JAY, Vermont — If grabbing a bite of Vermont cheddar at one race gate and chugging a glass of cold milk at another is any indication of the uniqueness of Jay Peak’s Dairy Farmer Appreciation Day, then the 20th Anniversary celebration of this annual event on Jan. 25 should prove to be one that again celebrates the soul and essence of Vermont.
Born out of an idea to marry the relationship between the agricultural landscape and tourist-based businesses like Jay Peak, Dairy Day, as it is now fondly known, brings together more than 300 dairy farmers, most of whom don’t see each other throughout the year because of their rigorous work schedules.
“Skiing at Jay is a nice way to socialize with friends who usually spend time isolated on their farms,” said Lisa McCrory, who drives to Jay from Earthwise Farm and Forest in Bethel, more than two hours south of the resort. “It’s so rare that farmers feel admired or put on a pedestal. And they should be.”
Every Vermont farm receives three complimentary lift tickets for the day, free lessons, discounted rentals, local food sampling, a Nastar race, and an apr??s-ski party complete with a DJ. The region around Jay has at least 40 dairy farmers within a 15 mile radius, and many other businesses support this agricultural focus. Jay Peak serves the community by serving many local foods in its cafeteria and restaurants all season long.
Dairy Day is not just for farmers, however. Held at the height of the season, the day is also a public draw as well, with crowds dominating the exhibits at the base area. Kids especially enjoy the antics of the Holstein mascot Friendly the Cow. There are maple syrup and cheese and specialty vendors handing out samples as well.
“The importance of active farms and a working landscape for people who live in and visit our state is something that the management at Jay seems to clearly understand,” said Jacques Couture, whose dairy farm in Westfield also hosts Couture’s Maple Shop and B&B. He also offers free tours of his farm to Jay guests each Wednesday night. “Their appreciation of the farming industry’s role in preserving that landscape generates a lot of good will in our community.”
For more information about the 20th Annual Dairy Farmer Appreciation Day, visit www.jaypeakresort.com.