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37th Annual Vermont Maple Festival


      The 37th Annual Vermont Maple Festival begins in St. Albans on Friday, April 25, and runs through Sunday, April 27.
      "Our theme is 'Vermont Maple Syrup: It Doesn't Get any Better!'" said Maple Festival trustee Ruth Goodrich.
      Maple exhibits, demonstrations, and the Vermont Maple Store are all in the BFA Cafeteria. The annual Craft Show is in the BFA Gymnasium. The evening concerts will be held in the BFA Auditorium and the Maple Festival office is also in the BFA Cafeteria. Other festival events are held throughout St. Albans at all the schools, in the city park, the Federal Street parking lot, in St. Mary's Hall, and on Main Street.
      "We expect to see more than 50,000 visitors," Maple Festival Chairman Jim Cameron said. "The Festival has maple foods and good clean family fun to celebrate Vermont's most famous farm product."
      "Family entertainment includes free shows all day long at the Main Street stage as well as concerts at BFA, at City School and at the First Congregational Church," said All Arts Council Chair Dick Harper.
      On Saturday and Sunday, the All Arts Council fine art exhibit features 15 Franklin County artists with exceptional oil and watercolor paintings, fine art photographs, mixed media, and sculpture.
      The Vermont Specialty Foods Show brings the taste of Vermont to City Hall with pickles, jams, gourmet mustards, chocolates, honeys, baked goods, and even a cookbook. The Vermont Information Center will join the City Hall show to showcase Vermont's heritage, recreation, history, and products.
      "Art and food together. What more can anyone want?" asked Harper. There is no admission for the City Hall events.
      The Main Street stage will feature country, classic rock, folk, blues, big band swing, jazz, pop, Celtic sounds, community groups, and a showcase of song and dance. "We have longer hours on Friday and Saturday," Harper said. The music will play until the sun goes down.
      The Friday lineup starts at noon on the Main Street stage with Borderline, Kids on the Block-Vermont, Jim LaClair and Dennis Brown, Melinda Firkey, and the BFA Chamber Singers. Friday evening features the Youth Talent Show in the BFA Auditorium. Continuous free entertainment continues on the Main Street Stage on Saturday with the Joe Levesque's Big Band, the Croppies, Yankee Wild, Mark Shelton, The Spiders, and a free preview of the Fiddler's Variety Show. The Roxy Bissonette Dance Studio show and award winners from the Talent Show will perform. A community Contra and Square dance at the First Congregational Church carries on a monthly tradition in St. Albans early Saturday evening and the Fiddler's Variety Show is an annual sellout later that evening in BFA Auditorium. On Sunday, the free Main Street Stage hosts WLFE Disk Jockey Chris O'Neil and the Oleo Romeos. Village Harmony will present a spring concert in the First Congregational Church sanctuary.
Maple Festival


ART--The Maple Festival Craft Show and Sale runs Friday, Saturday and Sunday in the BFA gym. On Saturday and Sunday only, the All Arts Council fine art exhibit in St. Albans City Hall features exceptional oil and watercolor paintings, fine art photographs, digital art, mixed media, prints, and sculpture by Franklin County artists including Eric Bataille, Corliss Blakely, Bob Brodeur, April Henderson, David Juaire, Natalie LaRocque-Bouchard, Patrick Murphy, Kate Ritz, David R. Southwick, and Gustav Verderber.
      Eric Bataille paints nature studies in acrylics and watercolor, achieving harmonious colors, and simple and strong composition in his work.
      Vermont's premier artist, Corliss Blakely of St. Albans, will exhibit a new collection of small prints plus two new oil paintings.
      Bob Brodeur's lifelong love of photography will be displayed in his warm and intimate scenic Vermont landscapes.
      Writer/photographer Dick Harper's landscape photography is focused mostly on winter architecture and summer beaches. He will have Spring Fishing, a Camp Fire, and the now world famous Sugaring at St. Albans, Rum Cay, Bahamas on exhibit.
      Photographer April Henderson, known for her still life closeups, will show some new very large works Snow Squall and Wagon Wheel, Sugaring, and several small, whimsical, works.
      Vermont Life scenic photographer David Juaire of Georgia shoots with a medium format camera for its exceptional clarity. He will show some of his 2003 sugaring photos.
      Working artist Natalie LaRocque-Bouchard paints primarily in acrylic on large canvas, makes trompe l'oeil murals, and creates digital art. Her pieces often bring a spiritual feel to landscapes or skyscapes. She will also have custom slates in the Maple Festival Craft Show.
      Painter, singer, and teacher Patrick Murphy has an historical, architectural mood in his oil paintings. He will exhibit Lake Willoughby and Richford.
      Oil painter and farmer Kate Ritz paints mostly bright and full bodied landscapes to "document perspective with color and harmony" from a world full of color.
      Poet David R. Southwick has fine art photographs bound as well as printed and custom framed in native wood and wood veneer. Some include his poetry.
      Nature photographer and environmental interpreter Gustav W. Verderber is well known in Franklin County for his stunning images. This exhibit will include a new series of poster-sized photographs.

MUSIC--The AAC books all of the Main Street entertainment for Vermont Maple Festival and provides sound by Tim-Kath Productions for all the bands. The Main Stage has new hours this year; it stays live until 7 p.m. Friday, 6 p.m. Saturday, and 4 p.m. on Sunday.
      Continuous free entertainment begins at noon tomorrow on the Main Street stage with the Sliders, the Kids on the Block-Vermont, folk music from Jim LaClair and Dennis Brown, the classical and contemporary piano of Melinda Firkey, and the country rock music of Borderline. The free entertainment continues on Saturday with the Croppies, Yankee Wild, singer Mark Shelton, the Spiders, the danceable jazz of Joe Levesque's Big Band, and a free preview of the Fiddler's Variety Show. The Roxy Bissonette Dance Studio show and award winners from the Talent Show will perform. On Sunday, the free Main Street Stage hosts WLFE Disk Jockey Chris O'Neil plus the Oleo Romeos in their first Maple Festival appearance.
      Country rock trio Borderline plays everything from old country to top-40 country and some classic rock dancing music with Howard Ring, guitar and vocals, Kevin Bockus, bass and vocals, and Stanley Ring, drums and vocals. Friday at 4 and 6 p.m.
      Expect a lively, upbeat show from pianist Melinda Firkey whose favorite music is classical. "I'm planning to mix it up a little," she said of her plans to play about 15 to 20 well known classical and the same number of contemporary songs. Some will be bouncy and some will be Bette Midler or Celine Dion arrangements.
      The nationally known educational puppet troupe Kids on the Block-Vermont production returns with their Japanese Bunraku-style puppets that look like real kids. Each play covers contemporary issues and puts out a positive message to help kids deal with the scarier aspects of life. This year's theme is Bullies; there will be a meet the puppets time. Friday at 1 p.m.
      Joe Levesque's Big Band II returns to Franklin County with choice arrangements of Glenn Miller, Duke Ellington, and other favorites. Big Band music needs soaring woodwinds, lots of brass, and plenty of rhythm. Music from the swing era is dance music. Bring your dancing shoes as the orchestra lights up the evening sky. Saturday at 5 p.m.
      The Oleo Romeos play a unique blend of country, blues, and rock, with original tunes by Tyrone Shaw. The group features Tyrone Shaw, guitar and vocals, Jerry Bowers, guitar, Will Patton, bass, and Eric Belrose, drums. They have a new CD coming out later this season. Sunday immediately after the parade.
      The Roxy Studio Dancers are a young troupe from all around Franklin County under the leadership of Roxy Bissonette. Saturday at 10 a.m.
      BFA students Mark Coutu, guitar, Dan Dodd, bass, and Travis Minckler, drums, are the Sliders. They play mostly original rock and alternative rock.
      The Spiders have been singing together for almost 25 years with a repertoire from Motown, jazz standards, and folk tunes, to a capella doo-wop. comprised of Pat LeBoeuf, Marcia Brewster and Debbie Patton, with Tommy Steele, sax, and Will Patton, strings. Saturday at 4 p.m.
      WRSA and WLFE's Chris O'Neil will be the official Maple Festival disk jockey on the Main Street stage. Chris will entertain the crowd with country music favorites and platter patter. Sunday at 11:30 a.m.
      Yankee Wild brings a mix of slow, old time country to good snappy modern country music (and maybe even a little rock thrown in) to the Main Street stage. The group is Willie Hughes, lead guitar and lead vocalist, Bob Corbiere, bass and vocals, Steve Sweetser, rhythm guitar and fiddle, and Tim Michel, drums. Saturday at 1 and 3 p.m.

MORE EVENTS AROUND TOWN--The First Congregational Church monthly community Contra and Square dance will be held in Fellowship Hall at the First Congregational Church (note that the location has changed). The caller is Mark Sustic, with Frank Heyburn, fiddle, Michele Choiniere, piano, and an army of area fiddlers to play from 5:00-7:30 p.m. Admission is $5/person or $10 for the whole family. Tickets are available at the door.
      The Fiddler's Variety Show is an annual sellout in BFA Auditorium. "Come for two hours (or more) of Canadian and American singers, dancers, pickers, comedy, clogging, and even some pretty fancy fiddlin' around," said Frank Heyburn. Tickets are available at the Chamber of Commerce before the Festival and at the information booth on Main Street and at the festival office.
      The Kept Writer hosts a two-day fundraiser with 10 hours of music, a silent auction and a book signing by Ginny Joyner all for the Franklin County Humane Society. Spencer Lewis, Dan Haley, tomorrow evening, 7-9 p.m. Illustrator Ginny Joyner will sign "M Is For Maple: A Vermont Alphabet" Saturday at noon. Charlie Messing, Meg Irish and The Hubcats, Rebecca Padula, Lyle King, Ben Bishop, and Jim Branca, all on Saturday 12:30-6:15 p.m.
      The Welden Theater will screen John O'Brien's Independent film Nosey Parker for Maple Festival weekend. A Nosey Parker is a busybody. The film tells the story of Natalie and Richard Newman's move to unspoiled rural Vermont to rejuvenate their marriage by building a trophy house. The construction leads to a confrontation with the local lister, some flirtation, and some xenophobia.
      Director John O'Brien who grew up on a Tunbridge sheep farm will introduce the film in St. Albans. The film is part of his trilogy about the Tunbridge people.
      The Youth Talent Show takes over BFA Auditorium on Friday evening. This annual favorite brings together some of the most talented children in the County competing for scholarship prizes. Tickets are available at the Chamber of Commerce before the Festival and at the information booth on Main Street and at the festival office.

      The biggest event of the weekend is the 37th annual Maple Festival Parade. Starting from Houghton Street on Sunday at 1 p.m. sharp, the parade stretches out for miles with over 120 bands, unique floats, clowns, horses and tractors, and the ever-popular pooper scooper.

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