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‘We really missed each other’

  • Tunbridge selectman Gary Mullen, right, hands a flag to fellow board member Mike McPhetres during the annual parade in Tunbridge, Vt., on July 5, 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the board decided at their May 11 meeting to postpone the annual Memorial Day tradition. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com.

  • As Tunbridge, Vt., baseball players watch and listen, Isabelle Weed, 13, of Tunbridge, reads the Gettysburg Address during a gathering at the end of the annual Tunbridge parade on July 5, 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the event was postponed from Memorial Day. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Geoff Hansen Photographs

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    Linda Lazaroff, of Tunbridge, Vt., hands lollipops to siblings, from left, Emmett, 5, Josie, 2, and Conner Hoyt, 7, of South Royalton, Vt., during the annual parade in Tunbridge, Vt., on July 5, 2021. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual event was postponed from Memorial Day. Lazaroff said she was planning to walk with The Tunbridge Church group but ended up marching with other groups as well. "I got waylaid by talking with people," she said. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Geoff Hansen

  • From left, Lillian Aiken, 11, Charlotte Aiken, 9, and Madeliene Bates, 7, all of Tunbridge, Vt., wait with Prue, Tenielle and Scout to walk in the annual parade in Tunbridge, Vt., on July 5, 2021. The siblings' family raises Nigerian Dwarf goats for their milk at The Tucker Farm in Tunbridge. The parade was postponed from Memorial Day due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Valley News - Geoff Hansen) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News — Geoff Hansen photographs

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 7/5/2021 9:04:36 PM
Modified: 7/7/2021 1:24:03 PM

TUNBRIDGE — Kicking off the first Tunbridge Memorial Day parade in two years, three-time western dressage world champion Lexi, a Shire Saddlebred Cross horse, walked proudly down Vermont-110.

Then came the tractors, goats, oxen and cows.

Attendees watching said it felt like a return to normal, pre-pandemic activities.

“We really missed each other,” said Tunbridge resident Patricia Beavers.

Canceled fully in 2020, the annual parade and Memorial Day festivities were postponed this year to July 5 in hopes that Vermont’s COVID-19 restrictions would loosen this summer.

Beavers, who along with her husband, Scott, rides their 1965 Schwinn tandem bicycle in the parade, wasn’t going to miss the event this year. Clad in attire reminiscent of the 1960s, they drew eyes as they biked loops down the road.

Patricia’s good friend, Janet Zug, glassblower and author of the town’s newsletter, rode a matching tandem bike with Seth Stoddard of South Royalton.

“I ride this bike once a year. Here,” said Zug, adding that it’s difficult to find uses for it in her daily life. “It’s so much fun.”

Along the parade route, kids screamed with joy as candy was thrown into the street. Trucks honked their horns and children could be overheard telling their families, “I love the oxen!”

Two of those oxen belonged to local farmers Brooke and Austin Sayers, who were happy to be back at the parade with their daughter Hadley. After working on two dairy farms and showing for 13 years at the Tunbridge World’s Fair, Brooke is hoping to start her own farm in the coming years.

“I just like being able to bring my animals up, it’s pretty rewarding,” Brooke said. “I’m raising my daughter to hopefully like it as much as I do. ”

The sights and sounds of gathering people, absent for over a year now, were good training for their oxen, she said, who were a little over 2 months old.

On Fairground Road, Friends of the Fair sold rubber ducks for the annual duck race fundraiser down the White River.

Meanwhile, the annual book, bake, and plant sale was in full swing, minus the plants. Friends of the Library President Elaine Howe said she was expecting bake sale proceeds this year to decrease from the past because they had fewer items to sell.

“But it’s a start,” Howe said. “We’ll do better next year.”

Recently retired from her position as Tunbridge Central School’s librarian, Howe was excited about a new library fundraising effort backed by bake sale proceeds.

For many years now, the Tunbridge Fairgrounds has hosted a StoryWalk, an international concept first developed a Montpelier resident. Carefully cut and laminated picture book pages are posted outdoors so readers must walk to find the next page of their story.

After losing a couple of pages to the wind, Howe said Friends of the Library is hoping to buy 20 permanent frames to protect the rotating storybook pages. The new StoryWalk would then be moved to a fenced-in area around the library. Each frame costs about $225.

“It’s a lot of money but I hope we can raise it,” said Howe. “It’s another way to get kids reading.”

Once the state’s COVID-19 restrictions ended and the Tunbridge community began to gather together again, Indiana resident Krista Boko returned with her family to visit her hometown.

She hasn’t been able to visit since the pandemic began so Boko was excited to learn that Memorial Day events were returning on the last day of their stay.

“(My parents) told us the day we got here that they were involved in this, so we knew our plans for today,” Boko said. “We didn’t know! So this has been really fun.”

Boko’s parents, Tunbridge residents Barry and Portia Wampler, carried the church banner in the parade. During the post-parade memorial service, the Wamplers read the history of the Hoyt Memorial, followed by a violin rendition of Ashokan Farewell from resident Butch Howe. Local kids Isabelle Weed and Avry Loftus read the Gettysburg Address and In Flanders Fields.

After the service, a chicken barbeque and ice cream was served while Brooke Sayers took her registered Jersey cow BooBoo to Cow Pie Bingo. The board squares, painted on the ground, were on sale for $10 each in the days leading up to the event.

Alan Aldrich, owner of Sandy’s Restaurant in Sharon and the square BooBoo pooped in, received half the proceeds, while the other half went to the town’s recreation programs.

Sayers has been asked to provide the cow for Cow Pie Bingo for at least ten years. She said she loves farming in Tunbridge.

“People don’t realize how lucky they are to be here,” Sayers said.

Although Howe, presidents of the Friends of the Library group, saw where event improvements could be made, “it’s a start for another year, and it’s called ‘don’t forget us, we’ll be back bigger and better,’” she said.

“It’s a town effort. It has to be!”

Jasmine Taudvin can be reached at jtaudvin@vnews.com.

Correction

Avry Loftus, of Tunbridge, read In Flanders Fields during a memorial service following the annual parade in Tunbridge on July 5. An earlier version of this story incorrectly reported her last name.

 




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