Blog :: 2012

Bikes For Kids

Bikes for Kids

Bikes for Kids

Dropping off this year's Bikes for Kids


For years Coldwell Banker Carlson Real Estate has been providing bikes for kids through our "Bikes for Kids" program. Once again this Christmas we have delivered to the Lamoille Family Center in Morrisville, Vt., five bikes for families in Lamoille County. These bikes have been donated to us from our sellers, buyers, and Good Samaritan's. During the sales process we sometime discover barely used bikes in homes we represent. We have found that the owners are very excited to donate to our program. Our donations are not only in the form of bikes but cash donations.

We delivered the bikes this morning to the Family Center after a Christmas snowstorm. What a wonderful feeling to know that some child will have many hours of pleasure on their new bike and that we were able to make it happen. Thank you to all of our clients and customers who have made this happen.

If you have barely used bikes that are in very good condition or would like to make a donation please let us know.  Learn more about Bikes For Kids.

Big Spaces in Stowe VT Real Estate -

Stowe VT Real Estate Featured in Wall Street Journal

Stowe VT real estate has seen steady growth in homes sold over the past two years.  The Smith Macdonald Group was contacted by Nancy Keates of the Wall Street Journal for an article she wrote regarding a shared house in Stowe Vermont.  As a part of the article Nancy featured a home listed for sale by the Smith Macdonald Group.

The home, 496 Manelick Drive is an 82 acre estate property located in Stowe Hollow, one of the premier Stowe VT real estate locations.  Top of the world location with panoramic views from Camel's Hump to Mt. Mansfield, including Trapp Family Lodge, sits this luxury six bedroom home tucked into a backdrop of exposed rock. This high-end home opens to the living room with cathedral ceilings, over sized hearth and wall of western facing windows. There is excellent flow through to the dining room and into the kitchen, with reclaimed posts and beams throughout. The chef's kitchen has hand crafted cabinets and a custom antique island. Main floor master suite with hearth, home office with hearth all afford unobstructed western views. Three spacious bedrooms upstairs. The lower level has a hand crafted wine cellar, two bedrooms, state of the art theater room and game room. The spectacular views from home, pool and hot tub will inspire you every minute of the day. Enjoy sunsets on the wrap around deck. Two car garage, extensive gardens, stone work and Jai Lai court complete this 82 acre private estate.

The property can also be sold as land and the house separately.  Here are some photos of this stunning home.


Stowe VT Real Estate

Mt. Mansfield Views from the living room

Stowe VT Real Estate

Elegant Home Office with Fireplace

Stowe VT Real Estate

Hand Crafted Wine Cellar

To find out more about Manelick Drive, click here.  To read the full Wall Street Journal article, click here: Designing Common Ground -


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      My favorite picture is by far the Crafted Wine Cellar. The wooden wine box shelving in the center island is remarkable! It gives the space an old world style accent. If your looking for original wine boxes or crates for your own wine cellar shelving visit Winepine -

      Shopping in Stowe VT | Stowe Blog | Stowe VT

      Shopping in Stowe, VT.  Reindeer Quest Begins, Go Shopping

      in Stowe and Win!

      It's that time of year again when the shopping starts and cranks into full swing.  If you are in the Stowe area, why not shop and win, in the annual Reindeer Quest!


      Beginning November 16, 2012

      SHOP at participating retail stores and receive a stamp on your reindeer Quest Card with each purchase (pick up your reindeer Quest Card at your first shop!).

      COLLECT stamps on four different reindeer on your Quest Card by making purchases at four or more shops. That's right, you need a combination of: Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixon, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blitzen or Rudolph. Can't find a shop to get that 4th reindeer stamped? Hint: shops have posters in their store windows indicating which reindeer they are stamping.

      CASH IN your stamped Quest Card to be entered into our weekly drawings for fabulous prizes such as: snowshoe tours, nordic skiing packages, gift baskets, spa services, Vermont handmade products and more! Prizes are given weekly so the earlier you do your shopping the more chances you have to win! Drawings held on Mondays at 9am.


      INSTANT PRIZES! When you redeem your stamped Quest Card at the Stowe Visitor's Center, you'll get to draw for a gift certificate right on the spot, so you can use it for more holiday shopping!

      EVERYONE GETS REWARDED! When you redeem your stamped Quest Card at the Stowe Visitor's Center, you'll immediately get rewarded with a FREE Stowe Mountain Resort Evolution Stowe Card PLUS a FREE $10 gift card to Pinnacle Ski & Sport.

      Check out the map and list of stores below, and visit Reindeer Quest for more information.

          Upper Mt. Road Nordic Barn Pinnacle Ski & Sports/Inner Bootworks Stowe Mountain Resort Shops Topnotch Resort & Spa Shops Trapp Family Lodge Gift Shops Well Heeled    Lower Mt. Road AJ's Ski & Sports Bumblebell Decisions, Decisions Darkside Snowboards Fine Wine Cellars Green Envy Harvest Market In Company Clothing Mountain Cheese & Wine Once Upon a Time Toys Oxygen Robert Paul Galleries Roselle Artwear Salon Salon Samara's Card & Gifts Skiershop Stowe Eye Care Stowe Hardware Stowe Kitchen Bath & Linens Elements at Stoweflake Resort & Spa Vermont Fine Art Gallery Yellow Turtle     North on Route 100 Paine's Christmas Trees   Village Center Bear Pond Books Boutique Ferro Jewelers Galleria Fine Arte Green Mountain Fine Art Gallery H. E. Shaw's General Store Lackey's Variety Store Laughing Moon Chocolates Stowe Craft - Design Stowe Mercantile Stowe Fabric & Yarn Styles Wooden Needle    South of the Village/Waterbury Ben & Jerry's Evergreen Gardens Fly Rod Shop Green Mountain Camera JK Adams - The Kitchen Store Newhouse Furniture & Mattress Express Stowe Maple Products Uncle George's Flowers Umiak Outfitters Vermont Electronics Ziemke Glassblowing Studio Stowe Shopping Map


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          Skiing at Stowe Mt. Resort

          Skiing at Stowe Mt. Resort

          Skiing at Stowe Mt. Resort

          Stowe Mt. Resort Skiing is Just Around the Corner

          Update to our Blog: Stowe Mt. Resort will open to all seasons pass holders for one day only on November 10th.

          Skiing at Stowe Mt. Resort is coming in less than two weeks, Nov 17th is opening day.  We've had several days this past weekend with snow in the higher elevations, especially at Stowe!  This morning while I was feeding my twins breakfast there were large snow flakes coming down.  It was just a reminder that it's time to get my gear out of the shed, start to tune up the boards and prepare for the season.  Although my girls are only 14 months old, I'm getting excited to get them out in the snow and to start to teach them to ski in the coming years.

          But I wasn't the only one thinking of skiing this morning, the fine snow makers at Stowe Mt. Resort where already hard a work laying the base for the 2012-2013 season.  Here's some footage of the new snow making equipment in effect this morning.  They are blowing snow at the base of the 4-runner quad, but have been bringing in new equipment since last season, so the coverage this year should be very good.

          There's still time to get some dry land training in, get those legs ready, get the skis tuned up and to add duct tape to last year's gear.  I hope to see you on the mountain this year!

          If you are looking for a rental for the winter season we have several options left and if you are in need of a vacation rental, we have plenty of options, but they are getting booked as many people are planning to visit Stowe this year.  Email me today or visit Stowe VT Rentals to see what options we have available.

          Stowe is scheduled to open on Nov 17th, click here for more info.

          Q3 2012 Smith Macdonald Report -- Analysis of the Stowe VT Area Real Estate Market

          Stowe VT Real Estate Report


          Q3 2012 Stowe VT Real Estate Market Data

          Welcome to the Smith Macdonald Report, our examination of the 3rd Quarter of the Stowe, Lamoille County and Waterbury's residential and land real estate market.  This report uses market-wide data based on transactions that closed in the first nine months of 2012 and compares them to closings that took place during the first nine months of 2011 and compares sales between Q2 and Q3.  Closings usually occur four-to-eight weeks after a contract is signed for that reason, the sales activity charted here reflects transactions that closed during and through the end of the 3rd Quarter, and does not include contracts signed that have not closed.

          The Town of Stowe completed its reassessments of all properties during the 3rd Quarter, 60% of the property values in town decreased and 40% increased.  Many of the transactions that closed in Q3 were based on the prior assessment.  Due to this fact and because we are so close to the release of the reassessment, we will look to the data in Q4 and Q1 2013 to see how those transaction related to the new assessments.

          Q3 brought about a positive shift in the market, with the number of units sold increasing by 85% compared to Q2.  This resulted in a 2% increase in units sold year to date compared to 2011 year to date.  The sub $500K price point continues to drive the market with a 67% market share, this results in bring down the median and average  price, but when comparing Q2 to Q3 we see an increase in both of these categories.  The reason for this increase is the luxury market, which saw two sales above $1 million during Q3.  Finally there continues to be a decrease in inventory market wide with a 25% drop year to date compared to the same time last year and a 7% decrease between Q2 and Q3.

          Lamoille County kept pace seeing a 5% increase in units sold year to date compared to 2011 year to date. The market slowed the decrease in median and average prices, dropping 2% and 5% respectively, compared to 6% and 12% through Q2 2012.  Inventory in Lamoille County is still growing with an increase of 21%.  Of note, land in Lamoille County saw a drastic uptick by 143% compared to the same time a year ago.  Waterbury rebounded from a slow start to the year, with a 9% increase in units sold compared to this time a year ago.  This resulted in increases in both, median and average prices, 21% and 27% respectively compared to the first nine months of 2011.  The high-end, above $300K in Waterbury helped to fuel most of these gains.

          The 3rd Quarter 2012 behaved more like a traditional market of years past, we will continue to analyze the market to see if this trend will hold for the future.  Regardless of the market one factor will always remain; we are ready to provide you with unmatched technology, expertise and advice.

          Access our current Smith Macdonald Report and past Reports.


          Peggy Smith                                                          McKee Macdonald

          President/Broker                                                Broker

          802.793.3566                                                      802.375.5009



          Stowe summer music festival, Music Festival of the Americas - at Stowe Vermont, summer concert vermont

          11th Annual Music Festival of the Americas at Stowe Celebrates

          European and Latin American Composers

          Music Director Alondra de la Parra welcomes guest artists Valentina Lisitsa, piano; bandoneonist, Juan Pablo Jofre; tenor Jose Ortega, and

          Vermont singers Julie Ness and Jennifer Hansen


          Stowe, VT (August 4 12)

          The Music Festival of the Americas at Stowe's 11th annual concert series, August 23-25, is a Musical Love Story, as old Europe "falls in love" with young America.


          Revered European masters Grieg, Dvo?ák and Mozart, and Latin American composers--Castro, Marquez, Montoya, and Luis Bacalov--come together under the baton of Music Director, Alondra de la Parra and The Festival Orchestra.


          Thursday, August 23: Pianist Valentina Lisitsa performs Grieg's PIANO CONCERTO.  Lisitsa "combines an imperious sweep with aristocratic poise and sensitivity", according to Music Web International. Mozart's THE MAGIC FLUTE OVERTURE and Dvo?áks SYMPHONY NO. 8 round out the program.


          Friday, August 24: One of the true masters of the bandoneon, Juan Pablo Jofre performs Luis Bacalov's TRIPLE CONCERTO, and Vermont soprano, Julie Ness, will be featured soloist. Bacalov received the Academy Award® for IL POSTINO's Best Original Score. Music from de la Parra's best-selling Sony Classics recording, Mi Alma Mexicana (My Mexican Heart) will also be performed, including the masterful crowd-pleasing HUAPANGO, by Jose´ Pablo Moncayo.


          Saturday, August 25: A community chorus of Vermonters, rehearsed by Choral Master Rufus Patrick, also from Vermont, will join the festival for a night of two contrasting masses:  Schubert's MASS No. 2 IN G MAJOR and Bacalov's MISA TANGO. Guest artists will be tenor Jose´ Ortega, Vermonters Julie Ness, soprano, and mezzo, Jennifer Hansen, and banoneonist, Juan Pablo Jofre.


          The Music Festival of the Americas is held at the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center, Stowe Mountain Resort, Stowe, Vermont. Concerts are 8PM, and all seats are $30.

          Tickets are available online at or at the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center box office, phone 802.760.4634. Information: or 802.760.6797

          The Music Festival of the Americas at Stowe is a non-profit 501 (c) 3 corporation, presenting premier international virtuosos and rising young talent from both the classical and world-music genres under the baton of Music Director Alondra de la Parra, and celebrating the rich cultural heritage of the Americas.


          Music Festival of the Americas:


          Alondra de la Parra:

          Valentina Lisitsa:

          Juan Pablo Jofre:

          Stowe summer music festival, Music Festival of the Americas - at Stowe Vermont, summer concert vermont.


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          TAJ MAHAL TRIO at Spruce Peak | Stowe Blog | Smith Macdonald Group

          Taj Mahal Trio - Plays Stowe, VT

          Another world famous Blues specialist comes to Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center.  Taj Mahal who's been playing the blues and roots music for decades comes to bring his musical talents to Stowe on August 15th.

          Personally Taj brings back many wonderful memories for me, the first being that my wife, Jen, and I danced to his version of "Further on Down The Road" as our wedding song.  In addition to providing the back drop of our first song together, we have seen Taj on numerous occasions, in NYC at the Blue Note Jazz Club and in New Orleans at the Jazz Festival to name a few.  For me the raw sound he brings to his guitar and music are what makes us one of America's unique music genres.

          If your looking for something special to do mid week and want to get up and dance, check out Taj Mahal at Spruce Peak.

          Get tickets here:  Culture & the Arts - TAJ MAHAL TRIO at Spruce Peak.

          Here's more information about Taj:

          Composer, multi-instrumentalist and vocalist Taj Mahal is one of the most prominent and influential figures in late 20thcentury blues and roots music. Though his career began more than four decades ago with American blues, he has broadened his artistic scope over the years to include music representing virtually every corner of the world - west Africa, the Caribbean, Latin America, Europe, the Hawaiian islands and so much more. What ties it all together is his insatiable interest in musical discovery. Over the years, his passion and curiosity have led him around the world, and the resulting global perspective is reflected in his music today.

          Born Henry St. Claire Fredericks in Harlem on May 17, 1942, Taj grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts. His father was a jazz pianist, composer and arranger of Caribbean descent, and his mother was a schoolteacher and gospel singer from South Carolina. Both parents encouraged their children to take pride in their diverse ethnic and cultural roots. His father had an extensive record collection and a shortwave radio that brought sounds from near and far into the home. His parents also started him on classical piano lessons, but after only two weeks, young Henry already had other plans about what and how he wanted to play.


          In addition to piano, the young musician learned to play the clarinet, trombone and harmonica, and he loved to sing. He discovered his stepfather's guitar and became serious about it in his teens when a guitarist from North Carolina moved in next door and taught him the various styles of Muddy Waters, Lightnin' Hopkins, John Lee Hooker and Jimmy Reed and other titans of Delta and Chicago blues.

          Springfield in the 1950s was full of recent arrivals, not just from around the U.S. but from all over the globe. "We spoke several dialects in my house - Southern, Caribbean, African - and we heard dialects from eastern and western Europe," Taj recalls. In addition, musicians from the Caribbean, Africa and all over the U.S. frequently visited the Fredericks home, and Taj became even more fascinated with roots - the origins of the various forms of music he was hearing, the path they took to reach their current form, and how they influenced each other along the way. He threw himself into the study of older forms of African-American music, which the record companies of the day largely ignored.

          Henry studied agriculture at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in the early 1960s. Inspired by a dream, he adopted the musical alias of Taj Mahal and formed the popular U. Mass party band, the Elektras. After graduating, he headed west in 1964 to Los Angeles, where he formed the Rising Sons, a six-piece outfit that included guitarist Ry Cooder. The band opened for numerous high-profile touring artists of the '60s, including Otis Redding, the Temptations and Martha and the Vandellas. Around this same time, Taj also mingled with various blues legends, including Howlin' Wolf, Muddy Waters, Junior Wells, Buddy Guy, Lightnin' Hopkins and Sleepy John Estes.

          This diversity of musical experience served as the bedrock for Taj's first three recordings: Taj Mahal (1967), The Natch'l Blues (1968) and Giant Step (1969). Drawing on all the sounds and styles he'd absorbed as a child and a young adult, these early albums showed signs of the musical exploration that would be Taj's hallmark over the years to come.

          In the 1970s, Taj carved out a unique musical niche with a string of adventurous recordings, including Happy To be Just Like I Am (1971), Recycling the Blues and Other Related Stuff (1972), the GRAMMY®-nominated soundtrack to the movie Sounder (1973), Mo' Roots (1974), Music Fuh Ya (Music Para Tu) (1977) and Evolution (The Most Recent (1978).

          Taj's recorded output slowed somewhat during the 1980s as he toured relentlessly and immersed himself in the music and culture of his new home in Hawaii. Still, that decade saw the well-received release of Taj in 1987, as well as the first three of his celebrated children's albums on the Music For Little People label.

          He returned to a full recording and touring schedule in the 1990s, including such projects as the musical scores for the Langston Hughes/Zora Neale Hurston play Mule Bone (1991) and the movie Zebrahead (1992). Later in the decade, Taj released a series of recordings with the Phantom Blues Band, including Dancing the Blues (1993), Phantom Blues (1996), and the two GRAMMY® winners, Señor Blues (1997) and the live Shoutin' in Key (2000). Overall, he has been nominated for nine GRAMMY® Awards.

          During this same period, Taj continued to expand his multicultural horizons by joining Indian classical musicians on Mumtaz Mahal in 1995, and recording Sacred Island, a blend of Hawaiian music and blues, with the Hula Blues Band in 1998. Kulanjan, released in 1999, was a collaborative project with Malian kora player Toumani Diabate (the kora is a 21-string west African harp). He recorded a second album with the Hula Blues Band, Hanapepe Dream, in 2003. Zanzibar, a European release, followed in 2005.

          Taj continues to tour internationally, doing as many as 150 shows per year throughout the U.S., Europe, Australia, New Zealand and beyond.

          He joins the Heads Up International label in the fall of 2008 with the worldwide release of Maestro. This twelve-track set - his first U.S. release in five years - marks the fortieth anniversary of Taj's rich and varied recording career by mixing original material, chestnuts borrowed from vintage sources and newcomers alike. This anniversary gala includes performances by Ben Harper, Jack Johnson, Angelique Kidjo, Los Lobos, Ziggy Marley and others - many of whom have been directly influenced by Taj's music and guidance.

          "The one thing I've always demanded of the records I've made is that they be danceable," he says. "This record is danceable, it's listenable, it has lots of different rhythms, it's accessible, it's all right in front of you. It's a lot of fun, and it represents where I am at this particular moment in my life. This record is just the beginning of another chapter, one that's going to be open to more music and more ideas. Even at the end of forty years, in many ways my music is just getting started."

          Stowe VT Annual Antique Car Show | Stowe Blog

          Stowe Antique Car ShowIt's the 55th year of the Stowe Antique Car Show!

          The Stowe Antique Car Show runs from August 10 to 12, 2012.

          Headquartered at the Nichols lodge and campground, the Stowe Antique Car Show has been a mainstay of summertime in Stowe and Vermont.  It's the largest and oldest antique car show in New England and draws over 1,000 cars that are placed on display in the fields surrounding Nichols lodge.

          Additionally, there is a car parade and on Saturday night they close down the village for a street dance and select car viewing.  This is a family friendly event that allows for those who want to spend the day checking out cars from the past.  You can easily walk around the showgrounds and the antique cars will take you back to a time forgotten.  Set up shop on the side of the Mt. road and watch the cars parade around town.

          Come check out the history of the US auto industry and see which make and model has joined the ranks as the newest antique car!  Each year a new make and model can qualify for the Stowe Antique Car Show, so see which cars decide to show up as the new classic antiques.

          Stowe becomes a buzz with people who travel from all over the world to see these antique cars.  Hosted by the Vermont Auto Enthusiasts, who hand out awards for different makes and models, this car show is world renown.  In addition to the cars there's a flea market featuring auto related items.  You can camp on location or stay in many of Stowe's world famous lodges.  If you are planning on coming be sure the make a dinner reservation early.  For suggestions, check out our blog post on places we love to eat.

          Learn more about the Stowe Antique Car Show here: Stowe Annual Antique Car Show.

          The "Values" Of A Home | Stowe Blog | Smith Macdonald Group

          On Real Estate with McKee Macdonald

          The "Values" of a Home

          When it comes to real estate there is a lot of information to digest, whether you are a buyer or a seller it can be overwhelming.  Determining value is one section of the market where there is extensive information and it isn't always clear.  When we deal with value we look at many different factors to come up with a home's value, the majority of this is based on current market transactions.

          There is another factor that helps to make up value, but it can't be gauged by numbers or comparables.  That is the emotional value of what makes your house a home.  How does this translate into useable information for you as a seller and is it something that a buyer will view as valuable to them?

          According to the National Association of Realtors, "Homeownership boosts the educational performance of children, induces higher participation in civic and volunteering activity, improves health care outcomes, lowers crime rates and lessens welfare dependency."  These are all aspects of what makes a home important beyond the physical walls and the quantitative value.

          Obviously the good times you've had with family and friends, the milestones you've celebrated in your home mean something to you, but does anyone else care about those experiences?  Is there something else beyond personal experiences that creates added value in your home?  What happens to you when you come home, how does it change or enhance who you are.  This is the qualitative degree of importance that isn't always easy to convey.

          I've reached out to some homeowners in the area to get their thoughts on what makes their house a home.  Second home owner Don Hollis reflects "Our Stowe Hollow home has beautiful views in all directions, upon arrival, we 'become one with nature' - given the comprehensive mix of wildlife which complements the pond, trees, shrubs, and flowers plus the beautiful work done by Vermont carpenters and masons."  In Don's case the ability to "become one with nature" has significant importance to them and is one aspect of their home that presents added value to not only them, but others who wish to experience the same connection.

          Andrew Volansky grew up in Stowe, and is now a full time resident in Morrisville with his wife Jen and two sons, Tucker and Jaxon.  He offers two unique perspectives as not only a local but also as an architect for the Cushman Design Group based in Stowe.  For his personal home Andrew says "One of the more intangible aspects of our home is its location within our neighborhood, we see little to no traffic and the privacy that that affords us is hard to realize until you spend a fair amount of time at our home.  Our young boys have grown up riding their bikes and scooters on the road with little fear or danger of a car passing by, the few that do are usually our neighbors.  We also find that due to the fact that our road is a loop, we get to interact with our neighbors as they walk or bike for exercise."

          Andrew also offered up the view point of working with people who are designing and building new homes in the area, often times these people are new to the area and this is their entrance into the community.  According to Andrew "One of the more rewarding aspects of designing custom homes for my clients is the frequent site meetings that occur during construction.  Most of our clients enjoy seeing incremental progress that occurs throughout construction.  The clients often develop lasting relationships with the crews."  He goes on to say, "For the clients, they get to know the people that create their homes and it makes the experience that much more personal to them."

          Finally I was able to speak with long time Hyde Park residents Ed Connors and Carolyn Roberts, who have lived and worked in the area for many years.  For them their home and community bring different sets of emotions & value to the surface.  "We built here over 20 years ago and have found that living in Hyde Park is vastly underrated!  We are able to live in a very rural setting with total privacy and magnificent views and still be minutes from an excellent hospital, easily accessible schools and wonderful community of arts and culture."  Additionally they mention, "The close proximity to Stowe, Smuggler's Notch and Jay Peak offer many choices in winter and summer activities."

          As our locals have described, there is always added value within a home beyond the number.  Finding ways to convey the emotional value is always a hard task, but it's an important aspect to what makes your house a home.  Using this value along with market realities can create the right mix of quantitative and qualitative values.

          To see this article as it was featured in the Stowe Reporter, click here.