This is my ninth post about our family's visit to New England. I suggest reading the first, second, third, fourth, fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth posts from the trip before this one. Because I blog about educational travel, I was given admission tickets, media rates, discounts, and other benefits for some of the places we visited during our trip. Some places are free for everyone; we paid full price for the rest. This has no bearing on my reviews. Everything I'm share is something that I recommend without hesitation. If you see any gaps in my narrative, it is because I didn't love that particular attraction, restaurant, or hotel enough to recommend it to you, regardless of how much I paid or didn't pay.
Waterbury and Barre, Vermont
I don't remember exactly when I found out that Ben & Jerry's offers a factory tour in Waterbury, Vermont. But whenever that was, it was the same day I made it one of my life's goals to visit. I love factory tours and I love Ben & Jerry's. Combining the two? Euphoria.
But I'm getting ahead of myself. We started Tuesday, June 20 at Cold Hollow Cider Mill. In addition to being a working cider mill, they also have a cafe. We enjoyed their homemade Cheddar biscuit breakfast sandwiches, as well as a cider donut and cider slushie. Delicious! Then we took the self-guided tour.
Most of the equipment was shut down. A single employee was peeling apples, possibly for the bakery.
We did get to taste the cider, which was fantastic. We were there too early in the morning for the hard cider tasting room to open. Next time.
Ben & Jerry's is right down the road from Cold Hollow. I was so excited to finally be there.
We were early for our tour, so we started at the Flavor Graveyard.
Each of the "dearly de-pinted" has a gravestone with a rhyming epigraph and the dates it was in production.
With some of the flavors, I totally get why they weren't popular. But others sound fantastic. I enjoyed the Graveyard enough to have justified the whole visit, but the tour was even better. We couldn't take pictures during the factory part, so here are some pictures of the public areas.
The tour concluded with a peek into the Flavor Lab, where they were working to develop a carrot cake flavor.
We also saw this display of new and limited edition flavors.
There were two opportunities for tasting during the tour. While we overlooked the production room, we got samples of the cookie dough that goes into one of their most popular flavors. In the tasting room, we tried Butterscotch'd. It was fantastic.
Our tour concluded with Great Moo-ments in History.
We had such a wonderful time at Ben & Jerry's!
Before continuing this post, I want to acknowledge the catastrophic flooding that is happening in Vermont right now. I'm writing this on July 11, three weeks to the day after visiting there. It's hard to reconcile the mild rivers and charming downtowns we experienced with the reports I'm seeing on the news. The Winooski River in Montpelier crested above 21 feet. That's 6 feet above flood stage and the second highest level ever recorded for the river. Tomorrow's blog post will have photos of us along that river, as well as enjoying parts of Montpelier that are currently under water. Today's post has pictures of Barre, which also has widespread flooding.
How could so much change in three weeks? I'm praying for the people in the affected communities. For their safety, of course, but also as they deal with the aftermath of the disaster once the waters recede.
On to Barre. It's pronounced "berry" and it's the home of the Vermont Granite Museum and Stone Arts School.
The Vermont Granite Museum is large and rustic. The exhibits look homemade, but they are packed with interesting information about everything having to do with granite. It's a neat place.
Throughout the museum, there are fun hands-on activities that kids would love.
I was not expecting a hands-on exhibit about the mechanical advantage of pulleys, but there it is! They've done a great job of making this museum fun.
I love art projects, but wasn't super keen on designing my own monument.
But it was very interesting learning how they're made and seeing the different finishes available.
I enjoyed this display of granite from different parts of the world. The gray ones are from Barre.
This exhibit about how granite is harvested was fascinating. We'd get to see it in real life soon - it was so neat! I'll tell you about that on Friday.
The museum is filled with gorgeous works of art.
After touring the museum, we went into the school portion of the facility. It has multiple large workspaces, where artists keep their works-in-progress.
Unfortunately, no one was working when we were visiting. I would have loved to have seen them at work. But that does mean we were spared from the noise and dust. Something tells me this is not quiet machinery.
With a granite museum and school in town, it's no surprise that downtown Barre has a lot of public art made of granite.
We were most excited to see this one, as it commemorates the founding of the American Scouting movement, which took place in Barre in 1909. A lot of the pavers surrounding it were dedicated to different Eagle Scouts.
We knew to expect the granite art in downtown Barre, but we did not expect the fiberglass art known as Barre Art Splash. Scroll down in that link to read "All the Nitty Gritty." It helps explain why we saw cats, dogs, and race cars, but not the bears, frogs, and pigs.
Barre has a really cute downtown and I would have loved more time to explore it.
But we had other places we needed to be. Tomorrow I'll tell you how we spent our time in Montpelier.