The Third Annual Rutland Long Trail Festival was last weekend, and I went down to run the Green Mountain Club’s info and merchandise booth. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but what I got was a much smaller and more relaxed version of Damascus’ Trail Days festival.
Like Trail Days, there was a small tent-city where Appalachian Trail and Long Trail hikers could stay (I saw only AT hikers, since LT hikers tend not to form traveling communities like AT hikers), several hiking gear company representatives, local food vendors, and a pair of stages where local musicians performed throughout the day.
The spirit of trail community was just as alive in Rutland as anywhere else. A rep from Merrell footwear had brought a trailer-sized grill and was giving away pancakes and bacon in the morning, ribs and corn in the afternoon. Two guys with dutch ovens were giving away chili and blueberry cobbler in the evening. Hikers played volleyball and horseshoes on the green while a bluegrass band twanged away on the stage.
Maybe the festival will grow in future years, but for now it’s a great little event. Some day when I hike the Long Trail, I should time it to get into Rutland at the right time. I’d be able to spend a day hanging out at the state fairgrounds, then a day doing volunteer trail work (this year, the Hard Core Trail Crews re-roofed Tucker Johnson Shelter and installed bog bridges on Deer Leap Mountain). That beats sitting in a hostel and watching daytime TV as far as I’m concerned.