Following My Heart to Stowe, Vermont!
February 2021 Issue
Reel Corner by Donne Paine
Pink’s theme this month is “Follow Your Heart”
Mine takes The Reel Corner to the state of Vermont!
If you recall movies like Funny Farm with Chevy Chase, Baby Boom with Diane Keaton, The Cider House Rules, Beetlejuice, The Trouble with Harry (filmed entirely in Stowe), or Four Seasons... they were all filmed in Vermont.
Since new film releases have been few and far between during the pandemic, I thought I’d share what it’s like in the ski village of Stowe, Vermont, where these films were made.
For movie lovers, all you ski club members, ski enthusiasts, or just curious folks on how the ski community of Stowe has survived 2020 and still kept its charm, this is for you.
This is my fourth winter visit to Fiddler’s Green Inn in Stowe, so I was curious on how, due to the pandemic, this visit would be different. Vermont has had and continues to have one of the lowest incidents of COVID-19 of any state. When you visit you can see why. Travelers must agree to a 10 day quarantine, followed by a negative COVID test.
Stowe’s two magnificent mountains, Mt. Mansfield and Spruce Peak form a grand panorama defined by the rugged cliffs of Smugglers Notch. Mt. Mansfield’s summit elevation is 4,393 feet, which is divided into two original ski areas with a four-person high speed lift and an 8-passenger high speed gondola lift. Stowe’s bounty of natural snow, its open glades, uninterrupted fall line and the spectacular twin summits of Vermont’s highest mountain were a magnet for pioneers of skiing in America. In the early 1930s the first chair lifts, along with the development of ski patrols, originated here. Today, almost 100 years later, alpine cross country, free-style skiers and snowboarders continue to bring world fame to this proud mountain community. Countless winter Olympians have had representation from Stowe.
Stowe is a quintessential Northeast mountain town with a small walking strip of shops, restaurants and lodging. As you head up Mountain Road towards the mountain a few miles from the center of town, you are greeted with a panoramic view of the iconic four: National, Goat, Starr and Liftline—all expert trails for those who are prepared for a thrill.
It used to be going out west was the best option for a top-notch, upscale ski vacation, fortunately, that is no longer true. With major transformations over the past 10 years, Stowe Mountain and the Spruce Peak Village augments the Vermont experience with its charming inns and the experience of historic New England, truly offering everything winter travelers are looking for in a ski vacation.
Currently, face coverings are required to access the mountain in all indoor spaces and in chairlift and gondola lines. In order to control crowds, even ski pass holders must make a reservation. All transactions are cashless. Ski schools have a maximum of six, and self health screenings are required within 24 hours of each ski lesson and enhanced safety protocols are practiced by all mountain employees.
According to Bud McKeon, the innkeeper at Fiddler’s Green Inn, lodging reservations are at about 40 percent occupancy. Lodgers must sign a release form after reading guidelines provided by the state of Vermont and agree to comply, including staying home if they are symptomatic. Once at the Inn, lodgers must maintain six-feet from anyone outside their household, wear a face covering in public spaces and sanitize hands frequently. Innkeepers must follow enhanced cleaning measures provided by the state and adhere to them.
While composing this article, I’m looking out at snow flurries and an accumulation of over 8-inches of fresh snow today, but what happens when the slopes need a little help? Well, since the 1970s, snowmaking has come to the rescue. This allows ski resorts to improve the reliability of their snow cover and extend the ski season. Snowmaking is the production of snow by forcing water and pressurized air through a “snow-gun,” also known as a “snow cannon.”
Of course there are other attractions in Stowe, such as art galleries, more than 50 restaurants (no franchises), the well-known Alchemist Brewery with their famous Heady Topper brew, the Trapp Family Lodge, historic inns like Fiddler’s Green, creative writing workshops for filmmakers, film festivals, ice sculpture competitions and the charming Vermont covered bridges.
Vermont’s covered bridges stand as symbols of an honored past and as proof of the past’s enduring relevance. These barn like bridge coverings have delighted photographers and painters for years and remain an excuse for courting couples to steal a kiss while out on a drive. They are a delight to the eyes, an almost natural expression of the forested landscape, hilly terrain and splendid streams that surrounds them. Vermont has 107 covered bridges.
As the era of the pandemic fades and travel plans begin to be added to calendars, think Vermont, especially for a winter or fall getaway.
References: The Story of Old Vermont, www.Stowe.com, The Stowe Reporter, ACCD COVID Guidance Memo www.accd.Vermont.gov/news/update, conversation with Jeff Wise Communications Manager, Stowe, Attitash and Wildcat.