Memorial Day was first observed in May 1868 to commemorate the sacrifices of Civil War soldiers. Participants decorated the graves of both Union and Confederate soldiers leading to the name Decoration Day. Since World War I, the day has become a time to remember those who died in America’s wars as well as to honor veterans and current military members. Memorial Day was declared an official holiday in 1971 to be held on the last Monday in May. This end of May date has also led to the designation as the “unofficial beginning of summer.” As such, traditional activities include cookouts with family and friends, opening day for summer activities like pools, boating, and some state parks as well as local parades to honor the military and local first responders.
Vermont is no exception. Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer and we do celebrate. For example, Basin Harbor, a resort located on the shores of Lake Champlain, kicks off summer with a Memorial Day Weekend that pays homage to many of the traditions. Campfires with s’mores, BBQ and live music, lawn games and bike rides, plus fireworks and the biggest Memorial Day parade in Vermont on Monday in Vergennes.
The Grafton Inn in Grafton, Vermont, invites you to their Kickoff to Summer Party on May 25 from 5 to 9:30 pm. What better way to welcome summer than to relax with your favorite beverage in hand, the scent of delicious BBQ on the air, and the sound of live music to set the mood.
Smugglers’ Notch Resort offers a different way to get outside, welcome summer, and do some good at the same time. Join them for a weekend of exploring the biking opportunities in the area culminating on Saturday with the annual Bike-A-Thon fundraiser on the Lamoille Valley Rail Trail.
If “holiday weekend” and “unofficial start of summer” mean golf to you, check out Stratton Mountain Resort. The resort offers 27 holes with 3 different 9-hole courses – The Forest, The Lake, and The Mountain – all with their separate challenges and beauty.
Or grab the family and head to Bromley for the day. With 23 rides and attractions, a good time is a guarantee for everyone. Afterward, try nearby Manchester for a bite to eat. You’ll find everything from diners to elegant restaurants.
The village of Stowe invites you to celebrate summer with their Chowderpalooza and Spring Art on Park on Saturday, May 26 beginning at 11:30. In addition to some of the best chowder you’ve ever tasted, there will be live jazz, children’s activities and face painting. Spring Art on Park takes place during Chowderpalooza and is free and open to the public. This artisan market on Park Street features the work of local artists and artisans and will include handmade jewelry, apparel, accessories as well as specialty foods and beverages.
On Saturday, May 26, downtown Bennington transforms into a festival of arts, crafts, activities, food and entertainment for Mayfest from 10 am to 5 pm. There will be plenty of kids’ activities including face painting, a bouncy house, contests and games.
If you have a strong interest in art and the work of Vermont artisans, May 26-27 is Open Studio Weekend in Vermont. This is your invitation to visit the many artists at their studios, see their work, and ask your questions about the techniques employed or the inspiration behind the art. Open Studio happens only twice a year so this is a rather unique opportunity to get up close and personal. For a complete list of the artists participating, download the brochure and map from the Vermont Crafts Council.
For many, Memorial Day weekend is about picnics, barbeques, and family. What better place to gather than one of the many Vermont State Parks? Memorial Day weekend is opening day for many with the balance open sooner. Check with the parks’ website to find a park that offers the activities you want – camping, boating, swimming, hiking, and more. You might also want to consider the Burlington Parks, Recreation, & Waterfront as a site for your family get together. With over 35 parks that cover 520 acres, there are city parks, waterfront parks and parks in rural-like settings. Undoubtedly there is a park just perfect for your family’s plans.
If you’re lucky enough to either live in Vermont or are staying at a house in Vermont over the Memorial Day weekend, you are undoubtedly planning a get together complete with traditional cookout food, games and merriment. Why not make the day really special for your friends and family with fireworks from Northstar Fireworks in East Montpelier, St. Johnsbury, or Fairlee. You can purchase the fireworks at great prices to set off yourself, or you can hire the folks at Northstar to create and present a program for you.
However, you celebrate Memorial Day, have a safe and happy weekend from all of us at Vermont.com.