A light rain didn’t deter the crowd at this summer’s inaugural Round-Up on the River on Wednesday, July 7. For the first time in two years, revelers of all ages gathered behind The Sweet Spot on Bridge Street in Waitsfield for local food and music performed by Seth Yacovone. Children danced to his rendition of “Ophelia” in his signature blues guitar style, tossed bean bags into cornholes and munched on The Sweet Spot’s ice cream cookie sandwiches. Adults grabbed beer, wine or cocktails from The Sweet Spot’s takeout window and socialized with their neighbors -- for many, for the first time in a long time.
The Round-Up has been a summer staple for six or seven years. Sarina Gulisano of The Sweet Spot said they started the Round-Up as a free event for the community. Having it midweek encourages local folks to come out. “We wanted to give back to the community,” she said.
After a year off due to the pandemic, Valley residents are excited to get back to gathering and enjoying food and live music together. Waitsfield resident Kathy Mehuron said, “When COVID hit, it was kind of devastating.” She’s excited to get back to events like this with her friends. “We love it,” she said. “We love the music; we love the food.”
Vendors are happy to be back in action, too. Pete Garritano, head chef of Yak It To Me! said, “We’re looking forward to being back to doing this because we enjoy it and the atmosphere that’s full of humans walking around where we can see their faces.”
Rob Williams, Yak It to Me!’s owner, added, “It’s nice to see Vermonters returning to fully human status. This is our ninth summer running this food cart. We love the Round-Up, this is our most favorite event of the summer. We’re just so happy to be back. Kudos to Sarina (Gulisano) and Johnny (Vitko) and The Sweet Spot for curating this event, getting people together face-to-face and community and live music and good food and ice cream and swimming – the best of the Vermont shire in summer.”
Michael Flanagan, owner of Ting Ting Dumpling, said, “We’re super stoked to be back with our friends and socially interacting. And I’m looking forward to getting back to doing some multi-day music festivals and beer festivals and yoga festivals, what we do for a living. We’re looking forward to doing those again.”
Round-Up-goers feasted on Ting Ting’s pork and chicken dumplings and a yard bird rice bowl, while vegetarians enjoyed their Sichuan mushrooms with tofu, fermented black beans, rice noodles and local greens. At Yak It To Me! customers enjoyed the yak burgers the vendor is known for, as well as a vegetarian “Namaste Bowl” with sauteed onions, tomatoes and mushrooms topped with cheese and a fried egg, all smothered in a garlic-infused olive oil. The Sweet Spot sold salad with a chicken cutlet and beignets fried in a huge wok of bubbling oil.
The Round-Up happens on Bridge Street every Wednesday in the summer from 5 p.m. until dark. Each week features different food vendors and musicians. While Gulisano wouldn’t say who will be coming up, she did say there’s a good mix of musicians and vendors that will participate this summer. The event is free with food and drinks for sale. Gulisano said, “Don’t worry about the weather, just come out and have some fun!”