Reaching for the stars
Jun22

Reaching for the stars

Nurturing the Arts: Dina Janis, Theater: Reaching for the stars By Allison Teague Dorset, in Bennington County, has nurtured performance theater since 1927, when residents staged a three-act play, “39 East,” in the Town Hall. It was received with such great enthusiasm that it spun out the Dorset Players, and a legend was born. Two years later the community raised funds for a larger space, the Dorset Playhouse. Let’s leap ahead, first to the 1970s, when Jill Charles and John Nassivera founded the Dorset Theatre Festival. DTF and the Dorset Players shared the playhouse, and by and by the community called for a serious upgrade, dreaming of siting a proper regional theater. In 1999 that’s what took shape: a $3 million restoration and expansion project that was completed in 2001. Now enter Dina Janis, Dorset Theatre Festival’s artistic director hired in 2009 to carry the work still further into the future. “When I came on board, they had been trying to live up to the new theater. It was quite a venue with full studios and beautiful seating. But no one had really been able to take it forward. It had been a period of six or seven years before finding someone to take over. They were in trouble,” she recalls. Janis lived in Dorset, was raising a family, and had been teaching at Bennington College’s drama department for 10 years. Her work with some of Broadway’s top writers, directors, and actors made her the DTF’s ideal candidate to elevate it into the ranks of world-class theater. It helps that she knows Vermont audiences. It helps more that she’s cultivated such striking, and effective, professional connections: Count among them the actors Philip Seymour Hoffman, Ellen Burstyn, Cusi Cram, José Rivera, Al Pacino, and Harvey Keitel. As a director, she’s intimately familiar with the plays of Theresa Rebeck, Sherry Kramer, Stephen Adly Guirgis, George Plimpton, and so many others. She was courted for the post for what the DTF said at the time was her breadth and depth of fresh air, energy, and context that lived up to the promise of state-of-the-art theater in Dorset. And she came on board familiar with the festival’s challenges — and with a big idea that would leverage her friendship with playwright Theresa Rebeck, who’d created and co-produced, with Steven Spielberg, the NBC musical-drama television series “Smash.” “[Rebeck] is one of the most successful American woman playwrights, and she thought I could really bring [Dorset] up to the level of a Williamstown [Mass.] or Berkshire theatre festival,” Janis said. So the two persuaded talent on Rebeck’s level to come up. The first year, DTF...

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Tour open studios: Artists at work, art for sale
Jun22

Tour open studios: Artists at work, art for sale

Tour open studios: Artists at work, art for sale 21st Rock River Artists’ Studio Tour July 20-21, 10-6p. Rock River Artists, a collective of fine art and craft professionals, offers chance to win a free weekend for two in a charming cabin along the Rock River in South Newfane, coinciding with 21st annual Rock River Artists’ Open Studio Tour. Winners get two-night stay with breakfast in a guest cabin on grounds belonging to nationally acclaimed photographer Christine Triebert, a founding member of the Rock River Artists. Visit 16 artists’ studios, homes, and working environments and see it all happen. Many studios tucked away from the road, with lush gardens, hilltop views, river frontage, and unique rural settings. Details for weekend for two and studio tour at RockRiverArtists.com. Winners notified July 1. 7th Annual Readsboro Arts Festival  Sept. 21. From 10a-4p. Artists and craftspeople of Southern Vermont, performances by local musicians, art activities for all ages. Free. Readsboro Central School, 301 Phelps Lane. Call 802-423-7706, info.readsboroarts@gmail.com. Brattleboro-West Arts Studio Tour Sept. 28-29. From 10a-5p. Fifteen or so of possibly the most eclectic group of artists ever to share a six-mile radius. Where else can you watch a weathervane maker, a rug braider, a woodcarver, and a stone mason practice their craft alongside artists who work with hand-dyed silks, colored porcelain, blown and fused glass, and locally harvested hardwoods? And that’s before you get to the landscape artists, portraitists, and abstract painters. The artists all live along the Whetstone Brook watershed, in the villages of West Brattleboro and Marlboro. For information, visit Brattleboro-westarts.com. Vermont Open Studios Weekend (Oct. 5-6) River Valley Artisans Tour Oct. 12-13. From 10a-4p. Opening reception Friday, Oct. 11, 7-9p. Westmoreland Town Hall, Route 63, Westmoreland, N.H. View a sampling of artists’ work on the tour. Travel scenic back roads of Southern New Hampshire in the Connecticut River Valley during peak foliage season while enjoying the work of local artists and artisans in their studios. Self-guided tour encompasses Chesterfield, Spofford, Walpole and Westmoreland. Info Rivervalleyartisans.com. 35th Anniversary Putney Craft Tour Nov. 29-30; Dec. 1. From 10a-5p. Twenty-eight artists and craftspeople in their studios in the Putney area. Blacksmiths, glass blowers, potters, jewelers, weavers, woodworkers, artisan cheesemakers, invite visitors to discover, ask questions, sip hot cider and find that one-of-a-kind gift. Start at the Putney Inn, where a preview exhibit showcases works of the artists on tour. Maps, coffee, restrooms, too. Info visit putneycrafts.com. Walpole Artisan Tour Nov. 29-30; Dec. 1. Wed-Sat 10a-5p; Sun 11a-3p. Sponsored by Walpole Artisans Cooperative. Featuring studio demonstrations throughout Bellows Falls, Walpole, and Alstead, N.H. Start at the Walpole Artisans Cooperative Gallery, 52 Main...

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Photos: Plein Aire

Painting en plein air means painting outdoors while capturing the immediacy of the subject at hand under changing light and weather conditions. Over the course of the five-day Plein Air Vermont painting competition, 41 juried artists from as far away as Florida, Missouri, and Nova Scotia, Canada will find captivating scenes in the towns, villages, forests and fields in Manchester, Bennington, and everywhere between. The public is invited to seek out the artists as they create their visions of Vermont on paper and canvas. The paintings will go on exhibit at the Bennington Center for the Arts, beginning with an Opening Reception at 7pm Saturday, Sept 7th. The exhibit will continue on Sunday with the Grand Exhibit and Awards Presentation. Many of the paintings will remain on exhibit at the Bennington Center for the Arts through December...

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Hot glass in cool Vermont
Jun22

Hot glass in cool Vermont

Hot glass in cool Vermont By Joyce Marcel If we’re going to talk about art glass, we might as well begin with Aldous Huxley. In “The Doors of Perception,” Huxley’s 1954 book on his mescaline experience, he theorizes that mankind’s “otherwise inexplicable passion for gems” might arise because precious stones “bear a faint resemblance to the glowing marvels seen with the inner eye of the visionary.” And if you can’t have gemstones, he suggests, colored or stained glass makes a lovely surrogate.   In other words, the sparkling, translucent, glistening, light-reflecting, highly colored and deeply emotional properties of glass refer, in some buried (or not so buried) way, to a “magical and transporting” primal emotion that we all can respond to. So many glass artists make their home in Windham County — about 25 — that you might think that all of us who live close to them are by now part visionary ourselves — or at least have gotten a contact high. Glass artists are people who have helplessly fallen in love with their medium. “I fell in love with glass 26 years ago,” said Brattleboro’s gifted glass artist and powerhouse marketer Randi Solin of Solinglass. Solin’s work is in the permanent collections of the White House and the American embassies in Algeria, Guinea, Praia, Guatemala, Paraguay and Mauritania. She is represented by about 75 galleries nationwide. Among her recent achievements, she won Best of Show at the Crafts Alliance in Chautauqua, N.Y. She also recently exhibited with the Architectural Digest Home show in New York City. “Glass seduced me with its liquid light, its texture and its heat,” Solin said. “Over time, I continued to remain interested due to the challenge. I always say, ’Glass takes advantage of an unfocused mind.’ I feel the struggle constantly engaging. I guess if I ever reach perfection I will stop — but for now the battle goes on.” Besides its visionary aspect, glassblowing is also sensual. Here’s how Putney’s Robert Burch of Brandywine Glassworks, a Vermont glassblower for more than 30 years, talks about his love affair with glass. “I was down in North Carolina, walking through the woods one night, and I walked by a tiny cabin. There was this roar coming out of it. So I wandered in and there was this guy blowing a glass bowl. I had walked in just as he was spinning it out. You use centrifugal force and spin the rod really quickly and the glass opens up. At that particular moment, the glass is really, really liquid. It’s flowing, it’s moving, it looks like a manta ray. It has incredible grace, a...

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A country store and so much more
Jun22

A country store and so much more

A country store and so much more West Townshend builds community by embracing multiple uses — including arts and music — for a revitalized general store The West River Community Project is dedicated to preserving and promoting the West River heritage in order to sustain a healthy future full of music, the arts, and local agriculture. It’s a work very happily in progress. The West Townshend Country Store, at 6573 Route 30, is up and running: the project-built cob oven is turning out around 45 pizzas every Friday night; its café is serving light, local-product meals on weekends; and its thrift store is a treasure trove of second-hand clothes, housewares, and bric-a-brac. Café walls showcase the works of local artists, usually in month-long exhibits. Concerts in the space pulse with vintage bluegrass and not-so-vintage everything else. And, of course, there’s even a post office. All the more impressive is that this revitalization of West Townshend has taken place only in the past three years. Largely the initial vision of West Townshend farmer, artist, mother, and board president Clare Adams, the project is breathing new life into what used to be a handsome general store but since its construction in 1848 was left to its own devices, facing flames and disrepair. Now with restoration and a bold new plan, its offerings radiate enthusiasm where it’s sorely needed in the West River community. The project leases it at a steal — $5 a year for 20 years — from its new owner, an angel if there ever was one. Also credit man for all seasons Robert DuGrenier, a glass blower, farmer, and the father of a young son. Next week DuGrenier begins designing new panels for the elevators in The (Paris) Hôtel Ritz. He’s also helping turn out his family’s Taft Hill Farm products on Route 30, and is president of the Townshend Historical Society. Adams and DuGrenier speak of The West River Community Project as a journey on the way to drawing out, preserving, and building on a sense of place for the West Townshend community. “We were in danger of losing the even the post office,” says Adams. That was the turning point for her. Something had to be done. Board vice president DuGrenier adds, “A sense of place is absolutely crucial” to community. And so they went to work. The village had served as a hub for Jamaica, Wardsboro, Windham, and Townshend, and just might fill that role again. Adams says there’s potential to connect to about 10,000 residents, plus drivers on busy Route 30. Many volunteers are backing this effort, as is an eight-member board of professionals...

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Calendar: Music and Theater

Music and Theater   Barnaby’s Presents 34 Meeting House Rd., Rockingham Hill Farm, Rockingham barnabyspresents.com, 802-376-8802 June 27-30: Rockinghill Music Festival 2013, see website for lineup. Bellows Falls Opera House 7 Centennial Square, Rockingham bfoperahouse.com, 802-463-3964 May 25-26: Circus Terrificus, styled on Cirque du Soleil, featuring aerial artists; scholarship fundraiser. Bennington Center for the Arts 44 Gypsy Lane, Bennington thebennington.org, 802-442-7158 June 28: Classical pianist Katherine Chi, first female winner of Honens International Piano Competition, 8p. July 12: Contemporary Chamber music from Cordis, 8p. July 27: Vance Gilbert presents Gypsy swing, 8p. Aug 3: Graceful Harmonies from Pearl and the Band, 8p. Aug 17: Samite presents African rhythms and smooth vocals, 8p. Brattleboro Music Center 38 Walnut St., Brattleboro bmcvt.org, 802-257-4523 June 9: Student String Orchestras at the River Garden, Brattleboro. June 22: The Brattleboro Concert Choir presents Faure’s Requiem and Charpentier’s Te Deum at the Persons Auditorium at Marlboro College, 8p. July 13-14: Northern Roots Weekend, with intensive teaching workshops in traditional instruments. Also features pub- and ballad-style singing and informal jam sessions. The Dorset Players P.O. Box 521, Dorset dorsetplayers.org, 802-867-5111 May 23-26: Anyone Can Whistle, 2p (May 19, 26) and 7:30p. Grafton Inn 92 Main St., Grafton graftoninnvermont.com, 802-843-2231 All shows at the Phelps Barn, 8p, unless noted June 1: The Break Maids, original rock with a twist of folk punk.June 8: Hungrytown, original roots music. June 15: Jandee Lee Porter Band, country. June 22: Milkhouse Heaters, Americana.June 22-23: Grafton Food Festival, a food-lovers event celebrating local food and farms in Southern Vermont. Cooking demonstrations, farmers market tables, special dinners, 10a-4p each day. June 29: Vinnie DiBernardo, folk rock and pop. 5th Annual Grafton Music Festival Various location in Grafton graftonmusicfestival.com June 29-July 3: Live music over several days, local artisans displaying their wares, demonstrations, road race, and more. Included is the Vermont Symphony Orchestra & Fireworks July 3, Samirah Evans and Her Handsome Devils July 5, Starline Rhythm Boys, Compaq Big Band with Rebecca Holtz July 6. Latchis Theatre 50 Main St., Brattleboro latchis.com, 802-254-6300 Ongoing: See website. Manchester Music Festival Arkell Pavilion at Southern Vermont Arts Center, Manchester, 7p. mmfvt.org, 802-362-1956 July 11-Aug 25: Panoramas: Eight concerts, eight musical vistas, with a pops concert featuring Audra McDonald. July 11: Gala Panorama with guest pianist Vassily Primakov. July 18: Beethoven and the Dawn of Romanticism. July 25: Jumpcut: Mozart to Morricone. Aug 1: Russian Blockbusters. Aug 8: English Landscape. Aug 15: DvoÅ™ák, Piazzolla, and a Bayan Bash. Aug 22: Rising Stars from the Metropolitan Opera. Aug 25: Manchester Pops Concert with Audra McDonald. Marlboro Music Festival 2585 South Rd., Marlboro marlboromusic.org, 800-343-0049 July 13-Aug 11:...

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A husband and wife collaborate on art that places our own Planet Earth in a cosmic context
Jun22

A husband and wife collaborate on art that places our own Planet Earth in a cosmic context

A husband and wife collaborate on art that places our own Planet Earth in a cosmic context By Arlene Distler The drive to Old Manchester from Bennington on Route 7A takes in historic mansions, the poet Robert Frost’s modest home, numerous old stone walls and foundations, lovely meadows, and majestic trees. It was difficult to concentrate on driving, but eventually I arrived in the manicured and elegant part of Manchester that is quite distinct from the Manchester of shopping outlets and cafés. Here was a steady hum of lawnmowers and leaf-blowers getting things spiffed up for “the season” that would soon be upon the Shires. Pat Musick and Jerry Carr are getting ready for the opening, at Southern Vermont Art Center, of a major collaborative work. It’s made up of eight single pieces, series, and installations known collectively as “Our Fragile Home.” The couple live in a beautiful independent-living retirement village not far from Manchester Center. They are, however, far from retired. They are so busy, in fact, that they each engage young assistants from the nearby Burr and Burton school: he for help with fabricating pieces that go into his wife’s sculptures; she for help archiving and keeping track of things on the business end, something, she notes wryly, art schools do not teach. At the door to the couple’s apartment, out in the hall, is a small mini-installation of two smooth alabaster eggs nesting on paper and wood. Jerry greets me at the door, and guides me to the comfortably upholstered couch. The coffee table is laden with books the two have published, and catalogs of past shows. Then, with little time spent on chit-chat, they get right to it: Carr was based in Houston for 11 years as an astronaut and support person on NASA missions (for many years he held the record for weightless hours in space, and his mission, Skylab 4, circled Earth for 84 days, a record for manned space flight); Musick has been an art therapist and spent more than 20 years teaching art. The apartment, while spacious, hardly seems suitable for constructing the large pieces that will comprise the show at Southern Vermont Art Center. Eventually they revealed their modus operandi: the couple maintain a studio/warehouse/workshop in Sunderland, a short distance away. The business of Pat’s art-making and Jerry’s fabricating comes under the name Camus Art, Inc. Musick describes Carr as always having supported her artistic endeavors, even back as far as their Houston days. He sits attentively during my interview with Pat, and offers a detail or clarification where needed. When I ask about his fabricating work, his eyes take...

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Nurturing the Arts: Three who bring the arts to life in Southern Vermont

Nurturing artists and the arts just comes naturally to Southern Vermonters. Dorset Theatre Festival Artistic Director Dina Janis is turning a local legend into a world-class performance venue on par with anything you’ll find in the Berkshires. In Grafton, Liisa Kissel continues crafting a go-to music festival that leverages the popular VSO concerts taking place every Fourth of July weekend in this picturesque town of 500. In North Bennington, Tony Conner left the corporate world behind and facilitates a world of painting en plein air with an annual competition that draws artists to our vistas from all parts of the country. Each of these visionaries, and so many others making Southern Vermont their home and their inspiration, know the arts are where it’s at in the Green Mountain State. And they’re spreading the...

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Calendar: Farmers’ Markets

Farmers Markets Tuesdays • Rutland Downtown Farmers’ Market, Depot Park, 3-6p, 802-747-4403. • Bennington Walloomsac Farmers’ Market at the Bennington Station, 10a-1p, 802-442-8934. Wednesdays • Brattleboro Area Farmers’ Market Wednesday Market, Gibson-Aiken Center, Main Street, Brattleboro, 10a-2p, brattleborofarmersmarket.com. • Woodstock Farmers’ Market, on the Green, 3-6p, woodstockvt.com. Thursdays • Poultney Farmers’ Market, Main Street, 9a-2p, 802-287-2460. • Townshend Farmers’ Market, at routes 30 and 35, 3:30-6:30p, 802-869-2141. • Manchester Farmers’ Market, Adams Park, Manchester, 3-6p, manchestermarket.org. • Castleton Village Farmers’ Market, next to Citizens Bank, Wells, 3:30-6p, 802-273-2241. • Royalton Farmers’ Market, South Royalton Town Green, 3-6:30p, 802-763-6630. Fridays • Bellows Falls Farmers’ Market, Waypoint Center, 4-7p, bffarmersmarket.com. • Brandon Farmers’ Market, Central Park, Brandon, 9a-2p, 802-247-8473. • Fairhaven Farmers’ Market, The Park, 3-7p, 802-265-4240. • Ludlow Farmers’ Market, 4-7p, Main Street, 802-734-3829. • Hartland Farmers’ Market, Hartland Town Library, 4-7p, 802 296-2032. Saturdays • Brattleboro Area Farmers’ Market, Western Avenue (just west of Creamery Covered Bridge), Brattleboro, 9a-2p, brattleborofarmersmarket.org. • Arlington Country Market, at the Hamlets of Vermont on Rte. 7A north, Arlington, 10a-2p, arlingtoncountrymarket.com. • Norwich Farmers’ Market, Rte. 5 south in Norwich, 9a-1p, morwichfarmersmarket.org. • Bennington Walloomsac Farmers’ Market at the Bennington Station, 10a-1p, 802 442-8934. • Londonderry-West River Farmers’ Market, routes 11 and 100, 9a-1p, 802 824-4492. • Rutland Downtown Farmers’ Market, Depot Park, 9a-2p, 802 747-4403. • Wilmington Farmers’ Market, Main Street, Wilmington, 10a-3p, 802 464-9069. • Windsor Farmers’ Market, on Green St., Windsor, 1-4p, 802 674-6630. • Woodstock-Mt. Tom Farmers’ Market, Mt. Tom parking lot, 9:30a-12:30p, 802 457-1980. • Green Mountain Harmony Farm, Flea, Arts and Crafts Market, on Rte. 7 South in Mount Tabor, 9a-1p, greenmountainharmony.com. • Springfield Community Market, People’s United Bank, 10a-1p, springfieldcommunitymarket.com. Sundays • Jamaica Farmers’ Market, Main Street, Jamaica, 10a-2p, jamaicavt.com, 802 874-4151. • Arlington Country Market, at the Hamlets of Vermont on Rte. 7A North, Arlington, 10a-2p, arlingtoncountrymarket.com. • Chester Farmers’ Market, at routes 11 and 103, 11am-2pm, 802 875-2703. • Dorset Farmers’ Market at HN Williams Store, 10am-2pm, 802 558-8511. • Putney Farmers’ Market, across from Putney Co-Op, 11a-2p, putneyfarmersmarket.org. • Green Mountain Harmony Farm, Flea, Arts, and Crafts market, on Rte. 7 South in Mount Tabor, 10a-2p,...

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Green thumbs in the Green Mountains

“Just Say it with Violas, Violins and Art!” Southern Vermont is throwing a garden party all summer long to celebrate the brilliant colors of the landscape and the talented performers, entertainers, and craftsmen who heat up the hills in a region renowned for taste, quality, and old-world tradition. On tap are exquisite gardens, world-class musicians, puppeteers, artists, authors, artisans, cows, farmers, farm-fresh cuisine and all things Southern Vermont. It promises to be a garden party like no other. From garden tours, swap events, and benefits, to farmers’ markets, daylily and dog contests, parades, festivals, concerts, and gallery walks, Southern Vermont will burst with green thumbs and the arts. Gordon Hayward, popular speaker and author of dozens of books on garden design, will showcase his one-acre garden in Westminster West to benefit Sandglass Theater with a day-long performance of “Puppets in Paradise” — magical puppet vignettes scattered among his artfully designed gardens. Daytime garden hopping will give way to a variety of music and theater happenings beckoning visitors all summer long. Also popular are Gallery Walk on the first Friday of each month in Brattleboro, and Art Walk on the third Friday of each month in Bellows Falls, just 20 minutes by car to the north. Here are a few of our favorite green thumb-friendly offerings: • From Our Gardens to Yours Spring Plant Sale, library lawn, 170 Main St., Wardsboro, May 25, 9a-noon, rain or shine, (friendsofwardsborolibrary.org, 802 896-3416). • Westminster Cares’ 12th Annual Garden Tour: New Plants, New Voices, on the Town Common June 29-30, 10a-3p, rain or shine. Annuals, local hardy perennials, vegetable seedlings including Gilfeather Turnips; raffle, bake sale (westminstercares.org, 802-722-3607).  Features the gardens of Mary and Gordon Hayward, nationally known garden designer, writer, and lecturer. Four other Westminster gardens join the tour this year. Proceeds benefit Westminster Cares, a volunteer organization creating opportunities for seniors and disabled adults to live with independence and dignity in the community. Tickets $15, or $25 for two, on the day of the Tour at the Hayward garden and Westminster Institute on Rte. 5. Advance discounted tickets will be sold on their website. • North Hill Annual Summer Symposium, Mount Snow, West Dover, June 29, 8:30-4:30p (northhillgarden.com).  Eighteenth annual summer symposium growing with this year’s theme: new plants, new ideas, and a new and upcoming generation of gardeners. A visit to the garden at North Hill is included. • Tunes ’n’ Blooms, North Forte Gardens, Wilmington, July 20, 4-6p, rain date July 21 (802-464-5872, 802-464-8179, or 802-464-7230). Enjoy a late afternoon stroll through the spectacular North Forte Gardens, which feature waterfalls, walkways, and Vermont flora. The afternoon includes live music, wine, beer, soft drinks, and gourmet hors d’oeuvres. This event benefits the...

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Behind the bylines

Summer 2013 issue: Behind the bylines In putting together this issue, the theme of connections came into focus in so many ways — connections among people and communities, connections among artists engaging in a common medium, connections between farmers and the rugged terrain of Southern Vermont. “A sense of place is vital to community, say the founders of the West River Community Project in West Townshend,” reports Thelma O’Brien , a former resident of that community who writes about the creation of the West Townshend Country Store and post office in a once-burned-out old building. Learn about this effort on page 9. Katherine Cox , a regular contributor to these pages, found connections of the two young farmers at Big Picture Farm to a delicious specialty food product. “It’s no wonder the silky caramels made at Big Picture Farm won the Oscars of the specialty food industry last June,” she writes. Her report on these goats’ milk candies appears on page 42. Allison Teague, a freelance writer and reporter, writes about three people who make it their life’s work to build connections in nurturing the arts, in a series of three stories that starts on page 20. “It never fails to absolutely floor me to discover the depth of authentic engagement and expression in these extraordinary yet humble individuals who quietly exist amidst our verdant hills and valley floors,” she writes. Joyce Marcel, a regular contributor who has a passion for chronicling the business of the arts, “fell in love with glass while writing this story,” she writes. Her glimpse into this important arts sector begins on page 28. And for Arlene Distler , another regular contributor, writing about the upcoming Red Grooms show (New & Notable, page 4) cultivated a connection to her days in New York City in the late 1960s, where she once met the acclaimed modern artist and his then-wife, Mimi Gross. “Tall, unruly red hair and a boyish face had the females among us aflutter,” recalls Distler, who also profiles artists Pat Musick and Jerry Carr beginning on page...

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Celebrating local flavor: Food festivals in abundance this summer
Jun22

Celebrating local flavor: Food festivals in abundance this summer

Celebrating local flavor: Food festivals in abundance this summer If there’s one thing besides art steering folks to the historic villages and rural communities of Southern Vermont, it’s got to be the food. Here we enjoy a warm, sophisticated, yet rustic lifestyle based on family traditions fed by authentic and local food experiences. Ah, but find out for yourself. Here we’ll help you start a culinary vacation at which you’ll enjoy the sights, tastes, sounds, smells, and textures of the works of dedicated farmers, local and celebrity chefs, producers, food entrepreneurs, food co-ops, restaurants, CSAs, farmers’ markets. For a summer of what Southern Vermont serves up best, we recommend you start with these choice festival picks: Grafton Food Festival June 22-23, 10a-4p, The Grafton Inn, 92 Main St. (800-843-1801, graftoninnvermont.com). The annual Grafton Food Festival, newly established by Northeast Flavor magazine, is a pure celebration of Southern Vermont’s local food and farms. Offerings include tastings, cooking demonstrations, farmers’ market tables, and special dinners at The Grafton Inn. Conveniently, the Festival is held under an all-weather tent behind the Grafton Inn., and lodging packages are available. There’s live music, too, of course. $10 per person, free for kids under 12. Must be at least 21 with proper ID for beverage tasting. The event features two experiential events: Grafton cheese cave tours (max. 12 people per tour) and a Grafton wine and cheese hike at Grafton Ponds, 2p. Vermont Cheesemakers Festival July 21, Coach Barn of Shelburne Farms, Shelburne (212-576-2700, vtcheesefest.com). Vermont is the premier artisanal cheese state, boasting the greatest number of cheesemakers per capita — widely estimated at more than 40. We invite you to experience our passion for making fine cheeses, taste local and fresh foods and wines, and meet the artisans who make them. Spend a fine summer day along the shores of Lake Champlain at the historic Shelburne Farms Coach Barn, and sample, buy, learn, and network. Hosted by the Vermont Butter & Cheese Company of Websterville, and the Vermont Cheese Council, the Festival is at Shelburne Farms from 11a-4p. The event is open to the public, and in 2012 attracted more than 1,100 visitors from across the country. This year’s attendees will sample more than 100 types of cheese from fully 50 cheesemakers, a variety of locally produced wines and beers, and several other artisanal foods such as maple syrup, honey, chocolates, and baked goods. Deerfield Valley Blueberry Festival and Parade July 26-Aug. 4, various venues in the Mount Snow Valley area (vermontblueberry.com). Berries, vintage cars, music, food, and tarp displays; if it’s blue, it’s probably happening in the Mount Snow area towns of Wilmington, Whitingham, and Dover....

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