For rural communities like Ripton, Bristol and Middlebury, Vt., town centers and more densely populated neighborhoods become a trick-or-treater’s paradise. Since many houses are farther apart, parents often direct their children to a central area where they can celebrate safely. Some rural communities have established different traditions altogether.
In Middlebury, trick-or-treaters and their parents congregate in the Buttolph Acres neighborhood, behind Shaw’s.
Associate Professor of German Florence Feiereisen lives in Middlebury with her children, ages nine and 12. Feiereisen estimated that she and her husband buy about 200 pieces of Halloween candy to distribute each year and that the neighborhood draws families from surrounding areas like Cornwall and Weybridge to come trick-or-treat.
“We buy insane amounts of Halloween candy,” she told The Campus. “It is a pretty densely populated area.”
Families come in waves, with the youngest groups starting around 5 p.m. and lasting until older children come later in the evening.
“You run into so many people that you know,” Feiereisen added.
Additionally, towns often incorporate local businesses into community events and traditions.
Professor of Political Science Jessica Teets, who lives in Bristol with her ten-year-old son, said that businesses in Bristol have a week-long scavenger hunt leading up to Halloween with raffles and prizes.
Similar to Middlebury, parents often select a central area for families to gather, she said. The roads are closed down to ensure a safe, festive environment. For Teets, it is an ideal time for the community to come together.
“It’s sort of like a party environment,” she told The Campus. “The streets are just thronged with kids.”
There are also other events that provide fun for all, such as a free haunted forest in Bristol. The haunted forest begins as more “kid friendly,” with treats early in the evening, before becoming scarier later at night for older participants. A variety of Halloween-related events are listed on Facebook pages for each town in the area.
Paige Cusanelli ’24 grew upin Starksboro and Orwell, two small towns in Addison County, and often traveled to neighborhoods in Bristol for Halloween.
“Bristol had a few roads from the town center that had enough people who gave out candy for trick or treating, and the people on those streets knew to be ready for trick or treaters just based on unofficial tradition of the town,” Cusanelli said in an email to The Campus.
There were still festive activities even within the small towns Cusanelli added.
“In both Starksboro and Orwell, there are also often little events at the firestation or the libraries for families to show up, hang out, and drink apple cider for Halloween,” Cusanelli said.
Mei Dwyer-Frattalone ’24 is from central Vermont and noted how the rural environment encouraged families to celebrate Halloween in more creative ways.
“None of the houses were close enough to trick or treat, but families from South Woodbury and East Calais made Halloween by holding a dinner where neighborhood kids could show off their costumes,” Dwyer-Frattalone said in an email to The Campus. Dwyer-Frattalone added that she would have to drive much farther away to find neighborhoods to trick or treat.
Growing up, Cusanelli appreciated celebrating the holiday within a smaller community.
“I'd expect that a lot of rural areas have similar traditions. I never thought about it as anything different or special,” she said. “To me, it's weird that there are so many people who don't have this experience.”
Charlie Keohane ’24 (she/her) is an Editor at Large. She previously served as the SGA Correspondent and a Senior Writer.
She is an environmental writing major and a psychology minor from Northern California. Outside of academics, Charlie is a Senior Admissions Fellow at the Middlebury Admissions Office. She also is involved with the women’s track team and hosts Witching Hour, a radio show on 91.1 WRMC. In Spring 2023, she studied abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, watching Greta Gerwig movies, polar plunging, sending snail mail, and FaceTiming her rescue dog, Poppy.
Maggie Reynolds '24 (she/her) is the Editor in Chief.
Maggie previously served as the Senior Local Editor, a Local Section Editor, and a Staff Writer. She spent this past J-term interning for VTDigger, covering topics from affordable housing in Addison County to town government scandals. She also interned for Seven Days VT as an arts & culture reporter summer 2022 and as a news reporter for the Daily Gazette in Schenectady, NY summer 2021.
Maggie is majoring in History and minoring in Political Science and Spanish. She was a three-year member of the Women's Swimming and Diving team. Maggie enjoys running, hiking, and iced maple lattes.