October 6 dawned chilly and gray, but our Fall Farm Tour hosts launched into their final preps for the big day. All was ready when guests began to arrive, passports in hand, some just having finished their pancake breakfast at Valley Road Maple. Valley Road served their pancakes and Oscar’s sausage drizzled with Valley Road Syrup, along with juice, milk, coffee and Self-guiding with no special order suggested, guests scattered over the town. Some were eager to see the goats, sheep and rescue animals at Nettle Meadow, and sample and buy cheese and ask about their new recipe book. Many would return for a buffet lunch at mid-day, while others would have a noontime pancake brunch.
Just down the road, Martin’s Lumber‘s new timber frame barn was abuzz with the Artisan Markets – jewelry, stained glass stepping stones, signs, pottery, hand-made cards and decorations, Forest Floor artistry, and Los Furniture and hand carved spoons. The creativity was astounding. A geologist, an herbalist and local high school kids selling refreshments as a fundraiser, woods walks, plant and mushroom talks and art demos rounded out the offering.
A quick ride up over Mountain Road and down into the hollow took visitors to Whitefield’s Farm and the all-natural vegetable and turkey products they a renowned for. Guest toured the historic stone barn – originally the stable of a well-known dude ranch, took wagon rides and met the farm critters, including a black cat named Fred, who oversaw the operation, including pumpkin-painting.
It’s not far from Whitefield’s to Toad Hill Maple, with its spacious timber frame sugar house, with shop, evaporating room and confection kitchen, where samples lured even the most dedicated dieters. Among their candies this year was a new kid – maple cream bon-bons. Mmmm. There were wagon rides to the sugar bush, farm animals and the ever-popular punkin-chunkin’ trebuchet. Guests love their new packaging, featuring the art of Cate Mandigo.
On nearby Mud Street, visitors had three more places to visit and get their passports punched: at the top of the hill was Adirondack Ranch, with horses to be petted, trails to see and cider and doughnuts to be sampled. This is a new ranch in a town whose history is studded with tales of its many dude ranches.
Going downhill, Mud St. Maple had their sugar house door open to welcome guests and a sugar bush to explore. Some products were for sale, and their signature Bourbon Maple Syrup, out of stock, could be pre-ordered.
At the foot of Mud Street is Blackberry Hill Farm, which held many attractions — Certified Organic veggies and poultry products, along with non-GMO pork products from heritage breed pigs. And there were Jams and Jellies and herbs.
Guest vendors had varied offerings. Dawn’s Delights sold baked goods; Dan Denn sold his handmade knives, and and Back Country Rustic sold furniture.
Back to the center of Athol for a stop at the annual Quilt Show where one could visit a room completely draped in locally-made quilted goods, from full-size bed covers to quilted place mats, runners, pillow shams and wall hangings. At the end of the busy and fun day, all passports were gathered up and two were drawn from them all. The first was the passport submitted by a woman from Albany, who won a basket of Thurman goods and gift certificates valued at approximately $200. The second prize (value c. $100) was awarded to a woman from Saratoga. Congratulations to them both, and thanks to our prize donors, specifically TCA members, and Lizzie Keays Restaurant.
And a special thank you to all of the great folks who traveled to us from 75 different ZIP codes to turn out for this year’s Thurman Fall Farm Tour. See you next year on October 12th!