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Helen Sung jazz trioWe attended the Vermont Mozart Festival’s Wednesday (July 16) event, Grand Isle Jazz with the Helen Sung trio. What a fabulous location right on a point into the lake, with water on three sides, and such a majestic historic building – the Lakehouse – on the site. And the weather was perfect.
The music and acoustics were wonderful. Helen Sung and her trio were light and airy, just coooool jazz, on the porch of this fabulous landmark of Lake Champlain. If Samuel de Champlain had landed here last night, he never would have returned to Quebec. There is no doubt. No seriously….
Ms. Sung can best be described as “fluid” in her style. Constant, great sound coming out of the group, and headlined by her technically excellent piano technique. “Watch the left hand”, I said to my wife Christine. “She is as strong on the left as the right”. That’s top notch playing…on any stage. Superb!
This time, we had our picnic and took in the whole location and let the music just top off the night and it did. We are looking forward to more of these great “experiences” for all of our senses. You should as well.
A special note for history lovers: Grande Isle Lakehouse, built in 1903, is actually one of the few remaining historic lakeshore hotels in New England. It is now used for special events… and weddings! Quite majestic indeed!
You can read more on its history on this website.
For the complete list and schedule of the Vermont Mozart Festival concerts, check our Event Calendar page.

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American Revolution reenactment camp This weekend, July 19 – 20, is the Mount Independence Encampment and Re-Enactment “Soldiers Atop the Mount”. If you haven’t been to one of these before, don’t miss it. You can walk through the American and British camps, see the reenactors in action, watch them execute some military tactics and artillery demonstrations, listen to a couple of concerts (a short concert by Seth Warner Mount Independence Fife and Drum Corps on Saturday afternoon at 2:15 pm or the professional brass quintet Brass Connection on Saturday night at 7 pm, for Dixieland, swing and Broadway tunes). And if you enjoy walks and hikes, check out our upcoming posting on the trails we hiked there a few weekends ago. The new Baldwin Trail is particularly remarkable. It now has great interpretive signs along its 1.6-mile route (it even got an award for it recently!). It is wonderful.
This event is really a continuation of the wonderful Hubbardton Battlefield reenactment which we attended on July 5 -6. While no “field battle” actually occurred on Mount Independence (since the fort was abandoned during the action starting with the capture by the British of Fort Ticonderoga on July 5-6, and culminating with the Hubbardton battle mentioned above), the fort is a fascinating story.
The fort was built as an enhancement to the French-built Fort Ticonderoga by the US revolutionary army. The encampment and cannons were impressive and the fort design really interesting. The encampment this weekend will not only provide real life portrayal of the camp life as it would have been in 1776 – 1777 but will also include some artillery demonstrations, including probably some cannon firing demonstrations (if they get the cannon), just like the action the fort saw during the American Revolution war. Such action did not take place early July 1777, as we all know that the fort was abandoned at that time, but later that fall of 1777 when the Americans tried to recapture the fort from the British. There was cannon bombardment from the lake and across the lake from New York State as well as return fire from the British, probably using US cannons.
Major General David Bernier will be providing a wonderful narration of military tactics as well as the story of the abandonment of Fort Ticonderoga across the lake by the Americans, fleeing across the bridge between the two forts (did you know that this bridge ever existed? I didn’t), and the “botched” mid-night escape of the Mount Independence fort. Discussion of the range and strategy of the cannon fire of the period will also be discussed as only the Major General can do. Hope you enjoy it!
The official site of Mount Independence State Historic Site.

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Vermont Mozart FestivalVermont Mozart Festival is in full swing, after its Grand Opening, last Sunday night (see our posting).
Quite unique in its format with 16 concerts (plus 3 for families and kids), over 3 weeks from July 13 to August 3, in various locations throughout Vermont! Great music, wonderful scenery, many opportunities for a nice outdoor picnic before the concert. And to make it even more special, several of these venues are actually taking place in historic sites: such as the West Monitor Barn, St. Anne’s Shrine, Middlebury Hall Town Theater, Barre Opera House and of course the Inn at Shelburne Farms.
We have the complete schedule of concerts with artists and locations for you on our Event Calendar page (easier to glance at than the official website, we believe)!
Link to Vermont Mozart Festival official website for bookings.

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One-room schoolThis is our new Friday feature! Every week, we’ll put your knowledge of Vermont to the test. And we hope you’ll have fun with it. We’ll keep track of the number of right answers you each get and on July 4th, 2009, Independence Day but also the day when (most) people believe that Samuel de Champlain discovered Lake Champlain – that’s another story – we will announce the winner. The prize? A mug with the logo of our cute cow!
So, here are the clues for our first weekly quiz:
– This building is in the western part of the state, not far from Lake Champlain,
– It is actually at the corner of the road which leads to one of Vermont State Historic Sites,
– We are not experts in stone, but it seems made of limestone,
– The building is dated 1829,
– And for a bonus point… the 4 side-by-side windows are giving us a clue about its past use and indicates that it has been renovated in the 1920s or 1930s. Such windows can be seen on a number of buildings throughout the state – when you learn to watch for them – most of them now converted to other uses. So… what was the previous function of this building?
And now… good luck to all of you! The answer will be shared in our next Weekly Quiz.
Click here to log in your answer as a Comment!

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Shelburne Farms InnDoesn’t this place look gorgeous? It is Shelburne Farms, a pretty fancy 19th-century country home, on the shores of Lake Champlain in Shelburne. Designed in 1886 by Dr. William Seward Webb and Lila Vanderbilt Webb, it was and still is a 1,400-acre working farm, and now a national historic site. The lake and mountain views are spectacular, and the setting seems perfect for an enjoyable summer evening. On the sweeping lawns of the 24-room Inn, on Sunday night July 13, it’s definitely the place where we will be, for a nice picnic (doors will open at 5:15PM), dressage at 6:30PM and at 7:30PM the Grand Opening concert of the Vermont Mozart Festival, one of the top summer events in Vermont. Tickets are $36, but you can also buy season ticket pass for the summer-long series of concerts throughout Vermont. What a wonderful excuse to drive around Vermont all summer long!
We have the complete schedule of concerts, with artists and location on our Event Calendar page!
Post-Event Note: Well, unfortunately, the rain prevented us to enjoy Shelburne Farms. The concert was relocated indoors.  The music was great, and there was a great moment when Senator Leahy spoke the words of Abraham Lincoln on democracy in sync with the music! Very well done, senator!
However we have to say that the hall was overcrowded and the rain on the roof was somewhat distracting. Oh well… Our personal recommendation would be to skip a concert if you don’t have tickets yet and you know the rainsite is being used.

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Fourth of July celebrationsIt’s time to celebrate Fouth of July all accross the country. Here in Vermont, there will be parades and fireworks in a number of towns. But we have identified a few other Fourth of July events for you.
There are two events worth noting at State Historic Sites which we already mentioned in previous posts:
– At the President Calvin Coolidge Homestead, celebrations for the birthday of the only U.S. president born on the Fourth of July. There is chicken BBQ to enjoy for lunch there at the restaurant!
– At Hubbardton Battlefield site, it is the annual Battle of Hubbardton reenactment this week-end, July 5-6th, with the actual battle reenactment taking place Sunday morning from around 8AM to 10AM. The battle is the only American Revolution battle which took place in Vermont. The date was July 7, 1777. Interestingly, at 4PM on Sunday afternoon, at the Old Constitution House in Windsor, a messenger will arrive to announce the Battle of Hubbardton and the American withdrawal from Mount Independence and Fort Ticonderoga – just like the messenger did on that day of July 1777 when he announced the news to the constitutional delegates.
And…
– The Vermont Symphony Orchestra is at the Shelburne Farms tonight (July 4th) and if the weather is good, the program will end with musicians playing Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture while you enjoy the fireworks!
– For the very serious crowd, at the Bennington monument, like every year, an actor will read the Declaration of Independence at 1:00PM.
– Reading the Declaration of Independence is also part of the family celebrations at the Billings Farm and Museum today!
So, to all of you, have a very happy Independence Day!

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This article has been moved to: http://christineseclecticlife.com/historic-vermont-towns/

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President Calvin Coolidge Homestead
This posting has been moved to: http://christineseclecticlife.com/president-coolidge-house/

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Hubbardton reenactment

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http://christineseclecticlife.com/battle-of-hubbardton-reenactment/
More on Hubbardton Battlefield State Historic Site

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Calvin Coolidge House - picnic
Picnickers relaxing at President Coolidge house

Last week-end – June 14-15 – Vermont Days were our excuse to drive around. The weather was gorgeous as we drove through the beautiful hills and farm lands of central Vermont. Every road seemed more of a “scenic drive” than the previous one! Aren’t all roads in Vermont “scenic drives”? On Saturday our exploration took us from Sharon (exit 2 on I89) to Woodstock, the President Coolidge House, in Plymouth (with a quick stop for a famous Vermont maple cremee!), the Eureka School House and finally to Windsor and the Old Constitution House. On Sunday, we enjoyed a long visit of the Justin Morrill Homestead, in Strafford and finally a nice trip back on the very, very picturesque Route 100 all the way to Montpelier.
We’ll describe our visits in the next couple of postings, but for now here is our traveler’s tip of the week: our favorite sites were first the President Coolidge House and second the village of Strafford and the Justin Morrill Homestead. In both places, you should plan to have a good 3 hours if you want to fully enjoy the place without feeling rushed.
The President Coolidge House has lots to offer: the visit of the buildings relating the history of the site at the time of President Coolidge; the gorgeous surroundings where you can enjoy a nice walk or picnic; its restaurant in an old brick house and finally the cheese factory which is still operating (on week days) and which you can visit (and where you can buy the local Plymouth cheese.
The Village of Strafford is no doubt one of the most picturesque villages in Vermont (and the most photographed it seems!). With its white Town Hall standing high above its green common, it has been frozen in time since the 19th century… no sign of any restaurant or gas station here! In the village, still stand the house where Justin Morrill was born, the store where he worked and made his fortune, and the cemetery where he is buried… and of course the homestead he built before becoming Senator Justin Morrill. There we can appreciate both his love for horticulture and farming as you walk the grounds and his love for architecture during a delightful visit of his house…
So make sure to read our next postings for more details on these sites!

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