It seems spring has sprung here in our little town nestled in the Shires. And as with each spring season, new things emerge to brighten up our bustling town. I'd like to take time this week in the column to highlight some of the fun and interesting things the Chamber has been working on, usually in some sort of collaborative effort with others:

'Bennington Made' series on CAT-TV: The Bennington Chamber, in conjunction with CAT-TV, recently launched the first of a series of episodes for a show called "Bennington Made." The Bennington Made show will focus on locally made Bennington products and the owner, operators and staff that make these quality products. The first episode aired at noon on Monday on CAT-TV and focused on Bennington Potters. The episode introduces Bennington Potters' process as Sheela Harden, Owner and Operator of Bennington Potters, leads the tour and introduces staff along the way. As of the writing of this column (Friday afternoon), the show has received over 350 views in a mere 5 days. Three other episodes are filmed and will air throughout the following months.


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The idea is to shoot another 6-7 episodes by the end of the year. This is a great marketing tool to show all that Bennington has to offer and encourage town-wide pride. Chamber members that create Bennington products are encouraged to reach out to the Chamber for a possible feature. To watch the first episode visit either http://www.bennington.com/ or http://www.catamountaccess.com/.

EXPOsion! Bennington 2016: Now in its second year, EXPOsion is a premier press conference, public exhibit and trade conference that highlights the 2016 season of arts, entertainment, and performances throughout Southwestern Vermont, Eastern New York, and the Northern Berkshires. This year's focus will be on the numerous art, entertainment and performance activities throughout the region, featuring the 125th birthday of the Bennington Battle Monument, the announcement of Bennington Arts Weekend in early August, the Bennington Museum's 2016 Grandma Moses exhibit, and the reincarnation of the Bennington Area Arts Council led by the Cultural Bennington Planning Committee. The EXPOsion event will be at the Mount Anthony Country Club on Wednesday, April 20 from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM and is free to attend. Go to http://www.exposionbennington.org/ to learn more.

April Chamber Mixer: Our mixer on Thursday, April 28th will be held at the Southwestern Vermont Health Care center. As is usual with our mixers, this is sure to be a great evening of mixing, mingling, networking and fellowship. A big kudos to SVHC as they just pulled off another great "Dine To Your Heart's Delight" week with a crescendo event at the end of the week at The Taconic. Great job by the staff and organizers of the event. Call the Chamber at 447-3311 or email marie@bennington.com to RSVP for the mixer.

The Park at 336 and the SPARC Downtown Project: To compensate for the lack of a town green in the heart of downtown, the Better Bennington Corporation Design Committee has envisioned a string of unique and functional, smaller parks that each provide a place to relax and enjoy. The string of interconnected parks will be called "SPARC Downtown" standing for spaces, parks, art, recreation, and community. The current inventory of parks that have already been completed includes: Fountain Memorial Park, River Walk, and the Town Office Green. Their newest project is the Park at 336 (on Main Street) and will require a fundraising effort by all. To learn more check out: http://www.sparcdowntown.com/.

World's First Operation Tournament: The Gamer's Grotto, in partnership with the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce, invites locals and visitors to participate in a day-long gaming event. The "World's First Operation Tournament" will be held Tuesday, April 19 from noon to 8pm at The Gamer's Grotto at 457 Main Street. Based on the popular Hasbro game "Operation" where players remove plastic ailments from a body shaped board game with a pair of tweezers without touching the edge of the cavity opening, this event has a unique flair. Encouraging community fun and health, participants are encouraged to come out and give their best shot at removing all the pieces in record time. A leader board in The Gamer's Grotto will showcase the fastest times to get all ailments out of the Operation body. There will be child and adult age brackets and it will be $1 to participate per game. Participants can try as many times as they would like to beat the game and become leader of the board. This is a great event for the family during spring break!

Cinco de Mayo & Area Guide Unveiling Party – As a special invite to our members and those who enjoy the Bennington Area Guide, we are excited to announce our Area Guide Unveiling Party (with a Cinco de Mayo theme). This open house event at the Chamber will unveil the much anticipated 2016-2017 cover and area guide. Held on May 5th, the Cinco de Mayo holiday, the Chamber will host a reception at the Chamber offices (100 Veterans Memorial Drive) between 5pm and 7pm. Light Mexican appetizers along with Mexican beer, wine and cocktails will be served as we jam to some Latin-inspired music. Members are encouraged to stop by and pick up their box of Area Guides and to have a look at the new guide! Don't forget to take a walk around the Chamber and meet the staff!

We hope you can make some of these events and if nothing else share all that Bennington continues to offer its visitors and residents.

Always Onward,

— Matt Harrington is the executive director of the Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce