The arts have been significant in the development of Dorset's character. Both visual and performing media provide stimulating and enjoyable entertainment.
On July 2, 1929, the Dorset Playhouse officially opened. In typical Vermont style, the building of this lovely theatre was a true community effort and included the use of three local barns in its construction. Since the 1930's, the Playhouse has served as a home to many theatre productions and personalities, including members of Fred and Pat Carmichael's beloved Caravan Theatre, the wonderful year round community theatre The Dorset Players, and since the 1970's the Dorset Theatre Festival (DTF) founded by Jill Charles and John Nassivera.
In 1904, a collective of Dorset Painters held an exhibition at the Dorset Field Club to benefit the Dorset Library. The library, now located in the former Gray Tavern, was founded in 1870 and is one of the oldest in the state of Vermont. It has a collection of approximately 20,000 volumes and visitors are always welcome.
"The Dorset Artists" as they called themselves later became Southern Vermont Artists and are the stewards of the lovely Yesterhouse Galleries and performing arts pavilion.
The Congregational Church on the town green is aglow with stained glass windows - including some by Tiffany depicting Dorset gardens.
Visitors are welcome at the studios of area potters, painters, carvers, stencilers, cabinet makers and other artists who enrich us all with their work and as members of our community.
Northshire Performing Arts, Ltd. was established in 2005 after a trio of women, well-versed in the performing arts, followed their passion to bring top quality, world-renowned artists to audiences and schools in the Northshire. This non-profit arts presenter continues to pursue its mission by presenting Salvatore Licitra, Midori, the Vienna Choir Boys, Ingrid Fliter, The 5 Browns, Frederica von Stade, The African Children's Choir, and the New York Theatre Ballet, as well as educational programs. In 2011, NPA, Ltd. helped Burr and Burton Academy bring HD Metropolitan Opera simulcasts to the community and its students. Please see "Events" for NPA's current presentations.
The area offers a myriad of recreational possibilities year round:
BICYCLING is popular in Dorset's pleasant rolling countryside, with many wooded trails from which to choose
HIKING - Merck Forest and Farmland Center is nearby with 2,000 acres, spectacular panoramic views, a model farm and 27 miles of hiking and cross country ski trails. The Green Mountain National Forest offers numerous mountain trails throughout the area, as well as pleasant walking areas. The famous Long Trail and Appalachian Trail cross through the area.
SWIMMING - Emerald Lake State Park in East Dorset and Lake Saint Catherine, a short drive north, have water sports galore.
BOATING & CANOEING - Emerald Lake State Park, Lake St. Catherine and the Battenkill. Rentals available.
FISHING - Three major trout steams have their head waters in Dorset. The world famous Battenkill flows south to the Hudson, the locally popular Mettowee and Mad Tom Rivers wend their way past Civil War era iron smelters, marble quarries and quarry caves, some of which keep winter ice well into July each year.
GOLF - Numerous area courses open to the public.
BIRD WATCHING - Vermont lies in the pathway of the annual north-south bird migration. Its backyards and bogs, marshes and meadows, forests and fens are visited by over 180 species who breed here with many more just passing through. Any path will lead to bird activity - from Prentiss Pond in Dorset Village or Merck Forest and Farmland Center in Rupert to the many roads leading to a historic marble quarry or nearby Stratton Mountain for the rare and endangered Bicknell's Thrush. Sightings, discussions and information about birds is available from the statewide birding discussion list, VTBIRD.
CAMPING - Merck Forest, Emerald Lake State Park and Green Mountain National Forest. In addition there are several privately operated campgrounds.
DUPLICATE BRIDGE - There are games nearly every day in the area. Find a game.
SNOWSHOEING - Merck Forest, Green Mountain National Forest and Emerald Lake State Park.
ICE SKATING - Prentiss Pond in downtown Dorset is sometimes snow-free and Riley Rink in Manchester features an Olympic size indoor skating rink.
SNOWMOBILING - Green Mountain National Forest and trails on private land are maintained by the Green Mountain Trail Blazers, the local snowmobiling club. For more info visit Equinox Snow Tours and Vermont Association of Snowmobile Travelers.
Some of the area's most interesting attractions are just a bit under the radar. Things like artisan cheese makers, custom lampshades, specialty fibers, bat caves, and Dorset's local swimming-hole (formerly a marble quarry). Ask your innkeeper for tips on what to see.
Remember, Vermont isn't just cows and maple syrup. There are countless things to see and do that will make your visit to Dorset memorable. Below are links to a few suggestions:
Maxfield Parrish, 19th Century Silicon Valley,
Shelburne Museum Day
Dirt Roads Adventure Day (not in winter, not for sissies)