Brattleboro's Strolling of the Heifers set to roll into town June 4
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared in the Reformer on May 21.
BRATTLEBORO >> For the 15th year in a row, the heifers will stroll on Main Street today.
The Strolling of the Heifers Weekend, features a parade of flower-bedecked heifer calves led by future farmers, and while the parade attracts visitors from around the country, it's only part of the fun. The parade's theme this year is "Love your farmer."
The signature heifer calves lead the parade, which starts at 10 a.m., and are followed by other farm animals, tractors, bands, floats and much more. The crowd then follows the parade to the all-day Slow Living Expo at the Brattleboro Common and the Brattleboro Retreat grounds to enjoy food, family fun, entertainment and exhibits.
Over the years, Strolling of the Heifers has grown from a one-hour parade into a full weekend packed with family events, and attracts tens of thousands of visitors to this scenic Connecticut Valley town in the heart of New England. The weekend has consistently been listed among the top summer events of New England and has received international attention.
But the Strolling of the Heifers is not just about a parade and fun on the Common; it's to connect people with healthy local foods and with the farmers and producers who bring it to them. In recent years, the mission has expanded to include a year-round set of programs aimed at encouraging innovation and entrepreneurship in farm and food businesses.
First and foremost, the weekend event shows support and appreciation for family farmers, but it also features many other regional food producers, as well as vendors and exhibitors of many other sustainable goods and services.
At the Slow Living Expo, besides meeting the heifers up close, visitors will find makers of many specialty foods including candies, chocolates, condiments, sauces, meats, pizzas and beverages, along with craftspeople, green building and home energy specialists, and healthy living and woodlands exhibitors.
There are three major stages offering entertainment: On the Retreat Grounds, there are the C&S Wholesale Family Entertainment Tent and a fiddlers tent offering an old-fashioned fiddling contest, and on the Common, a variety of traditional and contemporary musical entertainers in the Gazebo.
A crowd favorite at the Expo is the non-stop trapeze artists show by the New England Center for Circus Arts, which is based in Brattleboro. Visitors will also enjoy Goat Olympics, featuring goats from Hollyhock Farm in Putney and a round robin human foosball tournament, which is played in an enclosed arena with players required to hold on to sliding bars while trying to score goals with the soccer ball.
The money raised during Strolling of the Heifers weekend, largely through business sponsorships, supports the Stroll's year round programs at its River Garden headquarters in downtown Brattleboro. These include a Farm-to-Table Culinary Apprenticeship Program and Windham Grows, a new program to help scale up farm and food enterprises by providing them with mentorship, consulting, services and resources. There are also daily brown bag lunch events featuring speakers and musicians.
For more information on all events and programs, visit www.StrollingoftheHeifers.com.
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