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Chimney Point Historic Site, VT, the final stop for the progressive mixer. Photo: Sarah Harris
Chimney Point Historic Site, VT, the final stop for the progressive mixer. Photo: Sarah Harris

Across the bridge: a mixer in VT and NY

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During the holidays we're listening back to some of our favorite stories from 2013. Some are newsy, others are just fun. We'll return to Sarah Harris' drive around Lake Champlain last summer. She began by attending a "progressive dinner" that started on one side of the new Champlain Bridge, and ended on the other.

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Sarah Harris
Reporter and Producer

It's a muggy summer evening, just after work. People are milling around the Crown Point state historical site, making name tags and filing up their plates with snacks.

"We're hosting our first, hopefully of many, bi-state after hours mixer," explains Matt Courtright from the Ticonderoga Area Chamber of Commerce.

The mixer's goal, he says, is for New York and Vermont businesspeople to meet each other. Sue Hoxie is with the Addison County chamber of commerce. She says that here, communities on both sides of the lake share strong ties.

Walking across the Champlain Bridge. Photo: Sarah Harris
Walking across the Champlain Bridge. Photo: Sarah Harris
"I think when the Champlain Bridge was closed and demolished in 2009 it really demonstrated how connected these communities are on both sides of the bridge. I don't think people were aware how much people commute back and forth. They live on one side or the other and work on one side or another."

After snacks, people wander up the road to the Lake Champlain Visitors center, right by the bridge. I walk with Kate McGowan, head of Addison County United Way. She says that New York and Vermont share a lot.

"I think there's a lot of commonalities on both sides of the lake, in terms of being rural and being in the Northeast and sharing the same agricultural climate, so we share a landscape and a history and that's important."

But there are some small differences.

"The thing that I notice is that the roads are really good on this side," she says with a laugh.

Joyce Barker, a retired real estate broker from Ticonderoga, says Vermont "offers a lot that we don't get on this side of the lake," particularly shopping.

Pretty soon, it's time to cross the bridge to Vermont. I walk across with Richard Hustice, who owns a farm supply store in Bridport, Vermont.

He calls Lake Champlain the "big crick," and says that his customers come from New York and Vermont.

It's an amazing view walking across — the Green Mountains, the Adirondacks, farms on both sides and the lake in between. When you're in the middle, the two states blend.

On the Vermont side, people enjoy hot dogs, beer, and a raffle. They chat and laugh. And standing in the shadow of the bridge, I realize that the only thing separating the two states is a short, and beautiful, walk.

Hear more stories from Sarah Harris' series on the intersection of Vermont, New York and Quebec.

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