VDTM to award $75K in grants

MONTPELIER — The Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing plans to award $75,000 in dollar-for-dollar matching grants through the Market Vermont program to help Vermont-based organizations and businesses promote themselves outside of the state. Applicants may seek up to $10,000 for their project. The deadline for applications is Oct. 3, and the grant recipients will be announced on Oct. 21.

Travelers at the Waterbury station show their approval of Amtrak’s new carry-on bike service recently.

Bike touring gets assist from Amtrak

The first carry-on bike service for trains on the East Coast recently made its debut on the Vermonter, the Amtrak route that connects St. Albans with New Haven, Conn. The service is being offered on a pilot basis through foliage season of 2017, although the bike racks will remain on the train throughout the year. The Vermonter can currently accommodate three bikes per train, according to Amtrak. However, that will change in June, said Dan Delabruere, the rail program director with the Vermont Agency of Transportation.

The visitor center on Bonnet Street in Manchester closed permanently last month, but many of the exhibits were moved to this site at the Berkshire Bank on Main Street.

Groups eye regional chamber

MANCHESTER — The Bennington Area Chamber of Commerce is considering expanding its operations to fill the void left by the closure of the Manchester chamber last month and some local businesses are also helping out, according to Pauline Moore, economic development director for the town. At the Manchester Select Board meeting Tuesday, Moore updated the board on new developments following the announcement last month that the Manchester and the Mountains Chamber of Commerce would be closing down and filing for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Some steps have already been taken, with two Main Street businesses, the Berkshire Bank and TPW Real Estate, agreeing to put up some of the exhibits which had been on display at the chamber’s welcome center on Bonnet Street. But Moore told the Select Board members that she still had some concerns. “One of the major things that happened was that we suddenly had a vacuum in that there was no visitors center and Memorial Day was coming, the summer and into fall foliage, and we had no place for visitors to go and get information,” she said.

Candice McRacken, assistant innkeeper at Mountain Meadows Lodge in  Killington, feeds fruit to some of the goats on the property Wednesday afternoon.

Visitors seek a variety of outdoor attractions

As spring continues to take hold of Vermont’s landscape, thousands of visitors will hit the trails, bike, swim and enjoy the many other outdoor adventures the Green Mountains offer. Heather Lynds, co-owner of the Mad River Barn in Waitsfield, said a number of families are already heading up to Vermont to get away from it all after the long winter months. “I think everyone’s getting a little bit tired of being indoors, and they’re looking to connect with nature,” Lynds said. Her guests have often enjoyed local biking, horseback riding and swimming holes. Farm tours have been a major draw in recent years as well.

American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens stands next to the clay model for the "Standing Lincoln" in his studio in Cornish, N.H.

Amid boost in visitor traffic, Saint-Gaudens plans 50th with Lincoln

CORNISH, N.H. – Abraham Lincoln will find a home in Cornish, N.H., this summer. A 12-foot-tall bronze statue of Lincoln, that is. Saint-Gaudens National Historic Site is celebrating its 50th anniversary, as well as the 100th anniversary of the creation of the National Park Service this year. In addition, the National Park Service, or NPS, is working with parks around the country that have a special connection to Lincoln. American sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens created many of his most significant works at the park, including two full-scale statues of the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln.