[Excerpt on Brandon, courtesy Yankee Magazine, May 2004]
In late 2002, folk artist Warren Kimble and others to thinking about how to support the arts in this town on the western slope of the Green Mountains. They hit upon the idea of getting sponsors to buy full-size white fiberglass pigs, which would then be painted by artists in town and auctioned off.
“We got 40 people to put up $500 each for the pigs, which was remarkable,” says Kimble, who’s lived in Brandon for 34 years. Those pigs, displayed around town all summer and auctioned in the fall, raised about $120,000 to support the artists’ guild and arts programs in the schools. (They’ll do it again this year, but with birdhouses instead of pigs.)
It’s the kind of community project that tells you something about a town. “I’ve always said that people care about people here in Brandon,” says Kimble. “You know your neighbor. There’s contentment.”
Recently there has been a revival in Brandon. “The whole town has really come alive over the past couple of years,” says Fred Rowe of Rowe Real Estate. Kimble agrees and notes that he moved his studio and gallery to downtown Brandon last year for just that reason, renovating a large downtown building for the purpose.
Brandon offers a lot. All 243 buildings in the core village are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Two cascading waterfalls give the village a dramatic touch. There’s a charming historic covered bridge. Walking around town, you can browse through shops and galleries, ambling past restaurants, the library, the town hall, and a grocery store, all of which make downtown a destination for visitors as well as for the town’s 4,000 residents.
Brandon is well situated, 15 miles from Lake Champlain, 15 miles from the college town of Middlebury, and 15 miles from Rutland, which has plenty of shopping and services, including a commercial shuttle from its small airport to Boston. Burlington, Vermont’s largest city, is 60 miles to the north.