Tuesday June 11, 2013

HOWARD WEISS-TISMAN

Brattleboro Reformer

BRATTLEBORO -- Farmers know that you can’t rely on the weather. Cows have to be milked regardless of what the weather brings and seeds are planted with the hope that meteorological conditions cooperate.

So it was in that spirit that final plans were made for Saturday’s Strolling of the Heifers parade.

Last year the parade was held during torrential downpours and organizers said this year’s parade would start on time in rain or sun.

In the end the weather was absolutely perfect for Saturday’s parade and for the activities on the Brattleboro Common and the Brattleboro Retreat campus.

"The heifers in heaven really helped out and sent perfect weather for Saturday and Sunday," Strolling of the Heifers founder Orly Munzing said. "It was a mooverlous parade and an audience that came to support our local farmers. Cattleboro is a unique community that sets an example to the rest of the country."

Heavy rain forced organizers to cancel a number of activities Friday during Gallery Walk. The plugs were pulled on music performances Friday due to fear of electrocution and the crowds were greatly reduced at inside activities while heavy winds and cold rain lashed Brattleboro.

Even right up to Saturday’s starting time the forecast was calling for occasional showers and chilly temperatures, but almost on cue the clouds parted in the morning and throughout the day Saturday it was clear and cool, perfect temperatures for a human, or a heifer, to march down Main Street.

"One weekend ago it was too hot, and two weeks ago we had snow," said Strolling of the Heifers Production Manager David Woodberry. "Just like ‘The Three Little Bears,’ this weekend was just right."

Woodberry was sitting behind his table on the Brattleboro Retreat campus Saturday, where he would be from 5 a.m. until 10 p.m. With a circus performer to his right and a screw gun to his left, Woodberry said he was prepared for anything that might come up.

But at around noon, with the parade over and thousands of people walking the Retreat grounds, sampling cheese, listening to music and having their faces painted, Woodberry said it appeared as though everyone was having a good time.

"The weather really doesn’t matter because we are here one way or the other," he said. "But it’s very nice to have the sun."

Jim and Lisa Segedy traveled all the way from Pittsburgh and they had staked out an elevated, shady spot near the courthouse by 9 a.m. to watch the parade.

The Segedys attended their first Strolling of the Heifers parade last year and endured the cold rain that drenched the festivities in 2012.

"We said we had to come back this year to give it a chance without the rain," Lisa Segedy said, looking up at the brightening skies.

"We’re glad we did."

Jim Segedy said a friend who heard about the Stroll told the couple about it last year and they were intrigued with the idea of celebrating local food and agriculture.

"It’s such a unique idea. It lets everyone celebrate who they are, even if they are goats," he said. "It celebrates community, and there is nothing better than that."