How a ski swap helped forge a culture of community

Forty years ago, a great tradition started at Waitsfield Elementary School. A few hundred people propped up their skis, boots, skates and other winter gear against the walls of the school gym and looked at what others brought.

This tradition helped forge a culture of community and fostered a lifelong enthusiasm for the outdoors and family-centered sports. And that’s where the Waitsfield Ski & Skate Sale story begins.

The entirely volunteer-run swap was started by Carol Hosford, Connie Jamieson, Callie McAllister, Judy and Malcolm Reiss, Bob and Nicole Graham and Liz LaFerriere in 1979 with the goal of making skiing more affordable for families by making equipment more affordable.

“We wanted to give all kids the chance to learn how to ski, but to do this we first had to find a way to reduce the cost of the equipment or make it nearly free,” explained Jamieson, a former ski instructor.

As the early events were truly swaps with no vendors, people brought out their old gear and sold it at reasonable prices. Because the skis were precariously lined up along the gym walls, they tended to fall over. Hillary Downing, a Waitsfield parent and current volunteer added, “As a kid, I remember the skis falling like dominoes and making a huge racket. We even had a special volunteer whose job it was to keep them from falling!”

Today, with nearly 180 community members volunteering over 1,000 hours over three days, the event fills every corner of the school and even extends into a tent near the playground outside.

“Our community shares a common bond in that we’re all hoping for the snow that creates our winter playground,” said Kaiya Korb, Waitsfield Elementary School principal.

The equipment and expertise make the sale unique. And while the inventory of equipment has evolved over the years, featuring vendors like Alpine Options, Plymouth Ski & Sports, MountainOps, Pinnacle Ski and Sports, Vermont North Ski Shops, and others, one thing has remained a constant – the volunteer experts.

“We are so proud to celebrate our 40th year and grateful to have the parent and community volunteers that make this possible every year. To commemorate this milestone, we will be selling a ski and skate sale hat we have designed with Skida,” said Andrea Cox, the ski and skate sale’s committee chair. Hats and neck warmers in two fun patterns will be available for purchase during the sale.

Proceeds from the sale help the PTA raise money for winter ski and ride activities as well as other enrichment programs, such as Kindergarten ECO, school plays, the Inspiration Project and many others.

The Waitsfield Ski & Skate Sale takes place at Waitsfield Elementary School November 9 and 10. On Friday, November 8, consignments can be dropped off at the school from 4 to 7 p.m. Official sale hours for Saturday, November 9, are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., but volunteers may shop between the hours of 7:30 and 8:30 a.m.

On Sunday, November 10, sale hours are 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. with unsold consignment pickup between 1:30 and 2:30 p.m.

For additional information go to