LUDLOW, Vermont – On Saturday and Sunday, August 20 and 21, 2022, the second annual Best of Vermont Summer Festival took over Okemo Field in Ludlow, Vt. with a cheering crowd, live music, food stalls and trucks, handicrafts, vintage cars, and hot air balloon rides, to name a few. This year’s festival saw more attendees and guests than last year’s inaugural event, hosting nearly 100 vendors and around 6,500 attendees.
Sponsored by the Okemo Valley Chamber of Commerce, the weekend was well organized and executed. Entry and exit to the event was seamless, with the Ludlow Billings Police Chief directing traffic on the busy 103 and volunteers led by Holger Stoltze happily parking the cars. Stoltze was also responsible for the efficient layout of the parking lot and vendor booths. A $3 donation was asked at the entrance to help support the creative economy sector in Okemo Valley, and people seemed more than happy to oblige.
George Benson of Benson’s Chevrolet in Ludlow sponsored a new launch event for this year, the Friday Night Cruise, with 90 vintage and classic cars on display, a Vermont Bliss food truck offering fresh local cuisine and a t-shirt giveaway .
Saturday’s festivities began at noon, and soon after AJ’s Food Truck serving fried dough, SunnySide Taqueria, Mr. Darcy’s burgers and Mount Holly Beer seemed to be popular with the crowd. But most of the stalls seemed well-stocked and people took the time to browse the many handcrafted and locally sourced products like pottery, jewelry, craft beer and specialty foods. Festival-goers enjoyed fudge, maple syrup, rum cake, salsa, jam and wine.
Springfield Art Gym offered face painting, while Big Top Adventures’ Troy Wunderle taught children and some adults how to walk on stilts. Six Loose Ladies demonstrated spinning and Fred DePaul showed the crowd how to shear sheep.
Musicians Jeb Porter & Friends were the first of three bands to hit the stage Saturday and Sunday, local favorite fiddler Ida Mae Specker returned for a second year, playing country and bluegrass and hosting barn dancing lessons .
Raffle tickets were distributed at the entrance and throughout the day Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Carol Lighthall and Director of Membership Services Diane Stockton Breese announced the winners. Prizes were generously donated by many vendors, including a special batch of Whistle Pig Rye donated by Same Sun of Vermont. The Nutty Bavarian’s contribution was a choice between a large bag of roasted nuts or a six-pack of fudge, bought by two very excited ten-year-old boys.
Three prizes were awarded to the best finalists in the vintage and classic car competition, judged by the participants and the participants who wished to take part in the voting. The first place winner took home a cash prize of $500.
Looking forward to 2023, Lighthall mentions that they will introduce a new vendor map, to help attendees better navigate the festival. She says the Chamber is currently collecting feedback from vendors and sponsors, which they will “review and discuss while everything is fresh in our minds, and then we’ll put the file aside for a while.”