May 27, 2018

CVU gridiron gang pounds Essex, 49-21

St. Johnsbury next for 3-0 Redhawks

Sept. 22, 2011

By Mal Boright

Observer correspondent


The Redhawks’ Nicky Ferrentino scampers for some of his 231 rushing yards during CVU’s rout of Essex, 49-21, on Sept. 16. Ferrentino scored four touchdowns. (Courtesy photo by Joe Kropf)

After their spirited 49-21 victory on Sept. 16 at Essex High School, it is fitting that the next Division I test for the undefeated Champlain Valley Union football Redhawks will be on Saturday’s Spirit Day, when the 2-1 St. Johnsbury Academy Hilltoppers pay their initial visit to the Hinesburg pigskin foundry.

The Academy forces got crunched, 24-0, by BFA-St. Albans in their season opener, but then recovered with a 35-14 win at Burlington and last Saturday’s 46-6 romp over Spaulding.

In earning the school’s first victory in two appearances at the Essex field (a loss to the Hornets last year and defeat in the Division II title contest in 2009), the Redhawks took advantage of early Essex (0-3) turnovers to open a 28-0 lead by the early stages of the second quarter. The Hornets regrouped in the late stages of the second reel, but CVU got its mojo back after intermission to put the game away.

After the game, CVU head coach Jim Provost recalled an old Nashville tune when he mentioned his squad’s defense.

“What’s that country song? Thunder gets all the credit but lightning does all the work? The defense creates opportunities and the offense taps them in,” he said.

The game was scoreless when the Redhawks’ Matt Bauer recovered an Essex fumble at the CVU 45 yard line after a Redhawks’ punt from deep in their own territory.

With decent field position for the first time in three possessions, CVU rolled into paydirt in eight plays on a Nick Ferrentino plunge from five yards out. Quarterback Drew Nick’s 25-yard keeper was a key play in the drive. Nick finished the night with 97 yards on eight lugs.

CVU soon got the ball back when it recovered an Essex fumble at the Hornets’ 32. Nick passed to Ferrentino for 12 yards, and on the next play rolled out for a 20-yard touchdown. An incomplete pass for a two-point conversion left the score at 12-0 with 3:33 left in the first reel.

A little more than a minute later, Ferrentino powered through the trenches for a 53-yard touchdown run. Nick passed to lanky end Ryan Beaudry for the two-point conversion and a 20-0 lead with 2:30 to go in the quarter.

For Ferrentino, his usual night at the office resulted in 231 yards on the ground, another 12 via a pass reception and four touchdowns. The night’s take boosted the junior halfback’s season marks to 10 touchdowns and 534 yards in three contests.

“He doesn’t need much of a hole,” lineman/linebacker Quinn Kropf said of Ferrentino.

After CVU went up, 28-0, on a Nick to Brent Carreiro scoring pass early in the second stanza, Essex quarterback Jack Valley got the Hornets back in the contest with touchdown passes for five and 37 yards.

With CVU leading, 28-14, the Redhawks’ linebackers Ryan Fleming and Michael Fournier led a defensive comeback capped by Carreiro’s interception and 25-yard return. Ferrentino then scored on a six-yard scamper and Kohlasch booted the extra point for a 35-14 edge with 3:27 to go in the third reel.

Ferrentino then loped 74 yards for his fourth touchdown on the last play of the quarter and Pat Shea (11 carries, 41 yards) scored on an 11-yard run in the final period.

The Redhawks assaulted the Essex defense for 369 rushing yards. CVU’s offensive created running room against a huge Hornets’ team that has four linemen weighing more than 250 pounds.

“They grown them big in Essex,” said Fleming after the game, adding that the coaches had the team well prepared for the contest.

“This is Essex,” added Kropf. “We were pumped coming in.”



                  BOX SCORE

                                  CVU 49, ESSEX 21


                                   CVU (3-0)                     Essex (0-3)

First downs                 14                                           15

Total yards                  435                                        312

Yards rushing             369                                        67

Yards passing             66                                          266

Passes-att-int              26-7-0                             51-22-3

Fumbles-lost               3-1                                         5-3

Sacked-yds lost           0                                           2-21

Penalties-yds              9-89                                      3-25

Punts-ave                    8-32                                       5-32

Return yards               75                                           130



CVU           20     8       14    7  —  49

Essex         0       14      0      7  —  21

Guest column

Vermonters helping Vermont

Sept. 22, 2011

By Deb Markowitz


In the days since Tropical Storm Irene passed through Vermont — leaving devastation in her wake — we are reminded of what it means to be Vermonters, what makes Vermont the special place it is, and how fortunate we are to call this state our home and our neighbors our friends.

Many of the offices of the Agency of Natural Resources are located at the Waterbury State Office Complex. When the muddy waters of the Winooski River first started rising, most of us were convinced we’d seen it before as we’d already survived spring flooding relatively unscathed. But when the waters rose through the basement and filled the first floor of some of our offices, we began to realize our own failure of imagination. The flood of 1927 should have prepared us to appreciate the awesome destructive power of floods. In November of that year, 1,285 bridges were lost as well as countless numbers of homes and buildings destroyed, and hundreds of miles of roads and railroad tracks washed away. More importantly, the floodwaters claimed 84 lives, including then Vermont Lt Gov. S. Hollister Jackson.

We are lucky to have avoided that level of destruction and loss of life in the most recent flood! Now, as it was then, Vermonters are stepping up to the challenge of rebuilding communities and the lives of those most directly affected. I realize now that our own organization — the Agency of Natural Resources — is a microcosm of the larger community. I am proud of and indebted to those state employees who, when the floodwaters began to rise, struggled to save what they could of both our digital and physical infrastructure. They slogged through mud and muck to save important agency records and valuable equipment.  Many of our staff worked long hours responding to emergencies all around the state, despite having just lost their own offices, phones and computers. Wherever I go I hear stories of agency staff who helped Vermont communities.  They helped restore damaged sewage treatment facilities, ensured our dams remain safe and strong, helped to rebuild roads, collected hazardous materials and debris, dealt with contaminated drinking water, and helped communities respond to the many changes in our rivers in ways that will keep them safe in the future.

Without a home in Waterbury, the Agency of Natural Resources will look different from what it once was. Although we do not yet know whether we will return to Waterbury or make our home in a new place, we remain committed to our mission to protect, sustain, and enhance Vermont’s natural resources for the benefit of this and future generations. One thing reinforced by Tropical Storm Irene is knowing that we cannot achieve our mission by working alone.

As I listened to the stories of families who lost everything when the flood took their home, or a town clerk who is trying to salvage the historic records of the town that were inundated by floodwaters, or parents and teachers trying to get a school back up and running, I feel overwhelmed with the enormity of the tragedy facing so many Vermonters, and incredibly heartened by the resiliency and generosity of our people. Just as we must work together to overcome the adversity imposed by flooding, so too must we work together to ensure we make the right choices for the future.  When we protect our environment and help our ecosystems remain strong, we will be more resilient as a state.

The Agency of Natural Resources staff, working dawn to dusk since the storm, is committed to working with all Vermonters to see this to fruition.  We will be a stronger, more beautiful, state accomplishing this effort together.


Deb Markowitz is the secretary of the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources.

Recipe corner

Good for you recipes

Sept. 22, 2011

By Ginger Isham


The following low-fat recipe for oatmeal applesauce cookies came from a dear friend a few weeks ago and I thought it was worth sharing because it is heart healthy and doesn’t contain any fat. I have made them numerous times and each time I marvel at how easy they are to make. I recently made them with one daughter’s homemade, unsweetened applesauce, another daughter’s gift of dried cranberries, and sprinkled them with natural sugar that was a gift from an older friend. I guess I could call them friendship cookies.



3 cups oatmeal (regular or quick)

1 cup whole-wheat flour (I add one or two tablespoons wheat germ sometimes)

1 teaspoon baking soda

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1 cup sugar (2/3 or 3/4 cup is enough)

1 1/2 cups unsweetened applesauce

1 teaspoon vanilla

2/3 cup dried cranberries, raisins or other dried fruit and/or chopped nuts

Mix all dry ingredients in large bowl. Stir in applesauce and vanilla. Mix well. Shape into walnut-size balls and place on oiled cookie sheet. Flatten a little with bottom of a small glass that is frequently dipped in sugar. You could press half a nut on top before baking if omitted from batter. Bake on 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Let set for 3 minutes before moving to rack to cool.



1 14-ounce jar of roasted red peppers, drained (I bought one large, whole pepper at local supermarket – surprised it cost me a little over $6!)

1 frozen whole-wheat pizza dough (thawed)

1 tablespoon corn meal

1/2 pound shredded smoked Gouda, or mozzarella or pizza mix cheese

1 medium zucchini (sliced thin)

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (I use 1/2 teaspoon oregano and 1/2 teaspoon basil)

2 cloves of garlic (crushed)

Shape pizza dough into round circle on oiled pizza pan or baking sheet. Sprinkle with corn meal.  Dry the red pepper(s) and put in a food mill and blend until smooth. Spread this over the pizza dough. Sprinkle cheese all over. Place slices of zucchini in plastic bag with oil, garlic and seasonings. Shake well. Place slices on top of cheese. Bake on 400 degrees for 10 minutes. Delicious!


Note: You could combine summer squash and zucchini or use other veggies.

Ginger Isham lives with her husband on a fifth generation family farm on Oak Hill Road.


Life in Williston

Adams represents spirit of autumn

Sept. 22, 2011

By Neel Tandan


For more than a decade, I have been going to Adams Apple Orchard and Farm Market in Williston for a number of different reasons. As you can imagine, all of the reasons are good.

When I was younger, I lived close enough so I could ride my bike there with a friend and my pockets weighted with coins. Going on your own and entering the wooden interior to scout around for anything eye-catching was such an adventure that I typically left with a square of maple candy or a plastic straw filled with sweet syrup.

I also went with my family every year to hunt for a pumpkin during Halloween: the bigger, the better. A nice, flat face for the carving that would follow was also a plus — as long as it could be hoisted, with all of our help, into the back of our mini-van. I also remember being bundled up in the back of a wagon every autumn for a ride to Adams; slowly trolling around the property, keeping my eyes open for anything that appeared strange or new and always ready to pipe up with a questions or comment.

The orchard, however, may be the pinnacle of my experiences at Adams with more than 900 trees on seven acres. Of course, when you go as a kid, the place seems literally endless: filled with low-lying, contorted trees, slumping beneath the weight of their bounty.

For my trip this year, the Harvest festival was also happening. The Festival included a petting farm with turkeys, lambs, goats, hens and even a llama. Unfortunately, it also had the annual doughnut stand on the grounds, which serves as an almost irresistible allurement.

The orchard features a variety of apples and crossbreeds. The apple of the week rotates depending on what is ripe and the weather. Last week, the McIntosh highlighted. This week, it is the Macoun and the Porter. The Red Delicious is one of the most meretricious apples and tends to get picked prematurely because of its full red color, although they don’t ripen until the weather gets colder.

Adams is currently open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. I encourage everyone to get out there to pick your own tote, if you haven’t already. You can bring your dog, too, for a true family outing. It is worth mentioning that the orchard also sells its own cider, and it is as crisp and refreshing as fall itself.

Neel Tanden is a lifelong Williston resident who graduated from the University of Vermont in 2010.

Little Details

Empty nest … sort of

Sept. 22, 2011

By Katherine Bielawa Stamper


I watched my daughter, Aleksandra, walk along the jet way until she disappeared. At 15-years-old, she left for 10 months to study abroad in a French-speaking region of Switzerland.

Aleksandra and I spent fleeting time at her departure gate laughing, crying and simply leaning on each other, striving for the physical closeness that would soon elude us. We didn’t notice the earth tremble at 1:53 p.m. on Aug. 23 at Boston’s Logan Airport. We experienced our own emotional earthquake.

My husband waited in the terminal on the other side of security. One parent was allowed to see her off.

A couple boarding the plane who witnessed our tearful goodbye assured me that she’d be fine.

“It’s harder for the parents,” they said.

Departures mark rites of passage in our lives. Entrusting a precious newborn with a caregiver, sending toddlers to pre-school, dropping kids off at summer camp, or packing young adults off to college or the military represent opening and closing of chapters in our lives. It’s a loss. It’s also an opportunity.

While still a toddler, my daughter was a committed Robert Resnik groupie at Burlington’s Fletcher Free Library. We arrived early for his performances, reading books on the floor of the expansive children’s room, waiting for Robert to arrive with his magic guitar.

Aleksandra was not one to sit on my lap very long. She never was a “clinging to mom’s apron straps” kind of kid. While most kids nestled in their mothers’ laps taking in musical vibes, she was 20 feet away, dancing at the front of the room.  If she spotted a familiar mom — someone from church or swim lessons — she might seek to climb on board and “share” a lap (this, understandably, resulted in mixed success depending on the temperament of the toddler already ensconced on his or her mother’s lap!).

I remember sometimes wishing my daughter would cling to me just a little bit more. I ultimately accepted that she was her own person. She moved buoyantly, several steps ahead of me, secure in the knowledge that I followed close behind.

Ten years ago, I held Aleksandra’s hand as she waited for the bus on her first day of kindergarten at Allen Brook School. She wore an orange and pink jumper, and Mary Jane’s with shiny buckles. She boarded that enormous bus wearing a blue rucksack that seemed gargantuan on her little back. I knew I needed to trust Nancy — the bus driver — to bring her safely to and from school. I cried as the bus pulled away.

We raise our children as best we can, realizing strides and making some mistakes along the way. Lessons in self-reliance promote confidence and teach us that we truly are the masters of our destiny. Allowing our children to take risks — physical, academic and, yes, geographic —helps them grow.

The magic that is Skype allows us to check in with our daughter and look into her eyes to see that she is really OK. She tells of getting lost on campus and having to ask others — students, teachers and secretaries — for help. She mentions missing the bus home and finding the main bus station to catch an alternative bus. She notes classmates who laugh (good-naturedly) at her as she stumbles through French phrases. She observes that “math is easy” because the concepts transcend language barriers.  She comments on the warmth and genuine kindness of her host parents and five host siblings. She speaks in awe of how beautiful the Swiss landscape is.

We have our children for a short time. They are not ours to keep. My sadness in missing my daughter is matched, and often surpassed, by genuine excitement for the adventure she has defined for herself. She may miss an extraordinary class or activity at CVU this year; she stands to gain other experiences that will shape and inform the person she becomes.

With Aleksandra settled on the plane, all I wanted to do was find my husband and land in his warm embrace. As we nurture our children, we must also nurture our relationships with our partners. Sooner or later, life returns to “just us.”

Katherine Bielawa Stamper lives in Williston.  Reader comments are welcome at or

Around Town

Sept. 22, 2011


The largest event for baby boomers and seniors in New England announces the addition of two exciting fashion shows to the entertainment roster on the Main Stage.

The fashion shows will be held at the Seaport World Trade Center in Boston on Saturday, Oct. 29, 2011 as part of the New England Boomers & Seniors EXPO, an event produced by the publishers of the Williston Observer. The shows will feature mature models showcasing the latest fall and winter fashions. Fashions will also include select warm-weather styles to inspire those planning tropical escapes this winter.

Lauren Bayliss, editor in chief of fashion magazine SCENE in Boston, will coordinate the show. Bayliss has been involved in the fashion industry for several years. She has worked with fashion houses in New York and Italy, and produced several runway shows. Featured clothing stores include TJ Maxx, with others to be announced soon.

The New England Boomers & Seniors EXPO will be held Saturday, Oct. 29 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Seaport World Trade Center-Boston. Other Main Stage entertainment at the event includes David Cassidy in concert, the Boston Pops’ April Hall Group, live game shows, theatre performances and more. For more information about the EXPO, visit


The Chittenden South Supervisory Union is interested in locating preschool age children (birth to 5-years-old) who live in the towns of Williston, St. George, Charlotte, Hinesburg and Shelburne who show a developmental delay in the areas of speech/language, social adjustment, adaptive behavior, self-care, gross/fine motor coordination, and cognitive development.

If you know of such a child between the ages of birth to 3-years-old, contact Melissa Hendrickson at the CSSU at 383-1216. For such children between 3 and 5 years old, contact the early educator at the elementary school in the town where the child resides.

Williston and St. George – Allen Brook School — 878-2762

Charlotte Central School — 425-2771

Hinesburg Community School — 482-2106

Shelburne Community School — 985-3331

The Union is also interested in locating all school age children/adolescents with disabilities living in these towns who are not currently attending school, are attending a private school by parent-choice or are being home-schooled. If you know of such a child/adolescent, call Meagan Roy, director of student support services at CSSU, at 383-1234.


Visitors to Vermont’s pick-your-own orchards will have a chance to win an iPod or iPad during the “Apples to iPods” promotion that kicked off on Sept. 16.

One specially marked wooden apple is hidden in an apple tree at 15 Vermont pick-your-own apple orchards, including Adam’s Apple Orchard & Farm Market in Williston. Customers who find the wooden apple replicas will win an Apple iPod or iPad.

For contest details about “Apples to iPods” and a list of participating orchards, please visit


Shaw’s Supermarket on Boxwood St. in Williston will collect donations for the Williston Community Food Shelf beginning Sept. 30.

Shoppers will be able to donate the items for one week. According to Anita Blau of the WCFS, acceptable items include non-perishables and hygiene products.

The WCFS serves Williston, St. George, Essex and Richmond.

New craft market opening at former driving range

Women Artists’ Guild setting up for the holidays

Sept. 22, 2011

By Adam White

Observer staff

The vacant building at the former Williston Driving Range adjacent to Maple Tree Place will house a holiday craft market by the Women Artists' Guild from Oct. 12 through Dec. 22. The market will help raise money for a trio of local charities, including the Williston Community Food Shelf. (Observer photo by Adam White)

Aisles full of Halloween candy in local stores warn that the holiday season is fast approaching. But shoppers will have some new gift-buying opportunities this year, thanks to a group of local artists taking over an old space in Williston.

The Women Artists’ Guild (WAG) of Richmond will set up a “pop-up market” for arts and crafts at the site of the former driving range adjacent to Maple Tree Place. Beginning on Oct. 12, the group will offer a wide variety of goods ranging from jewelry, handbags and wallets to linens, pillows and quilts, with the dual purpose of supporting their artistic endeavors and helping local charities in the process.

The market will run through Dec. 22, giving even the worst procrastinators a chance to put handcrafted gifts beneath the holiday tree.

“For all crafters and artists, the holiday season is the busiest time there is,” said Alyson Chase, a founder of WAG and organizer of the market. “A lot of the artists have done holiday craft shows, but this is easier – you don’t have to break everything down and set it back up again.”

Chase said that WAG came about at the end of last year, out of local artists’ need to “network and support each other.” After hosting a small holiday craft fair at her studio in Richmond, Chase started looking for a local space in which to establish a pop-up market.

“Part of WAG, for me, is doing events to showcase and sell our products,” said Chase, who is the wife of Williston Public Works Director Bruce Hoar. “I had been looking for a space, and had just about given up when I talked with Al Senecal about the driving range. The building there is perfect for us.”

Chase’s art centers on an antique house ware called a floor cloth. A type of floor covering akin to a heavy canvas rug, the floor cloth was popular in the 1700s, when it was traditionally fashioned from recycled ship sails.

“My first floor cloth was a 9-by-9 (foot) piece that I made when we remodeled our home,” she said. “Later on, I taught a class in how to make them.”

One of the students in that class was Mary Claire Carroll. After 25 years working as a portrait photographer, Carroll was interested in branching out with her artistic expression.

“Last year, I decided to take some of my personal work and get it out into the public eye,” said Carroll, who will feature photo cards at the market as well as enlargements. She is interested to see how her work fares alongside the more traditional items at the market.

“It’s really intriguing to me, because everyone else has hand painting, or hand-crafted jewelry,” Carroll said. “I create, but it’s a different kind of art. It’s not done by hand, it’s done by eye.”

Other artists featured at the market include Carol Maguire Home (table linens, pillows, quilts), Lori Yarrow of Copper Creations (copper, silver and brass jewelry), Janet Auman of Shiny Things (fused glass jewelry) and Laura Hale of Found Beauty Studio (art made with recycled and repurposed items). The market will be co-operative, meaning that WAG members involved will share the duties of operations.

Chase said other artists not involved with WAG will be allowed to include their work on consignment, provided it fits within the scope of the inventory.

“We are jurying the work that comes in, because we want to have a variety of things in the store,” Chase said. “We don’t want to have too many multiple things, like jewelry.”

Community service is also a component of the artists’ market. One day per month will be designated as a fundraising day for a local charity, and a percentage of all proceeds from sales will go to causes like the United Way’s Vermont Disaster Relief Fund, Hunger Free Vermont and the Williston and Richmond community food shelves.

“When we first started WAG, we felt it was important to make community service a key part of our organization,” Carroll said. “Being able to give back to the community is a key part of what artists and craftspeople do.”


The WAG Holiday Craft Market will run from Oct. 12 through Dec. 22, on the following schedule: Tuesday-Thursday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Sunday, noon to 4 p.m. For more information, visit WAG’s Facebook page at

Community rallying for one of its own

Memorial race will honor life of Stephen Mount

Sept. 22, 2011

By Adam White

Observer staff

Stephen Mount, shown here competing in a Spartan race in 2010, died on July 2 while participating in a triathlon. The community will honor him with a 5k memorial walk/run/ride on Saturday. (Photo courtesy of Karen Mount)

There were many dimensions to the life of Stephen Mount: teacher, father, computer programmer, husband, athlete, writer, community leader and patriot.

Many of the people he connected with in each of those roles will join together for a 5-kilometer memorial walk/run/ride on Saturday, beginning at 2 p.m. at Williston Community Park.

“It’s a celebration and tribute to the life he lived,” said Mount’s wife, Karen. She said she was initially approached about the memorial run by race director Linda Poirer, and agreed that it was fitting.

“Anything in his memory, that would honor him, we’re in favor of,” she said.

Stephen Mount died unexpectedly while taking part in a triathlon in Shelburne on July 2. He had previously competed in several athletic competitions, including the Spartan race, Vermont City Marathon and Dynamic Duathlon.

Karen Mount said her husband’s interest in athletics and fitness stemmed in part from health issues he dealt with as a child.

“Stephen was a juvenile diabetic, so health was important to him,” she said. “A couple of years ago, he decided that he wanted to get healthy and physically fit.” She added that bicycling was her husband’s preferred form of exercise, but “he ran because he knew it worked.”

A 1989 graduate of the University of Vermont, Stephen Mount worked as a software engineer and taught programming classes at the Community College of Vermont. He was also active in the educations of his daughter, Brittany, and twin sons Jacob and Ryan; he served as head of the Family As Partners (FAP) program at Williston schools, and ran for a position on the town’s School Board in 2003.

“Stephen was a constant learner, and he wanted others to be as well,” Karen Mount said. “He wanted the best education for his kids, and for all the kids in Williston.”

Since Stephen Mount’s death, the community where he lived has joined together in strong support of his family, according to his father. Dave Mount said more than 700 people attended funeral services for his son, and an education fund set up for his children saw a flood of generosity.

“About 140 people made donations, ranging from $20 up to $10,000,” Dave Mount said. “I think we were all pretty overwhelmed with the level of support.”

An avid writer, Stephen Mount wrote a regular column for the Williston Observer and also penned a number of books — mostly novels for teenagers — that he had hoped to get published. His editorials focused largely on national issues.

“He was very patriotic,” Karen Mount said. “He cared a great deal about this country, and the constitution. It was very ironic that his passing was on Fourth of July weekend.”

Organizers are expecting a sizeable crowd of participants in the memorial race, including people from the various circles that Stephen Mount was a part of. Karen Mount said her husband would likely be surprised at just how much of an effect he had on the community.

“I don’t think Steve ever realized quite how many people he touched over the years here in Williston,” she said.

Karen Mount added that she and her children will take part in the race, as will a number of other extended family members. Dave Mount will toe the starting line with his own strategy for completing the 3.1-mile course.

“I’ll probably walk,” he said.

Organizers of the Stephen Mount Memorial 5K Fun Run/Ride are seeking volunteers to assist with day-of-event registration, course management, finish area and other general tasks. Anyone interested in volunteering is asked to contact Sue Scheer at or 238-2474.

On Tap’s chowder triumphs in Challenge

Sept. 22, 2011

By Adam White

Observer staff

Aaron Epworth, executive chef at On Tap Bar and Grill in Essex Junction, serves samples of his seafood chowder during the first annual Williston Chowder Challenge on Sept. 18. (Observer photo by Adam White)

Even as the nation grapples with a bear market, the right stock sent Aaron Epworth soaring to a double victory in the first annual Williston Chowder Challenge on Sept. 18.

Epworth, the executive chef at On Tap Bar and Grill in Essex Junction, used a complex fish stock made with clams, lobster, shrimp, crab, scallops and mussels as the base for his seafood chowder, which won the top awards as both the people’s choice and judges’ choice at the benefit event for the Williston Police Officers’ Association and Williston Community Food Shelf.

“All that seafood made a really good stock,” Epworth said. “I also used sherry, shallots and a lot of fresh thyme.”

Chunks of shellfish and lobster could be found throughout the final product, and deep-fried leeks sprinkled on top provided the finishing touch to the hands-down champion among the 13 chowders being judged.

“We’ve been getting a lot of compliments,” Epworth said. “Everyone seems to love it.”

The event raised close to $4,000 for the two charities, according to organizer Travis Trybulski. Other than a problem with an electricity source at the Village Green site that was overcome thanks to power generators from the Fire Department, the inaugural Challenge went off without a hitch.

“You never know what to expect in the first year, but I’ve heard nothing but good things,” Trybulski said.

Not too seriously, however: Shawn Beede, head chef at Monty’s Old Brick Tavern, sported costume dog ears on his cap and boasted that his “dog chowder” included such ingredients as beef bones and dog biscuits.

His actual entry, “poor man’s chowder,” featured chunks of monkfish floating in a broth that originated from cornhusks soaked in milk. Old Bay seasoning and a cinnamon stick added some extra zip and zest.

“I’m really happy with how it turned out,” Beede said. “The whole (event) seems like a huge success.”

Second and third places in the judges’ competition went to Essex eateries Cody’s Irish Pub and Grille and Firebird Café, respectively. Williston’s Chef’s Corner Café and Bakery was the second place finisher in the people’s choice voting, followed by Ray’s Seafood Market in Essex Junction in third place.

Chef’s Corner earned top honors in the best display category, thanks to a vibrant island scene complete with tropical flowers, coconuts, luau music and even live fish swimming in a bowl.

“This is the only display that hits every sense,” said judge June Bugbee of Sew Many Treasures in Williston. “There is something to see, hear, smell, touch, and taste. They spent a lot of time on this.”

Runner-up in the display category was Sweet Clover Market of Essex, which featured a map of northern New England with separate piles of seafood for each state: clams for Vermont, mussels for New Hampshire and lobsters for Maine. Sweet Clover’s server, Heather Belcher, agreed that the event was a success – albeit a bit sloppy one at times.

“The best part is watching people spill (chowder) down their shirts,” she said with a laugh.

Trybulski said the event couldn’t have happened without the support of its many sponsors – including Maple Tree Place, Omega real estate, electric and construction, Munson Earth Moving and Extra Space Storage.

“The community support has been great,” he said.

1000s mark return of Fall Harvest Festival

Sept. 22, 2011

By Adam White

Observer staff

Three-year-old Anya Carr of Winooski in the bouncy castle at the Adams Apple Orchard & Farm Market’s Fall Harvest Festival on Sept. 18. (Observer photo by Adam White)

A disappointing apple harvest last season forced the first cancellation in the 17-year history of the Fall Harvest Festival at Adams Apple Orchard and Farm Market in Williston. This year, the Festival returned – and drew an estimated five-digit crowd.

“It’s so nice that the festival is back,” said Frances Koucky, who drove from Montpelier with her son, Matthew, to experience the event. “I think it’s a great community event. It’s fun to pick apples, hear the songs, the whole thing.”

With an acapella group crooning in the background, participants swarmed the orchard to pluck ripe McIntosh apples from the trees. Owner John Adams stood nearby with a smile, saying that the Festival was more about being outside in the sunshine, soaking in the event, than it was about amassing fruit.

“It’s not really a food event, it’s a social event,” Adams said. “You can tell that by the sizes of bags that people buy. It’s the experience of it.”

There was one particular apple that was highly sought, however. On Friday, a representative from the Vermont Department of Agriculture was on hand to unveil a special contest co-sponsored by the state Department of Tourism, Apple Growers’ Association and Small Dog Electronics: whoever found a special wooden apple hidden within the orchard could exchange it for an iPod, or possibly and iPad.

One young treasure hunter pestered Adams for clues, even going so far as to ask which particular tree he should focus on.

“It’s out there somewhere,” Adams said with a grin.

Picking apples was just one part of the multi-faceted Festival. Near the mouth of the orchard, an outfit known as The Dizzy Dozen was cranking out four flavors of mini donuts.

“We went through about 400 dozen on Saturday, and we expect to do the same (Sunday),” said owner Dizzy Desilets. When asked which of the four flavors was the most popular, the 15-year veteran baker didn’t hesitate: maple.

“That’s only because it’s your favorite,” said co-worker Diane Dufresne with a laugh.

Desilets said the crowd at this year’s Festival was the largest he had seen, and attributed that trend to the help of Mother Nature.

“John (Adams) said the apple crop was really good this year,” Desilets said. “I think the two go hand-in-hand.”

The adjacent petting zoo drew a steady stream of children, who reached through the fences to pet a number of very accommodating sheep, and a llama. Hannah Smith of Smith Family Farm sat nearby —  spinning yarn on an old-fashioned spinning wheel — as her dog, Millie, stood by and watched like canine quality control.

The most popular attraction for children, however, might have been the inflatable “bouncy castle” set up next to the Adams Farm Market. Youngsters waited patiently in line for a chance to enter, though many were reluctant to exit once their allotted time was up.

Adams said that cash register sales were used to estimate attendance, and that he put the total weekend number at close to 10,000 people. He said that the event could grow even larger in the future, due to the cancellation of another, similar festival in South Hero.

“I was glad we were able to have (the Festival) again this year,” Adams said. “This makes 17 out of 18 years, and it’s getting more and more popular.”