Last weekend, we decided to head up to Vermont for Mount Snow’s annual Oktoberfest. We have had very good times at Hunter Mountain’s Oktoberfest in the past, but since we are now closer to Mount Snow, we decided to give theirs a try.
The ride up was okay. Once we were past Hartford and Springfield, things got much smoother. Trying to drive through those two cities would make anyone want to move far away from people. It’s not fun. Again, once we were past all the traffic and crazy drivers, the ride was actually nice.
I never quite took notice, but the mountains of northern Massachusetts are quite beautiful. Driving North on 91 looked a lot like driving north on the Thruway in New York. Like Connecticut and Massachusetts, once you get past Albany, things start to look good. As you can see, I am not a big fan of cities. I actually don’t enjoy them at all.
To get to Mount Snow from Interstate 91, we took the Greenfield, MA exit. This brought us on a bunch of back roads and through a few small towns. It was a slower drive, but much nicer than taking any highway. We passed two apple orchards and a whole lot of rivers and streams. Since I don’t spend a lot of time up in these mountains, I looked like an eager tourist. Hey, we’re all tourists at some point, right?
Towards the end of the trip up to Vermont, we approached the small town of Wilmington. I have visited this town quite a bit and it has always been a madhouse. There’s one way in and one way out of the Mount Snow area. Well, unless you want to drive North and then South again, but that’s going to add a lot of time to your trip. Anyway, when we entered Wilmington, VT…BAM…there it was. About 15 minutes worth of traffic, just to get through one light. It wasn’t terrible because it’s not like it was 90 degrees out or anything. We just sat and waited. Eventually we got through.
Along Rt. 100, there is a restaurant called the Silo. Since it had been a long trip, we decided to stop and quickly sneak into their bathrooms. After that, and since I was extremely hungry, we decided to have a quick meal. I had a pretty good portobello mushroom burger, but unfortunately Laura was a bit disappointed there wasn’t much of a veggie menu. Hey, we were in ski country in a restaurant that had to feed the masses. I am guessing their menu is appealing to the majority of people. I did like that burger though.
We finally got to Mount Snow for their Oktoberfest. I had really high hopes, but it was an uphill battle for this event since my expectations were so lofty. Everything that happened was going to be compared to Hunter Mountain’s Oktoberfest.
I gotta tell you guys, I am going to give this thing a 3 out of 5. It was okay. The pros of the event were it’s pretty setting at the base of Mount Snow. There was a nice wide variety of beer to choose from. I really liked that. We both had a nice dark one that tasted like coffee and chocolate. That was right after we got there. From there on…
Well, let me get to the cons. First, this Oktoberfest charged $20 for each person entering. Other Oktoberfests I have been to have been free. With the $20, each person got a pretty decent little stein and a token for a free beer. That was nice. It took some of the bite out of paying a total of $40 to get through the gates.
From there on, there wasn’t much to do. For some reason, the entire event was surrounded by metal gates. We tried to leave once with beers in hand…just to walk around the base of the mountain and enjoy the Autumn air, but were stopped with a “Hey, you can’t leave the gated area with those beers!!!” It felt like were were in some odd corral. No wait, were WERE in a corral. You’ll see in the photos below.
Now, let me tell you what I really like about Hunter Mountain’s Oktoberfest. It’s free to get in. The beers are like $4. While they don’t have the nice variety Mount Snow had, we always liked what we got. After you get your beer at Hunter Mountain, you can walk outside and wander around to your heart’s content. One of the most enjoyable things is to sit up on one of the slopes, beer in hand, looking down the mountain. It’s nice to sit there and chat with your friends. After we do that for a while, we hop on the ski lift and take a trip to the top of the mountain. Up there, we take pictures, walk around and really, really enjoy the Autumn air. I have experienced some of my life’s best Autumn air on top of that mountain.
At Mount Snow, we didn’t even bother asking about the ski lift because I just figured they would charge too much. That’s the feeling I got. Plus…man, I just can’t seem to shake that corral out of my mind. Disappointing to be pent up like that, especially when there are thousand of acres of beautiful wilderness to enjoy, but not with a beer in your hand. I must be missing something.
Oh well. I think I’m kind of done with Vermont anyway. Every time I go there I get the feeling like it’s getting more and more abused by people from New York, Connecticut and Massachusetts.
Let me add just a side note here. I want to tell you that we once went to an Irish Festival at Hunter Mountain and were charged $20 each, just like this festival. This “admission based” event was no where near as good as their Oktoberfest. I am starting to think that events that charge admission aren’t as fun as the free ones.
Here are some pictures of the event.