Chicken Sam, that was his name, perched in the front window at the Brandon Artists Guild Gallery. Sam is a two-foot tall chicken with blue stars and a bright red tail, and he was surveying the action on main street. He's the type of art work that makes the gallery one of my favorite day trips from Lake George, New York. The gallery features whimsical pieces and beautiful art work. You never know what’s waiting for you at the crossroads of Routes 7 and 73 in Vermont.
We trek to the Adirondack Mountains each year and have found great character in communities knit close together, in the rural country of Vermont. The town of Brandon, which touts a population “hovering around 4000,” is worthy of exploration for artisan treasure seekers. It sits on a fabulous stretch of road if you love small town charm, hidden gems, and fantastic scenery along the way.
Inside the Artists Guild Gallery you’ll find a variety of collections, representing different mediums, for those who enjoy beautiful craftsmanship. On this visit, we admired smoothed stone miniature figures in a range of sizes and colors, and ceramics, my favorite being a coffee mug that looked like it was dripping in sky blue glaze. A unique wooden angel, aptly named, “Ready to Fly,” was another piece that went home with us that day.
Around the corner, you’ll discover a large fabric shop (I’m not into sewing, but I always stop here) and book store, located conveniently near the deli with a porch to watch locals move about town. Save room for sweets at Cafe Provence which attracts regulars to their gourmet bakery at the river bend. It is charming, with folding orange tables and chairs, and flowers decorating the doorstep. The bakery is well known for its “Cowboy Cookie,” need I say more? As you stroll between Provence and the Artists Guild, it’s easy to see why Brandon is the self-proclaimed “Art and Soul” of Vermont.
An added benefit of traveling this region is its proximity to other small towns sprinkled together, making it easy for a full day of exploration. The main street of Vergennes is on the north end of Route 7, and the more established town of Middlebury, Vermont is an easy 16 miles up Route 7, between Brandon and Vergennes. Among the many restaurants, galleries and shops in Middlebury is the addition of the Edgewater Gallery, with a focus on artisan pieces for the home, downstairs. And it’s just two blocks from Otter Creek Bakery and their raspberry oatmeal squares!
There is something special about the winding, open roads of Vermont. A short ferry ride across Lake Champlain delivers you into these small towns filled with creative energy, offering a charm and inspiration that lures me back every year.