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Blog: First New Resident Mixer a Success

Posted April 18, 2024 by Jessamyn West

New Resident Mixer

New and potential area residents got a chance to mingle with their new neighbors at the first in a series of New Resident Mixers, a partnership with Chandler Center for the Arts and the Vermont Department of Tourism. Chandler executive director Chloe Powell estimates there were 50-60 people in attendance. Folks gathered in the Esther Mesh Room on the evening of April 12th and got treated to delicious beverages from Fable Farm, sumptuous snacks from King Arthur Baking, and tasty potluck fare. Hash brown casserole was a crowd favorite--though it was hard to pry me away from the bowl of cashews, and big thanks to whoever made the chicken meatballs.

People were given name tags and encouraged to share not only their name but the year they came to the area. I spotted dates from the current decade as well as most previous decades, all the way back to the 1940s!

I spent some time chatting with a couple who moved up here from Tennessee and finally settled in Bethel after spending a cold winter at an RV park before buying their own home. I asked what brought them up here and they were quick to answer, "The weather!" which we laughed at while eyeing the downpour outside. They said they'd gladly take a snowy winter and not have to endure six to nine months of 90+ degree heat.

Makoomba performing on Chandler's main stage

Photos provided by Bailey Masi-Wood

After everyone got to to chit-chat, share stories and resources and nosh while the rain poured down outside, there was a live show in the restored main hall, the culmination of a school and community residency from the band Mokoomba an Afrofusion group from Zimbabwe. Stream their latest album here. The band had visited area schools before a Friday night show that came at the middle of their American tour which will take them from Massachusetts to Michigan to Louisiana.

The next New Resident Mixer is Friday May 3rd at 5:30, before the Fraser & Haas concert. Please RSVP!

Think Vermont Grant

I collected stories for this article by telling people I was writing for the Randolph Vibe and of course people asked "What's the Randolph Vibe?" and I asked the town's Economic Development Director Mark Rosalbo (who roped me in here as a writer) for the full story.

He first learned about the Think VT grant through the VT Department of Tourism & Marketing while closing out a different, earlier grant. The hope was to focus on addressing "the digital void in Central Vermont by creating a meaningful website that showcases Randolph as not just the center of the state, but also a fantastic place to live for numerous reasons," leading to both the website and also a content-sharing partnership with the White River Valley Herald.

Rosalbo continues "Our local organizations, including Gifford (our largest employer), manufacturers, technology companies, engineering firms, and even the local sole proprietors in our downtown, are all in need of filling job openings. Our restaurants need staffing, and our town government requires a full staff to operate sustainably, manage day-to-day operations, and plan for the future." The town partnered with Chandler Center for the Arts on this project "because there's no better way for individuals considering relocating to Central Vermont to get to know a community than by meeting others in a social setting over food and beverages followed by live music." 

Rosalbo worked with Chandler's Chloe Powell and Powell's predecessor Ren Dillon to build a solid grant proposal. They were awarded nearly $50,000 over two years to recruit what Kevin Chu, of the Vermont Futures Project, calls the "missing middle." people in the post-Generation X demographics who are looking for affordable housing and places to raise families. Randolph is like many other Vermont towns, with an aging population as well as a declining population in the ages ranging from 25 to 49. The plan is to "Fill in this missing middle while building on our healthy and active community... [and] support individuals in the 50 to 64 age range as they prepare for retirement.... but also provide them with an excellent place to live out their retirement," Rosalbo said. 

aging demographic chart of VT

What brought you to Randolph, and when?

I asked people at the event and on Front Porch Forum the same questions: When did you get here and what brought you here? There were a wide range of dates and stories.


James came in December, 1943 for the first time, with his mother bringing him to meet his grandmother, Mary Mason. He now lives on Mason Road in Randolph.


Bette was born here and still works with her family farm "first the dairy, now the maple."


Irene had always loved Vermont and wanted to get out of New Jersey. She has traveled all over the world and still would not want to live anywhere else. "Vermont suited us and we were welcomed quickly."

Phil started coming to the area in 1971 as a camp counselor for the Gaysville Children's Camp and made it permanent in 1976.


Janet calls Randolph "a total dream" and tells the story of coming home from her son's Dartmouth commencement, she and her husband stopped at a rest area before driving home to New Jersey. She grabbed her husband, told him to close his eyes and spin around three times and put his finger on a map of Vermont to determine where they would spend the rest of their lives: Randolph! They came back to Vermont for their wedding anniversary ("because it's so beautiful up here") and came to Randolph to check in on the place where they were going to spend the rest of our lives. "Burned out downtown Randolph didn't look that great but a real estate agent took us all around, and a much longer story short: we found our dream house in Randolph Center and never looked back!"

Tamara and her then-husband came from Iowa City, also citing the weather "...there is not enough snow in the winter for us, so we moved to Vermont for that." Like many people in Randolph, they had jobs in opposite directions, "one in Berlin and one in Lebanon."  She also relates that small-town feel many people commented on "...weirdly, while walking in Burlington, my ex ran into the resident who delivered our daughter in Iowa City! He told us we would love Randolph because it had a bookstore, a center for the arts, a movie theatre; all the things he knew we were interested in."


Gina originally lived in Northfield. Her children grew up and her spouse died in 1995. She remarried in 2004 and "we decided to try something different. I have always loved Randolph. My youngest child was born at Gifford, one of the first babies to be delivered in the new birthing unit there (1980) with a midwife and Dr Thurmond Knight, who helped pioneer a new/old kind of birth experience." Her list of reasons she's stayed includes a list of nearly every business in the area, included here in case there are local faves you may have missed....

I love being ten minutes or less from Amtrak, Chinese food, the Playhouse, Chandler, a fantastic library, the Friends of the Library bookstore, Windy Lane Bakehouse, Wee Bird, Polestar Cannabis, the Post Office, Bob’s M&M, Chef’s Market, the Forge (and its Monday night open mics), Sweet Scoops, One Main, Wit and Grit, THREE thrift stores, Gifford Medical Center, Tacocat, Shaw’s, the transfer station, the Prince St Cafe diner down at the bowling alley, Wilson Tire, Poulin and Daughter’s Farm (eggs, beef, maple syrup, creemees), Brainstorm Art Supply, TWO laundromats (when my dog’s bed needs, ahem, attention), Dunkin, Red Door Jewelers (watch batteries!), a pottery studio, a barbershop, a bank, Rite Aid, and last but definitely not least, my employer, the Clara Martin Center. This town has everything one could possibly want, and friendly neighbors too. Oh, and a great hometown paper, the Herald; a super 4th of July Parade, the World Music fest on Labor Day weekend, and lots I am sure I have left out—the churches, which do so much to help folks in need, and the many community members who are our EMTs and firefighters and who work to keep the infrastructure functioning as it should. And of course our schools and other public services. I really feel the community here!


Sandy and Jeremy moved here from Vershire after selling their house there. They looked at eighteen houses in four towns before falling in love with the one they currently live in. They like the small-townness of Randolph while also appreciating its downtown businesses.

Brian's family had a hunting camp in Bethel and he says "some of my earliest childhood memories were of coming up to the Green Mountains on the weekends. There were lots of deer and stories of bears that would visit which made such an impact on me. I remember how friendly the neighbors were and how simple it all was. In 2017 after almost 20 years in Boston I was in search of a more rural place to live to raise my family and landed in Vermont after an extensive search. I L??Vermont like the sticker says."

Vickie and her partner were looking for a place to live "that was city enough for him, and country enough for me." They were living in a very small town in NH without a real town center or gathering place. A friend told them about Randolph "and after many years of searching for a place where we could have a garden and walk to work, we found our perfect home. We live in the best neighborhood in the world. I teach at the best school in the world, and I can walk there. Finding the right place took us ten years of looking, and the next ten years of living here has been wonderful. "


Kelcey's husband got a job at Randolph elementary and she says "...the town seemed like a good fit for us: affordable, small but big enough to have conveniences like a hospital and grocery store. We chose Vermont for its community oriented mindset, reputation for environmental stewardship, and better education system for our son." They've only been here since 2022 but already  feel at home. "The community has been so kind and welcoming. I love walking everywhere and running into people I know. It’s beautiful and has a stellar library! "

Andrew and his partner are the most recent transplants who chimed in, getting here just last year. Why did they come to Randolph? "My partner and I were able to afford a house. We had been living with her parents in Northfield for nearly a year, looking for a house in central VT. Randolph became a focus of our search as my Mom lives in WRJ, so this puts us roughly halfway between our aging parents."

Making Randolph a better place to live, work, and play.