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Wind that shakes the barley - group The Unitarian Universal Church of Strafford was filled with Celtic music last Wednesday night… for our pleasure!
This was definitely a most enjoyable evening in the very quaint and “classic Vermont” village of South Strafford. The white 1833 church which hosted the concert, is definitely authentic (even though the interior is of recent style) and stands in a really nice setting, surrounded by trees and green lawn, and longed by the old cemetery.
The local Vermont group Wind that shakes the barley played Ireland, Scotland and Brittany and even became story tellers at times. Flutes, bagpipes, fiddle, guitar, accordion and voices were all playing in harmony to an audience of around 50, all fond of this very particular music style, I am sure. The flutist Rachel Clark, from Sharon and the accordion player Bob Smith (with a really nice-sounding little black accordion) were my favorite musicians in the group, but they were certainly all delightful.
They certainly had an authentic Celtic sound to them and their program was an incredible mix from soft ballades to upbeat dances, from maritime songs to Brittany gavottes… carrying us from moments of romance to times where our feet just wanted to get onto the dance floor!
There are three more concerts in this folk concert series at the church.
For the complete schedule, see our recent article.

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Unitarian Universal church Strafford
The next two Wednesday night concerts seem to be made just for me, the Brittany “girl” who I am… This Wednesday (July 30), at the historic Unitarian Universalist Church in South Strafford, the concert is traditional music and folklore from the Celtic lands of Ireland, Scotland, Brittany and beyond, and next Wednesday (August 6) it’s sailors’ songs! Everything my childhood in Brittany was made of! It is actually pretty rare to hear Brittany songs on this side of the ocean, at celtic concerts. I am pretty excited!
And the location (we have not been there before) must be lovely. It is not in the famous Strafford meeting house on the top of the green, built in 1799, which actually was the original Universalist Church. However, as we know, the State later had forbidden ties between church and state, and the 1799 building became solely the meeting house and a new church – the one that welcomes this series of folk concerts – was built in South Strafford and dedicated in 1833.
Well, it holds the promise for an enjoyable evening… may be you’ll join us there!
Details on these 2008 Strafford Unitarian Universalist Church Summer Folk Concerts: Wednesday evenings at 7:30 pm – $12.00/adult, children under 14 free
Directions: Coming from I-89 you get off at exit 2 and head north. That is a left hand turn if you have been going south on I-89 and a right turn if you have been heading north. You continue up 132 for 8 miles and come to a stop sign. The Universalist Church is directly in front of you. Parking is up by the Church or across the street in the Barrett Hall lot.
Complete schedule:
July 30 – WIND THAT SHAKES THE BARLEY – Celtic Music with Bob DeMarco, Rachel Clark, Bob Smith and Steve Brittain. From the mountains of Vermont, Wind that Shakes the Barley presents a tantalizing mixture of traditional music and folklore from the Celtic lands of Ireland, Scotland, Brittany and beyond.
Website: www.windthatshakesthebarley.net
August 6 – DAVID COFFIN – Maritime Songs & History. Explore the life of a sailor, a whaler, a fisherman and hear the songs that illustrate the life they pursued at sea. Sing along on a shanty as we “hoist” the sails, “haul” on the lines, and stamp around the capstan.
Website: www.davidcoffin.com
Aug 13 - JESSE LEGÉ – Louisiana’s Cajun Music with Andy Stewart and Mary Jo Slattery Jesse Legé (vocals, Cajun accordion), Andy Stewart (fiddle) MJ Slattery (guitar, vocals). Louisiana’s renowned Cajun accordionist and vocalist Jesse Legé joins the locally-based Slattery & Stewart duo to serve up a rousing program of Cajun two-steps and waltzes.
August 20 – LUI COLLINS – folk singer/songwriter. Lui Collins’ music, poetry and inspiring spirit have spread into the hearts and homes of people of all ages. Lui will be joined by other local musicians celebrating our community of music and friends. Benefit concert.
Website: www.luicollins.com

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Dragon Boat FestivalNew this week!
5th Annual Vermont Lakes Region Cycling Weekend – It’s both Saturday and Sunday and seems like a really nice event for cyclers. They are 13 rides to choose from, from rolling to hilly terrain, and from 19 to 65 miles in length – on paved, scenic, rural roads. The small groups of cyclists gather at Green Mountain College in Poultney. And for all the rides, they are given detailed maps and clues, and are accompanied by an experienced leader. And to make it even more attractive, some rides lead to interesting cultural or historic places, such as the Slate Valley Museum, Fort Ticonderoga (on the NY side) or Hubbardton Battlefield. Accommodations are available.
More information at: www.cyclingvermont.org
Related Post: Battle of Hubbardton Reenactment
3rd Annual Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival – Sunday August 3, in Burlington, at the Waterfront Park, from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm – The traditional Chinese Dragon Boats are competing! Teams of 20 paddlers (and a drummer) in 40-feet boats. Definitely a popular event, as the registration for participants is already full! And it’s a fund-raising event for Breast Cancer. We’ll be there!
More information at: Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival
2008 Pipers’ Gathering, Killington – sounds like a very serious gathering of pipers with workshops and group instructions during the 2 days, but for the general public, those of you who like such music, it’s also the chance to listen to “some of the best pipers” in the world (say the organizers) in 2 concerts Saturday night August 2 and Sunday night August 3 at 7:30PM.
More information at: www.pipersgathering.org
• The President Calvin Coolidge Homestead is always a nice place for a relaxing time, when the weather is nice and they do have some additional attractions on Saturday August 2 (Plymouth Old Home Day, including a chicken BBQ) and Sunday August 3 (piano concerts at 3PM).
Related post: President Calvin Coolidge House 
• At Mount Independence Historic Site, a great place for some day hikes, it’s a “Hike into History” on Sunday August 3, at 2PM, where you can hike the Orange Trail and the Blue Trail and learn from Steve Zeoli what happened there in 1776 and 1777 during the American Revolution. You can also bring a picnic and/or hike the flat, easy Baldwin Trail (green trail) which just won the 2008 Award of Merit from the American Association for State and Local History (AASLH) Leadership in History Awards (quite a mouth full!), the most prestigious recognition for achievement in the preservation and interpretation of state and local history. And indeed, the signage on the trail is superb!
Related post: Day Hike: Mount Independence
Champlain Valley Folk Festival – August 1-3 – at the Kingsland Bay State Park – celebrating its 25 years – We suspect it is probably a casual event… in the State Park… but there are still an impressive number of artists appearing over the 3 days (35 on the program we saw!)… so if you enjoy folk music, I hope you enjoy it.
More information at: www.cvfest.org
Directions: Take Route 7 to Ferrisburgh. From the center of Ferrisburgh, take Little Chicago Road west toward the lake. Turn right on Hawkins Road and continue for 4 miles to the Festival Entrance.
• And finally, as surprising as it may be, Les Miserables musical is playing in Vermont… from July 31 to August 23 in Weston. We’ll try to go and check this production in the next few weeks and tell you what we thought. We are not expecting the kind of production you can see in New York or London, but we’ll see…
More information at: www.westonplayhouse.org

And for continuing events:
- Vermont Mozart Festival. It’s your last chance to attend one of its outdoors concerts in a place with beautiful scenery: Friday night August 1, at Shelburne Farms, and Saturday August 2 and Sunday August 3 the 2 “finale” concerts at Shelburne Farms and Stowe. We are planning to attend one of them… and praying for sunny weather;
And don’t forget the concert for kids at Teddy Bear Company Factory, in Shelburne, on Sunday. See our Event Calendar for the complete schedule.
Related posts:
Grande Isle Magic… and Jazz
Vermont Mozart Festival: Schedule
Vermont Mozart Festival: Grand Opening
- Vermont Summer Festival Horseshow – 4th week-end of competition at East Dorset; Photographers: remember you can participate to a digital photography contest (see previous posting);
Related post: Vermont Summer Festival Horseshow
- And more chamber music at Marlboro Music, Marlboro College – Friday August 1 and Saturday August 2 at 8:30PM and Sunday afternoon August 3 at 2:30PM – We were there last week-end and the concert was delightful. It is worth the drive there and you can find nice romantic inns to stay at, in the area. Time Magazine says it’s “the most exciting chamber music in the U.S.”, the NY Times says “extraordinary rising stars and musical legends play side-by-side”.
More information at: Marlboro Music
Also, don’t hesitate to leave us a comment on one of these events if you have a chance to attend!

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Marlboro Music FestivalThis posting is becoming a weekly tradition, I guess…
I hope you like it.
There seems to be a lot of music played these days in Vermont. Hey, it’s summer and concerts are mainly outdoors, it’s wonderful… except when we get pouring rain like last week-end… oups!
It reminds me that we want to give you some ideas of “summer concerts on the green” – stay tuned for this upcoming posting!
But for now, this week-end, what caught our attention:
- Vermont Mozart Festival is still happening (the full schedule is on our Event Calendar page). There are more concerts to attend this week-end in one of the beautiful places the Festival chooses to play at: Friday night July 25, at the Barre Opera House (in-door) and outdoors on Saturday July 26 and Sunday July 27, concerts at Shelburne and at Stowe. We are planning to attend 2 of them… and praying for sunny weather;
- Vermont Summer Festival Horseshow – 3nd week-end of competition at East Dorset; Photographers: remember you can participate to a digital photography contest (see last week’s posting);
- 11th Annual Green Mountain Antiques Show & Sale in Woodstock – We have not been there, but I am guessing that the event could be reasonably big, it’s in Woodstock afterall and it’s the 11th year they have it! For information, call 802-484-5942;
- The Green Mountain Chamber Festival is having concerts for the whole month of July. Friday night July 25 is a faculty concert “Immortal Beethoven” in Burlington. Should be nice!
- And more chamber music at Marlboro Music, Marlboro College – We are intrigued by this series of concerts, which seems to get great reviews. The Time says it’s “the most exciting chamber music in the U.S.”, the NY Times says “extraordinary rising stars and musical legends play side-by-side” – this week-end, Saturday night July 26 and Sunday afternoon July 27… we’ll try to go!
- Harp concert, Heidi Soons, the principal harpist of the Vermont Symphony Orchestra – Salisbury Congregational Church, Salisbury, this Friday July 25; For information, call 802-352-6671;
- The Vermont Arts Council has noted this special exhibit in Dorset, “It’s all about Marble: Dorset marble heritage” on the history of Dorset Quarries and its marble industry. Only Sunday afternoon July 27;
- and for something less serious, of course the Harpoon Brewery BBQ competition is Saturday July 26 and Sunday July 27 in Windsor. Well, we like the arts, but we also like fun, so we’ll be there Sunday evening!
- And last but not least, this Saturday July 26, for the sportive crowd (very fit crowd!), it’s the 5th Annual Onion River Century Ride – 100 kms or 110 miles biking ride.

We’ll be posting more details in the next couple of days. Make sure to come back and visit us.
Also, don’t hesitate to leave us a comment on one of these events if you got a chance to attend!

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Swimming - LakeThere are lots of fun things to do in Vermont in the summer. Here is for starters:
- Go to one of the 89 swimming holes – ponds and rivers – listed on this website. Make sure to watch their slideshow, it gives you a great idea of the look of the different places (names are on the photos). Great for a hot day!
- Go to one of many outdoor concerts of the Vermont Mozart Festival or the Lake Champlain Bluegrass Festival;
- Watch antique cars at the 51st Annual Antique & Classic Car Meet, in Stowe on August 8-10;
- Eat a maple cremee: you got to have one if you are in Vermont in the summer… Make sure you get the ones made with real maple syrup and not just the flavor! We’ll give you some addresses soon, but for now, let’s mention Morse Farm, up County Road, near Montpelier, that’s the place everyone knows;
- Go to the Harpoon Brewery BBQ competition in Windsor on July 26-27; 40 teams from all the country will compete!
- Get a Vermont Brewery Challenge – Official Passport and visit all 18 great micro-breweries in the state of Vermont; Get a stamp at each and you can win prizes!
- Go and watch the Challenge Race at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, near Vergennes on July 20; it’s a 3-mile race of around 50 small boats. Should be fun. Around 200 spectators usually attend. And may be even more fun, on Saturday 19 (today!) there is a duct tape boat construction and race there!
- Attend your first Thunder Road night in Barre (not NASCAR racing but close!) – every Thursday and occasionally on week-ends;
- And if you are into American Revolution history, go to one of the reenactments/encampments which take place at different historic sites along the summer: the Battle of Hubbardton early July, Mount Independence encampment this week-end, Bennington in August…
What do you think? Fun enough?… Anything fun we should add to this list, leave us a comment and tell us about it!!

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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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Tiger LiliesSummer is definitely here and Vermont is still booming with activities and festivals. Anywhere you stay, you can enjoy music or historic narrations or military reenactments or food festivals!
So, as you plan the upcoming week-end, here are a few events we noticed:
- Vermont Mozart Festival is in full swing with both adults and kids concerts this week-end;
- 25th anniversary week-end of Billings Farms, Woodstock - July 20 – with lots of activities planned. The Vermont Fiddle Orchestra will perform at 1 pm, and Robert Resnik & Friends at 3 pm. There will be free ice cream and cookies throughout the day. And Governor Jim Douglas will be there (2 pm)!
- Mount Independence reenactment and encampment “Soldiers Atop the Mount” – it’s the major activity of the summer for the site;
- 7th Annual Killington Wine Festival – July 17-20
- Vermont Brewers Festival – July 18-19 – Rumor is that the Brewers Festival in Quebec is better but…
- 30th Annual Middlebury Summer Festival on-the-green – July 13-19 – Vermont Public Radio (VPR) gave a nice preview last Saturday of some interesting musicians participating to the event, such as some celtic and some Quebec traditional music groups;
- Lake Champlain Maritime Museum, near Vergennes, has a fun small boat race on Sunday (3 miles rowing or paddling) attracting around 50 participants and a small crowd of roughly 200;
- Vermont Summer Festival Horseshow – 2nd week-end of competition. Interestingly, the Northshire Digital Arts Center holds a digital photography contest for all attendees and participants of the horseshows. Check rules and prizes here.
- David Maxwell – Bennington Center for the Arts – The concert will be recorded for a future album. The organizers say that critics and fans think David Maxwell is one of the finest blues pianists alive.
- Marlboro Music – Marlboro College, Malboro – We don’t know the event, but the organizers are quoting the Time to have said that it is “the most exciting chamber music in the U.S.”
We’ll be posting more details in the next couple of days. Make sure to come back and visit us.
Also, don’t hesitate to leave us a comment on one of these events if you got a chance to attend!

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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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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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Quebec flag
The French Heritage Days starts on Friday night, July 11, from 6 to 9PM, in Vergennes, with the Veillée, a traditional French Canadian supper and traditional music and dance with the Club Carrefour, from Quebec. That should be so much fun! Everything we dream of for a traditional French Canadian supper is on the menu for sure… “French onion soup, pea soup, tourtiere (traditional meat pie), chicken pie, sheppard pie, apple pie, blueberry pie, tarte au sucre (sugar pie)”… that was the list Marguerite, the organizer of the event gave me… Carbs count? You got to forget about those for one night for sure!… afterall, the hard-working farmers in the harsh winters of Quebec really needed these calories… but it should be delicious…
Then, on Saturday July 12th, a number of events and activities are taking place in various Vergennes locations to be enjoyed by the whole family: reenactors of French soldiers, French Voyager, Comte de Vergennes, and Samuel de Champlain, fencing demonstrations, story tellers, waiter’s race, etc. … and lots of music (fiddle and accordion)!
As you can see, Samuel de Champlain is already a star this year at the French Heritage Days, even though the 400th anniversary celebration of his discovery of Lake Champlain is only next year: there will be a lecture by Julie Dowd, “They Walked with Champlain” at the library and a Samuel de Champlain historical interpretation at the bandstand.
And last but not least, the Vermont French Canadian Genealogical Society will be there to help you trace back your French-Canadian ancestors, if your name happens to be Sénécal, Gagné or Gagnon! And on that subject, I need to open a little parenthesis for those of you interested in tracing back your ancestors to France. I came accross this France Guide website yesterday, which has a free ancestry search tool to just do that: simply type your name and it will give you the names of French ancestors who came to North-America! You can click here to access the free ancestry search tool. Nice, no?
Well, to conclude… we have not attended this event before, so we don’t know how well attended it is and what its ”quality” is, but we’ll be there on Saturday for sure (too bad we cannot make it Friday night!).
What we know though is that it seems to attract more people every year and it has also been chosen as the “signature event” of the summer celebrations for the 400th anniversary of Lake Champlain next year.
So, if you drop by, make sure to tell us what you thought!

Schedule for the French Heritage Days in Vermont – July 11-12, 2008

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