Okemo Valley Golf Club. The course has an 18-hole layout that has a par 70 and measures 6,400 years in length. It is playable for all abilities and provides a challenge for everyone! While this is a beautiful course all year long, nothing beats the views during the fall foliage.

    If you are looking for a true Vermont experience, head to Mount Holly for Cider Days on the Belmont Green! This event runs Saturday, October 6th from 10-4pm and Sunday, October 7th from 12-4pm. You can watch how apple cider is made and even try some for yourself! There are other sweet treats, along with many local craft vendors.

    We saved our favorite event for last; Fall into Winter at The Jackson Gore Inn and Resort! This is an awesome event to celebrate the transition of seasons from fall to winter. William Raveis Vermont Properties is sponsoring the live music and there will also be hayrides, games put on by Okemo Mountain School, pumpkin painting, craft vendors, food, and a beer/wine tasting tent! You can also check out Okemo’s Adventure Zone! Come see us from 11am-4pm!

 

Dining in Ludlow- Part One!

    Ludlow has some of the best dining in all of Vermont and now is the perfect time to try out the various restaurant options! Most of our restaurants feature local ingredients and as the season is changing from summer to fall, the menus will also be changing to offer some delicious seasonal items. Read on to learn about some of our favorite spots!

    One of the most sought after restaurants in Ludlow is The Downtown Grocery, or as locals refer to it, TDG. The restaurant is owned by Vermont native, Chef Rogan Lechthaler, and his Southern wife, Abby Lechthaler. Together they have created a casual fine dining experience where the servers wear plaid, but the menu depicts food that makes you feel like you are eating the best that any big city has to offer, while using local ingredients. The menu has great staples, but the best items come from a specials board that is constantly changing. Whether you are looking for a Pimento Cheese Burger, House Made Gnocchi, or a frequent special of Shrimp and Grits, you will not be disappointed. Tip- MAKE RESERVATIONS!

Right across the street from TDG, is Stemwinder, an apres ski favorite. Stemwinder began with a vision from two local women, Wendy Neal and Leslie Stuart, both of which are major supporters of our Ludlow community. The idea behind the restaurant is to have good wine and craft beer with a diverse selection of small plates. They always use local ingredients and you can bet that their menu is constantly changing with the seasons. If you are new to the area, you need to try the Cheese & Meat Board that has some of the BEST local offerings you can find in Ludlow.

    A Vermont Properties favorite that we frequent quite often is Homestyle Hostel. This cute and quaint hostel, located in the heart of Ludlow is now well-known all over Vermont thanks to the creative Chef, Alyssa Prouty. Just like Stemwinder, they have a wide variety of small plates that are perfect to share with your family and friends. We highly recommend ordering many options and trying as much as possible because it is all delicious! The menu is always new and always has the best ingredients that you can find in Vermont. If you are looking for a place to stay, Homestyle Hostel is also a great option, or head across the street to their sister property, Main + Mountain, for a more traditional stay and the best cocktails in all of Ludlow.

    Moving into its second year of being open is Mama’s, also owned by the Lechthaler’s. Mama’s features all hand made Italian food that makes you feel like you are sitting in a piazza in Italy. Mama’s is open for lunch and dinner, both of which we highly recommend. For an afternoon pick me up, try the Arancini or a classic Italian Sandwich. For dinner, start with the Caprese Not Really. I have had a lot of caprese, but nothing compared to this delicious dish. You can’t leave Mama’s without a glass (or two) of wine. Abby Lechthaler is passionate about serving only the best wine and is always willing to help you find your new favorite. So, as autumn moves in, try out Mama’s for some incredible comfort food.

    We could go on and on for days about all of the restaurant options in Ludlow, but we will stop here...for now! Stay tuned next week for PART TWO of our favorite dining experiences! Let us know your favorite local hot spot!

 

Summer Bucket List- Don't Wait!

Top 10 Things to do Before Summer Ends

Some of you may be counting down the days until the slopes are filled with snow and others are never wanting summer to end. Either way, take advantage of these summer days and knock some things off of the summer bucket list before it ends!

  1. Go for a hike up the backside of Okemo on the Healdville Trail to the summit and firetower! My favorite way to do this is to start around 9am, pack a picnic lunch, and head to the top for an awesome view.

  2. After you go hiking, you must go to Buttermilk Falls for a swim. Within a 10 minute walk you can see three beautiful waterfalls, but don’t miss the big rock to jump off into the water at the middle falls!

  3. Hit up the Evolution Park at Okemo for an epic day of mountain biking!

  4. Go to the Green Mountain Sugar House for a maple creeme (or 3)! In my opinion, they are the best in the state and there is awesome water-side seating to enjoy them on.

  5. Take a drive to the local breweries with outdoor seating! Let’s be honest, the breweries are great all year, however, the outdoor seating makes them even better. You don’t want to miss out on Long Trail, Harpoon, and Trout River!

  6. Rent a kayak or paddleboard from Tygart Mountain Sports in Ludlow and head to Lake Rescue for a day on the water. Don’t forget to hop in for a swim at Red Bridge!

  7. Go to the Okemo Adventure Zone for a fun day of zip lining, mini golf, mountain coaster riding, the challenge course, disc golf, and so much more!

  8. Spend a day at Plymouth State Park relaxing on the sandy beach, playing volleyball, and grilling up some hamburgers!

  9. Attend a summer concert at the Jackson Gore Summer Concert Series! There are only two left; August 24th and 31st!

  10. Check out a Million Dollar Quartet playing at the Weston Playhouse through September 2nd!  

Vermont Beer is the BEST Beer!

Vermont has a delicious little secret; we LOVE beer! Did you know that Vermont is home of some of the best beer in the nation? Better yet, did you know that Ludlow is surrounded by several breweries within a 30 mile radius?

Long Trail Brewing Company is located in Bridgewater, VT, about 20 miles from Ludlow. Take the scenic drive on Route 100 North, where you can stop along the way to take in the beauty of many Vermont lakes. You also don’t want to miss a visit to the Green Mountain Sugar House for a Maple Creeme or even take a short detour to the Calvin Coolidge Homestead where our 30th president grew up. Once arriving to Long Trail Brewery you can choose to sit in the the German inspired pub inside or along the banks of the Ottauquechee River in their lovely outdoor seating area. Long Trail always offers a great variety of seasonal beers, including a personal favorite, Blackberry Wheat. Don’t forget to try the Loaded Nachos and the Jonas Wings; you won’t be disappointed!

Harpoon Brewery is located in Windsor, VT, about 30 miles from Ludlow. Once again, take a scenic drive along Route 131 that follows the Black River. In the river, you will find a variety of native Vermont trout, perfect for fly fishing. So, if you have the time, breath in the fresh air and catch some fish. After spending some time in the sun, you might be thirsty, so continue on your way to Harpoon. Harpoon has a wonderful outdoor Beer Garden, along with a lively Tap Room. Choose from several Harpoon beers on tap and purchase a growler to take home with you. The kitchen is always serving several great specials, however, The Vermonter sandwich is always a great go-to! Don’t forget to also visit Blake Hill Preserves, Vermont Farmstead Cheese Co. Market, SILO Distillery, and Great River Outfitters!

Trout River Brewing Company is located a short 15 miles from Ludlow in Springfield, VT. This hidden gem was purchased by three local boys who had been dreaming up this idea since being in high school together. From the outside, the brewery looks like a factory, but the inside is a Vermont haven, filled with fishing paraphernalia and homemade tables made from Vermont trees. On the tables you will find games to play with friends, along with music playing or a sporting event being projected for all to see. On the weekends you will often find a band playing outside and a food truck serving some delicious grub in the outdoor seating area. You can try several selections of beer by the pint or a sampler tray made out of old tap handles. If they are serving Trout of Solace, be sure to give it a try!

Last but not least, the Rutland Beer Works was a great new addition to Vermont in 2017. The owners of Hop ‘N Moose in downtown Rutland began this new venture to expand their love of beer and we couldn’t be more excited. Rutland Beer Works is currently a brewery and canning facility, but their beer can be tasted at Hop ‘N Moose, among other locations in the surrounding areas. There are also many places to buy cans, including Brewfest Beverage right here in Ludlow! However, if you are heading to Rutland, we highly recommend checking out Hop ‘N Moose, both for their food and beer. They are known for their pizzas, including a personal favorite of mine, the Hawaiian. Hop ‘N Moose is usually serving Rutland Beer Works’ Rutland Red on tap, but if you are feeling adventurous, try the Hide and Seek, an Extra Pale Ale.

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