Festivals, foliage and a fond farewell from former Message editor Gary Band

From the editor: Former Message editor Gary Band asked The Chester Telegraph to run this column, knowing that he might not get the opportunity to say farewell to the many people who have touched his life since he first came into the area almost two years ago. We believe everyone deserves a voice, and we are happy to give him one today.

Gary Band raises a cup to his former readers.

Gary Band raises a cup to his former readers.

By Gary Band
Journalist at Large

It took a while to find the last issue in which I wrote a column in the Message. Turns out it was more than two months ago, for the Aug. 14 issue, when the Chocolate Fest was on the cover. As it turns out, it would my last column for that paper. As some may have heard, after nearly 19 months, Oct. 17 was my last day as editor of The Message for the Week.

During my tenure, I did all I could to make the paper as informative and aesthetically pleasing as possible.  I worked every day to process e-mail submissions, write stories, take photos and lay out the paper, seeing to hundreds of details and ensuring all the information that’s fit to print was included in the paper. I’ve added many new voices to the paper and want to thank them for their contributions and perspectives, for keeping me informed of happenings in our communities that I wasn’t aware of.

Looking through the pages of the Aug. 14 issue and the eight more in between my last effort on Oct. 16, I am amazed at all that goes on in our towns, and all the contributions so many make to the quality of life we enjoy. I thank everyone again who sent press releases and other information to me week after week for the past 80 issues.

I prided myself on the many photographs I took for the paper but only wish that I had had control over the way they appeared on the printed page since many have come out looking out of focus. These errors that are common in newspaper printing of color, an occurrence known as being “out of register,” that causes them to look as if you were viewing them with 3-D glasses.

From the Iron Adventure Run and Hops in the Hills on Aug. 24, Market Madness in Springfield on Sept. 7, the Chester Fall Festival on Sept. 21 and the Peru Fair on Sept. 28 – along with dozens of other gatherings and goings on around the region – there is always something happening in southern Vermont.

19 months of memories

Just over the Columbus Day weekend, there was Cider Days in Mount Holly, the Apple Festival in Springfield, the Craft Show in Weston, the Chicken Pie Supper in Andover and the Big Buzz in Chester, all made the more special this year by taking place during a sizable stretch of good weather, interrupted only for a couple soggy days during the weekend my folks visited Oct. 3 to 9 and stayed at the Stone Hearth Inn.

Thanks to Sheldon and Francie at the Stone Hearth and my ambitious tour-guiding, we were able to see some beautiful sites around Chester, Weston, Londonderry, Peru, Manchester, Windsor and White River. And although I gained back some of the weight I had lost, dining out at the Fullerton Inn and Stone Hearth in Chester, the Windsor Station in Windsor and the Tip Top Cafe in White River Junction was quite enjoyable.

Indeed, the local food, foliage and festivals all combine to make this area both a beloved place for those who call it home, and a destination for thousands of visitors from around the country. After the devastation of Irene, followed by lackluster foliage and low snow fall in 2011, the last two years have seen a marked improvement for many.

Area events continued this past weekend with a race to raise money for Wounded Warriors in Ludlow, the Townshend Pumpkin Festival and a crew race on the Connecticut River hosted for the first time by Vermont Academy. There was also the Taste of Fall market to raise money for Black River High School and kids carving pumpkins at the Chester-Andover Elementary School. I had planned to and wish I could have covered these events.

For the past 19 months, I have loved living in Chester. I’ll always be proud of the work I did to help create the paper, grateful for the people I met and friends I made, especially Joan Morey, Ruthie Douglas, Les Hale, Larry and Penny Benelli and Barre Pinske. I was proud to be part of the Chester American Legion, was always happy to eat and drink at the local establishments, and enjoyed being a participant observer in all the activities all across the region.

After four years and three months in the Green Mountain State, I will be leaving by the middle of November to live with my fiancée and work in Rochester, N.Y. Thanks again for the memories. I hope to see many of you again in the future.

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Filed Under: CommentaryOp-ed

About the Author: Gary Band has worked as a reporter and editor at newspapers in Florida, Massachusetts and Vermont.

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