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pirates_lake_champlain_575Lots of events for this first week of June in Vermont, from food and music to sports, for adults and for kids.

Monday June 1, 2009 – David Byrne – Shelburne Museum
David Byrne
(formerly of The Talking Heads), a Grammy and Oscar recipient, will perform songs from his new album while taking in a beautiful sunset over Lake Champlain. His long collaboration with Brian Eno has resulted in ethereal, world-music influenced musical landscapes. The Shelburne Museum, a gorgeous venue, hosts this show on “The Green” as part of Ben & Jerry’s Concerts on the Green series.
Time: Doors open at 6:30pm, concert at 8:00pm.
Location: Shelburne Museum, 5555 Shelburne Road (US7), Shelburne.
Tickets: www.highergroundmusic.com.
Cost: $45 in advance; $50 day of show.

Thursday June 4, 2009 – “Three Girls and Their Buddy”, Emmylou Harris, Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin & Buddy Miller – Shelburne Museum
Folk, bluegrass and country from this quartet with Emmylou Harris, who sang on the soundtrack of “O Brother, Where Art Thou,” Shawn Colvin, Patty Griffin, and Buddy Miller.
Time: Doors open at 5pm, concert at 6pm.
Location: Shelburne Museum, 5555 Shelburne Road (US7), Shelburne.
Tickets: www.highergroundmusic.com.
Cost: $50-54.

June 5-14, 2009 – Burlington Discover Jazz Festival
Burlington Discover Jazz Festival, in its 27th year, features concerts at the Art Deco Flynn Theater, with headliners like Diana Krall, Branford Marsalis and Pink Martini – as well as day-long music in the streets. Ticket prices vary, and some events free.
For the complete schedule, visit www.discoverjazz.com.

Some of the concerts of note for the week of June 1 to 7:
Friday June 5, 2009 – Anat Cohen Quartet (double bill with Esperanza Spalding) – Flynn Center
Tenor saxophone and clarinet, Anat Cohen has thrilled audiences throughout the US and Canada. She is said to be “one of the brightest, most original young instrumentalists in jazz”.
Bassist, vocalist and composer Esperanza Spalding, is a remarkable performer who has played and been acclaimed on world’s stages. Her 2008 album incorporates the rich traditions of jazz, soul, Latin, R&B and world music.
Time: 8pm
Location: Flynn Center for the Arts,153 Main Street, Burlington
Tickets: $34, $27, $21; www.discoverjazz.com.

Sunday June 7, 2009 – Diana Krall- Flynn Center
Pianist and singer Diana Krall, recipient of two Grammys, doesn’t need any presentation. Millions of people have already enjoyed her vocals, her rhythmic music, her remarkable stage presence and unmistakable piano interpretation.
Time: 8pm
Location: Flynn Center for the Arts,153 Main Street, Burlington
Tickets: $99, $69, $49, www.discoverjazz.com.

June 5-7, 2009 – Strolling of the Heifers Weekend – Brattleboro
Only in Vermont – it seems – can you see a parade of 100 heifers on Main Street. What’s a heifer” may you ask. Well, it’s a young cow which has not yet had a calf of her own. Parade is at 10am sharp on Saturday June 6. It will be followed by by a dairy festival that includes the Future Chefs of Vermont tent, a Children’s Farm Fun Tent, a Royal Farmer’s Feast, and farm tour. Don’t miss as well the Great Vermont Grilled Cheese Cook-off, on Friday June 5, at River Garden, on Main Street, a contest with the aim of discovering the best grilled cheese sandwich recipes in Vermont.
More information at: Strolling of the Heifers

June 4-7, 2009 – Vermont Dairy Festival – Enosburg Falls
It’s also dairy festival time at Enosburg Falls, for the 53rd year – a family event with rides for the kids, crafts, baking contest, food vendors including ice cream and cheese, a parade on Saturday and stage entertainment all weekend.
More information at: www.VermontDairyFestival.com.

June 6-7, 2009 – Kid’s Pirate Festival – Lake Champlain Maritime Museum – Vergennes
Who doesn’t like to play pirates? Kids will love to come in costume, participate in activities, including a treasure hunt, enjoy live performances of pirate comedians.
Location: Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, 4472 Basin Harbor Road.
Time: 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Cost: adults, $10; youth 5 -17 and under, $6; children under 5, free.
More information at: Lake Champlain Maritime Museum

And last but not least, for the more athletic crowd:

June 4-7, 2009 – 2009 National Life Group VerMontreal Tour – from Burlington to Montreal
As part of the events for the 400th anniversary of Lake Champlain, groups of 40 and 60 cyclists will ride 139 miles in 3 days or 210 miles in 4 days. The journey will take them from South Hero to Montreal, where they will join the 30,000 cyclists, participating in Montreal’s famous day-long Tour de l’Ile. Tour includes fine hotels, full breakfasts, support vans, nightlife, historical and culinary highlights. Note: we are confirming with the organizers that this tour is indeed still happening.
More information at: Local Motion

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laurence_coffin_open_studio_week-end_575Photo Courtesy: Emile A. Gruppe Gallery, watercolor from Laurence Coffin, displayed as part of the Vermont Watercolor Society Spring Show.

Vermont’s natural scenic beauty will be enhanced this weekend, as nearly 300 artists and craftspeople across the state open their studios to visitors. The 17th annual Open Studio Weekend, May 23-24, is a statewide celebration of the visual arts and the creative process.

Open Studio Weekend gives you access to the workshops of glass blowers, jewelers, printmakers, potters, furniture makers, weavers, ironworkers, painters, sculptors, quilt makers and wood carvers.

The Vermont Crafts Council publishes a free map booklet with directions to participating sites.
These maps make it easy to tour the state – and meet the people behind the artwork you may have admired in shops and galleries.

With hundreds of artists to exhibiting their work, it’s difficult to choose. Here are some ideas:

Southern Vermont:

The President Calvin Coolidge State Historic Site, in Plymouth Notch, opens for the 2009 season on Saturday, May 23, and will host several exceptional artisans as part of the Vermont Craft Council’s Open Studio Weekend.

Over the years, the President Coolidge Homestead has become an Open Studio “hub,” where Vermont artisans temporarily relocate their studios. This year, Irene Ames of Derby will demonstrate basket making in the Sweetser family tradition.

Also on site will be members of the local chapter of the Historical Society of Early American Decoration: Dolores Furnari of Brandon and Pat Lacy of East Wallingford will offer stenciling activities for children, and Mary Perry of Salisbury, New Hampshire will demonstrate reverse painting on glass.

More information on President Calvin Coolidge Homestead.

Central Vermont:

In Montpelier, The Artisans Hand Craft Gallery is a gallery showing sophisticated crafts, including prints, photographs, textiles, and some sculpture from a number of participating craftspeople.

One of the gallery’s best known artists is Lochlin Smith, whose bronze jewelry is popular throughout New England. Lochlin will be welcoming people to his studio in Montpelier.

Look, too, for Mary Stone’s clay whistles – hand-formed, musical clay sculptures – and fiber artist Karen Henderson’s weavings and fabric pieces. Yarn-maker Denise D’Abramo will hold an informal Natural Dye Workshop in her Plainfield workshop.

At the gallery, you can see who your favorite artists are, and get directions to visit their own studios nearby.

More information on its website: The Artisans Hand.

Northern Vermont:

Drive along the spine of the Green Mountains as you tour studios and galleries, beginning with the Emile Gruppe Gallery, in Jericho. This historic building hosts the Vermont Watercolor Society Spring Show, which includes local artists, as well as out-of-towners. More information on the exhibit: Vermont Watercolor Society Spring Show.

Pick up maps, directions and descriptions of area artists’ work at the gallery, and follow the festival’s yellow road signs onto roads with names like Brown’s Trace, Governor Peck, and Nashville.

Founded in the 1940s, the Shelburne Art Center (formerly known as the Shelburne Craft School) is a nonprofit institution offering dozens of art and crafts classes in a range of media, taught by some of Vermont’s most talented artists. More information on the Shelburne Art Center.

Finally, from the Shelburne Art Center, you can visit artists and artisans working on Lake Champlain – including oil painter Mary Ellen Manock’s Kingsland Terrace studio, and watercolorist Katharine Montstream’s Main St. studio. Both take in views of the water while making the most of Vermont’s largest city.

The 32-page Vermont Studio Tour Guide (with maps) is available at Vermont Information Centers, and at individual studios and galleries, or can be downloaded as a PDF at: Open Studio Week-End Guide.
More information and maps at: Vermont Studio Tour Guide.

Related article
: President Calvin Coolidge Homestead – Historic Site

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laughing_moon_chocolates_575
Photo Credit: Paul Rogers.

Known for culinary delights such as maple syrup and specialty cheeses, Vermont also has its share of superb chocolate makers.

Lake Champlain Chocolates
The state’s largest chocolate producer, based in Burlington, started small. In 1983, restaurant owner Jim Lampman began making hand-rolled truffles for his staff and select patrons. Demand was so great he soon turned to chocolate full time.

The company now owns three shops and cafés in Vermont, and sells its wares – truffles; raspberry, orange and cherry creams; hazelnut pralines; peanut butter cups; and Chocolates of Vermont (Belgian chocolate combined with rich local ingredients) – in over 1,200 independent specialty stores across the country.

The selection is diverse and delicious, but don’t take our word for it. Watch their chocolates being made, and enjoy discounts on factory “seconds” – slightly imperfect chocolates – at their factory store in Burlington.

In winter, the cozy, sweet-smelling café is THE place to sample the company’s four varieties of hot chocolate. And don’t worry, there’s a comparable summer ritual: locals and visitors welcome warm weather with a scoop of their sublime chocolate ice cream.

Laughing Moon Chocolates, Stowe
Owner and chocolate maker Leigh Williams has been creating artisan chocolates and old fashioned sweets in Stowe for over fourteen years, with an increasing commitment to local ingredients and the environment.

Hand-rolled truffles incorporate all kinds of rich liquor: Boyden Valley Wines, Green Mountain Distillers Sunshine Vodka and Maple Liquor, Flag Hill Farm Pear and Apple Brandys, and Rock Art Vermonster Beer. Their popular chocolate cookies, covered with milk, dark and white chocolate, come from the Sweet Crunch Bake Shop in Hyde Park.

And Laughing Moon makes more than chocolate – they recently started to candy fresh organic orange slices in Honeygardens of Vermont honey.

Tom & Sally’s Handmade Chocolates
Tom and Sally (yes, those are their real names) arrived from Manhattan nearly 20 years ago to live their dream of making chocolate in beautiful southern Vermont. Their line of sweets includes hand-crafted Luxury Chocolates; chocolate bars wrapped with vintage art; and old time pleasures, peanut brittle and almond toffee.

Our favorites are the 100% Organic Skinny Bars – rich in flavor, low in fat. These single serving size dark chocolate bars, made from 100% organic dark Belgian chocolate, with cocoa contents ranging from 66 to 78%, are infused with Ethiopian Yirgacheffe coffee, ginger root, peppermint leaves, and raspberry.

The yummy confections weigh in at 1.5 oz, and average about 200 calories a bar – which you can burn off in the one-hour guided factory tour in their Brattleboro headquarters.

Touring the state?
Visit these other Vermont chocolate makers, located a bit more off the beaten path:
Snowflake Chocolatiers, in Jericho
Daily Chocolate, in Vergennes
Vermont Chocolatiers, of Northfield
Vermont Nut Free Chocolates, of Grand Isle
Nutty’s Steph’s Chocolate Factory, of Montpelier

And last but not least, discover these fine chocolate makers – and others – at the Chocolate Festival, the 3rd Annual Festival of Sweets, Nov. 21-22, 2009 at the Doubletree Hotel in Burlington.

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black_fly_festival_575This article is a special contribution from Montpelier’s local resident Karen Kane, owner of Paris by design and Montreal by design.

Forget about fiddleheads, peepers, or maple sugaring. Blackflies are the real harbinger of spring in central Vermont!

And excitement is building as the residents of Adamant, VT, a rural village near the state capital of Montpelier, prepare to host the 7th Annual Adamant Blackfly Festival on Sat. May 16th, 2009.

Adamant is a small, unincorporated village, situated on the town line between Calais to the north and east Montpelier to the south. There is no true boundary to define the village, and as such there is debate as to what constitutes residence. This is, however, purely theoretical as there is no legal, governmental or commercial status associated with residence.

The general wisdom is that “Adamant is a state of mind.”

The Blackfly Festival exemplifies an important aspect of the small community’s state of mind: creativity. Its inhabitants, many of whom are artists, are resourceful and fun-loving. The festival is the brainchild of Adamant resident Cindy Cook, whose family timed a trip to Ireland to avoid the small flying creatures, one year.

“They bite, draw blood and leave welts,” says Cook. “I can’t go outside the house without a head net when they’re out. Creating the festival was one way to keep us from going insane.”

With any luck, the guests of honor won’t be in attendance this year.

The Blackfly Festival has two purposes: to benefit the Adamant Co-op, which is the oldest food co-op in Vermont, and to have some serious fun. The event brings together the entire community – and visitors from across the country – to celebrate, in Cook’s words, “the bug we love to hate.”

The day’s events take place at the Adamant Co-op. The oldest food cooperative in Vermont was incorporated in 1935, when eleven families contributed five dollars a piece to provide working capital. Since then, the coop has functioned as a small, community-run general store and post office. It is a place where folks stop to get a few groceries, pick up their mail, and find out what’s new with their neighbors. The store is the heart and soul of Adamant.

There is a parade at 3pm featuring eclectic costumes, impromptu music, synchronized bug zappers, a local Ferrari, and farm equipment. Past parades have been described as “campy,” “a whole lot of fun,” and “the Macy’s Day Parade of the Insect World.”

The Blackfly Pie contest at 1pm is expected to draw out the competitive spirit in local bakers. Categories include Best Tasting, Best Appearance, and Most Creative. Judges include chefs from the nearby New England Culinary Institute, one of the finest cooking schools in the country.

The grill fires up at 11am. Music throughout the day will be provided by several bands, including Earthman Band, with local musician Pitz Quattrone playing the digeridoo. And there is much more to discover…

For more information, visit Adamant’s Blackfly Festival. And to see a video of the festival, click on this link.