12 Winter Activities Not to Miss in Rutland County

Here in Vermont, we are not strangers to the isolating chill of the darkest season – winter with its condensed daylight and wool layers for low temperatures; however, the seemingly required cushion by one’s roaring fireplace sometimes decreases our typical neighborly demeanor, and we might need a few reminders and an extra pair of mittens to be able to push outside the snow banks of comfort.

Here are several warm suggestions to help us all not forget that our community comes together in fun and fortune. Invite your neighbor to enjoy these activities and together you can both stay nice and busy!

1. Attend Winter Fest.

Summer and Autumn often conjure up images of festivals on street corners with popcorn and hot dogs and laughter, but one often forgets fun, free, family festivals in winter. They exist!

Look ahead to February for Rutland’s 14th Annual Winter Fest. Bring your neighbors, friends, and family out for night sledding, teddy bear carry slacklines, cardboard sled challenge, snowshoeing, scavenger hunts, and more!


2. Slip and slide and ice skate.

Some of us might be better balancers than other novices, but after a few wobbly turns around the rink, a smile is guaranteed to spring up on anyone’s face, no matter their skating skill.

Where to skate in Rutland, VT:ice-rink

  • Giorgetti Arena – 2 Oak St. Ext.
  • Spartan Arena – Diamond Run Mall Complex

Where to skate in Rutland County:

  • Proctor Skating Rink – Olympus Rd, Proctor, VT

3. Volunteer! Get active!

Get to know your local community by volunteering side by side with dedicated community members! For example, you can help pack over 50,000 meals on January 14th is the Rutland Meals Challenge at the Good Shepard Church.

Or, you can participate in the one of the largest service events of the year and give back to the community on January 16thMartin Luther King Day of Service.

Pictured below: Volunteers pack food as part of the Rutland Meals Challenge.rutland-meals-challenge

4. Snowmobile to a country store.

Trails are officially open for the season! For those wishing to try their hand at this classic Vermont sport, rent a snowmobile, or take a guided tour through beautiful arched arctic tunnels.

For further information on snowmobiling in Vermont, contact the Vermont Association of Snow Travelers, Inc. (VAST) at 26 Vast Ln., Barre, VT 05641. Ph: 802-229-0005. Fax: 802-223-4316. E: [email protected] I: www.vtvast.org

5. Take a winter cooking class with RAFFL.

raffl-cooking-classWe might not be able to tend to our gardens, but we still have to tend to our stomachs. Rutland Area Farm and Food Link (RAFFL) has got your kitchen and your stomach set for these winter months. Their Everyday Chef program can come to your workplace or organization to teach anything from how to prep a winter squash for roasting to advanced knife skills.

They also offer classes for the whole family, so if you are looking for something to do when school’s not in session, attend the next workshop on December 27th and learn about festive salads and no-bake cookies.

Pictured left: Former Everyday Chef, Elena Gustavson on the left, cooking with Bethany Yon and Nicole LeBlanc.

6. Have a grown-up playdate.mentorbowl2013

Do you have a cause that you are excited about? There are lots of ways you can have fun and give back to an organization you admire in the community.

Two of my favorite places in Rutland to support while having fun: Wonderfeet Kids Museum and The Mentor Connector.

On January 14th, you can golf for kids at Stonehedge Indoor Golf, while prepping for the next season of golf. And on January 28th, you can bowl for kids at Rutland Bowlerama; bring the whole family to this one, folks.

Pictured right: Rotary Club of Rutland at Mentor Connector’s fundraising bowling event.

7. Listen, share, laugh, cry at a Storytelling Night.

rumpusThe Rumpus is a monthly live storytelling event in Rutland County, held in varying locations around the area. There is literally no preparation required for this ideal inside winter activity.

You can just show up and listen, and be entertained, or sign up to share a personal experience!

Typically, these storytelling nights are by free-will donation; however, January’s Rumpus is a benefit for ART, and tickets can be purchased online. A Rumpus for ART is January 28th at the Paramount’s Brick Box.

Pictured right: Host Michael Ray Kingsbury tells a story at Stone Valley Arts, Poultney, VT

8. Join a contra line – Go dancing.

There’s no better way to keep warm than to keep dancing – you’ll work up one heck of a sweat in the winter by contra-ing, so much so you’ve got to change your drenched shirt to a dry one.

In Rutland County, Tinmouth Community Center hosts a wild Contra Dance every month on the third Friday.

And if you want a challenge, then don’t miss out on the Flurry Festival, a festival of traditional dancing and music, held in Saratoga Springs, NY. It is said that “The Flurry is the best winter weekend ever for dancers and music lovers of all ages.”

Pictured below: Tinmouth Contra Dance at the Community Center (October 19, 2015 – Facebook page)tinmouth-contra

9. Track some animal tracks.

A great way for people to get out and play in the snow while learning about wildlife is helping The Nature Conservancy track animal activity after a fresh snowfall (specifically, 2-5 days afterward).

snow-tracksWhat is snow tracking and why do it? Snow tracking is a commonly used survey technique used over a variety of landscapes to detect the presence and/or abundance of a variety of mammalian species.

Volunteers will also have the opportunity to gain experience using GPS units, compasses, and recording important scientific data.

If you are a photographer, don’t miss out on some beautiful winter landscapes here, too.

To volunteer, email Volunteer Coordinator, Dylan O’Leary: [email protected]

10. Judge/Host a snow-person or snow-sculpture contest in your neighborhood.

Bundle up from your boots to your brim and play in crisp snow. Well, play to win. Gather your neighbors and write up the rules. No motorized tools allowed. No props – structural or otherwise.

Or, limit your materials to only allow: carrots, scarves, sticks, and snow. You make the rules, and you get to judge. A bit of friendly competition might even lead to a snow-ball fight.

Need a location to sculpt some snow in Rutland?: Get in touch with NeighorWorks of Western Vermont to use the community outdoor space at 113 Library Ave, Rutland, VT. Read about the fall festival held here to get inspired.

Pictured below: Rutland Chaffee Art Center hard at work during Winter Fest’s Snow Carving Challengesnow-sculpting

11. Throw an upcycling craft party.

Lots of people knit or crochet during the winter months to pass the time and make another wearable layer, but there are so many other materials you can take advantage of besides yarn.

newspaper-fruit-basketUpcycle your un-worn t-shirts to make tote-bags, quilts, or fashionable knotted headbands. Invite your friends over, asking them to bring things they no longer use, and then find new uses for those items in other households.

Maybe your friend Susan has stacks and stacks of read newspapers, and you need a new bowl to hold your keys by the front door after your dog, Tucker, crashed into the foyer last week.

Perfect, heat up your glue gun and start folding that paper, because you’re about to craft yourself a beautiful bowl.

12. Mull something, mull everything.

Experiment with your spice collection easily from the bulk section of your local co-op and mull – to heat, sweeten, and flavor with spices – your drink of choice.

My number one will always be apple cider, but why not try adding some orange slices with your cinnamon stick and cardamom.

Or warm up wine, orange juice, blueberry juice, well, pretty much any type of juice.

Tackling the spice hunt and hunting down Brown’s cider is a fun scavenger hunt already, and using quality ingredients will bring down the house.