Friday, January 17, 2014

Holiday Festival CELEBRATION

 Note: This blog post is photo heavy. Please give it time to load.

On December 14th the nearby town of Newbury Vermont held their last BIG 250th event outside at their common and inside their elementary school.
I just had to go.    I have attended almost all of the events all year and have greatly enjoyed them all.
Almost every resident of the town has volunteered at the well planned events and many out-of-towners have also lent their support, equipment and time.

As I drove into the parking lot early that morning I noticed 2 things:   It was only 2 degrees and there was a magnificent handmade wagon waiting for some horses.
It was going to be a challenge to stay warm.
It was going to be a challenge to keep my hands off the horses.

There were plenty of folks already parked and setting up the exhibits when I arrived. Of course we had a dusting of snow the night before so the entire Common was turned into the perfect winter wonderland.

Warmly dressed volunteers were putting up signs and greeting each other with big hugs and cold cheeks.
Even the dogs had sweaters.

Men were putting up the "warming " tent.      Great idea...but....
Its gonna take more than a tent to warm up anyone here.....

Yep, here is where I wanna be.  Several cords of wood were being chopped to make a community bonfire to keep the attendees warm and toasty. This will work.
This woodsman volunteered to saw up full logs and then chop and split enough wood to burn for the entire day.   THANK YOU!

These hardy people volunteered to keep the hot cider and hot chocolate warming on the grill.
I made multiple trips during the day to keep the frost off me.

Did I mention it was only 2 degrees, And every volunteer, and participant, had a big smile on their face ?  Here is the proof.

When the piano arrived by truck,  I knew there would be some good music! 

Exhibitors were carrying in their equipment, logs and crafts.

Primitive toys were very popular with the kids... and the adults.

Wood turners were giving instruction to anyone that was interested.
I love watching bowls, plates and spoons coming out of blocks of wood.

This primitive set up was for a manual powered pole lathe.   It took time to get it all inside the building and put together, but boy! did it make nice bowls and wood items.  Free instruction.

Bead crafter extraordinaire.

Primitive tools to make wooden houses the old way.

Spinning wool.  Some people have all the talent.

This wonderful woman raises her own alpacas and sheep, spins her own wool and knits it into wearable and warm clothing.

And instruction is FREE.

Her yarn was so pretty and colorful that it was hard for me to walk away.

See what I mean ?

I was imagining a woolen vest made from a few of the different colors.

 One of the most popular exhibits was a beam and a 200 year old peg drill.

Have you heard of peg and beam construction ?   They do not use nails, its all pegs holding all the beams together.

This peg driller is manual.

It keeps advancing on the beam to make large slits to slide other pieces of wood in and it makes holes for pegs.

You sit on the beam and peddle your arms while the drill makes the hole.
It takes awhile and its a real workout!
Here the principal of this school happily makes peg holes the old fashioned way.

Another primitive exhibit was the Spoon Maker, Evan Perkins.
He had the kids mesmerized (and me too) making smooth spoons out of rough wood with his bare hands.
First he takes his ax and chops a block of wood.



Then he takes his special whittling tool and starts trimming it down and shaping it.

He got to this point in about 15 minutes.


 Finished product.

I kick myself for not making one or buying one!

There was just too much going on, and of course I had to experience it all.


A creative couple, Brad and Linda.   Linda's mom made her outfit from scratch. This is how the early pioneers dressed when they came and built this town. Linda is the Master of Ceremonies today and will lead the singing both inside and outside.
Brad makes lots of usual wooden items.  They built a straw house, have a trellised garden,plus a Conestoga wagon chicken tractor and were on our coop tour in August.
They adopted their new dog Homer (in the red sweater). Mavis likes him.

Using a manual foot pedal, Brad makes a wooden candle holder on the wood turner.

 The legendary North Country Singers sang several times during the day.
Voices of angels.

They are use to seeing me stalking them with my camera....

Outside on the common people were sledding, skating and cross country skiing.

The wagon was hitched to 2 handsome Belgian horses and I think Santa was getting a ride to his special chair on the Common.

The fire was warm and inviting. I defrosted my toes several times as I walked around the Common.

The old seminary church is a landmark in this town.
Its also where the hot cider and hot chocolate were.
The horses stopped here to let people off to warm up.

Meet Mike & Cody.    They volunteered to transport event attendees around to different events AND to escort Santa to his special chair.

They got lots of loving attention and were eager to make the rounds to the different venues.

Santa & the Elves were front and center on the Common.
Every child visited the jolly man and made their requests.
I again asked for a pony.....

Local photographer for the local newspaper, Janice had a good time trying to get around to all the exhibits and demonstrations.

Of course I had to take the ride.

It got colder as the sun started to set and a hot cup of cider was exactly what I needed.

Everyone needed it.

Dedicated elves kept the fires going, and volunteers kept them plied with hot chocolate.

A few brave dogs came out in the cold with their best friends.
( I hinted about a dog jacket to this owner..)

Some pups came dressed to have fun.

This is my 15th cup of hot chocolate. They saw me walking across the Common and had a cup waiting for me.  Its amazing how different people look when they are all bundled up. Two of these women go to my church, but I did not recognize them!

The horses came to get me.

I headed back inside the school to see what else was going on and had to get a photo of Sue the Elf and Linda.
 Then I walked around to see the other crafts.

HAND CRAFTED Braided Rugs by Delsie Hoyt.

Amazingly creative, her rugs are now in museums and collections.

She is a fourth generation rug braider!

Take a look at her website and colorful designs HERE.

Candle dipping got my attention.

Another unusual use for milk crates....

Kate & Steve Davie sang rowdy Irish songs and kept us entertained.

The children made objects out of clay.

The pottery wheel was running all day.

The Mischievous Musketeers had their photo taken and then went off to create chaos and holiday cheer.

Linda added a shawl to her olde outfit, so I had to take another photo.

 Just as I was about to go back outside I saw this cow sweater....

Before I could barter it off her back, she jumped on the beam and started drilling a peg hole.

The wood chips were flying out of the beam. This woman was the fastest driller of the day.

Lots of souvenirs were available.

Mugs, buttons, magnets, shirts and

Tree ornaments and The book!

Lots of grandmothers brought their grandchildren.
They just glow with happiness... and exhaustion. Lisa is the chairman of this wonderful event. What a tremendous amount of time and energy went into the planning for it all.

The wood turners were busy making wood items and giving lessons.

Throughout the gym there was laughter and happy noise.

 and the sound of wood being made into beautiful usable pieces of art.

The Elf took a turn drilling the beam.

John Nininger, owner of the Wooden House Company making peg and beam construction the old fashioned way.   As you have seen in the photos, he had lots of interested folks drilling holes with his antique peg hole makers.  It was just like riding a bike

To see an amazing portfolio of the kinds of houses he builds, click HERE

 He attached corner arches to the beams using only pegs.

I checked out his website and saw just how all the drilling, trimming and arches looked when they would be assembled.

 John had a wooden peg holder on his belt.  He made it himself.

There was a storytelling session almost ready to start so I headed to the classroom.

Lots of children and adults listened attentively to the storyteller, Hope.

All was going well until she read the part about the chicken and I saw the page with the fox carrying the hen away.              This was too visual for me, having lost a hen in September... probably to a fox.
I just shook my head, rolled my eyes and went up and took a photo of the page when the story was over.
The other stories were great and everyone in the room enjoyed them.

More North County Chorus.  

More lathe work with a young student.

Lessons in making pottery.

Singers from six different churches came to sing and led us through lots of wonderful holiday songs.

Outside the crowds were enjoying the fire and conversation.

Living rurally means not seeing your friends and neighbors much during the tough winters so having this great event where we could see people we hadn't seen since October was a real treat.

 We got caught up with all the news.

Sledding was popular and there were groups on all the nearby hills.

When Linda showed up at the fire, I knew we would be singing soon.

As I walked to another area, I saw this memorial by the school flagpole.

Vermonters don't forget.

 On the other side of the flagpole was this:

The singing began as the fire jumped higher.

The sun went down quickly.

The candles came on in the old church.

And more voices joined us at the warm, cackling fire.

 After the sing-a-long we all headed down to the school cafeteria for a potluck supper.

People had been cooking for days.

The food tables went the width of the entire cafeteria.

The dynamic kitchen crew put the food on the tables, and kept it coming!

Dozens of choices and all the food was HOT and delicious!

Every person in this town brought food, ready to eat, plus beverages and delectable desserts.

I need to change the last sentence on this sticker.

LOTS happens in Vermont and we invite EVERYONE to participate!

The dessert table went the entire length of the cafeteria.

There were some desserts that I had never experienced before, so I had to try them all.

In the end, it was the most colorful that attracted me.

As if great food and conversation wasn't enough, promptly at 5 pm the cafeteria emptied out quickly.
There was a small stampede of folks heading to the bonfire to watch the fabulous FIREWORKS!!!

Several hundred people, with children, grandchildren, friends, family and neighbors tilted their heads up to the sky to take in the amazing sights and sounds.

My camera was partially frozen and stopped taking photos, but you get the idea.    They were spectacular and the loud noise and colors could be seen up and down the Connecticut River.

It was the perfect ending to the perfect day.

I hated leaving the warm fire and the new friends I had made, but I had a long ride home and the heater in my vehicle doesn't work very well...

There were many good-byes heard through the crowd as people gathered their families and headed home.   Tired, well fed and happy.

So many wonderful 250th celebrations took place this year in Newbury and surrounding towns and villages.
I thank EVERYONE who volunteered and donated time, money, equipment, muscle, supplies, food, ideas, and support.
My only regret is that this unique family event, as well as several other fun 250th events, will not be continued next year.     
Hopefully, someone will suggest that new traditions need to start here and that energetic volunteers will again turn a wonderful idea into a joyous winter day for all.


  1. What a truly wonderful event! Thanks for sharing the pictures with us! I would have had a hard time passing up that beautiful yarn and those hand-carved spoons! :)

  2. lovely shots, but I have to say that Mike & Cody were my favorites by far!

  3. That church is like out of a storybook! Wonderful event, looks like so much fun and so many things to do and see!

  4. Wow that is a wonderful event packed full of all kinds of interesting things to see and do. Well worth getting out to see up close. Thanks for sharing

  5. This looks like a blast!! Maybe I can make there one day.....thank you for the tour felt like we were their with ya sitting on your shoulder from afar....

  6. I hope 2014 proves to be a good year for you and yours.

  7. I'm a little jealous that I wasn't able to experience this joyous day...

    I'm glad you jumped in all of the fun and got some pictures for us though!

    Thanks for linking to the letter "J".