Summer Preview Greatest Hits 2012
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Summer in Vermont can be as fleeting and mystifying as a sighting of our elusive lake monster, Champ. One minute, the sun’s out in full force; the next, we’re running for cover from torrential downpours. To make sure you don’t waste a second of sunshiny goodness, we’ve compiled a handy guide to Vermont’s big summer events, the state’s “greatest hits,” if you will. If the weather doesn’t cooperate, well, there’s plenty of good stuff happening indoors, too.
Want more? Check out our growing online Summer Vacation Picks, as well as our weekly calendar section all season long. Off you go!
— Carolyn Fox
City Hall Park Lunchtime Performances
May 22-June 28, Burlington
The lunch crowd gathers for everything from big-band jazz to rowdy honky-tonk to masterful classical music in the open air.
Hartland Farm Fest
hartlandfarmersmarket.com, 436-7017 or 295-8563
May 27, Hartland
Folks mingle with local farmers and food producers during a farmers market with horse and wagon rides, live music and farm-skill demonstrations.
KeyBank Vermont City Marathon & Relay
May 27, Burlington
Long-distance runners pound a 26.2-mile path through the Queen City.
The Opera Company of Middlebury
May 27-June 16, Middlebury
A popular “Meet the Singers” gala paves the way for a fully staged production of Massenet’s Thaïs.
Tour de Kingdom
May 30-June 3, Derby
Recreational and competitive cyclists cover miles of scenic paths by the lake and in the hills of the Northeast Kingdom, northern New Hampshire and Québec.
Special Olympics Vermont Summer Games
June 1-3, Burlington
Athletes from all parts of the state compete in aquatics, track and field, bocce, and softball.
Strolling of the Heifers
June 1-3, Brattleboro
Cute young cows bedecked in flowers take Main Street by storm at this quintessentially Vermont take on Pamplona’s Running of the Bulls. The parade and surrounding events strive to connect people with farmers and food producers.
Burlington Discover Jazz Festival
June 1-10, Burlington
Queen City residents get jazzed about a grand-slam lineup of live music, which takes place everywhere from concert halls to tents by the waterfront.
Green Mountain Opera Festival
June 1-24, Mad River Valley
Professional opera singers let arias fly in the Mad River Valley. Festival highlights include open rehearsals, an opera brunch, a Broadway picnic, an Emerging Artists production of Don Pasquale and a MainStage production of La Bohème.
Montpelier Fashion Show
June 2, Montpelier
The Capital City is stylin’ as more than 75 models overtake downtown in creative costumes. This year’s theme: wildlife.
Castleton Summer Concerts
468-6039 or 468-1206
June 5-August 14, Castleton
Top New England performers dole out bluegrass, swing, gypsy-jazz, folk and pop on the Old Chapel Green.
Roots on the River
June 7-10, Bellows Falls
Bellows Falls is overtaken by a rollicking four-day melody bash around town and in a big festival tent.
Snow Farm Vineyard Concert Series
June 7-August 30, South Hero
Picnickers take in live classical, jazz, swing, bluegrass and classic rock by the grape vines every Thursday evening.
Kids Pirate Festival
June 9-10, Vergennes
Little swashbucklers costume up for an era of exploration with dramatic play and maritime activities.
The Frendly Gathering
June 14-16, Windham
A crew of professional snowboarders founded this festival of music, camping and camaraderie.
The 2012 Death Race
June 15, Pittsfield
An insane endurance race challenges even the most adventuresome with 24 to 48 hours of mud runs and physical obstacles.
Ben & Jerry’s Concerts on the Midway Lawn
June 15-July 29, Essex
The folks from Higher Ground Presents bring big-name acts to the Champlain Valley Exposition: Michael Franti & Spearhead with Saints of Valory (June 15), Cake (June 16), and Wilco with the Lee Ranaldo Band (July 29).
Rattling Brook Bluegrass Festival
June 16, Belvidere
Legendary bluegrass musicians such as Jimmy Gaudreau and Moondi Klein headline at this outdoor family festival in its 29th year.
Vermont History Expo
June 16-17, Tunbridge
Crafters, reenactors and preservationists join town historical societies from around the state to show their stuff at a two-day fair.
Winooski River Sojourn
June 19-24, various locations along the Winooski River
Paddlers take to their canoes or kayaks on an adventure down the river basin, guided by river scientists, historians and naturalists.
June 21-24, Stratton
This “epic four-day yoga throwdown” also includes an impressive lineup of musical acts, including Ani DiFranco.
Chittenden County Relay for Life
June 22-23, Essex Junction
Vermonters battle cancer with overnight, relay-style laps that raise funds for the American Cancer Society.
‘Strings and Vines’
June 22-24, New Haven, Berlin and Shelburne
The Eleva Chamber Players make their first tour of Vermont wineries, pairing classical music with wine-and-cheese tastings.
Stowe Wine & Food Classic
June 22-24, Stowe
Connoisseurs of all things edible compare and contrast fine wines, enjoy gastronomic collaborations between chefs and vintners, and feast at the Grand Tasting & Silent Auction.
Burlington Wine & Food Festival
June 23, Burlington
An eat-and-drink extravaganza features sipping sessions with a selection of 300 fine wines, seminars with noted vintners and an array of area gourmet food.
June 23, Hartland
Professional jazz musicians and rising artists play their hearts out in an outdoor setting at this inaugural bash.
Long Trail Century Ride
June 23, Bridgewater Corners
Up to 500 cyclists are expected to complete 20-, 50- and 100-mile routes at this second annual fundraiser for Vermont Adaptive Ski & Sports. Long Trail Brewing Company hosts the après-ride party, featuring tunes by the Pete Kilpatrick Band.
Native American Encampment
June 23-24, Vergennes
Folks rewind to our region in earlier times as members of Abenaki tribes share traditional singing, drumming, dancing and crafts.
Ben & Jerry’s Concerts on the Green
June 24-August 7, Shelburne
The folks from Higher Ground Presents bring big-name acts to the Shelburne Museum: Sarah McLachlan with the Vermont Symphony Orchestra (June 24), David Gray (July 7) and Lyle Lovett (August 7).
Cedar Circle Farmstead & Education Center Strawberry Festival
June 24, East Thetford
Horse-drawn wagon rides, strawberry picking, kids crafts and other festivities honor the arrival of the favored summer fruit.
Green Mountain Chamber Music Festival
June 24-July 21, Burlington
The artist faculty of an annual summer conservatory offer a compelling classical repertoire.
June 25-30, Shelburne
Twenty-eight Vermont dancers move to choreography by Hannah Dennison, Amy LePage and Hanna Satterlee in a large-scale dance/theater tribute to the late Pina Bausch.
Free Summer Concert Series
June 24-August 23, Brandon
Music lovers bring chairs or blankets to open-air concerts, featuring Swing Noire (June 28), Gene Childers and the Jubilee Jazz Band (July 27), Ten Rod Road (August 16) and the Avant Garde Dogs Band (August 23).
Vermont Quilt Festival
June 29-July 1, Essex Junction
This annual parade of patchwork is New England’s largest quilt show. It features displays, appraisals, gallery talks, and vendors offering colorful bed coverings and the means to make them.
Vermont Symphony Orchestra TD Bank Summer Festival Tour
vso.org, 864-5741, ext. 10
June 29-July 8, statewide
Picnickers tune in for masterful, fun-spirited works ending with a bang: Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture and some fireworks.
kingdomaquafest.com, 323-8424 or 334-6345
June 30-July 8, Newport
Folks gear up for fun in the sun along the shores of Lake Memphremagog. Activities include the Kingdom Swim, bed racing, a derby parade and a log-rolling competition.
Circus Smirkus Big Top Tour
July 1-August 19, various locations in Vermont and the Northeast
Acrobatics, tumbling feats, high-wire high jinks and general clowning around come together in "Topsy-Turvy Time Travel!"
Vermont Summer Festival Horse Shows
July 4-August 12, East Dorset
New England’s top equestrian competition, running for six weeks, draws spectators to its five all-weather rings.
Stoweflake Hot Air Balloon Festival
stoweflake.com/activities_balloon_festival.aspx, 253-7355, ext. 5538
July 6-8, Stowe
Floating orbs transport people through the sky at a balloon-launch fest with plenty of entertainment and eats.
Frog Run Beer Fest
July 7, Shelburne
Beer advocates sip Frog Run Sap Beer while taking in the traditional fiddle music of Vermont, New England and Québec.
July 7, Newport
Make a splash at this celebration of open-water swimming. Six courses range in length from a quick 100 yards to an admirable 10 miles.
July 7-15, southern Vermont
Encompassing two weekends, this festival of the arts attracts visitors to exhibitions, concerts, plays and readings.
Craftsbury Chamber Players Summer Concert Series
July 11-August 16, Burlington and Hardwick
World-class musicians explore classical compositions from the baroque to the contemporary era in this six-week festival, also including free mini-concerts for children and their families.
Stowe Street Arts Festival
July 13-14, Waterbury
Live music, physical comedy, artist demonstrations and good eats enliven an outdoor arts-and-crafts exhibition.
Summer Pride Festival
July 13-22, Randolph
Staged readings with gay and lesbian characters and themes seek to strengthen connections within the regional LGBTQ community.
Brain Freezer 5K
July 14, Burlington
Racers tour the Queen City on a running challenge interrupted by a Ben & Jerry’s ice-cream-eating challenge. Yes, really.
Antiques and Uniques
July 14, Craftsbury
More than 100 antiques and collectibles vendors, jewelry makers, quilters, woodworkers, and potters share their goodies.
French Heritage Day
July 14, Vergennes
Celebrate our region's cultural history with an array of family activities, including colorful reenactments, old-time games, horse-and-carriage rides and local entertainment.
Vermont Brewers Festival
July 20-21, Burlington
Bottoms up! Live music, suds-centered workshops and scores of regionally crafted beers make for a smooth-tasting celebration.
July 20-22, Tinmouth
New England’s renewable-energy celebration features games, workshops, information, activism and live music — all powered by the sun.
Cambridge Music Festival
July 21, Cambridge
A 12-hour barn party showcases New England musicians, including Kim & Sharon, Casio Bastard, Something With Strings, and the Starline Rhythm Boys.
Goshen Gallop XXXIV
July 21, Goshen
Runners pound the ground over dirt, gravel and soil on a rugged 10K trail.
Small Boat Festival
July 21-22, Vergennes
Landlubbers and others get their sea legs at a two-day celebration of watercraft, including the popular Kids Duct-Tape Regatta.
St. Albans Civil War Heritage Weekend
July 21-22, St. Albans
Living-history military and civilian reenactors demonstrate battle skirmishes, drills and camp life in Taylor Park.
Vermont Cheesemakers Festival
July 22, Shelburne
Got cheese? Dairy lovers, chefs and artisan cheesemakers from around the state sample more than 200 varieties, partake in tasting seminars and catch a cooking show.
July 22-28, Shelburne and Stowe
Burlington Ensemble soundtrack afternoon picnics, sunset programs and indoor concerts with stellar chamber music.
July 27-29, Woodstock
This page-turning festival of words includes speeches and readings by authors of local and national renown, interactive programs, secondhand book sales, and art and music.
Deerfield Valley Blueberry Festival
July 27-August 5, various locations in the Mount Snow area
Feeling blue? Wilmington, Whitingham and Dover make the best of the hue over 10 days with a Big Blue Parade, a Blue Street Fair, blues music, pick-your-own blueberries ... and even blue beer.
Champlain Valley Gem, Mineral & Fossil Show
July 28-29, South Burlington
Thousands of beautiful, natural specimens catch visitors’ eyes in exhibits, lectures and kids activities.
Green Mountain Draft Horse Field Day
July 28, Shelburne
Farmers demonstrate the true meaning of "horsepower" as steeds bred for strength pull plowing and reaping machines.
Onion River Century Ride
July 28, Montpelier
Pledge-propelled bikers benefit the Kellogg-Hubbard Library by pedaling either 111, 68 or 35 miles.
Vermont Festival of the Arts
August 1-September 3, Mad River Valley
A whoppin' five-week festival boasts exhibits, performances and workshops celebrating painting, poetry, crafts, culinary arts and everything in between.
Tweed River Music Festival
August 3-5, Stockbridge
A huge lineup of rock, folk and Americana tunes meets idyllic scenery and a swimming hole.
Valley Stage Music Festival
August 4, Huntington Valley
Music lovers enjoy food and green-themed displays between a variety of folk acts.
Lake Champlain Dragon Boat Festival
August 5, Burlington
Water-bound teams of businesses, neighborhoods and breast-cancer survivors paddle their way to victory on 41-foot boats.
Vermont Fresh Network Annual Forum
August 5, Shelburne
Chefs, consumers and farmers break bread at a grazing dinner to support the state’s farm-to-table food routes.
Lake Champlain Maritime Festival
August 9-12, Burlington
Boat displays, tasting tables, hands-on educational exhibits, daytime music and evening concerts sail into the Burlington waterfront. Concert schedule: Gogol Bordello (August 9), Old Crow Medicine Show with the Lumineers and the Milk Carton Kids (August 10), Strangefolk (August 11), and Citizen Cope (August 12).
Shakespeare in the Park
August 10-12, North Hero
August 17-19, Burlington
The Bard’s best works are brought to life on forest stages by the Vermont Shakespeare Company. This year’s play: The Tempest.
Lake Champlain ACBS Annual Vintage Boat Show
August 11, Burlington
The Lake Champlain Chapter Antique and Classic Boat Society presents historic watercrafts and a boat parade during the Lake Champlain Maritime Festival.
Festival of the Arts
August 11, Jeffersonville
A festival on its fourth year promotes the region’s visual and performing arts through exhibits, live music and children’s activities.
Summer Art in the Park Festival
August 11-12, Rutland
Handicrafts and fine art attract buyers and gawkers, who can also sample diverse food and music.
Central Vermont Chamber Music Festival
August 13-26, various locations in the Upper Valley
Masterworks soar in the 20th-anniversary season, which features a one-night concert with the internationally acclaimed Lark Quartet.
The Vermont Challenge
August 15-19, various starting locations
Cyclists wheel through rolling farmlands and quiet country roads in tours ranging in length from one to four days.
Kingdom Farm & Food Days
August 18-19, Hardwick
A celebration of regional agriculture includes farm tours and food workshops.
Rabble in Arms Weekend
August 18-19, Vergennes
History comes alive as costumed reenactors depict the War of 1812 in its 200th-anniversary year.
Lake Champlain Chamber Music Festival
August 18-26, Colchester, Burlington and Plattsburgh, N.Y.
Bach figures prominently in a classical-music festival helmed by violinist Soovin Kim.
Music Festival of the Americas
August 23-25, Stowe
World-class gusts join director Alonda de la Parra and the festival orchestra in a classical lineup.
August 23-26, Stowe
“Vermont’s own party” kicks off with a Noah’s Ark Parade and continues with local eats and outdoor recreation.
Quechee Scottish Festival & Celtic Fair
August 25, Quechee
Bagpipe bands, sheepdog trials, plaid skirts and, of course, haggis all figure prominently in this annual celebration of Scottish heritage.
Champlain Valley Fair
August 25-September 3, Essex Junction
Parades, a giant sand sculpture, circus acts and talent showcases join top musical acts and a wealth of fried food at Vermont's largest fair. Concert schedule: Train with Mat Kearney (August 25), Demi Lovato with Hot Chelle Rae (August 27), Jason Aldean (September 1) and the Zac Brown Band (September 2).
The North Face Race to the Top of Vermont
August 26, Stowe
Runners, mountain bikers and noncompetitive hikers scale Vermont’s highest peak in exchange for spectacular views and a postrace barbecue.
Southern Vermont Garlic & Herb Festival
September 1-2, Bennington
Vampires are sure to shun this annual extravaganza featuring crafts and food from more than 100 vendors and growers, children's games, live music and entertainment, a beer and wine garden and more.
Grand Point North
September 14-15, Burlington
Grace Potter & the Nocturnals headline two nights of star-studded acts, including Dr. Dog, the Carolina Chocolate Drops, Nicki Bluhm & the Gramblers, Heloise & the Savoire Faire, Ryan Power, Brenda, and Tooth Ache (September 14) and the Avett Brothers, Galactic, Sam Roberts Band, Waylon Speed, Gregory Douglass, Bow Thayer, and Bob Wagner (September 15).