Lake Champlain… New France

August 18, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Historic sites, Lake Champlain - 400 years

fort_ticonderoga-200-200This blog posting has been moved to

Related posts:
Sunset on Historic Chimney Point
Mount Independence Reenactment
Samuel de Champlain’s Voyages
Celebrating Champlain

Things to do in Vermont – August 8-10

Lake Champlain Bluegrass FestivalPhoto courtesy of Adam Frehm

New this week!

7th Annual Lake Champlain Bluegrass Festival – August 8-10, in Alburgh – If you like bluegrass music, this is your week-end. Pray for good weather so you can enjoy all the outdoors concerts. And if you are not familiar with the event, take a minute and look here on the Vermont Life Magazine website, at this slideshow with music (scroll down the page and be patient, it takes a little while to load) … Looks and sounds like lots of fun.
More information at:
51st Annual Antique & Classic Car Show – August 8-10, in Stowe – It’s the big and famous antique car event of the summer at Stowe with around 850 antique, classic and collector cars expected.
More information at:
– The schooner Lois McClure is coming back home to Burlington – Saturday August 5, Perkins Pier, Lake Champlain, Burlington, 5PM. You may have heard that the Lois McClure has been traveling to Quebec city (and other places on its way down the Saint-Laurent and the Richelieu river) early July to represent Vermont at the 400th anniversary of the founding of Quebec city by Samuel de Champlain. It’s back home and invites you to bring your picnic and enjoy dessert this Saturday early evening.
Bicycle Film Series at the Savoy Theater, Montpelier – For the cyclists discouraged by the rain! Saturday August 9: The Bicycle Thief (Ladri di biciclette) (1948) – director: Vittorio De Sica (view the trailer) and Sunday August 10: Jour de Fête (1949) – writer and director: Jacques Tati. On your way, you can even admire some modern sculptures inspired by cycling, in front of several Montpelier buildings or inns!
– And finally, if you really enjoy wine tasting and want to offer yourself a very special treat, there is a very special wine week-end cruise – one-and-half day with an overnight – on the beautiful Moonlight Lady, hosted by Dellie Rex, senior Wine Instructor at New England Culinary Institute. The cost is $399 per person.
More information at:

And for continuing events:
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:
Vermont Summer Festival Horseshow – 5th 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 8 and Saturday August 9 at 8:30PM and Sunday afternoon August 10 at 2:30PM. 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!

Sunset on Historic Chimney Point

August 8, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Historic sites

Evening Chimney Point historic site
Last Thursday night, there was a very nice social evening at the historic site of Chimney Point. The historic site team was welcoming all for some appetizers and a free visit. This mid-1780s tavern seems the perfect place for it, with its nice white porch wrapped around the red brick building; and the view on Lake Champlain and the bridge to New York state is superb. Before long, people were sitting on the rocking chairs on the deck listening to a few notes from the Seth Warner Mount Independence Fife and Drum Corps, and chatting at one of the picnic tables on the lawn… It truly felt like a relaxing family gathering and it was delightful to watch the sunset on Lake Champlain… What a nice evening! We’ll make sure we let you know next time they organize such a special event.
Note: inside, there is also an interesting exhibit on the history of the region, the native Americans, the first French settlements and the history of battles which took place around the lake during both the French and Indian wars (middle of the 18th century) and the American Revolution. It also shows nice photos of the Chimney Point historic house when it was St-Frederick Inn at the beginning of the 20th century.
Opening hours: Wednesday through Sunday, through October 13, from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
Admission: Adults: $3.00

Things to do in Vermont – August 1-3

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:
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:
• 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:
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:

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!

Day Hike: Mount Independence

July 18, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Hiking, Historic sites

Mount Independence - bridgeMount Independence which is also known as Fort Independence is a wonderful hiking opportunity as well as a pleasant walk for those less eager to tackle the 400 feet of decent and re-ascent to the shore of the lake. There are some easy trails with great historic signage and a couple of true day hiking 3-mile long trails. There are also great views of the New York side of Lake Champlain and Fort Ticonderoga.
The top of the mount is where the traditional star shaped fort, hospital, and some of the living quarters were located. This area is all very accessible by almost completely flat walking after rising about 50 feet, gently, from the back of the museum. It is a well-maintained crushed slate and can be walked in sandels… Don’t miss the 0.25 mile spur out to the cannon emplacement which has a dramatic view across the lake of Fort Ticonderoga and Mount Defiance as well as a great vantage point to visualize the bridge which once existed across the lake. We also really enjoyed visualizing the hospital from the well preserved foundation and reading the historic descriptions of the various points of interest. It is very well done.
The other trails all take you down the mount to the lake shore and back up. It is a fascinating “easy” hike by hiking standards but it is no longer a crushed slate walkway. Its typical “Long Trail” style path but with the addition of marked points along the way where vistas or artifacts of the fort remain. One of the best spots is at the end (aren’t they usually?) where the bridge connected across the lake and you can now look “up” and across to Fort Ticonderoga and visualize the way it may have been back in 1776 – 1777. There is a monument and very pleasant picnicking area just up from that spot about 100 yards where the first cannon emplacements were once located.
Our “hike” which included the full circle of the walking tour on the top last about 2 ½ hours and was broken up with many minutes of enjoying locations and reading about the object or site that we were viewing. I would recommend this hike/walk for families since there is so many times that the “next thing” is just a few minutes away and should keep the kids very interested for the 2 – 3 hours. Also, anyone capable of rising the 50 feet to the circular path on top should not be intimidated with that walk (maybe 45 mins at a leisurely pace) as it is essentially “flat as a pancake” up there.
You are truly hiking into history. Enjoy!
The official website of the Mount Independence State Historic Site.

Grande Isle Magic… and Jazz

July 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Historic sites, Music events

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.

Mount Independence – Reenactment

July 16, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Historic events, Historic sites

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.

Vermont Mozart Festival – Schedule

July 16, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Historic sites, Music events

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.

Weekly Quiz: Where are we?

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!

Vermont Mozart Festival – Grand Opening

July 10, 2008 by  
Filed under Blog, Historic sites, Music events

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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