Aside from the beautiful colors, there is an abundance of fall festivals to enjoy over the coming weeks. Starting this weekend with the Vermont Life Wine and Harvest Festival, straight through to the Gilfeather Turnip Festival on October 27, there is something going on every weekend.
Interestingly, each of the above-mentioned festivals represents milestones of sorts. Each of them, the wine and harvest festival and the turnip festival, will be held in towns on the rebound. Wardsboro, where the turnip festival takes place, and Wilmington and Dover, home to the wine and harvest festival, took big hits from Tropical Storm Irene a year ago.
Those towns took it on the chin from Irene, either physically, financially or both. This fall is the chance to celebrate all that has taken place in the past year: overcoming the destruction of Irene, finding new strength in community, and the collective knowledge of coming through something together.
Another interesting thing about the wine and harvest festival is its unique structure. Developed by the Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce, the festival quickly partnered with the state of Vermont through Vermont Life Magazine. A couple of years ago Mount Snow Resort was brought into the fold in an expanded role, when it became clear the festival had outgrown its original location and was moved to the base of the mountain.
Partnerships like this strengthen these events, and make their longevity more likely. Partnerships also spread the workload and the marketing opportunities. All of that bodes well for the long-term success of these events.
Vermont needs to be creative and opportunistic in its marketing efforts. Strong partnerships among the state, local organizations, and private businesses is one model that should be successful in keeping the tourism industry vital and vibrant.
The wine and harvest festival is a clear example of that, and one that should continue to grow in the coming years.
With gasoline prices spiraling up again, those partnerships become more and more valuable, and more essential. What happens when it reaches $5 or $6 or $7 per gallon? We hope it doesn’t, but the reality is there. If that happens, tourism business will be even more competitive than it is now. Those who will best be able to compete are those who will be organized and willing to work together, not those who try to go it alone.
But, for the immediate future, let’s just have some fun. There’s plenty of it in store over the next few weeks.
Go out and enjoy one, two, or all of the great local fall festivals.