Sugarbush Resort hosted the 10th annual Festival of Lights celebration at Timbers Restaurant on Thursday, December 18. Over 100 people attended this event where $6,000 was awarded from the Winthrop H. Smith Jr. Foundation, Inc. for lighting displays throughout The Valley.
This year's Festival of Lights theme is Les Etoiles de Noel. Translation: The Stars of Christmas. The French title is a tribute to the 50th anniversary of Chez Henri, the slope-side bistrot next to the Sugarbush Village covered bridge. Participants in the contest were urged to decorate with stars and to be creative in incorporating them into their own traditional holiday displays.
Over 300 stars are displayed throughout The Valley and attendees of the event expressed an interest in increasing the number of stars next year. "The goal was to create a spectacle that could be an annual attraction and bring visitors to The Valley from neighboring communities for a 'starlight driving tour' with the hope that they might shop and dine while they are here," said Lisa Davis, marketing coordinator and interim manager of the Mad River Valley Chamber of Commerce.
"The rally cry 'From Moretown to the mountains' was definitely heard because the community has really embraced the star initiative," she said.
Local nonprofits benefit from all the folks who constructed stars and strung (and restrung) the lights. Winners in the Festival of Lights contest must designate their prize to a local 501c3 of their choice. This is made possible by Win Smith, president of Sugarbush Resort, who designates funds from the Winthrop H. Smith Jr. Charitable Foundation, Inc.
"Win's commitment to the Festival of Lights contest over the past decade is a testament to his generosity and commitment to the Mad River Valley community," added Davis.
Most Creative Incorporation of Theme in a Holiday Display
1. Skip & Donna Smith, Old County Road.
2. East Warren Community Market.
3. NorthLand Designs (Pizza in the Valley).
Honorable Mention: John Lansky – Stars of David (Route 100B, Moretown), $100.
Most Brilliant Decoration of a Business
1. Reign Vermont (red cottage at the back of the Bridge Street parking lot).
2. Mad River Massage.
3. 4orty Bridge Boutique.
Honorable Mention: Featherbed Inn.
Most Brilliant Decoration of a Residence
1. 1300 German Flats Road.
2. Iliyan Deskov and Savatri Bhagavati (Bridge Street along river on east side of covered bridge).
3. AnneMarie DeFreest, Old County Road.
Honorable Mention: Gerry and Eileen Nooney, Route 17.
Most Brilliant Decoration of a Public Building
1. Moretown Elementary School.
Most Stars Displayed in One Location
2. Sugar Lodge.
3. American Flatbread.
Best Decoration of a WINDOW/BARN/STRUCTURE
1. Sam Gulisano and Gary Eckhart (Bridge Street alleyway).
2. Richards' Family Barn (Route 100 North, next to 1824 House).
3. Festival Gallery (Village Square Shopping Center).
Denise and Ben Sanders (solar-powered star on Route 100B, Moretown).
Best Dam Star
Rick Hungerford (Moretown Dam).
Special Recognition for Championing the Star Initiative and Rallying the Community
1. Barbra Gulisano (Waitsfield/Valleywide).
2. Jeb Bouchard (Moretown).