A small Vermont community was buzzing with activity this past weekend surrounding the state insect.
The first-ever Vermont Golden Honey Festival took place Saturday at the Golden Stage Inn in Proctorsville, a village located in the Okemo Valley. Despite the fact that this was the festival’s first year, Golden Stage innkeeper and festival creator Julie-Lynn Wood was pleased with the outcome.
“It was our kick-off year, so we had no idea how it was going to go,” she said.
Wood estimated that roughly 150 individuals attended the event which featured a small group of vendors showcasing bee-related products.
Among the vendors was Poultney apiary Dos Niñas Bees & Berries, which focused on the benefits of cooking with honey. The company sold raw honey, fresh raspberries and homemade honey jam at the event.
Many local businesses also attended the festival, including the Book Nook of Ludlow and Six Loose Ladies of Proctorsville, which gave crowd demonstrations on fiber art.
A crowd favorite was the “beehive” oven provided by Goodman’s American Pies. The company brought their new portable oven, built on an old 1947 fire truck, to share honey-themed pizza with honey-infused dough.
Wood is hoping to make the event a yearly occasion, but one thing she hopes to achieve in the future, is attracting more vendors, even though she said those who participated did well.
“Everyone reported having a good, and equally important, profitable experience,” she said.
While most vendors kept the honeybee theme alive, others focused on Vermont. According to Wood, the two go hand-in-hand.
“We hope to continue the focus on the honeybee, but also on Vermont in general,” she said. “It’s the state insect, so it already seems a perfect match.”
The Golden Stage Inn houses three hives on the premises. Wood gave “tours” of empty hives, educating the public on the importance of honeybees to the environment.
“Beekeeping is getting a lot of attention right now due to the crisis,” she said, referring to the threat against honeybees, which has attracted world-wide attention in recent months. According to an August report by CBS News, the United States lost 31 percent of its colonies last winter. The report also said bees produced $15 billion worth of agriculture in the U.S. alone.
According to the “Farm-to-plate initiative,” created by the Vermont Sustainable Jobs Fund, the state had 1,800 registered beekeepers in 2010 and produced a total of 260,000 pounds of honey that year.
Wood hoped the festival would educate attendees on the importance bees have in local agriculture, but also how the insects bring individuals together. The community should be both “engaged” and “eager,” according to Wood.
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