MAINE FAIRS FULL OF EARTH’S BOUNTY AND FUN
Learn about beekeeping, canning, and working with sheepdogs at the Common Ground Country Fair in the town of Unity, in Waldo County, Sept. 25-27.
The fair, run by the Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association, celebrates organic farming practices (207-568-4142, www.mofga.org/thefair). Don’t miss a highlight of the Cumberland Country Fair Sept. 27-Oct. 3: the annual Maine State Pumpkin and Squash Weigh-In. This fair also includes professional bull riding, a demolition derby, and a children’s rodeo (www.cumberlandfair.com). The Fryeburg Fair, Oct. 4-11, features a fireman’s muster, a skillet throw, sheepdog trials, and a pig scramble, plus a huge midway with rides and food, and plenty of traditional fair contests and exhibitions (207-935-3268, www.fryeburgfair.org).
WOODSTOCK’S FIRST NEW INN IN DECADES
Head for the banks of Vermont’s Ottauquechee River where you’ll find a new 40-room boutique hotel, 506 On the River. The hotel, the first to open its doors in the historic town of Woodstock in decades, sits on six acres, and blends modern amenities with a chic farmhouse aesthetic and decorations from around the globe (owners Aaren Macksoud, a Woodstock native, and Paulina Macksoud own properties in Germany, Zanzibar, and Kenya). It has the town’s only indoor hotel pool, and offers massage treatments, Wi-Fi, complimentary country breakfasts, and lots of retro touches: an apothecary counter that now serves as the bar in the 506 Bistro, an old jukebox, arcade games, and vintage newspapers. Rates start at $269 per night, double occupancy. 802-457-7232, www.ontheriverwoodstock.com
CALLING ALL PIE AND COOKIE LOVERS
Visit one of Montana’s top luxury ranch resorts for a four-day dessert camp and learn how to make pies and cookies from renowned pastry chefs.
The Resort at Paws Up in Greenough offers Upper Crust: A Sophisticated Pie and Cookie Camp, Oct. 9-12. Kate McDermott, known as The Pie Whisperer and owner of The Art of the Pie in Seattle, will teach guests how to make pies from scratch, and James Beard award-winning chef Mindy Segal, owner of Mindy’s Hot Chocolate in Chicago, will lead hands-on cookie and pastry workshops. Also enjoy locally inspired dinners with wine pairings. Out of the kitchen, guests go hiking, float down the Blackfoot River, or try fly-fishing, horseback riding, or an ATV tour. Rates for this all-inclusive three-night weekend start at $809 per person per night, double occupancy, which includes accommodation in a private home, three meals daily, all workshops and activities, wine tastings, and transportation to and from Missoula International Airport. 877-588-6783, www.pawsup.com
SURF MAN-MADE WAVES IN WALES
Visit the Conwy Valley in North Wales and experience the longest man-made surfable waves on the planet. Surf Snowdonia, the world’s first-ever inland surf lagoon park, can create barreling waves that rise up to 6.5 feet high and peel for 492 feet. The park uses 100 percent rainwater from Snowdonia Mountain and generates one wave per minute at the push of a button. Up to 52 people can surf the lagoon at once. Surf Snowdonia’s Surf Academy offers two-hour lessons for beginner to advanced levels, ages 5 and older. The park also has an activity lagoon featuring The Blob, a 15-foot partially inflated air bag; one person sits on The Blob and then another person jumps onto it, catapulting his or her friend through the air and into the water — endless fun. Other park activities include bodyboarding, standup paddleboarding, surf kayaking, surf yoga, surf fitness, and swimming. www.surfsnowdonia.co.uk
FIX A ZIPPER WHILE TRAVELING
Throw a tiny FixnZip repair tool in your bag and use it to help fix a zipper on anything from a jacket to a tent or suitcase. The quarter-ounce tool can fix metal or plastic zippers with teeth or coils, zippers on luggage, and even invisible-watertight zippers. To use, align the metal FixnZip with one row of teeth on the broken zipper and tighten it down using a small attached screw. Then insert the zipper pin from the other row of teeth and zip up the zipper, realigning the teeth as you go. The tool can typically repair zippers with damaged and even missing teeth. The tool comes in three sizes (check the back of your zipper for a number indicating size, or measure the width of your zipper). $9.99 for any one size; $24.99 for a pack with small, medium, and large FixnZips. 866-817-0400, www.fixnzip.com
SEE YOUR HOME FROM AFAR
Withings’ Home HD Camera helps you keep tabs on your home when you’re away, providing noise and motion detection alerts, and monitoring indoor air quality (it has built-in air quality sensors that can detect if levels of volatile organic compounds spike).
The softball-size device weighs 8 ounces and is easy to set up: Use the Withings Home Security Camera app (available to Apple and Android users) to establish a Bluetooth connection with your mobile device and a Wi-Fi connection with your home network. Then choose settings for monitoring and recording information, and set up an interactive home journal. The Home HD Camera has night vision, a 5-megapixel camera for shooting stills and videos, and a 110-degree horizontal field of view. Slide the removable oak cover over the camera for privacy. It can also be used as a baby monitor, and for two-way conversations and streaming video. Captured images and videos get stored for 48 hours, or you can pay extra for long-term storage. $189.95. Amazon.com, www.withings.com