Tomorrow, May 27, is the beginning of my favorite part of the summer season: Croquet. The Tuesday League Registration and Kick-Off Party is at 6 p.m. at Mt. Anthony Country Club. Cost of $75 covers the 10 weeks of play. Singles, doubles and four-person teams are welcome. Come to the patio and we will get you ready for a summer of fun.

On Saturday, May 31, volunteers will begin the summer clean up of the Ninja Bike Trail. From 10 a.m. to noon we will be clearing brush and cutting down the path again. Anyone interested should just show up for a morning of good activity. We have ordered new signs, contacted Bennington College, worked on the scoping study, found an amazing river consultant, have a great engineering volunteer, and a wonderful core group. Phase One behind Morse Industrial Park, Price Chopper and Walmart is soon becoming a reality. Look for us around the Morse Road and the Old Harmon Road bed in the Industrial Park. We are also looking for funding to create a more permanent roadbed for the bikes and walkers. The path is for non-motorized transportation and is an ideal way to keep fit and get off the main roadways. See you Saturday!

The past week and a half have been pretty hectic as I traveled around to the CT Summer Travel Show, Discover New England, and the Vermont Business Expo in Burlington. It has been a great pleasure to meet new people and old friends as I promote our region. I have a ton of leads to follow up on. We have secured some new Chamber Members, and re-kindled old relationships.


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I learned from Jeff Munger that Sen. Jim Jeffords just celebrated his 80th birthday on Mother's Day. He was a great champion of the Western Corridor, an important Vermont senator as well as an outstanding gentleman.

Closer to home I want to thank the Safford Mill Inn & Cafe for making a lovely mixer last week. They have been good partners in the Chamber and we are pleased that they could showcase their facility.

Car Show applications are available for vehicles and for vendors, and Garlic Festival applications are coming in fast and furious. Check www.bennington.com for information.

The Great Race is returning to Bennington for its first lunch stop on this year's route (Maine to Florida). We are the first community they are making a second visit to in their entire history. Join the fun on June 22 at the Bennington Fire House, where you can buy hot dogs and burgers grilled by the fire department as you enjoy the vintage cars and chat with their driving and navigating teams. Hemmings Motor News is a major sponsor and Carbone Auto Group is helping support the Lunch Event for the Fire Department. Drop by between 12:30 and 2:30 p.m.

Catamounts are out and about. One of the Table Top Cats has accompanied me to every trade show. He gets a lot of attention so I'll need to make sure he doesn't get too spoiled. We are extremely pleased that the Chamberis able to give back to the artists a nice percentage of the auction proceeds. The Bennington Center for the Arts is hosting the National Exhibit of the Top American Oil Painters in June. The week of June 7 will be very exciting with receptions and art writers covering the event. In addition, we are getting ready for the Southern Vermont Art & Craft Festival on Aug. 1, 2 and 3. The Bennington Arts Guild, our galleries, the Bennington Museum, VAE, Oldcastle Theatre, Bennington College Senior Show, Open Studio Weekend that just passed, the Catamount Prowl back out on display, and the many talented individuals all through our community make our environment so much richer. I am grateful for all their contributions and it is reason 9,447 of why I love Bennington.

June 7 is the American Lung Association Climb. They are all going to try to get to the top of the Bennington Monument. What a special place to raise awareness and money for the fight against lung cancer.

Remember to buy raffle tickets for our "PINK" Catamount. All proceeds go to local cancer research. Speaking of which, there is a humongous Cupcake Event on the grounds at the Southwestern Vermont Health Care here in Bennington on May 31. It might be great if someone would buy some cupcakes there and deliver them to our Ninja Bike Path Volunteers. Our community is extremely kind and generous and I am so proud to be able to represent us in our most positive light at all the trade shows.  Thank you for giving me the incentive to work for our future.

Joann Erenhouse is executive director of the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce. Her column appears weekly in The Banner.