Picks For Kids

  • When the kids are happy, everyone is happy. Luckily, it’s easy to keep children content in Vermont! Whether your little one gets excited about history, traditional crafts, or athletics, the Green Mountain State offers endless possibilities for contagious grins that will spread to the grownups in the crowd.

  • History Kids

  • Open Fields Medieval Festival

    A king and queen, knights and ladies, peasants, craftsmen, and farmers all gather at the Open Fields Medieval Festival in Thetford on May 25th. During this family-friendly celebration, the town center comes alive with the sights and sounds of a medieval village. Come in costume for music of the Middle Ages, dance, games of skill and chance, authentic food, a parade, falconry, and storytelling. Meet Benny the Dragon, and enjoy feats of juggling and acrobatics. Check out the catapult, try your hand at jousting, and take part in a knighting ceremony. Even teens will go home happy.

    Every kid looks forward to the 4th of July, and Vermont’s traditions can offer a new take on the typical New England celebration. With Green Mountain liberty and freedom of expression, here are two ways to experience Independence Day with a twist:

    The Warren 4th of July is a wacky, thought-provoking, family experience. Creative displays, addressing current day politics and world events with tongue-in-cheek themes that demonstrate the influence of freedom of speech and upstage traditional floats, fire trucks, and tractors. Dance, eat, and cavort in the warmth of summer; celebrate the birth of our country’s independence and spirit. Free kids’ activities and street dance follow the parade.

    For the more traditionally inclined, the 4th of July President Calvin Coolidge Birthday Celebration at the Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site commemorates the only U.S. president born on Independence Day. At noon, march with members of the Vermont National Guard from the village green to the cemetery where a wreath from the White House is laid at the President’s gravesite. After the ceremony, return to the village for chicken barbecue, wagon rides, historic craft demonstrations, and a special musical performance at the church in this authentic, preserved 19th-century village.

  • Crafty Kids

  • Vermont is known for innovation, while at the same time opportunities abound for children of all ages to learn and participate in our cultural heritage through hands-on experiences from the past.

    Vermont is deeply rooted in farming as a part of our legacy and a way of the future. Vermont experienced a “sheep boom” in the 1820s, as hillside farms devoted to the growth of ewes, rams, and lambs dotted the land. In Woodstock on May 4-5, Billings Farm hosts Sheep Shearing & Herding with Border Collies, offering a chance to experience this important part of Vermont’s rural tradition. This wooly weekend is devoted to Southdown sheep and their herding friends. Watch the Border Collies herding sheep in the farm fields and the shearing of the Farm’s ewes; take a turn at carding wool and observe the fleece being spun into yarn. Billings’ beautiful barns host wool and sheep-themed craft activities for kids, including a “make-it & take-it” sheep handprint.

    Explore our heritage with collections of art and Americana for all ages at the Shelburne Museum where over 150,000 works are exhibited in a remarkable setting of 39 exhibition buildings, 25 of which are historic and were relocated to the Museum grounds. Little ones may participate in daily craft activities that tie into the Museum’s exhibitions at the Owl Cottage Family Activity Center. Monthly Saturday morning programs will encourage families to explore – through story and art-making – the exciting exhibitions in the Museum’s new Center for Art and Education, opening in fall 2013.

    Wood products are also a piece of Vermont’s cultural and craft heritage. Working lands continue to be a focus of Vermont’s traditions at the 10th Annual Vermont Fine Furniture, Woodworking & Forest Festival in Woodstock on September 28-29, where visitors will experience the story of how Vermonters care for our woods, from forest to finished product. While adults will relish the showcase of magnificent works of art borne from our bounty of trees, crafty kids will be drawn to the demonstration space, featuring bowl turners, boat makers, chairwrights, and carvers. Staff from the U.S. Forest Service hosts woodworking and sawmill demonstrations.

  • Hooked, Horse-loving, and High-Flying Kids

  • Photo by Robert Sanson, courtesy of Circus Smirkus

    K ids are great at telling the story of “the big one that got away” but at the 32nd Annual LCI Father’s Day Derby presented by Yamaha on June 15-17, the big one just may have to stay hooked to win one of hundreds of prizes for anglers of any ability. A New England family tradition that runs the length of Lake Champlain on the western side of Vermont, this premier event brings thousands of people, from all across the country, to enjoy a weekend of family, friends, and fishing. As a fundraiser for the Colchester-based non-profit Lake Champlain International, the Derby connects people with Vermont’s “Great Lake” and supports lake conservation, fisheries restoration, and youth outreach programs. Pre-registration is required to fish in the Derby; junior and family registration options are available.

    From working draft horses to elegant show horses, equine companions have long been a part of Vermonters’ lives. Immerse yourself in horse culture and style at East Dorset’s Vermont Summer Festival, July 3-August 11. Offering five rings of show-jumping action with more than $750,000 in prize money, this unique spectator festival attracts some of the best horse show jumping athletes, including Olympic medalists, from across the country and around the globe.

    Vermont’s state animal, the Morgan Horse, was one of the earliest horse breeds developed in the United States. All Morgans trace back to a single sire named Figure, born in 1789. At the Lippitt Country Show in Tunbridge on August 16-18, horse-loving kids will love this old-fashioned show located in the same village where Figure was buried in the 1820s. Highlighting the versatility of the Lippitt Morgan, show classes include in-hand, Western, English, jumping, trail, and stick horse (802-235-2264).

    With jumping in common, high-flying kids will relate to the young performers – ages 10 to 18 – who star as aerialists, clowns, acrobats, jugglers, wirewalkers, and unicyclists in Circus Smirkus, Vermont’s own homegrown, award-winning youth circus. Circus Smirkus has received international acclaim from media outlets including The New York Times, The International Herald Tribune, Fox & Friends and Teen Kids News. The one-ring show under a classic 750-seat Big Top features an original score, live music, custom-made costumes, and professional choreography. Now in its 26th season and based in Greensboro, the Circus boasts a summer schedule with performance venues all over Vermont and New England.