Vermont is home to about 625,000 people and 162,500 cows. Dairy farming gives the state much of its identity and represents a crucial element of its economy. While tourism is Vermont’s largest industry, agriculture helps to create the economic and visual character drawing millions of people to the state as tourists and second home owners. Driving through the lush valleys bordering Lake Champlain on its western border or the Connecticut River to the east, visitors find beautiful, bucolic vistas around every curve. A dairy farm in the foreground backed by the ridge of the Green Mountains running through the entire state seems to highlight each turn in the road. Given its rural nature, it’s little wonder the first weekend in June ushers in Dairy Month with the Heifer Stroll through the streets of Brattleboro, VT.
On Saturday morning we joined our daughter in law, Sandra, and two grandkids, Anna and Luke, for this most down home and informal of parades, a major event in the three day celebration of Brattleboro’s uniqueness and the states dairy economy and heritage. Googling Brattleboro provides two prevailing views of this small city which capture the very interesting contrasts characterizing it. The Chamber of Commerce portrays one view while another site highlights the risks of the nearby nuclear generating plant and the tradition of social activism alive and well here. These contrasting, yet complementary, views capture what makes this an interesting town. For a somewhat different picture, consult the crime novels of Archer Mayor. Mayor has written nineteen Joe Gunther detective novels, the early ones set almost fully in Brattleboro.
The Heifer Stroll is a three day event whose web site very adequately details its activities. What follows here is a somewhat impressionistic portfolio of pictures of the parade and its immediate surroundings highlighting its celebration of farming, local culture, and quirky good fun. For your own enjoyment, plan on attending this delightful festival next year.