Localvore dinner tickets sell fast

Nothing says Vermont better than a dinner consisting solely of local foods followed by hours of contra dancing.  Nor does any pair of activities serve better to welcome new students to UVM. On Sep. 1, in the Grand Maple Ballroom, a Localvore dinner and contra dance were held as part of the Week of Welcome (WOW) back to school. “Our goal is to show first years what UVM is really about and bring what’s downtown up here so that they aren’t going out and making unsafe decisions,” sophomore Zak Juckett said.  “We’re bringing the community to campus.” “There’s dancing and great Vermont food from around the state all in one spot,” senior Jordan Karp said. Last spring there was a similar localvore dinner, but it was free. “It was such a mob scene last year,” sophomore Brittany Sperber said.  “People were filling up cups with mashed potatoes.” This time tickets were $5.  Still, the event was sold out in no time, meaning that 150 diners came to enjoy the local fare, Karp said. “It was hard to say no to people who came later,” he said, “but hopefully they came back to dance.” Dinner was served promptly at 6 p.m., and two lines filed hurriedly to taste the array of local dishes, each of which was labeled with the city from where it came. Standing in line, students held their plates in anticipation of the food that awaited them. “[The dinner] is going to be really good, the price was reasonable and I knew that coming would make my girlfriend happy,” senior Joe Ainsworth said. Senior Jessie MacQueen agreed that she too was excited to indulge. “I’m really into the local food movement, and everything is in season right now in Vermont,” she said. Among the foods were a salad made from Arethusa Farm greens and Common Ground vegetables — all from Burlington — and tofu from Vermont Soy.  There were also maple-glazed carrots from Westminster Vt. Organics, and apple cider from Chittenden Cider Mill. “The tofu was really good,” sophomore Max Landerman said.  “But all of the food is better than dining hall food — especially the Grundle.” After dinner was finished the contra dancing began, led by members from the Mad Robins Callers Collective (MRCC). “Contra dancing is part of a wholesome community setting, similar to Localvore-ism,” senior and MRCC caller Eliza Arsensault said. “They both go hand-in-hand,” senior and MRCC caller Hannah Goodwin said.  “Plus the dancing is free.” A trio of musicians performed for the dancing portion of the evening.   Rick Stein and Brian Perkins — one half of the band Atlantic Crossing — teamed up with fiddle player Pete Southerland.   “We’re very lucky because Pete is one of the giants of traditional music and he agreed to sub for two of our band members,” said Perkins, who played mandolin and banjo. The WOW squad unanimously agreed that the night was a beyond successful. “Everything has turned out excellent,” Karp said. “Every first year I’ve talked to is loving this Week of Welcome,” sophomore and WOW squad member Felicia Mensah said.