I was gliding over the ice under the lights on a Friday night when I realized: This is how Vermonters do winter. We had met up with another family at the outdoor ice rink at Vermont Trade Winds Farm in Shoreham. The sky was moody and the air was crisp. We noodled around with hockey sticks and pucks, and before we knew it we’d been there two hours.
“I grew up playing hockey with my brothers on ponds,” Tim Hescock, who runs the farm and rink with his wife, Lorraine, told me later. Out in Shoreham when he was a kid, indoor rinks were a foreign concept. The Hescocks would drive around the rural area, scoping out ponds. “We were always just out looking for ice,” he said.
In 1999, he flooded his field to make his own rink. And he and his family and friends have done it every year since. About five years ago, they moved the rink down the road a bit, increased the size, and began opening it up to the public.
For his hockey-loving family, the rink is a labor of love. “It takes quite a bit of work,” Hescock acknowledged. There is no liner underneath, just a little bit of snow atop marshy, light clay. So every few days it has to be flooded anew.
This year the Hescocks are inviting families to reserve the rink. All you need to do is get a pass for the season ($20 per family) at the farm store, and reserve a time slot online for $5. There are also open skate times daily.
You’ll find free rental skates in the farm store (open noon-4 daily); a fire pit and picnic table next to the rink; lights for night skating; and sledding hills and ski/snowshoe trails around the property.
Hescock says he’s noticed an increase in folks skating this year. “We all know that the outdoors is what we’ve got to do this winter,” he said. Though he’d argue it’s a great way to get through any winter. “Even for us, we get amazed by it,” he said of skating outdoors with a couple of good friends on a moonlit night.
Head out to Trade Winds this Friday, 6-10 p.m. for a Full Moon Night celebration: skating, sledding, snowshoeing, bonfires and free hot cocoa. Season passes — as well as masks and social distancing — required.
Other places to skate
Rent the Memorial Sports Center rink.
Skate outdoors at the Bristol Rec Park.
Take a road trip to Lake Morey in Fairlee to try the 4.3-mile skating loop.