Blueberry Hill Inn invests in community with local music, food, and people


GOSHEN — Among families, sweethearts, friends and staff that made up the intimate
outdoor scene at Blueberry Hill’s Pizza by the Pond this Thursday night was Rip Mason, who
has been coming to the inn for over 30 years, sitting with his friend Dave Sheldon.
In a friendly chat with them, over a few slices, I discovered Rip drove a few minutes down
Goshen Road on June 25 with his BYOB Budweiser in tow from his summer home.
“It’s always been an incredibly friendly, warm, welcoming place to come,” said Mason, of the
inn and the team of owners who run it. “Just getting over the last year is remarkable. And of
course, Tony Clark is a legend in New England innkeeping, and Shari [Brown] keeps all the
trains running on time.”
Both Middlebury College graduates from decades ago, Sheldon and Mason feel like “it’s
another day in paradise” on Blueberry Hill. Mason built his Vermont home on adjacent land he
bought from Clark, 76, back in the 1980s.
This past Thursday, folks from Brandon, Bristol, and even Burlington ate and drank on
blankets, picnic tables, and lawn chairs to the locally based bluegrass jazz string sounds of
“Bloodroot Gap.”
“Everyone is here to have a good time, and it’s a nice environment,” said upright bassist Jim
McCuen. He plays with his twin brother, guitarist and mandolinist Rob McCuen, and fiddler
Freeman Corey, 59, affectionately referred to as a “fiddling institution in Vermont” by bandmate
Beckoning between the music and the pond is the pizza oven, manned by Brown and Clark’s
children Britta, 27, a Harvard PhD philosophy candidate, and Oliver “Ollie” Clark, 23, a
software engineer at
On one delicious pie, Britta spread sauce, mushrooms, rosemary, caramelized onions, goat
cheese, and sea salt over a stretched out poolish dough which Ollie whisked into the fire.
Blueberry Hill also makes gluten-free and vegan pizza, and a salad of pickled beets, currants,
crispy garbanzo beans, and shaved carrot over greens topped with blueberry, maple or herb
Certain nights are reserved for pizza and socializing in the quiet of the mountains without live
music: July 8 and 30 as well as Sept. 16, 17, and 24. Other evenings will have live music on July
1, 2, 9, 15 and 29, as well as Sept. 9 and 23. I recommend checking the weather since seating is
not undercover, but even if it pours, Shari will still make pizza, she will just serve it in a to-go
Reservations are open online every Monday for the Thursday and Friday night Pizza by the
Pond events. Dinner starts at 5 p.m., tunes are at 6, and excitement lasts forever—or until 8, for
those of you with a bedtime.
While you are signing up, their website is a great place for music lovers to learn detailed
information about every band and musician, including Grammy-nominated mandolinist Matt
Flinner, who will play with Brett Hughes on July 1 and Sept. 9.

Shari Brown, center, enjoys fostering a community with her Pizza by the Pond events, with the help of her children Britta, 27, and Oliver Clark, 23.
Bloodroot Gap played bluegrass jazz through the night. From left to right: Freeman Corey and twins Rob and Jim McCuen.

At Thursday’s event, locals and summer-Vermonters alike nestled into the many cozy alcoves
between trees and blueberry bushes around the music tent, sipped lavender lemonade, iced tea,
water, and their own beverages, and munched on pizza and salad with local ingredients from Elmer Farm, Mountain Yard Farm, Maple Brook, Republic of Vermont Ice House, and even
Blueberry Hill itself (basil, this time of year).
“It’s awesome to have people out and about,” said Katie Berthiaume, 18, who greeted guests
at the “Bloodroot Gap” performance and works as a housekeeper, server, and does “a little bit of
everything” within the small staff.
As one of the few employees on the large estate, the busy Berthiaume is an example of why
Blueberry Hill events have limited space and request advance reservation. Brown, 59, is taking
the opportunity to reconnect with patrons through Pizza by the Pond as a way to ease back into
offering dinners.
“We are building staff,” she said, explaining that worker shortages make it hard to reopen as
fully as they might want, “so this is a great way to reintroduce ourselves without formal dinners.”
Between the songs and sunlight caressing the crowd, social butterfly Brown is bound to give
you a smile and possibly stop for a chat when she is not restocking the oven.
“COVID inspired me to do this because last year the picnic dinners were such a nice way to
have the community nearby again,” Brown said. “It’s been outside guests at the inn but not so
much community-oriented, so it was nice to have the community back again.”
Aside from one small wedding that had already been booked for 2021 in 2019, Blueberry Hill
will substitute coordinating weddings with renting out the facility for a fee. “I don’t want to be
the coordinator on top of the cook, the housekeeper, the bookkeeper,” explained Brown, who
appreciates that the customer demand is present but will occasionally block off dates to breathe
or do some bookkeeping.
Her solution is to focus on the power of collaboration: “I’ve been wanting to collaborate, to
support musicians because we can’t do it alone. We need a community, and we need everyone
working together.”

Share this story:
Back to Top