Call­ing Canadian food­ies, out­door ad­dicts and dog lovers

The Hamilton Spectator - - BOOKS - KRISTY KIRKUP BURLING­TON, VT. —

Ver­mont is a state that boasts about its moun­tains, its food and spir­its scene, and its maple syrup pro­duc­tion — all fac­tors that make it a de­sired get­away for 650,000 Canadian vis­i­tors an­nu­ally.

While ski en­thu­si­asts are likely well aware of what the state has to of­fer dur­ing the win­ter, there are also a range of ac­tiv­i­ties un­der­way on the moun­tains in July and Au­gust in­clud­ing zip lin­ing and moun­tain bik­ing, says the state tourism depart­ment’s com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor Philip Tor­tora — not to men­tion a num­ber of food, beer and wine fes­ti­vals.

“That’s maybe the one thing that not a lot of peo­ple are aware of out­side of Ver­mont,” says Tor­tora.

“Our ski towns and our ski re­sorts are open year round and there’s a lot to do on th­ese moun­tains, they’re great places to come visit and re­lax or play in the warm months just as much they are dur­ing the win­ter time.”

Ver­mont is also con­sid­ered the maple syrup cap­i­tal of the United States, he says, adding the state pro­duced 47 per cent of Amer­ica’s maple syrup last year.

“We are quite proud of the maple syrup we pro­duce here and we are glad peo­ple will ven­ture in from other states and coun­tries to pick it up while they’re here on their trav­els,” Tor­tora says.

“We won’t com­pare our­selves to our Canadian friends ... we can con­fi­dently say we are the top maple syrup pro­ducer in the United States.”

About 90 per cent of Canadian vis­i­tors are from Que­bec. Ver­mont is look­ing for­ward to the prospect of bring­ing in more peo­ple from On­tario, Tor­tora says, with Porter Air­lines op­er­at­ing sea­sonal flights from Toronto’s Billy Bishop Air­port to Burling­ton In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

Burling­ton — a city of about 40,000 peo­ple in north­west­ern Ver­mont — is seen as a pop­u­lar es­cape for Canadian tourists.

It takes about an hour and 45 min­utes to drive to the city from Mon­treal and about three and a half hours from Ot­tawa, mak­ing it close enough for week­end get­aways. Ron Red­mond, the ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor of the pop­u­lar Church Street Mar­ket­place — a pedes­trian mall named one of the great pub­lic spa­ces of Amer­ica due its his­toric build­ings and flour­ish­ing retail scene — calls Burling­ton a “great es­cape.”

“It is quaint,” he says. “Ev­ery-

body knows ev­ery­body here ... There is gen­er­ally a pretty good vibe.”

There is an eclec­tic group of stores along the street, he adds, not­ing there’s ev­ery­thing from a vi­olin shop to women’s bou­tiques.

“We are ... a des­ig­nated his­toric dis­trict and it is quite re­mark­able, a lot of peo­ple come here just to en­joy our build­ings,” he says.

Cities in Ver­mont have also re­ceived praise for their craft beer and savoury food, in­clud­ing the pop­u­lar des­ti­na­tion Hen of the Wood in Water­bury and Burling­ton, and the Switch­back Brew­ing Co., in Burling­ton, which of­fers a small tast­ing room.

Fan­tas­tic food can be found at restau­rants up and down the state, Tor­tora adds, not­ing many of the best are nes­tled into his­toric inns and bed and break­fasts.

“When peo­ple think of farm-to-ta­ble din­ing ... we hope that Ver­mont is front and cen­tre,” he says. “We ac­tu­ally have an event called Open Farm Week com­ing Aug. 14 to 20 where the farms in our state will open their doors through­out the week.”

Jenny Morse, who heads up mar­ket­ing for the Church Street Mar­ket­place, also says Burling­ton is known as a “haven for dogs” in­clud­ing paths along Lake Cham­plain.

“I think be­cause we have such an ac­tive com­mu­nity and a very healthy com­mu­nity, that peo­ple are of­ten out run­ning with their dogs or go­ing for walks with their dogs, tak­ing their dogs to work with them a lot of the time,” she says.

“You will see dozens and dozens of dogs on Church Street on any given day and I think our busi­nesses do take those lit­tle ex­tra steps to make sure peo­ple feel com­fort­able bring­ing their dogs.”

Ver­mont is a state that boasts about its moun­tains, its food and spir­its scene, and its maple syrup pro­duc­tion — all fac­tors that make it a de­sired get­away for 650,000 Canadian vis­i­tors an­nu­ally.

Above, and at right: the Church Street Mar­ket­place in Burling­ton, Vt.

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