Riverside Farm – Outstanding Vermont Event Venue

The first thing you see as you approach the event venue sight known as Riverside Farm in Pittsfield, Vermont  is the small covered bridge with a large American flag on the side of it. First thought that ran through my mind: How great is that? Their own covered bridge!  And then, as a photographer, I run through all of the great photo ops that fact presents for an engagement couple or bride & groom.

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The tale of Riverside Farm is really a love story …one which I surely won’t do justice to. The bones of the story follow the usual path of boy meets girl, they fall in love and get married. This love story took a slight veer when the couple decided to relocate to a small town in Vermont called Pittsfield (population 546) where they fell in love with a very special property. Wanting to renovate the barn and move in before their wedding, they worked hard to achieve that goal. Timing being what it was, the barn wasn’t finished before their wedding date and so they moved into the adjacent field stone house, hosting their own wedding in a huge tent on the grounds.  That’s when the love story blossomed. Once you visit Riverside Farm or Amee Farm Lodge, do ask to hear the full recounting of how one couple’s passion to make a better life for themselves became a dream that resulted in the reality of this fantastic event property.

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There are now two barns, a stable, a groom’s cabin, and a bride’s cottage all available for the bride & groom to make use of, enabling them to have the New England wedding of their dreams.  The antique barns are all post and beam construction and are nothing short of amazing.  They can easily host rehearsal dinners or large wedding receptions. Many ceremonies take place outside in the large field at what is affectionately known as “the kissing tree”, a lone tree standing beside a large rock.  But make no mistake, there are several wonderful spots where the actual ceremony could take place.  Both barns offer the opportunity to throw open the doors, essentially marrying the warmth of the rustic wood barns with the beauty of the outdoors. 

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The red barn (closest to the field stone house) is not only perfect for a rehearsal dinner, but also for the bride to make a long, dramatic walk out to the kissing tree to exchange vows.  With the bridal cottage in close proximity, it works really well. A baby grand piano looks very small in the expansive spaciousness of the interior of the barn. Plenty of antique cabinets abound with counter tops just ideal for buffets. This barn includes a large seating area with three red and white gingham checked sofas where folks can relax. Downstairs in the barn are two more rooms, one set up with a bar.

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The second barn is located further back on the Riverside Farm property. Its large doors opening at both the front and back make for a truly inviting reception space.  It can easily seat 180 guests with plenty of room set aside for a band and a dance floor.  Antique wagon wheels line the covered walk way into the barn.  A large, lone hanging bell with a long rope pull is situated outside the walkway entrance.  The ring bearer or a young groomsman often receives the honor of ringing the bell to call guests into the reception area for dinner. No doubt  this antique barn with its golden wood floors would have many wonderful tales to tell if it could speak.

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The bridal cottage is a bride’s dream. This adorable little red barn/cottage style building is so sweet I dream of living there. (Even without  a closet!) As you enter, there is a little upholstered  bench and a welcome sign in a small vestibule. Open that inner door and step into a bridal fantasy world. Yes, Welcome! The first thing you see straight ahead is a wood sugar-shack type of building inside the cottage which houses the bathroom with the single most fantastic tiled and river stone circular shower I have ever seen. The rainfall shower head has to be a good twenty feet above the ground. The shower is capped with a copper roof, turret style,  which can be seen from everywhere else in the bridal cottage.

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Back in the main cottage area,  to the immediate right is a seating area with a comfortable sofa.  Across from the sofa is a large dressing table and mirror, perfect for getting ready for the big day. Beside the dressing table area is a hook perfect for hanging the bridal gown: perfect for photos.

A full working kitchen is done in a most appealing cottage style. Seating at the large kitchen island works well. A second seating area with another sofa is off to the side of the kitchen. Climb the circular staircase, around the copper-topped shower turret, to arrive at the bride’s bedroom: the bed is centered beneath the peak of the roof and a sofa lines one of the walls.  Ladies, this cottage is a bride-to-be’s dream come true.

And gentlemen….don’t think they have forgotten about you! On the opposite side of the property, nestled amongst the trees, is the Groom’s cabin. That’s right.  A place just for you guys to hang out. This two-story building has an open front porch. Inside a large tiled table beckons a deck of playing cards, or maybe even a game of beer pong.  The kitchen area is more like a glorified manly wet-bar. There’s a grand country sink, a microwave, refrigerator, and a coffee maker. A good sized seating area with a sofa, two leather chairs, three hassocks, and a television will keep you occupied once the card games end. Upstairs is a groom’s bed flanked by a couple of twin beds so the best man and groomsmen may stay there as well. Large windows offer you woodland views of the mountain behind the cabin.

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The off-white stable barn not only houses a couple of antique vehicles (again, perfect for photo ops around the property) but  it’s second floor has sleeping quarters for up to 24 people (3 per room). Each room has a bunk bed: a double on the bottom and a twin up top.  Not overly roomy but if the bride and groom want their entire bridal party on property with them, this is a perfect  solution.

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Throughout the properties, tree trunks from their fallen trees have been utilized as the starting posts for staircases. You will find that many of the staircases, railings, and benches are all hand-hewn as well.  Little touches abound throughout both Riverside Farm and Amee Farm Lodge (see previous post). Owners, Courtney & Joe, have gone above and beyond to create the perfect New England country event space. But then, theirs is born out of love…love for each other, love of people, friends, and love of the earth.  The perfect place to begin your own love story, or to photograph one if you are a photographer.

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To reserve a date, book a room, or find out more about Riverside Farm or Amee Farm Lodge,   visit their website at  http://www.riversidefarmweddings.com

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Hungry Eyes

You can see into a person’s soul through their eyes, you know.  The same is true of animals in the eyes of a dog that pleads for love and a better life…or the eyes of a cat that is slightly apprehensive but willing to give trust a chance if it means love in forever home.

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That’s Cupcake above, looking for a new home.  If you haven’t figured it out yet, I do love animals.  We have two precious cats of our own, rescued at the last minute from imminent cross country relocation into unfamiliar territory that would have included their ultimate introduction to a dog who thinks cats are squirrels. After cat sitting for them for six weeks while their original owner went through grueling surgery, we were given her blessings to keep Lily and Murphy.  They have embedded themselves into our lives and hearts…deeply.

And so, I began volunteering my photographic services to assist with the placement of special needs and hard to place pets.  Hard to place generally means that theses pets are older…..no longer cute, adorable kittens or puppies. Sometimes they have aggression issues because they have been mistreated by previous owners. With the love they crave and some retraining, these issues disappear. Special needs pets come in all forms…..deaf, blind, (or both), sometimes FIV positive, on occasion the pet will have one less leg than normal possibly because of a car accident like the cat, Ivory, photographed below.

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This being the holiday season, many families consider animals as gifts: kittens or puppies under the tree. I admit I am guilty of having done this myself a couple of decades ago. Had I known then what I know now, I would have done things differently. So now I ask of you who are reading this post and may be considering getting a pet to please contact agencies in your area to adopt a pet. Think twice about bringing a new pet into the home during the chaos of the Christmas- Hanukah – New Year’s holidays. Give the gift of an adoption fee with an application for a future adoption from a reputable agency. Welcome that new furry addition into the family after the tree comes down and the holiday parties are over so you can foster the relationship you want by offering a time of trust and bonding filled with love and attention.  It will make for a much healthier pet-owner relationship that will last for many holidays to come.

Below are just a few of the recently photographed pets awaiting adoption here in Connecticut. Check them out at Our Companions Domestic Animal Rescue (www.ourcompanions.org ) or on PetFinder.com  Look into their eyes…see the love, feel the pain of their loneliness or past abuse, and open your hearts and homes to these wonderful animals.  Thank you.

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Meet Buffy.  Sweet and adorable. Good with other dogs, too.

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Colby is just a few months old.  I absolutely adore those ears!

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Moses loves to head butt.  He’s got a ton of love to give.

And last, but by no means least….say hello to Fiona. She is one of the sweetest dogs I have had the pleasure of meeting, with some of the saddest eyes ever.

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A Love of Travel – Lost.

Travel.  How I long for the travel days of yesteryear. It used to be fun to travel. I used to live to travel . . . literally. I would work long enough to save up for a trip and then I would be gone…by car, by air, it didn’t much matter. I can’t begin to count the times I told people that I was born with a passport in my pocket. As a teenager I even dreamt of being an airline “stewardess” (giving away my age here!) after graduating high school. But alas, I didn’t have the wherewithal to follow through with that desire.  In retrospect, perhaps that is a good thing, what with threats of terrorism, the aging airplane fleet, and all the crazies out there who fly these days.

Back then, flying was for the elite . . . Which I am sorry to admit, I was not. Travel by air was “special”. And those who could afford it, no matter what cabin they were in were treated with kindness, respect, and gratitude. The folks who did fly back then, for the most part, were gracious, helpful and courteous. And EVERYONE dressed appropriately for the special experience flying held those days. Luggage was checked without fees because – oh my gosh! – people would need changes of clothes when they arrived at their destinations. After all, if you were flying, it generally meant you either had to do it for business, or it was a real luxury, more often than not, to a place that was further than one would care to drive.

My first flight was to San Jose, California, to stay the summer with my aunt and uncle, the day after graduating from high school. The cost of flying was just too high to consider going to visit them for less than six weeks. My parents were struggling lower middle class with four children to feed and clothe. It was a huge deal for me to be flying somewhere, especially on my own. I recall even now the wonderment and thrill I felt on that first flight. Those feelings stayed with me throughout the first few decades of my wanderlust travel years. My preference was always the window seat because I was so curious about the world below and the clouds……what were they made of, how could a plane glide through them, what would they look like this time from above, how would they look at sunrise or sunset? I still marvel at the clouds….how puffy they are, yet how they seem to be of such little substance. But I digress.

Less flights to destinations mean fuller, and often times over-sold, flights like this one.

For years (decades) that initial thrill lived inside of me, even as traveling became more common place; through the years of limiting and then banning smoking on planes, through the emergence of frequent flier plans,  and the entrance of men joining the ranks of the stewardesses in the air.  Then, slowly but gradually, changes were made that started to impinge upon that thrill: more seats were added, aisles were narrowed, paying for food, paying for extra leg room, paying to check your luggage because God forbid you should want to take a plane somewhere and have a change of clothes! And don’t get me started on the atrocities of the frequent flier plans when your miles now expire within a year’s time!

Luggage bins are crammed to the max as more and more folks try to make do with less on their air trip in order to side-step checked baggage fees. Will carry-on luggage fees be applied sometime soon?
Narrow aisles make it difficult for everyone to navigate. Do you remember the days of being able to squeeze past the beverage cart in the aisle? I do. Fat chance of that happening these days.

I feel compelled to mention airport security here. I am all for making travel safer. The Europeans have been working on that for decades. I’ve been to third world countries. I appreciate the attempts at placating the American masses but come on now. If someone really wants to kill someone, they can do it with a pen or pencil. Let’s stop with the overkill…..nail clippers, etc.  And while I am on the security bandwagon….don’t sell anything in an airport shop that can’t be carried on a plane somewhere else. If you travel between terminals at some airports, you have to go back through security checks.  That bottle of hand lotion you just paid $15, $30 or $75 for may have to be confiscated and tossed out. Ridiculous! Particularly if it is in an unopened package. Frommer’s just posted an article titled “Flying 10 Years After 9-11, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly” where they speak about the “dehumanization” of air travel.  You can read it at: http://www.frommers.com/articles/7431.html

As if all that isn’t enough, we now have some of the rudest people in the world flying around. Demanding and arrogant when the issue at hand is out of the realm of the gate attendant, flight attendant, or some other poor airline employee who catches their wrath. Got to love the folks who push the limit on carry-on luggage, too. Can we talk about the people who don’t bathe? Got stuck behind one on a flight back from Europe once….eeeewwwww! So , so thankful that my the  boyfriend, now husband, and I had been perfume testing prior to boarding the flight and just happened to have one of the tester cards in our carry-on. We quickly pulled it out, fanning it under our noses whenever the smell of his body odor became too overwhelming for us.

There are travel zombies galore. You’ve seen them moving about the airport as if they are still asleep. Luggage zombies….saw one today, OMG, whose luggage was just wobbling all around in exactly the opposite movement of the person. She, and her luggage, were just so out of control that we had to give her a very wide berth…which, I must confess, just totally cracked us up. There are the seat hoggers and then there are those folks who just should not be allowed in the exit row. Example: on our first flight this morning, the elderly couple seated in the exit row in front of us, could not even figure out how to turn the overhead light on which was only our first clue that there might be a problem here. Our second clue might have been the fact that neither one of them were very adept at just walking, let alone assisting folks in escaping a plane in trouble. Do we think they could have opened the exit door and tossed it aside? Hecks no! as my niece would say. I doubt they would have even been able to find the mechanism to open the door, even if they had read the instructions. How does an airline allow people that obviously unable to perform the required duties to sit in an exit row seat? These people were a liability to themselves and to the safety of the passengers onboard. I have a problem with this and my letter has already been crafted to send to the airline in question and to the FAA. Please don’t charge me money for everything, take away my free pillow and blanket, and then sit someone in an exit row seat who wouldn’t be able to help themselves, let alone anyone else!

A sunset window view is one of the few free perks still up for grabs, if you are lucky enough to get a window seat!

So yes….somewhere between here and there, I have lost my love to travel by air. It’s no longer any fun. I find myself thinking more and more about other ways to get me where I want to go. Dear airlines….please reinstate all of the perks you have taken away from the people who pay for your planes, staff, and who ultimately line your pockets. If you really, truly need to make more money…simply raise your airfares. Make flying the luxury it used to be. Bring back the glamour. I’d like to think that if the airlines started treating people the way they used to, with respect and gratitude for choosing their particular airline, that the folks flying would step up to the plate, respecting the airlines more. It’s a two way street. Instead of just telling us you are thankful we have chosen to fly with you…why not actually show us your gratitude? I’d probably fly less because I wouldn’t be able to afford it, but at least I’d have the satisfaction of knowing that when I did book a flight, I wouldn’t be nickel and dimed to death, and I would probably enjoy my flight more.