Newport News

Author: , March 2nd, 2014

Newport, Vermont - Apple Maps

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Newport, Vermont is going through quite a renaissance.  What was once a sleepy town on the Quebec border is quickly becoming a boomtown, thanks to nearby Jay Peak Resort and an unprecedented investment of money from both the public and private sectors.

Newport is situated in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom on Lake Memphremagog, a scenic glacial lake roughly 30 miles in length; with one end in Vermont the other in Quebec.  Local folklore even mentions that it has its own lake monster, called Memphre.  During the winter the lake is a frozen giant, perfect for ice fishing and skating.  While in the summer, it has a wonderful assortment of outdoor activities (which I’ll be writing about in the coming months!).  The fact that Newport is just 30 minutes from Jay Peak makes it the perfect spot to mix up your ski trip with a little shopping getaway.

I recently had the opportunity to spend a day with Patricia Sears, the Executive Director of the Newport City Renaissance, a not-for-profit tasked with advancing and enhancing Newport’s economic environment, developing a cohesive and welcoming City design, and promoting the City as a tourism and investment destination.  An enthusiastic lover of her city, she led me on a tour around the downtown, saying hello to all the people she knew, while describing the many things that Newport has done and continues to do to make it such a vibrant destination.  Her excitement about Newport was palpable and very quickly, it’s easy to see why.

As we strolled through Main Street – the center of downtown life – Patricia pointed out all the things that are making Newport such an exciting place.  Newport is a perfect example of the modern Vermont: within just a few blocks we went from the sophisticated full service salon, Jon Somes Salon with its sleek urban ambiance, to Woodknot Bookshop and Turner’s Cafe, a charming bookstore and Café, to The Pick and Shovel – a quintessential Vermont General Store with everything from hardware and hand tools to shirts and pants.  It is a perfect balance of what is best about old Vermont with the addition of wonderful modern amenities. Nowhere is this better demonstrated than in the Northeast Kingdom Tasting Center, listed as CNN’s Top Spot to Visit in Vermont for 2014!

The Tasting Center began as the brainchild of Eden Ice Cider Company’s owners, Eleanor and Albert Leger, who were looking for a way to expand their business.  The result is a cooperative of venders featuring foods from all over the Northeast Kingdom.  Approximately 20 Northeast Kingdom farmers and venders, along with many more from the surrounding counties, sell their products in the Tasting Center, contributing to creating a destination for tourists looking to savor the best of what Vermont has to offer.

When you walk into the Northeast Kingdom Tasting Center, you immediately realize you’re in for a gastronomic treat.  Stands line both sides of the former department store with all manner of deliciousness, including Jocelyn & Cinta’s Bake Shop filled with a wide assortment of delicious baked goods, and Butternut Mountain Maple Farm, filled with all shapes and sizes of the sweet treat that Vermont is famous for. In the basement, you’ll find Eden Cider’s newly opened Tasting Bar and Winery, so you can sample their delicious Iced Cider and Aperitifs. I met several of the vendors, including the Legers, whose excitement about Newport and the Tasting Center was tangible.

Before we left, I was treated to lunch at the Brown Dog Bistro, a localvore-style restaurant with fantastic food, including burgers with beef ground freshly just across the way from our table at the Brown Dog Butcher. You certainly can’t get more freshly prepared than that! Patricia convinced me to try the Kingdom Mac and Cheese, made from some of the Northeast Kingdoms award winning cheese makers – worth every calorie! Brown Dog Bistro alone was worth the trip to Newport.

 

The hard work of both the Newport City Renaissance and the people of Newport have certainly merited all of the positive buzz focused on the town.  Even in the winter, it proves to be a wonderful place to explore.  In just a few months, construction will begin on a block–long multiuse building, which will bring hotel rooms, more retail and residences to Main Street.  With these developments on the horizon, the excitement around Newport will only continue to flourish.

Pride Vermont 2013

Author: , September 8th, 2013

Pride Vermont LogoJust when you thought it was safe to put your pride flags away, Vermont has different plans for you. While the Pride Festivities of New York, Boston and other Northeast cities are a distant memory, every September, Burlington holds it’s annual Pride Parade, celebrating the anniversary of the Stonewall Riots.

Pride Vermont 2013 will take place Sunday, September 15th from 12:30 pm – 5 pm. It begins with the Parade, which starts at the south end of Church Street and ends in Battery Park overlooking Lake Champlain and the Adirondack Mountains.

The Parade may finish in Battery Park, but that’s where the next festivities begin. The Vermont Pride Festival, best described as one big party, embraces the whole LGBT community (including our beloved allies). True to its Vermont heritage, expect to see people of all ages and backgrounds, from drag queens to the curious. The Festival runs from 1pm – 5pm and includes musical performances, booths featuring local LGBT organizations and other vendors, a children’s activity tent, and of course a beer tent.

A first for Pride Vermont this year is “OUT on Church Street.” On Friday, September 13th, from 6pm – midnight purchase a Street medallion, sold at participating businesses or through Pride Vermont. With the medallion (which costs $10 and benefits PRIDE Vermont), get 10% off at participating restaurants, shops, and stores, including Macy’s.

If you’re a foodie and looking to get your fill of local Vermont favorites, you’re in luck. Running concurrently with Vermont Pride in Battery Park is Northern Decadence Food & Travel Expo brought to you by the Vermont Gay Tourism Association. Northern Decadence features a wide array of events, including a tent filled with Vermont-based food vendors, cooking demos, and beer and wine tastings. There will be a Silent Auction with offerings such as ski passes, retail gift certificates and stays at Vermont Inns. Northern Decadence is $5 to enter (free for children) and runs from noon – 5pm.

For a full list of events for the week leading up to Pride and the weekend itself, visit Pride Vermont.

See you there!