Kingdom Farm and Food Days August 22, 23, and 24

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Log Cabin Farm alpacas in East Albany will offer tours.

Log Cabin Farm alpacas in East Albany will offer tours.

Kingdom Farm and Food Days are coming up August 22, 23, and 24 with chances to tour farms, take workshops, taste local foods at area restaurants, visit an apple orchard, ride on a hay wagon, and much more. The public is invited to celebrate with a farm-to-table dinner and bonfire at the end of the weekend.

Three days of festivities about local food will be put on by the Center for an Agricultural Economy in Hardwick, High Mowing Organic Seeds in Wolcott, Pete’s Greens in Craftsbury, Sterling College in Craftsbury, New England Culinary Institute (NECI) in Montpelier, Northeast Kingdom Travel and Tourism Association in East Burke, Eden Ice Cider in Charleston and Newport, Caledonia Spirits in Hardwick, and Green Mountain Farm to School in Newport.

All the events are free and open to the public. Anyone can participate in any one activity or all of them.

Kingdom Farm and Food Days kicks off Friday, August 22, with tours of llama and alpaca farms, including the Agape Hill Farm in Hardwick and the Log Cabin Alpaca Farm in East Albany. The Hardwick Farmers Market at Atkins Field on Granite Street in Hardwick is open on Friday afternoon from 3 to 6 p.m.

Saturday from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. the Craftsbury Farmers Market is open for business on Craftsbury Common. Children’s gardening activities with Green Mountain Farm to School are on the agenda at Craftsbury Academy School Gardens that morning and, starting at 11 a.m., Pete’s Greens will offer tours and hay rides. Saturday afternoon, from 3:30 to 5:30, Sterling College will offer tours and workshops. Pizza making in an outdoor oven is on the agenda. Saturday evening, discounts will be offered at area restaurants for participants in the Kingdom Farm and Food Days events.

Sunday morning kicks off at 10 a.m. with a visit to the Eden Ice Cider orchard in Charleston, where people can tour a biodynamic organic apple orchard. From 1 to 4 p.m., High Mowing Organic Seeds will host field days and workshops. NECI will put on a dinner at High Mowing Seeds starting a 4:30 p.m., and everyone is invited to a bonfire afterward.

For more information, please see the Kingdom Farm and Food Days website kingdomfarmandfood.org. — from the Center for an Agricultural Economy.

For more things to do, see our Events page.

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Orleans County Fair in Barton August 13-17

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Skads Winner, driven by Kenneth Martin, leads the field coming out of the first turn.  He was closely followed by Nanette’s Nordic in a race at the Orleans County Fair in 2013.  Harness racing is a long-running tradition at the fair in Barton.                                                                                                   Photo by Joseph Gresser

Skads Winner, driven by Kenneth Martin, leads the field coming out of the first turn. He was closely followed by Nanette’s Nordic in a race at the Orleans County Fair in 2013. Harness racing is a long-running tradition at the fair in Barton. Photo by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle August 6, 2014

by Tena Starr

BARTON — The harness racing program at the Orleans County Fair will be dedicated this year to Stanwood “Doc” Churchill of Orleans, who died on June 11.

“He was an avid racer in his time and avidly supported the program, along with his family,” said Pamela Tetreault of Lowell, who is doing promotional and other work for the fair this year. Her husband, Mike Tetreault, is president of the fair association.

Dr. Churchill, a veterinarian, bought his first standardbred in 1960. For the next 36 years, he bred, raised, and raced. He was also a stockholder and director of the fair.

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Royal Lipizzan Stallions to perform at fairgrounds

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Madeline McCoy, with her mother, Amy McCoy, and sister Sophie, pet an off duty Lipizzan in Barton Sunday.  Herrmanns’ Royal Lipizzan Stallions will return for more shows later this month.  Photo by Micaela Bedell

Madeline McCoy, with her mother, Amy McCoy, and sister Sophie, pet an off duty Lipizzan in Barton Sunday. Herrmanns’ Royal Lipizzan Stallions will return for more shows later this month. Photo by Micaela Bedell

The Royal Lipizzan Stallions will perform at the Orleans County fairgrounds in Barton, from Friday, August 1, to Sunday, August 3, and again from Friday, August 8, to Sunday, August 10.

The horses will be stabled at the fairgrounds. This is a rare opportunity to see these majestic equines perform.

Back in the days of sword-and-armor battle, horses were used as partners and soldiers in arms. One of the highest esteemed of the war horse breeds was the Lipizzan. Founded in the sixteenth century and used by Austrian forces, the breed was tailor made to have a born-in desire and athleticism to jump, leap, and kick their way through enemy lines. The historic rescue of the breed by General Patton during World War II is the only reason these horses still exist today. Thanks to the Herrmann family, the ancestors of those original horses are in the United States and perform the same maneuvers that were used in battle and are displayed to this day at the famous Spanish Riding School in Vienna, Austria.

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Oliver! at the Haskell over two weekends

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Pictured are just some of the cast members of QNEK’s upcoming Oliver!  In the top row, from left to right, are: John Young, Brandi Ong, Brian McCrae, Eli Moore, Marc Lamontagne, John Young, and Molly Moore.  In the middle row, from left, are: Emily Wilkie, Marc Lamontage, and Molly Moore.  In the bottom row, from left, are: Eli Moore, John Young, Emily Wilkie, John Young, and Brandi Ong.  Photo courtesy of QNEK Productions

Pictured are just some of the cast members of QNEK’s upcoming Oliver! In the top row, from left to right, are: John Young, Brandi Ong, Brian McCrae, Eli Moore, Marc Lamontagne, John Young, and Molly Moore. In the middle row, from left, are: Emily Wilkie, Marc Lamontage, and Molly Moore. In the bottom row, from left, are: Eli Moore, John Young, Emily Wilkie, John Young, and Brandi Ong. Photo courtesy of QNEK Productions

QNEK Productions will present the musical Oliver! at the Haskell Opera House in Derby Line on July 25, 26, 27 and August 1, 2, and 3, with a production that is sure to excite and capture the hearts of all ages.

The curtain rises on Fridays at 7:30 p.m, Saturdays at 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Tickets and information are available by calling the QNEK Box Office at 334-2216, by visiting qnek.com, or the MAC Center on Main Street in Newport, or by advance purchase online or by phone at catamountarts.org and the Catamount Arts Box Office at 1-888-757-5559.

In the current trend-driven world of story telling, people can count on a classic to refresh and satisfy the taste for powerful and thought-provoking drama. Oliver Twist by Charles Dickens is such a tale. Published in 1938, this timeless story follows the pure-hearted orphan Oliver on a quest for hope and belonging, love and family. From the harsh cruelty of workhouse child labor, through the savage criminal underworld of Victorian London, Oliver’s indomitably kind spirit leads him to the gentle and comforting home of his loving grandfather, for a fairy-tale ending that he truly deserves. — submitted by Phil Gosselin.

For more things to do, see our Events page.

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Insectopia! from June 23 to August 9

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This piece is called “Look What I Got!” by Amanda Weisenfeld and Jean Matray.  Photo courtesy of the NEK Artisans Guild

This piece is called “Look What I Got!” by Amanda Weisenfeld and Jean Matray. Photo courtesy of the NEK Artisans Guild

What do all insects have in common? Three body parts, six legs, one pair of antennae, and they wear their skeletons on the outside.

That’s where the similarities end.

Body shape, size, color, function — the sky’s the limit for diversity.

The Northeast Kingdom Artisans Guild in St. Johnsbury will celebrate insect diversity with a group show called “Insectopia.” From Monday, June 23 to August 9, the Backroom Gallery at the guild will be creeping, crawling, hopping, flying, and buzzing with a multitude of art inspired by insects. Artisans from around the state of Vermont will exhibit interpretations of their favorite insects. There will be papier-mâché wasps, a copper praying mantis, felt bees, and more. Insects will come to life in clay, paper, felt, braided rugs, stained glass, prints, fine art, jewelry, and much more.

There will be an artists’ reception to be held in the gallery on Saturday, July 12, from 3 to 5 p.m. In addition, on Thursday, July 31, at 6 p.m., Beth Prondzinski, director of collections at the Fairbanks Museum, will speak on the history of the Fairbanks’ insect collection.

For information call the guild at 748-0158. Hours are 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., Monday through Saturday. — from the NEK Artisans Guild.

For more things to do, see our Events page.

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Bread and Puppet open house June 8

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jig - b&p

Photo by Joseph Gresser

The Bread and Puppet Museum in Glover announces its thirty-ninth year with a festive open house on Sunday, June 8, from 2 to 5 p.m.

The official season runs from June 1 to November 1. The Northeast Kingdom Shape Note Singers will greet guests with traditional Sacred Harp songs near the outdoor clay bread oven, followed by the ceremonial waking up of the museum guard and opening of the museum door. On the second floor of the museum, poet and neighbor Burt Porter and Sophia Cannizzaro will fiddle and strum lively country tunes. Elsewhere on the grounds, guest artists from the area — Modern Times Theater, Clare Dolan, Geoff Goodhue and Ben Matchstick — will perform short pieces and music. Throughout the day, slices of sourdough rye bread with aioli will be served.

The second year of the Woodshed Gallery will kick off with an exhibit of paintings by Max Schumann. Mr. Schumann was one of the earliest converts to the theory of “cheap art,” which emerged at Bread and Puppet in the early 1980s. The museum houses countless inanimate creatures of every ilk, and the new reading corner features over- and under-sized artists’ books. In the museum store, visitors will find the 2015 calendar, and the cheap art bus, found across Route 122, will be crammed full of pictures and booklets by puppeteers.

The afternoon ends at 4 p.m. with a new work performed by the Bread and Puppet Theater Company in the Dirt Floor Theater. Following all events, there will be a community volunteer meeting in the backyard, open to all, to discuss this summer’s events and volunteer opportunities.

Bread and Puppet also announces its Vermont tour in May of “Birdcatcher in Hell,” a revival of the historic 1971 show created at Goddard College in Plainfield with members of the original cast.

The Bread and Puppet Museum is now open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., until November 1.

For more information about the event, the theater, museum, or upcoming tours, go to www.breadandpuppet.org, or call 525-3031. — from Bread and Puppet.

For more things to do, see our Events page.

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Most complete T. rex comes to the Montshire museum May 17

Screen shot 2014-04-21 at 4.37.22 PMThe most iconic dinosaur that ever lived is on its way to the Montshire Museum of Science in Norwich. The exhibit, “A T. rex Named Sue,” scheduled to open Saturday, May 17, features a cast of the most complete Tyrannosaurus rex (T. rex) ever discovered.

At 42-feet long, 3,500 pounds, and 12 feet tall at the hips, this fully articulated cast skeleton is the keystone piece of this traveling exhibition which also includes replicated dinosaur fossils, video footage, free-standing interactive exhibits and colorful graphics.

Montshire visitors will be able to get hands-on with replicas of Sue’s arm bone, tail, rib and teeth, engage in interactive activities, learn how the T. rex saw, ate and sniffed out prey, and view footage showing the changing perceptions of T. rex over the past 100 years.

Sue is the largest and best-preserved Tyrannosaurus rex ever unearthed and is one of the most significant fossil finds to date. Fossil hunter Sue Hendrickson found the specimen in 1990 in the Hell Creek Formation near Faith, South Dakota. In 1997, the Field Museum purchased the 67-million-year-old fossil at auction for $8.4-million, setting the world record for the highest price ever paid for a fossil.

Only four T. rex specimens containing more than 60 percent of their original skeleton have been found. Sue is at least 90 percent complete — only a foot, one arm, and a few ribs and vertebrae are missing. Because of its near completeness, the specimen has presented the scientific community with a variety of new evidence, and with it Field Museum scientists made important new discoveries about the biology and evolution of Tyrannosaurus rex.

Sue will be assembled in Montshire’s Main gallery and offers visitors the chance to discover what these professionals have learned.

The exhibit “A T. rex Named Sue” runs from May 17 through September 7, at the Montshire Museum of Science. It will be the first time the exhibition has been to northern New England.

Admission to “A T. rex Named Sue” is free with museum admission; $16 for adults, $14 for children ages two to 17, and free for Montshire members and children under two years of age.

The Montshire Museum will be closed from May 12 to 14 during the installation of “A T. rex Named Sue.”

This exhibit was created by the Field Museum in Chicago, and is made possible through the generosity of McDonald’s Corporation. Local sponsorship is provided by Geokon, as well as Lake Sunapee Bank, and King Arthur Flour. Media sponsorship is provided by WCAX and NHPR. — from the Montshire Museum of Science.

For more things to do, see our Events page.

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Spamalot is full of medieval tomfoolery

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King Arthur and the Lady of Lake welcome the Knights of the Very Round Table to Camelot in the Vermont Family Theater production of Spamalot.  From left to right, in the back row, are Joan Racine, Donna Arnold, Lucas Roy, Jade Piette, Greg Tocci, and Rachel Carter.  Seated in the middle row are the knights:  Jake Blankenship, Brendan Hadash, Todd Jones, and Zeb McCoy.  In front are Alan Franklin, Deborah MacKay, and Cassie Tarbox.  Photos by Joseph Gresser

King Arthur and the Lady of Lake welcome the Knights of the Very Round Table to Camelot in the Vermont Family Theater production of Spamalot. From left to right, in the back row, are Joan Racine, Donna Arnold, Lucas Roy, Jade Piette, Greg Tocci, and Rachel Carter. Seated in the middle row are the knights: Jake Blankenship, Brendan Hadash, Todd Jones, and Zeb McCoy. In front are Alan Franklin, Deborah MacKay, and Cassie Tarbox. Photos by Joseph Gresser

copyright the Chronicle April 9, 2014

by Joseph Gresser

ORLEANS — In days of yore a band of bold men adventured across the green and pleasant land of England.  Their adventures have been repeated down through the generations and continue to inspire listeners to this day.

I’m speaking, of course, of Monty Python, the progenitors of the musical comedy now playing at the Orleans Municipal Building — Spamalot.

The show, written by Eric Idle, one of the Pythons, opened on Broadway in 2005, where it had a very successful four-year run.  It has now made its way to Orleans in the form of a very entertaining production by the Vermont Family Theater.

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Freedom and Unity: The Vermont Movie comes to Newport

vermont movie barn

A barn raising was a community event in Vermont and sometimes still is.

Editor’s note:  The Vermont Movie parts five and six will be shown at the Gateway Center in Newport on Wednesday, December 4.  A showing of part five scheduled for November 27 will not be happening due to the bad weather expected.  On December 4 part five will be shown at 5:30 and part six will be shown at 7:30.

History has long been presented as a story told in chronological order — with each century, decade, and year given its due.  Thankfully, the six-part documentary, Freedom and Unity: The Vermont Movie, which is currently making the rounds in the Northeast Kingdom, doesn’t do that. It doesn’t serve up our past by cutting it into segments like pieces of firewood but rather looks at the past as themes that run like streams of time from the state’s origin to the present day.

Early in part one, A Very New Idea, Jesse Larocque, a twenty-first century Abenaki who combines weaving baskets with fixing computers, says that his people regarded nature as “a common pot” that feeds all people.  And in this documentary a collaborative of filmmakers shows how a land that has come to be called Vermont has shaped generation after generation to make a common identity.

Want a quick, and wonderfully revealing history of how Vermont became Vermont?  Here’s the poet Grace Paley, 1922-2007, wrapping it up in a nutshell.  Once upon a time Vermont, she says, was caught between two dukes — the Duke of New Hampshire and Duke of New York, who were fighting to possess that spit of land that separated them.  But the French and Indians intervened and that land became an independent republic rather than a dukedom.

It’s a funny story that contains just enough of a whiff of truth to make us believe that Vermonters are cut from a different cloth than our closest neighbors.  A cloth that is more like a quilt and one that keeps spreading as the decades go by.

The documentary tells its story through an impressive array of voices that includes farmers, big and small, loggers, school teachers, selectmen, and luminaries such as Scott and Helen Nearing, Chief Homer St.Francis, former editor of Vermont Life Tom Slaton, former governor Madeleine Kunin, Peter and Elka Schumann of the Bread and Puppet Theater, historian Paul Searls, political scientist Frank Byran, and countless others who could easily be your next door neighbor.

vermont movie farming

Much of Vermont’s history is the history of farming.

Luckily for me, each part can stand on its own.  I did not have time to review each episode, but the ones I watched were much like reading an anthology of essays.  Nor do you have to view them in order.  The themes overlap like patches, and — most appreciated — the documentary doesn’t preach to people or assume it knows something more than the natives who have lived in the state for four or five generations.  Perhaps thats why we don’t blink when Frank Bryan tells us that old time Vermonters were lazy because they knew how hard real work was, and did whatever they could to avoid it.

Much of Vermont’s history is the history of farming.  And what people learn from working the land is the very stuff that goes into their view of human nature.  “Everybody has to leave their mark on the farm and that’s okay,” says an aging dairy farmer whose son is running the farm and taking it in another direction.

“I don’t go to many farmers markets because I just don’t have the time,” says a weathered organic farmer, who looks like he has been handling a pitchfork ever since he could walk.

“You have to have someone to make you look better,” says another, as he explains the reason behind prejudice toward immigrant farm workers, be they Irish, French Canadians, or Mexicans.

U.S. Senator Bernie Sanders says that Ethan Allen was “a wild and crazy guy.”  While state Senator Dick McCormick tells us “Jefferson saw Vermont as the way to go.”

Presently, Vermont is attracting people who want to farm small and create markets where locally grown and raised food is the main attraction.  Often they are following in the footsteps of others, but some, like the brew makers, are forging new ground.  Essentially, they are filling a niche.  But if successful, notes one observer, the niche will become the role model.

There are historical truths in the film, as well, and none may be as familiar as the one that there is nothing new under the sun.  Vermont has always attracted people from elsewhere.  Or, as one of the film’s talking heads says, Vermont was never a backwater state.  It stood out from the day it banned slavery in its constitution and became part of a vast underground railway that had little to do with trains and everything to do with hiding and protecting runaway slaves.  But lest we hold our heads too high, the film reminds us it was the Allen brothers, Ira and Ethan, who convinced the Congress that no Native Americans had ever lived in Vermont, so there were no land treaties to resolve before admitting the Republic as the fourteenth state.

Nor was Vermont such a great place for black people to live in once the Civil War ended.  Blacks were not hired by industries like the railroad and were often ignored by mainstream Vermont.  “Things change when you’re not a mascot,” or someone there to be saved, noted one observer.

vermont movie abenaki

Early in part one of Freedom and Unity, the Vermont Movie, a twenty-first century Abenaki says his people regarded nature as “a common pot” that feeds all people. Photos courtesy of TheVermontMovie.com.

One of the most sordid and racial episodes to occur in Vermont’s history came in the twentieth century with what has become the Eugenics Movement.  It involved the practice of state sanctioned sterilization of Indians, people of mixed blood, the poor and feeble-minded, along with other undesirables who did not fit the image that the movers and shakers were trying to market of Vermont following the end of the first World War.

It was a time when Vermont was losing its population, and hillside farms were being abandoned.  And to bring Vermont more in line with the new century, developers and a class that historian Paul Searls calls the downhill Vermonters wanted to transform the state into a place to recreate.  To that end, and with the aid of federal money, they tried to push through a Green Mountain Parkway and create a scenic highway.  But it came to naught as Vermonters in one town meeting after another voted against it, with some expressing fear that it might turn the state into a new Catskills, which was also known as the Jewish Alps.

But, as this six-part documentary makes clear, Vermont has become something more, something larger than the sum of its parts.  In the film the state’s poet laureate, Sydney Lea, attributes civility as Vermont’s most enduring characteristic, stemming from colonial days “when neighbor treated neighbor with decency because he or she knew that one day that neighbor might be a crucial friend in need.”

The entire six-part documentary runs about nine hours.  According to a webpage for the documentary, 36 filmmakers contributed to the project under the leadership of Nora Jacobson.

contact Paul Lefebvre at paul@bartonchronicle.com.

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North Branch Trail now open to public

Pictured, from back to front, are:  Kyle Bunnell, Ethan Vaniere, Maylynda Fairgrieve, and Eric Howarth.  Photo courtesy of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge — Nulhegan Basin Division

Pictured, from back to front, are: Kyle Bunnell, Ethan Vaniere, Maylynda Fairgrieve, and Eric Howarth. Photo courtesy of the Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge — Nulhegan Basin Division

The Silvio O. Conte National Fish and Wildlife Refuge — Nulhegan Basin Division announces that the North Branch Trail has been completed and is now available for public use.

The four-mile loop trail is accessed from a parking area along Route 105 in Ferdinand, approximately one-half mile west of the railroad crossing.  It’s expected that the trail will enhance opportunities for bird watching, environmental education outings by school children, and especially fishing — with improved access to the North Branch of the Nulhegan River, a high quality cold-water stream.  In addition, the parking area will be plowed during winter to allow access for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing, opportunities that are currently lacking on the refuge due to the limited number of access points available to pedestrians during winter.

The rustic trail was constructed during the past two summers by the Nulhegan Basin Division’s Youth Conservation Corps crew, with special assistance from Conservation Corps staff from NorthWoods Stewardship Center in East Charleston.

The new trail and all the division’s lands are open to the public year-round.  Maps and other orientation materials are available at entry kiosks and at the visitor contact station in Brunswick.  — from the United States Department of the Interior.

For more things to do, check out our events section.

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