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The Great Vermont Corn Maze, Northeast Kingdom, VT.

Vermont's Autumn Attractions, From Harvest Fests to Haunted Corn Mazes

Words and photos courtesy of Seven Days

Vermont's Autumn Attractions, From Harvest Fests to Haunted Corn Mazes
By Bryan Parmelee

Tour de Farms
Saturday, September 18, starts and ends at Vergennes Union High School, 989-6980

If you ever find yourself torn between spending a Saturday at a farmers market or adventuring out on an epic bike ride, Tour de Farms makes life that much easier. The annual event combines cycling through the scenic Champlain Valley with tasty treats from area farms.

The ride-at-your-own-pace tour takes cyclists on a 30-mile journey that begins and ends at Vergennes Union High School. The established route includes stops at eight farms, where riders can reenergize with samples of local food from more than 20 producers. All of the goods offered — from cheese and honey to empanadas and oxymel — hail from the Champlain Valley.

Cyclists who purchase products from the participating farms won't need to ride with additional weight in tow. A designated "farm van" will transport all purchases back to the starting point so riders can focus on finishing the tour.

"This event really brings the whole community together to meet the people who grow our food that we don't otherwise have the opportunity to meet," said Lindsey Berk, executive director of Addison County Relocalization Network (ACORN), which organizes the ride.

This year's Tour de Farms has limited capacity; while the advance registration period has closed, 50 more riders will be able to register on the day of the event. Parts of the route are on dirt roads, so road or mountain bikes with wide tires are recommended.

Bike riding in Vermont

Also try...
Dig In Vermont farm trails, statewide
Lamoille Valley Bike Tours, Johnson area
Vermont Bike & Brew, Upper Valley

Dead North
Fridays and Saturdays, October 1, 2, 8 and 9, at Great Vermont Corn Maze, 1404 Wheelock Rd., Danville, 748-1399

As any horror movie fan will tell you, the middle of a cornfield is one of the most terrifying places you can be come nightfall. It's easy enough to get lost in a cornfield during the day, so you'd have to actively want to get scared senseless to venture into one at night. Turns out, this is exactly what drives thrill seekers to a farm in Danville every October.

For the past 21 years, Mike Boudreau and his band of "resident psychos" have brought nightmares to life at Dead North, a "farmland of terror" located at the Great Vermont Corn Maze. The annual haunt, in an area separate from the maze, takes brave souls on a mile-long journey through cornfields and buildings that have been carefully designed with one purpose in mind: making people scream.

"A lot of people come up here and expect to see a guy in a sheet say 'boo,'" said Boudreau. "But we're insane. We've put way more into this than we ever should have." Visitors can expect to encounter live actors, special effects and professional-grade animatronics.

So, just how scary is Dead North? "We've had over 600 adults wet their pants — that we know of," Boudreau said with pride.

Limited tickets are available and must be purchased in advance on the Great Vermont Corn Maze website.

Also try...
The Emmons Island Haunted Trail, Grand Isle
Nightmare Vermont, Essex Junction
Percy Farm Corn Maze, Stowe

Bristol Harvest Festival
Saturday, September 25, Bristol Town Green, 388-7951

In the heart of Bristol is a village green that has long served as a gathering space. Whether it's hosting weekly Bristol Town Band concerts — a tradition that dates back to the Civil War — or an annual Independence Day celebration that has become one of the most popular in the state, the town green is undoubtedly the centerpiece of the community.

On Saturday, Sept. 25, visitors from across the state will see the green come to life during the annual Bristol Harvest Festival. Cohosted by the Addison County Chamber of Commerce and the Bristol Recreation Department, the fest is a free, family-oriented event now in its 22nd year.

Nearly 50 on-site vendors will offer everything from crafts and jewelry to insurance policies and solar installations. "It's a real mix of people from around the area," said chamber executive director Rob Carter.

Burgers, hot dogs, tacos and Mediterranean cuisine will be among the food options at the festival. The gazebo on the green will host a different musician every hour, featuring performances by Mark Lavoie, Greg Ryan, Rick Ceballos and Lausanne Allen, Nate Gusakov, and Adam & the Atomics.

The festival will end at 4 p.m., at which point attendees are encouraged to wander into the town's historic downtown district for sidewalk sales and plenty of dining options.

Also try...
Chester Festival on the Green, September 18 & 19
Smuggs FallFest, September 10 & 11

About the series

This series, a partnership between Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing and Seven Days, will run seasonally, presenting curated excursions in every corner of Vermont. The idea is to highlight the state's restaurants, retailers, attractions and outdoor adventures so Vermonters and visitors alike can plan safe, local trips and discover new corners of the state. Happy traveling, and stay safe.