LUDLOW, Vt. – On Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 20 and 21, 2022, the second annual Best of Vermont Summer Festival took over the Okemo Field in Ludlow, Vt. with an enthusiastic crowd, live music, food booths and trucks, artisan wares, antique cars, and hot air balloon rides, just to list a few highlights. This year’s festival saw more participants and guests than last year’s inaugural event, hosting close to 100 vendors, and an estimated 6,500 attendees.
Sponsored by the Okemo Valley Chamber of Commerce, the weekend was well organized and executed. Entering and exiting the event was seamless with Ludlow Police Chief Billings directing traffic on busy Route 103, and volunteers led by Holger Stoltze cheerfully parking cars. Stoltze was also responsible for the efficient layout of the parking lot and vendor booths. A $3 donation was requested 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, kick-off event for this year, the Friday night Cruise-In, with 90 antique and classic cars on display, Vermont Bliss food truck providing fresh, local cuisine, and a free t-shirt giveaway.
Saturday’s festivities started at noon, and soon after AJ’s Food Truck serving fried dough, SunnySide Taqueria, Mr. Darcy’s burgers, and Mount Holly Beer looked to be popular with the crowd. But most booths seemed well attended, and people were taking their time to peruse the many, hand crafted, locally sourced artisan products like pottery, jewelry, craft beer, and specialty foods. Festival goers sampled fudge, maple syrup, rum cake, salsa, jam, and wine.
Springfield Art Gym offered face painting, while Troy Wunderle from Big Top Adventures taught children and some adults how to walk on stilts. Six Loose Ladies demonstrated yarn spinning, and Fred DePaul showed the crowd how to shear sheep.
Musicians Jeb Porter & Friends were the first of three bands to take the stage on Saturday, and Sunday, local favorite fiddler Ida Mae Specker came back for a second year, playing country and bluegrass, and hosting barn dancing lessons.
Raffle tickets were handed out upon entry, and throughout the day, Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Carol Lighthall and Member Service Director Diane Stockton Breese announced prize winners. Prizes were generously gifted by many of the 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, procured by two very excited ten-year-old boys.
Three awards were handed out to the top finalists in the antique and classic car contest, as judged by participants and attendees who wanted to join in voting. The first place winner took home a cash prize of $500.
Looking forward to 2023, Lighthall mentions that they will be introducing a new vendor map, to help attendees better navigate the festival. She says the Chamber is currently gathering feedback from vendors and sponsors, which they will “review and discuss while everything is fresh in our minds, then we’ll put the folder away for a while.”