As I drove north from the central east coast, the leaves had just begun to show color. The normal traffic and hustle of the 95 corridor greeted me with plenty of distractions to keep my focus from my surroundings. I was feeling excited as I knew I was returning to an event that has given me some very fond memories from years past. Before I even arrived, I was sure that this year would not disappoint!
The Vermont Overland Rally and Workshop is a “vehicle dependent travel” event held just outside of Rockingham, Vermont. The VORW, as many call it, has become more than just a skill building and educational event. It has turned into an overland travel “happening” of sorts. Attendees come from all over the east coast to spend a few days in the wilds of Vermont and experience the culture, scenery, and camaraderie that this part of the country is known for.
Base camp for the event is the lower pasture of the Lillie Brook Farm, which is owned by organic beef farmer Justin Lillie. Driving through the gates covered in event and sponsor banners onto the field, you begin to understand the eclectic group of people and families attracted to this vehicle dependent travel or “overland” lifestyle.
There were a wide and varied assortment of some amazing vehicles on display. But, this is not a car show. The attendees of this event come here with a main purpose: off-road driving on the class 4 roads that make Vermont such a special place in the northeast.
Peter Vollers of Vermont Overland, along with his team of family and friends, have taken years to develop a comprehensive knowledge of the un-improved road system that criss-cross the state.
At each event, self-drive as well as guided adventures are available for all skill levels. And it’s not just for the trucks! Adventure motorcycles s and mountain bikes alike find trail rides and challenges in the hills and valleys of the area.
A major part to the magic of the area is the amazing culture that is found while exploring the back country of Vermont. From local restaurants to breweries, maple syrup stands to bed and breakfasts, there is a lot to take in. Down the road from the base camp there was a chainsaw wood carving competition taking place at the same time as the event, just across the road from a local BBQ joint. There is so much to see and enjoy, it would take weeks to see it all!
Back at base camp, there were a fair amount happening all day. Vendors from all over the country have set up displays of the best of breed equipment and services the off-road travel industry has to offer. Equipt Expedition Outfitters, AT Overland Equipment, Main Line Overland. OK 4WD, and many other vendors had on display the tools and gear you’d need to take your travel to the next level in comfort and style.
There were also seminars on vehicle operations and off-road driving taught by Overland Experts in the base camp as well as out on the trail.
The atmosphere around the field was light-hearted and fun. Folks walked from camp site to camp site and explore how others have set up their rigs and gear. Everyone was more than willing to brag a little bit, show off their setup, as well as discuss vehicles and camping options with others. On Thursday and Friday nights there was a bonfire where folks gathered around after dinner to discuss the days’ adventures over their favorite beverage. Some folks opted to visit the local eateries for some local fare.
Saturday night was the main event. Peter and his team threw down a big chili dinner for everyone at the event and the biggest bonfire of the event was lit. There is nothing like a huge bonfire to relax around after a long day of off-roading, attending classes, and making new friends.
After dinner, 1993 Camel Trophy winner Michael Hussey gave a presentation on team USA’s only win in the Camel Trophy while the video of the event plays under the big tent. The evening’s festivities ran well into the wee hours of the morning.
Sunday morning there was a parade of sorts as each vehicle in attendance is encouraged to drive the perimeter trail of the farm and park in the upper pasture for goodbyes and group photos. It’s always a bittersweet moment as it hammers home that this great event is finally coming to an end for the year.
For me, the Vermont Overland Rally and Workshop is a homecoming of sorts. I attended the very first event and look forward to it every year. Watching it grow and mature over the years, I’m proud of the team at Vermont Overland for the fantastic job they’ve done keeping the spirit of the event alive and intact. As I loaded up and head south for home, I realized that the leaves were now in full color. The amazing landscape of the northeast started to slip past my windshield and the calm of the road settled in. I will be back. Until next year Vermont!
MOTUS would like to give a special thanks to tribe member Jon Edford for sharing some of his incredible images with us for this article. To see Jon’s full gallery of images from the 2014 Vermont Overland Rally and Workshop, please visit his website.