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8 Fun Winter Activities to do in VT That Aren't Skiing

Vermont is certainly known as a skier and rider’s paradise during the winter months, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t more to enjoy in Vermont from November to March! Below you will find 8 fun things to try in Vermont this winter — that don’t have anything to do with skiing or snowboarding. 

Sledding

Two Teen Girls SleddingSledding isn’t just for kids these days! There are several sled makers in Vermont that make adult size steerable sleds. Check out Granville Gulf, between Warren and Granville. Locals recommend exploring this winding stretch of Route 100 just south of Warren. Helmets are advised. Lincoln Gap in Warren is also a popular spot. Lincoln Gap is recommended for experienced sledders. After a 30 minute hike to the top, prepare for an exhilarating 2 mile ride back down! Again, helmets are advised. There are also plenty of public sledding hills that more suitable for younger children. 

Snowmobiling

The state of Vermont is home to over 4,700 miles of snowmobile trails. All of which have been maintained and groomed by the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers for nearly 50 years. Most VAST trails run on private land, and are only open during the winter, giving you a truly unique perspective of Vermont. Don’t own your own snowmobile? Head to Stowe and take a tour. Snowmobile Vermont offers a two hour, 25-mile backcountry tour through Mount Mansfield State Forest. They also provide boots and helmets for the ride. 

Hit the Spa

Looking to warm up and forget that it’s five below outside? Why not sit inside and be pampered all day. Vermont has dozens of inn and resorts that feature full-service spas

Ice FishingIce Fishing Huts on the Lake

Find out for yourself why Vermonters love ice fishing. Check out the Free Ice Fishing Day Festival the last Saturday of January! Free Ice Fishing Day is an opportunity for anyone to go ice fishing without a permit (resident or non-resident). Registration opens at 11 am at Hoyts Landing in Springfield, VT. Fish and Wildlife staff and Let’s Go Fishing volunteers will have ice fishing equipment available for those who don’t have their own. Staff and volunteers will also be available to help the inexperienced learn ice fishing basics. 

Dog Sledding Tours

Dog sledding isn’t just for Alaskans! January and February are ideal months to enjoy dog sledding. Vermont is home to many dog sledding teams, several of which offer tours. Not only can you take a tour through the mountains, several tours include an educational piece that will teach you mushing basics. 

Track a Moose

Take a hike through one of the many state forests, or sign up to take a guided track with an expert! Join field naturalist Sophie Mazowita the last Sunday in January for a full-day of wildlife tracking in Huntington, VT. The adventure begins with an indoor presentation. 

See Where it’s MadeBrewery Equipment

From maple syrup to teddy bears, there are lots of great things made in Vermont. Take a behind the scenes look at some of Vermont’s largest companies. Take a brew tour at one of the many breweries all over Vermont, why not see how some of the most notable brands brew their beers?! You should note that not all breweries offer tours, so it’s a good idea to check ahead of arriving. There are also several companies in the state that offer organized tours. Or check out a sugarhouse in late winter to see how maple syrup gets made! Or how about checking out the Ben & Jerry’s Factory? From furniture to cheese, there's a tour for everyone in the family. 

See a Play, Musical, Stand-up Event and More

Vermont has always had a strong arts community. Check out the Lost Nation Theater in Montpelier to see community theater at it’s finest. Positive Pie in Montpelier serves up live music weekly. There is always something going on at Higher Ground in Burlington and the Rusty Nail in Stowe. Check out the Vermont Calendar of Events for more information about what’s currently happening throughout the state.

 

2013 - A Year of Growth for Central Vermont Real Estate

How is the Central Vermont real estate market?

This is a frequently asked question and a good one too;  the health of the housing market is an economic indicator that impacts buyers, sellers, and everyone in between.

We took a look at some key indicators of  real estate in Central Vermont for 2013 using data compiled from some major sources and compared these 2013 indicators to the previous four years. One major source we utilized is the multiple listing service (MLS), where the majority of Vermont real estate sales transacted by licensed brokers are recorded. In addition to MLS, we utilized the Vermont real estate sales online database which gathers information from the Vermont Department of Taxes to create a comprehensive list of all real estate sales that may or may not be recorded in the MLS. From the statistics gathered, it is exciting to report that growth and improvement summarize Central Vermont real estate market in 2013.

The key indicators that we looked at are the number of sales of single family residences, average sale price, and number of days a property was on the market. The towns focused on while looking at these indicators are:  MontpelierBarre, U32 (BerlinCalaisEast MontpelierMiddlesex and Worcester), and Northfield

The information presented below will specifically be about the number of sales of single family residences in Washington County, categorized by town.

In 2013 home sales increased in every major community as compared with the number of home sales in 2012. 2013 also produced the highest number of Central Vermont Real Estate home sales for any year in the last five years.

NUMBER OF SALES BY TOWN

2009

2010

2011

2012

2013

Barre City

60

64

41

55

76

Barre Town

59

55

51

71

102

Montpelier

74

57

58

61

75

U32

51

58

58

51

96

Northfield

27

18

22

26

48

Totals

271

252

230

264

397

                               

                                                                                                     Graph

As you will note above, Barre Town posted a strong increase year after year and the U-32 towns  posted an amazing 88% jump after four years of consistent numbers. Waterbury posted around 57 residential sales.

Numbers don't lie. Considering the overall increase of number of sales in 2013 and the kickoff of activity we've experienced in the new year, we expect 2014 to be another year of steady growth for Central Vermont real estate.

Check out what is on the market now at our new and improved website heneyrealtors.com and don't forget to visit our Facebook page!

Vermont's Sweetest Treat, Maple Syrup

Vermonters are a pretty easy-going bunch, but when it comes to maple syrup you will be hard pressed to find ones who use anything less than high quality Vermont maple syrup. Sweet, sticky and able to improve just about every breakfast food, it is no small wonder Vermonters practically consider it a necessity. In fact from maple cotton candy, to maple popcorn, to maple creamies (our term for soft-serve ice cream), Vermonters have found ways to incorporate the delicious taste of maple syrup in many different ways. Maple sugar houses are great places to find diverse selections of maple products, but also locally made jams and spreads. If you are looking for a great family-friendly way to spend a summer day, find a local maple sugar house and sample a taste of Vermont.

East Montpelier, VT- Bragg Farm: With eight generations of experience making Vermont maple syrup, Bragg farm offers an extensive variety of maple syrup, maple candy, maple sugar and maple cream. In addition, they also sell cheese, pancake mix and an excellent assortment of gift boxes. Open year round, with free guided tours where visitors can see the traditional techniques this family operated business still uses. With an ice cream parlor, gift shop and friendly farm animals, the Bragg Farm is accommodating to visitors of all ages.

Montpelier, VT- Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks: One of Vermont's award winning maple sugar houses, Morse Farm Maple Sugarworks offers free sugarhouse tours and tastings to visitors. When you visit you can see the multimedia displays in their authentic woodshed theater, walk along their peaceful nature trail, drop in on their country store, and tour their outdoor Vermont farm life museum. While you are there, make sure to taste their wide variety of delicious maple products and try free samples of maple syrup. Be sure to try their maple creamies, named by the Food Network magazine as the best ice cream in VT and add maple syrup on top for the best experience! Morse Farm Sugarworks is open all year round.

Northfield, VT- Sweet Retreat Guesthouse and Sugarworks: During the spring sugaring season, make sure to visit the Sweet Retreat Guesthouse and Sugarworks for their wonderful, pure Vermont Maple Syrup. With both custom Pure Vermont Maple Syrup jugs and elegant glass bottles that can have tailor-made etchings carved into them, visitors can pick up maple syrup for both themselves and as stylish personal or corporate gifts.

Cabot, VT- Goodrich's Maple Farm: For seven generations since 1840, the Goodrich's Maple Farm has been a family owned and operated business. Visit their gorgeous post & beam building where guests can enjoy free educational tours and make sure to visit the sugarhouse during the springtime boiling season in order to try a local favorite, maple sugar on snow! With year round tours full of Vermont humor and a well-stocked gift shop be sure to stop by and pay them a visit.

Be Smarter--Like Heney Realtors on Facebook

We have a wide audience of readers for our Montpelier/Barre real estate blog. Some of you are locals, some of you are far-flung (yes, we consider Australia to be far-flung).

The updates and commentary that are making you a genius are only part of what's available. Check out our Facebook page. You'll find the fastest updates on new listings, price changes, and all sorts of information you'll want to know regarding the Montpelier and Barre real estate markets.

But it's also fun. There are contests, prizes, quizzes, the popular "Day in the Life" updates, "Market Slices" (come on, you know you're curious about that!), community information, and more.

Let's make it official. You know you like us. Go to Facebook.com/heneyrealtors and really like us.

--Ray Mikus

Halloween Costume Contest!

What's So Scary About This??

It's time again for the Halloween Costume Contest. This year, we're making it easier than ever to enter.

All you have to do is take a picture, and then upload it to the Heney Realtors facebook page. Should be easy to remember...it's facebook.com/heneyrealtors.

Prizes (yes, plural) will be awarded for any number of arbitrary categories. We'll also make an album so that all of our fans can check out the other great costumes.

Note: The first three entries will win the coveted "No Dilly Dallying Prize".

Entries are due by Wednesday 11/2.

So get out there, get creative, have fun, and get your photo uploaded!

Central VT Cleans Up After Irene

Communities share the relief effort 

Volunteers take a break in Moretown. Photo by Phil Scott

Following tropical storm Irene's path through Vermont is frightening. This storm presented in the form of heavy rain and the results of these torrents of water is difficult to imagine. Some communities were left unscathed while others were ravaged, and Montpelier seemed to have only minor damage when compared with nearby towns.

Barre fell on the "unscathed" list this time, which is most fortunate as they are still recovering from flooding at the end of May. Communities that received extensive damage in this central part of Vermont are Northfield, Moretown, Duxbury and Waterbury. Each in its own way is experiencing the members of the community coming together to rebuild. Although the Labor Day festivities have been cancelled in Northfield, the word is out for people to come help clean up instead. Efforts there are being coordinated with the assistance of Norwich University.

In Moretown, one home that we have been representing for sale was especially hard-hit with water flowing through the main floor. The owner said that yesterday some 36 people arrived to help them attempt to save their home.

Waterbury's downtown and several neighborhoods are digging out of the mud and rubble, but a walk down their main street makes it clear that the help on the ground is working quickly to provide services to those in need in as many numbers as they can muster. Thatcher Brook Primary School is the volunteer coordination center for clean up activities for Saturday, September 3. There is a volunteer coordination meeting at 9:00 AM at the school if you wish to join tomorrow.

For more up-to-date information and more ideas about how you can help, please check the #VTresponse blog.

- Tim Heney

Back to school in Central Vermont

Start Dates

U-32 and Harwood both see 10th, 11th, and 12th graders on Tuesday 8/30 and 7th, 8th, and 9th grade students on Wednesday 8/31. Montpelier and Northfield welcome all students back on Wednesday, August 31. In Barre, Spaulding's 9th grade students start on Tuesday 8/30 and the rest of the school begins on 8/31.

School Spirit

This week, sports teams took to the fields and as early as Friday, uniforms will go on for scrimmages and the annual field hockey jamboree at Mt Abe. Although my kids have been out of the Montpelier system for a handful of years, it's nice to see the high school set out on their lawns doing drills or jogging down Clarendon Ave on their way to a pre-season practice.

Get out and support local student-athletes! Schedules can be found in the local paper or on school websites.

- Tim Heney

Central Vermont Runners

One of the best ways to see real estate is by foot in summer and in winter. I'll defend that statement: I'm a runner. As a pretty laid back marathoner, my goal is to run a couple a year with halves as tune ups. From my house in Montpelier, I can run right into Hubbard Park or up the hill to the dirt roads of Middlesex - there are plenty of options for training without getting in a car.

5-miler runners in '79, Photo from www.cvrunners.org

Central Vermont's mountain bikers and avid skiers get more press, but the Central Vermont Runners are making an impact in the community. Most events attract a modest number of participants, but increasing turnout and enthusastic members make the CVR's activities reliably successful.

At last week's annual Berlin Pond 5-miler, things were more heated. Some came straight from work to wind down from the day, others were ready to run a sub-30 race. This year, the crowd ranged from pre-teens to a spry couple of 70-somethings who  turned out for the views, soft dirt roads and camaraderie.

Tonight, I'm hoping to get out of the office on time to make CVR's Tuesday Night Fun Run on the Montpelier Recreation Path. You can choose your distance and your level of motivation -- its just a great opportunity to run with others. Join us at 5:30pm on Tuesdays. It's fun and it's free!

- Tim Heney

Readers' Picks: Montpelier Daysies

Kudos to a List of Central Vermont Businesses

When I say Montpelier is the coolest state capital, my kids roll their eyes. Occasionally, I get proof from a credible source that, when waved under their noses, cannot be poo-pooed. In its annual readers' choice  survey, statewide weekly Seven Days awarded a rumored 27 of its cherished "Daysies" to Montpelier businesses. We're having trouble to verify the number, but in any case, the list of winners is outstanding! Congratulations to:

Sarducci's, Kismet, Salt, Positive Pie, Dairy Creme, Three Penny Taproom,  Capitol Grounds, Hunger Mountain Coop, Samosaman, Artisan's Hand Craft Gallery, The Savoy Theater & Downstairs Video, Lost Nation Theater, Salaam Boutique, The Men's Store, The Shoe Horn, Onion River Sports, Zutano, Splash Naturals, Guitar Sam, Buch Spieler, Bear Pond Books, Captial Kitchen, Woodbury Mountain Toys

Indie films at The Savoy, new running shoes at Onion River Sports, and a literary fix at Bear Pond? Popular with all the folks in this neck of the woods. Montpelier has great set of local business and pretty much anything you might wish to buy can be found downtown.

We're longtime readers of Seven Days - easily the best publication for local events and news - and we love spotting a Daysie hanging on the wall of our favorite establishments, but this comprehensive list of our favorite spots is the icing on the cake. From the intersection of State and Main in Montpelier, I can only celebrate Seven Days readers for voter turn out in Central Vermont.

-- Tim Heney

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Brown Bag Lunch

Montpelier Alive Celebrates Community Members

Photo by Jim Sheridan

At last Thursday's Brown Bag Lunch, all in attendance enjoyed the music of the Star Line Rhythm Boys and Montpelier Alive  used the gathering to double as their annual meeting.

On an average Thursday in summer, Brown Bag's are a great opportunity to get outside during the lunch hour and see some local musicians jam out.  It's also an excuse to walk by the hotdog vendor and chat with the folks in line. This week, it was an occasion for awards:

WDEV Radio AM 550 from Waterbury received an award for outstanding support following flooding in the wake of heavy rains that fell on May 26.

Andrew Brewer of Onion River Sports, Onion River Kids & The Shoe Horn was presented the Downtown Spirit Award for his indominable energy and efforts to make our downtown exciting and inviting.

Montpelier Alive board member Lynn Syz was declared "Outstanding Volunteer" for her many contributions to the community.

Our own Mary Heney and Tim Heney of the Heney Family Main Street LLC received a Downtown Stewardship award for projects in the works behind 73 Main Street. The goal is to create a more welcoming, accessible and appealing environment bordering the back of the Blanchard Block. Thinking about this underutilized space in the center of town, we are excited to imagine sitting out back on a bench that overlooks more than a city parking lot.

As Mayor Mary Hooper loves to say, "Great places do not happen accidentally."