The annual Strolling of the Heifers festival in Brattleboro, VT, can best be described as "running of the bulls meets Mardi Gras," says Orly Munzing, who founded the event in 2002.
After visiting Pamplona, Spain, site of the famous Running of the Bulls, Munzing came up with an event to draw attention to local farmers and pay homage to southern Vermont's treasured cows. Strolling of the Heifers, a weekend event, culminates Saturday morning with a parade in which future farmers lead their heifer calves through historic Main Street. Horses, mules, oxen, pigs, llamas and alpacas follow the cows, along with tractors, clowns, floats and bands.
The Slow Living Expo starts after the parade, where residents can meet local food producers and craftspeople, and enjoy cooking demonstrations, circus performances and live music. A Gallery Walk Street Festival, which includes a culinary competition, occurs the Friday evening prior to the parade.
On Sunday, cyclists ride through the countryside past many local farms during Tour de Heifer, and those not participating in the race can take self-guided farm tours throughout the region. Strolling of the Heifers' proceeds go to the winners of a farm/food business plan competition, which encourages food producers to create new ways of selling and promoting their products.
What: Street festival, three bands, parade, expo with four stages and 20 bands, farmers breakfast, bicycle ride, farm tours
Cost: Free to attend
Average Attendance: 40,000
See where Brattleboro ranked on our list of Top Small Towns, 2012.