Strolling of the Heifers Reimagines Its June Events
The following is a statement from Lissa Harris, Strolling of the Heifers Executive Director:
The staff at the Strolling of the Heifers has been closely following the impact of COVID-19 to our food and farm related businesses. We are heartbroken by the number of food businesses having to shutter their doors, unsure if they will ever re-open. And we are witnessing first hand, in our own hometown of Brattleboro, what this unprecedented event is doing to our downtown businesses and our community. But amid the loss, we also recognize this as a time for new partnerships and an opportunity to reimagine our organization and its role in supporting local food systems.
It’s clear that we will not be able to move forward with the Stroll Weekend events planned for June 4th through the 7th. For some events we have a clear plan forward in place already and for others we are still researching the best options.
While we reimagine what the Stroll events will look like in 2020 and beyond we are exploring ways to make sure that our mission is at the center of all we do and to pivot where we need to in this brave new world. We are working closely with the town of Brattleboro, our downtown businesses, and our local and statewide economic development and agricultural organizations to brainstorm ideas and a vision for the future.
We are also taking this time to look at the potency of our advocacy efforts. Over the last 20 years the issues facing our farmers have become more nuanced, this is a great time to explore some more sophisticated advocacy efforts and partnerships in support of our local food systems.
This is the time where we turn our struggles into possibilities, we work with our partners to become even stronger, and we remake our vision in balanced community.
Strolling of the Heifers parade
We will not be rescheduling the parade in 2020. Looking ahead, we will explore how we can offer this time-honored tradition to our community while also working with Brattleboro’s downtown businesses and our parade partners to make sure there is added benefit to all. We are keenly aware that this pandemic will forever change how we think about gathering and what that means for us all as we explore our various options for 2021. Most importantly, we understand the necessity and value of gathering and celebrating together as a community. We know that our Stroll weekend in 2021 will be a welcomed celebration of our collective courage and resiliency.
Vendor Expo Festival, Tour de Heifer bike ride, Farm Tours
We will likely be rescheduling these events to new dates later this year. Many factors have to go into deciding on new dates, including any current or future directives from the state and federal government regarding large public gatherings. We are reaching out to our partners, vendors, supporters, registrants, and volunteers to determine their availability and likelihood that they can and will participate. Using our promotional power, we will craft an event that focuses on our vendors and provides the strongest opportunity for their recovery.
Slow Living Summit
We will be holding the Slow Living Summit virtually, offering speaker panels via Zoom rather than in person. Many of our speakers are already moving to an online platform for their presentations so this decision seemed like a natural course of action. Brattleboro Community Television is guiding us as we begin to set up the technical logistics that will ensure our digital conference runs smoothly. A timeline and structure for the keynote speaker presentations and panel discussions will be finalized soon.
We are still running our food and farm business accelerator program, although much of our curriculum focus for these cohorts will be on recovery and resiliency. Learning will happen virtually, with video conferencing and webinars until it is safe to gather together in person. We are currently accepting applications for our 2020 food cohort program.
River Garden building, Expo events, and Art Gallery
The River Garden will remain closed as long as the Governor’s “Stay Home, Stay Safe” order is in effect. Once the order is lifted, staff may return to working in the office though it’s unclear if we will be able to open to the public at that time. We will stay up to date on any state or federal recommendations for the future. In the meantime, we are actively exploring ways that we can support our local community and our food community as a downtown hub.
We will continue to update our social media and website pages listed below.
Please check our website often for updates and news and go to our social media pages where we will be sharing the innovation and ingenuity of our food, farm and local businesses.
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