The American Bus Association has named Brattleboro’s Strolling of the Heifers Weekend (June 5-7) as one of its Top 100 Events in North America for 2015.
Inclusion in the Top 100 list indicates that Stroll Weekend offers “excellent entertainment value to both tour groups and individual travelers from around the world,” according to ABA.
Held annually since 2002, Strolling of the Heifers Weekend is built around an agriculturally-themed parade on Brattleboro’s historic Main Street, which is headed by 100 or more well-groomed and well-dressed heifer calves from regional farms, led by farmers and 4-H club members.
The parade also includes other animals, bands, tractors, floats and marching units representing community organizations, schools and businesses. When it’s over the crowd follows the parade to the all-day, 11-acre Slow Living Expo on the Brattleboro town common and the Brattleboro Retreat grounds for music, food and fun.
Stroll Weekend also includes a Friday evening downtown street festival, the Sunday Tour de Heifer, a set of farm-to-farm dirt-road cycling rides, a Farm Tour and a Farmers Breakfast. The weekend’s events attract up to 50,000 visitors.
“We’re thrilled to receive this honor,” said Stroll founder and executive director Orly Munzing. “We expect it will bring a whole new contingent of visitors — bus tour travellers — to the Stroll and to Brattleboro, and we look forward to having them here.”
With the release of the American Bus Association's 2015 Top 100 Events in North America, ABA celebrates 33 years of the program. What began as a way for motorcoach operators to incorporate new product into their itineraries has grown to one of the most sought-after lists by travel professionals, motorcoach operators and the general public.
"The attractiveness of Stroll Weekend as a don't-miss entertainment value is only part of why its selection this year is such a distinction for Strolling of the Heifers," said Peter J. Pantuso, ABA's president and CEO.
"The real news here is that Stroll Weekend has been recognized as a potential magnet for tourism dollars, at a time when reenergizing domestic tourism is so important to our spirit and our economy. The honor gives the entire Brattleboro area an important boost in visibility among professional tour planners."
According to studies completed by researchers at Dunham and Associates, one overnight visit by a motorcoach group can leave up to $25,000 in a local destination's economy. Those dollars are spent on lodging, meals, admissions, fees, shopping, souvenirs, services and local taxes.
"Tour groups spend more and stay longer,” Pantuso said. “That's why Strolling of the Heifers is truly a local economic asset. There is no better way to jump-start tourism than to attract motorcoach groups to a great event and convince them to extend their stay."
The mission of Strolling of the Heifers is to support local farms, food producers and food systems by connecting people with healthy local food. In addition to Stroll Weekend, Strolling of the Heifers organizes an annual conference, the Slow Living Summit, which is focused on sustainable living and resilient communities, and publishes the Locavore Index, a nationally-recognized ranking of the 50 states in terms of their commitment to local food. At its downtown Brattleboro headquarters, the River Garden, Strolling of the Heifers is developing a year-round set of programs as part of its Farm/Food Innovation Center.
ABA's 2015 Top 100 Events Selection Committee selected Stroll Weekend from hundreds of event nominations submitted by ABA members. Judges considered the event's broad appeal, its accessibility to motorcoaches and skill at handling large groups, and a variety of other relevant criteria.