The Mountain Times

°F Fri, April 25, 2014

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Rutland celebrates Columbus Day

This weekend might be the best time all year to spend some time in downtown Rutland. There are three distinct events happening on Saturday that are all within walking distance from one another. Local restaurants and stores will be open for business with specials and sales.

The harvest festival atmosphere of the Rutland Farmer's Market in autumn is not to be missed. You can expect the market to be at maximum capacity with vendors selling everything from whiskey produced in Vermont to handcrafted jewelry. Where the market really shines is in its selection of locally grown food. As we approach the end of the growing season here in Vermont, the farmers have an abundance of offering. Locally raised pork, beef and chicken from several farms around the region are available. Apples, squash, vegetables of all shapes and sizes are all grown in greenhouses and fields nearby. If you can't wait to get your purchases home to cook them, there are always several food vendors at the market offering hot and delicious snacks as well as pastries and breads.   

Just a block away from the bustling market you will find a very interesting event called Trash2Art. This year will be the fourth time that Sustainable Rutland has hosted the event. Trash2Art is an art contest and exhibit. Coordinator Steve Peters says, "Trash to Art is a representation of what can be possible when we re-think what it is we consider trash. Landfills, especially here in Vermont, are quickly reaching maximum capacity, and it is clear that we need to think differently. We need recycling to occur throughout the state and country and we should consider how something might be re-used or up-cycled before just tossing it in the trash.

Trash2Art serves as a means of initiating an alternative way of thinking. We've seen everything from giants to birds to purses and clothing - all from what would otherwise have wound up in a landfill. In the past, we've even had some submissions find a permanent residence in downtown. Sustainable Rutland started out in 2008 as an initiative of Rutland's Creative Economy to address and advance environmental and sustainability initiatives in Rutland. Now it is a state non-profit and have a board consisting of several members active in relevant fields throughout the area. Trash2Art entries will be judged between 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. Saturday on Center Street. The Rutland Downtown Partnership has also added Wonderfeet Kid's Museum at Trash2Art. They are hosting puppet shows and interactive crafts tables for kids. Rutland Area Farm & Food Link will also give food preservation demonstrations.

Running all day Saturday and Sunday is the famous Art in the Park event. In its 51st year, the festival bills itself as "Vermont's oldest continuing arts tradition." It was recently heralded as one of the top ten events in the state by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce. Art in the Park is a juried event so customers can rest assured that they are getting authentic fine art and handmade jewelry or craft items. Erin Sheridan works for the company Ghostwriters Communications which has been hired to help organize the event. Sheridan explains: "We have experts jurying. They know what is handcrafted, what is quality-made and what is not. We do not want manufactured, we want one of a kind... We look for one artisan working on one product. Every media represented at the show has an expert in that field judging the artists for acceptance." The artists who return year after year have turned the event into one of the hallmarks of the area. Ann McFarren is a local Rutland watercolor artist with a studio and gallery on Terril Street. She has been participating for nearly 40 years now. She says "Art in the park always has a great diversity of types of artwork and handcrafts. The tourists that come to see our beautiful foliage also stop and see us in the park. There is no better place for a show than the crossroads of Routes 4 and 7 in Rutland."

The Rutland Downtown Partnership has been working hard to make it easy for visitors to see everything that the town has to offer.  In the spirit of a traditional harvest festival, there will be hayrides  from Main Street Park to the corner of Wales and Center Streets. Marble City Jazz Band will be playing near the Farmer's Market. Laura Conti, of the Partnership, says "Our goal with this is to allow those who are already downtown, quick access to Art in the Park.  And for those who are at Art in the Park, a quick shoot down the hill to our downtown activities - Trash2Art, the Farmers Market, grab breakfast, coffee or lunch or shop." This will certainly make for an eventful Columbus Day 2012.