Great pumpkins!

WILLIAMSTOWN — With the help of several area schools Rob Hepburn and Tania Lewis this week hosted what has become an annual pumpkin carving contest and jack-o-lantern show on Garden Street.

We’re told there were some pretty great pumpkins entered by students and some staff at Williamstown Middle High school, Northfield Middle High School, Spaulding High School, the two-town Echo Valley School District and St. Monica-St. Michael School in Barre.

Pumpkins carved by each school were placed in separate sections of Hepburn’s terraced garden and were judged collectively and individually.

Northfield Middle High School took top honors for best overall presentation, but St. Monica-St. Michael School earned honorable mention thanks to some solid individual performances.

How solid?

So solid that the silly-faced pumpkin carved by seventh-grader Isabella Boudreau took first place, edging out the grimacing pumpkin entered by Mary Reardon, who teaches art at Spaulding High School.

The Barre-based Catholic school also took third place thanks to the tag-team entry carved by seventh-grader Charlotte Kellett and sixth-grader Elizabeth Lasner. Kellett and Lasner didn’t carve a face of any kind on their pumpkin. Instead they opted for an elaborate tree — a change of pace that scored points with the judges. There was one other young winner, though 6-year-old Gretchen Mier doesn’t attend any of the participating schools. The butterfly the Barre Town girl carved in her pumpkin was this year’s best children’s entry.

Scary movie

BARRE — For the second straight year a man with Granite City roots has taken top honors at the Northwest Nightmares Film Festival in St. Albans. We got word from Brent Campbell’s No. 1 fan — a local mom who is pretty proud of her son’s latest production and even prouder that he’s managed to win the popular film festival two years running.

“He likes this kind of thing,” Gayle Campbell says of her son, who graduated from Spaulding High School in 1982 and was a longtime member of the Barre Players before moving to St. Albans.

Brent Campbell tells us he first attended the thematic film festival last year and with the help of some family, friends and co-workers entered and won with his “Legend of the Hanging Tree” last year.

Once wasn’t enough for Campbell, who directed and edited the nine-minute film that won last year’s festival and the slightly shorter one — “Listen” — that took first place earlier this week.

“It’s really grassroots, low-key, backyard film-making,” says Campbell, who notes both films were the work of E3 Productions – a mix of family, friends and co-workers from Seventh Generation in Burlington.

Both films were shot on the same St. Albans nature trail and while Campbell has a soft spot for “Legend of the Hanging Tree,” his mother is partial to “Listen.”

“It’s about a girl who goes for a walk in the forest and she hears: ‘Stay on the path, stay on the path, stay on the path,” Campbell says.

SPOILER ALERT: She doesn’t and things go south from there.

We haven’t seen the film, but we’re told it will soon be posted on Northwest Nightmare’s YouTube channel where you can already watch “Legend of the Hanging Tree” and some of the other entries from last year.

For Haven’s sake

BARRE — The Good Samaritan Haven has two talented boosters who will be sharing the stage at the Barre Opera House on Friday in order to raise money for the local homeless shelter.

You’re invited.

With temperatures starting to drop, the Haven is entering a critical time of year, which is why Rusty Dewees and Patrick Ross are putting on a benefit performance for what they’re hoping will be a full house when the curtain goes up at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Dewees is the actor, comedian and burgeoning musician who brought “The Logger” to life, while Ross is a fifth-generation fiddle player, who has performed at the Grand Ol’ Opry and shared stages with Willie Nelson, Johnny Cash and Paul McCartney.

On Friday “The Logger and The Fiddler” will be sharing the stage and putting on an evolving show that will feature a heaping helping of comedy and a good bit of music.

Proceeds from the show will benefit the shelter that Dewees and Ross visit throughout the year to play music for the residents.

Admission for Friday’s performance is $25 ($20 with the military discount). Advanced tickets can be purchased online at, or at the opera house box office Friday night.

‘Tires for Troops’

BARRE — When Tylor Bigras started “Tires for Troops” at Bigras Auto three years ago, the idea of putting brand-new winter tires in the hands of veterans who needed them, but couldn’t afford them, was appealing.

It still is, and the timing of this year’s event couldn’t be better because there will be a boat-load of veterans in Barre on Saturday for the Scouting Salute to Veterans Parade.

Bigras says he’s ready to hook 20 of them up with new sets of winter tires for no charge between 8 a.m. and 2 p.m. at his Gable Place shop. Need is a criteria that is weighed and Bigras works with veterans’ homes to qualify people.

Best of health?

BARRE — When it comes to health teachers there aren’t many better in Vermont than Spaulding High School’s Sarah Chap.

Don’t take our word for it, just ask the Society of Health and Physical Educators of Vermont, which recently recognized Chap as health teacher of the year at its annual awards breakfast in Killington.

We’re told the award was well-deserved and that Chap, who is now in her third year at Spaulding, is making her mark. She is a member of the school’s trauma-informed practices team, serves as its PATH wellness leader, and is the district’s health education professional development facilitator.

The in-house nomination that led to Chap being recognized spoke to the work she does every day.

“… Sarah embodies creativity and has an innate ability to incorporate a blend of traditional pedagogy with new research that targets a student’s social and emotional needs,” it read.

That’s high praise because while Chap has been teaching for nine years, most of them were spent as a special educator and when she was hired at Spaulding in 2016 teaching health to high school students wasn’t something she’d done before. She has now. A graduate of Norwich University, Chap has since earned her masters degree in education Southern New Hampshire University, as well as the respect of her peers.

Give blood

BERLIN — Area businesses are being asked to join forces for a blood drive at the offices of Central Vermont Chamber of Commerce at 33 Stewart Road in Berlin on Friday, Nov. 9, from noon to 5 p.m.

Partners include the Wayside Restaurant, and Froggy 100.9-FM. which will be onsite on the day of the blood drive, helping to Stuff-A-Truck with non-perishable food items to benefit the Salvation Army.

To make an appointment to donate blood, call 800-733-2767 or visit and type in sponsor code “Chamber.”

Open house

MONTPELIER — Mark your calendars for Monday, Nov. 12, when the Montpelier Senior Activity Center will host an open house, from 3 to 6:30 p.m.

There will be course demonstrations and music by renowned local artists Allison Mann and Colin McCaffrey. There will also be a sneak preview of winter course offerings.

There is an appeal for volunteers to take pictures of classes, meetings and events at the senior center, to be displayed at the open house. To volunteer to take photos, call Becky at 225-8694.

Sense and poetry

MONTPELIER — Bear Pond Books will present a reading from “Bullets into Bells: Poets and Citizens respond to Gun Violence” at the Unitarian Church on Main Street on Friday, at 7:30 p.m.

The book brings together the voices of poets and citizens most impacted in a call for the end of gun violence.

Readers include: Major Jackson, poet, UVM professor and Vermont Book Award winner; Brian Clements, poet and editor of “Bullets into Bells”; Matthew Olzmann, poet and Dartmouth professor; Kerrin McCadden, poet, Montpelier High School teacher and 2015 Vermont Book Award winner; Abbey Clements, foruth-grade teacher at Sandy Hook Elementary School and gun-violence prevention activist; and Clai Lasher-Sommers, executive director of GunSense Vermont.

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