How now brown cow

This weekend, I attended the Strolling of the Heifers, an annual cow parade in Brattleboro, Vermont.

Many of you do not know who I am, so a brief introduction is necessary. My name is Olivia Noble (’13) and I am living in Middlebury this summer running a campaign with several other students called Race to Replace, promoting clean energy as a focus in the upcoming governor’s election in Vermont. And I too am speaking English.

Now in our meetings before the summer began, our group, Race to Replace, talked about all the awesome events we were going to attend, seeking out Vermonters and talking to them about clean energy. So not only would we be achieving our goals, we would be having a great time exploring and learning more about the state. It was under this guise that Abigail, Syd, and I drove 2 and a half hours out to Brattleboro Friday afternoon for a gallery walk event where many stores stay open late and street performances are abound. We got there, explored a bit, and set up shop outside of Maya’s parent’s shop (another member of the Race to Replace team). In our matching t-shirts, we began chatting with passer-by’s, pulling in the semi-interested onlookers with phrases such as “Do you care about clean energy?” “Do you want to hear about a campaign about clean energy in Vermont?” and my personal favorite: “Hey, do you want your picture taken?”  A lot of people passed us by, giving excuses that varied from “I’m going to see the theater troupe” to one very confused woman who clearly heard Abigail ask her a question, paused, and then just walked away. The people that did stop fell into 3 categories. One, they wanted to prove us wrong. Two, they wanted the free flyers we had lying on the table, and three, they were genuinely interested. Talking to the people of Brattleboro was both fascinating and enlightening as we learned what people responded to and what they were most concerned about. We saw and talked to some of the most interesting people I’ve ever met.

The next morning after staying the night at Maya’s house we found prime seats for the parade, eager to see some heifers. Clearly, others were just as excited as the streets slowly filled up with thousands of people. It was, as it was advertised, a cow parade, complete with a cleanup crew following behind the cows and scooping up their poop.  However, there were also girl scout troops, local businesses, high school bands, circus performers, and many other participants, filling the parade with character and a genuine taste of Vermont. At the end of the parade, everyone was encouraged to tag along and follow the cop car at the back. I realized then, as Syd, Abigail, and I joined the parade, that this wasn’t just a novelty event we had stumbled upon, but a portrait of a town where everyone was a character and outsiders such as ourselves were welcomed with open arms.

Here is a video I created about the event:

Eager to visit the next small Vermont town on the list,

Olivia

P.S. – If any of you readers are in Vermont this Tuesday the 8th, Race to Replace is hosting an event at the Skinny Pancake in Montpelier.  We’re paying for the first 50 drinks, so come on down!

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