By DAVID VOEGELE
Executive director of ESSEX CHIPS

It is that time of year again, for a joyous recreational activity the whole family can enjoy. No, I’m not referring to sledding, ice skating, or skiing. There’s a whole winter for those seasonal favorites in Vermont. No, I’m talking about the 2nd Annual Vermont Birdie Bash, a festive family event scheduled for this coming Sunday (January 27th) in Essex.

“Birdie” is a variation of badminton, with a few quirky but fun rules. Enthusiasm for this unique family event has been growing for months. “The Vermont Birdie Bash is finally here again, and I’m so excited…I can’t wait to play and compete with my friends and neighbors on Sunday!” said Averi Preston, age 17.

The Bash consists of three separate tournaments for players of all ages (i.e., age 7 to 97, give or take a couple years). The emphasis is on family-friendly fun. Although there will be trophies for the first and second place teams for each tournament, there will also be “wild card” trophies awarded as recognition for extraordinary spirit and enthusiasm. These awards are at the discretion of the tournament Czar, based upon a secret formula passed down for one generation of Czars to the next. In the past, “wild card” trophies have gone to youth and adults for cool costumes, terrific team effort, and fanciful footwork. Yes, dancing is allowed at the Birdie Bash.

The presence of a tournament Czar is one of several Birdie Bash traditions that make the day fun. Other traditions include the “Charging of the Courts,” the “Raising of the Rackets,” and the solemn “Taking of the Pledge” (to have fun – and not hurt anyone with words or rackets). More than 100 players are expected to enjoy this year’s event – for which there is no registration fee. All donations received or pledged will support the programs operated by Essex CHIPs. The tournament schedule for the day is: the Early Birds from 10-11am; the Brunch Birds from 11:45am-12:45pm; and the Snow Birds from 1:30-2:30pm. Players must arrive at least 15 minutes before the start of their tournament. Rackets will be provided.

For the first time ever, the Vermont Birdie Bash will include nearly $1,000 of raffle prizes, including gift certificates from several area businesses. Each player will receive 1 raffle ticket, and each player who raises at least $30 in donations/pledges will receive an additional 3 raffle tickets. Additional raffle tickets may be purchased at the event.

There is still time to register in advance at www.essexchips.org. There are only 108 player slots available, so pre-registration is strongly encouraged. If you don’t have a full team, you can register as an individual – and the Czar will match you with other players without teams.

In addition to being a wonderful way for family and friends to spend a couple warm hours together on a wintry day, the Bash will raise funds for important youth programs serving area youth. Hope to see you there!