Don't Miss These Quintessential Fall Festivals in Vermont | Staytripper | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Don't Miss These Quintessential Fall Festivals in Vermont


Published September 20, 2022 at 10:00 a.m.

An antique apple cider press - COURTESY
  • Courtesy
  • An antique apple cider press

19th Century Apple & Cheese Harvest Festival

Sunday, September 25, 1-4 p.m., at Justin Morrill Homestead in Strafford. $5; free for kids under 15.

Smack in the middle of apple season, locals can don bonnets and top hats for a trip back in time to the 19th Century Apple & Cheese Harvest Festival at Justin Morrill Homestead in Strafford. The annual shindig marks Johnny Appleseed's birthday with a full schedule of food and fun.

After a hiatus in 2020 and 2021, this year's festival marks a return to in-person celebration. Expect plenty of vintage vim and vigor: Attendees can tap their toes to live fiddle and accordion tunes, squeeze their own cider from an antique press, meet sheep and cattle, sample heirloom apples and artisan cheeses, play period games, munch on apple pie, and explore the homestead's gardens, barns, blacksmith shop, shuffleboard court, icehouse, lookout trail and historic Gothic Revival house.

The grounds, which belonged to Vermont senator and farmer Justin Smith Morrill (1810-1898), are a sight to see. An amateur architect and landscape designer, Morrill had the gardens and walkways around his home planted for maximum pleasure. Visitors taking a stroll will see colorful flowers, the oldest Norway spruce in Vermont and many of the original trees planted by Morrill himself.

Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival

Saturday, October 1, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday, October 2, 10 a.m.-4 p.m., at Tunbridge World's Fairgrounds. $5-8; free for toddlers; materials fee for some classes.
  • © Jiri Castka | Dreamstime
  • Sheep

Masters, dames and little boys who live down the lane can pick up their three bags full of black sheep wool and much, much more at the Vermont Sheep & Wool Festival. Kicking off sweater season with a baa-ng, the Tunbridge fest provides an opportunity for Vermont's spinners, weavers, dyers, knitters, sheepherders and alpaca farmers to get together for one woolly and wonderful weekend.

Back in person this year, the 34th annual festival "is dedicated to 'Women in Farming,'" promoter Terry Miller noted. "We hope you will help us celebrate the women who work to produce natural fiber and food products."

Entrants into every fiber arts contest — categories include sweaters, spun yarn, felting, rugs and baskets — get special prizes for feminist-themed products. And the entire event is dedicated to Kat Smith, who died in 2021. The vendor and veteran planning committee member gave 25 years of indelible service to the festival.

Fiber fanatics of all stripes are sure to find something to love, whether it's the fleece sale, the border collie herding demonstrations, the book readings and signings, the life-size sheep sculptures, the free shepherd workshops or the cashmere goat show. And there are classes galore: tapestry weaving, natural dyeing and wheel spinning, just to name a few.

Indigenous Peoples' Day Rocks!

Saturday, October 8, 10:30 a.m.-6:30 p.m., at Stowe Events Field. Free; donations accepted.
  • Courtesy of Jeff Fasano
  • Carly Harvey

Indigenous Peoples' Day Rocks! is both a statement of fact and the name of an epic music and cultural festival in Stowe. Ever since Vermont replaced Columbus Day with an official state holiday called Indigenous Peoples' Day, Stowe Vibrancy has been organizing a celebration of Native American traditions.

The annual concert was born in 2020 in partnership with the Abenaki tribe. Its mission: "To create a year-round vessel and engine to honor, celebrate and support [the Indigenous people] whose lands we live on," the board of directors wrote in a press release earlier this year.

"Our third year promises to be even brighter and more moving," the board wrote. "We're so excited about the work at hand with Chief [Don] Stevens to continue transforming this year's celebration to include cultural and arts education, drumming and dancing." The day culminates in "an incredible rock and roll show."

It all starts with a bustling cultural festival, featuring blessings by Chief Stevens, dancing, drumming, storytelling, singing, artisans, authors and all manner of Abenaki educational offerings. As afternoon turns to evening, the rock concert begins. This year's lineup includes Blues Hall of Fame inductee Joe Louis Walker, who is of Cherokee descent; Washington, D.C.'s "Queen of the Blues" Carly Harvey, who is of Tsalagi and Tuscarora descent; local Abenaki musician and storyteller Jesse Bowman Bruchac; Vermont blues legend Dave Keller; and Mohawk recording artist Bear Fox & Kontiwennenhawi.

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