According to the byway program’s mission statement, the purpose is to designate and promote scenic byways and to protect and enhance the recreational, scenic, historic, and cultural qualities of the areas through which these byways pass. Over the past year, Linda Anelli has served as chairperson for the local byway committee, finding representatives to go to local towns from Stamford to Jamaica, to ask them to get on board.
“This road has such a history and has always been recognized as one of the 100 best scenic routes in the United States,” said Anelli. “It’s always been known as the skiers’ highway and it’s always been a surprise it never got organized as a byway earlier, but things happen when they are meant to happen.
“People already travel the state on the byways but now, to have our towns’ names on there, it’s the best free advertising we can get. Businesses (in these towns) will see that this is a great marketing tool.”
Representatives were chosen to go to each town in the valley which contains a section of Route 100 and lobby their selectboards to join. Each representative collected data, history, pictures, and town plans for their arguments. Jamaica, Stratton, Wardsboro, Dover, Wilmington, Whitingham, and Stamford all agreed to come aboard. Readsboro chose not to be included at this time.
According to Anelli, the Vermont Department of Marketing and Tourism has made byways a top priority in the promotion of business in Vermont, but it is up to each town to get as involved as they see fit. For some towns that may mean just putting up signs at either end of town to mark their inclusion, for others it may mean using the designation as a marketing tool. “It can be as much or as little as a town wants to do with designation. The possibilities are only limited by the towns’ imaginations, and the people in these towns have fantastic imaginations.”
The local inclusion of the byway, according to Anelli, will help showcase the area’s wealth of history and recreation, bring travelers, and help businesses big and small. One recreational highlight that Anelli used as an example was the promotion of area lakes. “They’re something that, to my knowledge, has never been used as a marketing tool. Many folks don’t even know we have lakes.”
Historical spots such as the West Dover Inn in Dover and the Brigham Young monument in Whitingham will also have the opportunity for better recognition and promotion as historical destinations. Because the Vermont byways are part of the federal byway program, designation can also open towns up to grants that will provide improvements to their sections of Route 100.
Anelli said she would like to see the byway bring about new projects like seamless Wi-Fi along the entire route, and integrated bike paths. “I think some great projects will come out of this designation,” said Anelli.
In May, the byway committee will meet in Weston, and begin to map out how each town will be using their newly achieved byway designation, and determine what the first goals are. An excited Anelli describes this process as “the fun part.” Each town will first be given a sign for each end of their town, as well as stickers for businesses to put in their windows.
Representatives for each town include Bonnie Jo Radasch in Whitingham, Chris Dargie in Stamford, Adam Grinold in Wilmington, Joe Kruszewski in Dover, Steve Goldfarb in Stratton, Jen Densmore in Wardsboro, and Lou Bruso in Jamaica.
Anelli said the byways are the best way to see what Vermont is really all about. “There is a fierce independence here and that’s the culture that comes through in so many diverse industries in this state. The byways showcase this. From farms and technology, to art, to small mom-and-pop businesses like Billmonts, Vermont is a microcosm of humanity and culture.”