Strike up the band! Fourth of July festivities abound

BRISTOL — Decorate your outhouse, fire up the grill, whip out your flag and get ready for this year’s Fourth of July celebrations.
A full slate of activities has been prepared at venues around the region, including concerts, parades and a singular competition in Bristol known as the outhouse races. Oh, and of course, there will be fireworks.
The Georgia Brass Band gets the ball rolling Thursday evening with the annual Henry Sheldon Museum of Vermont History Pops Concert. The British-style brass band will perform on the grounds behind the Mahaney Center for the Arts at Middlebury College (rain site: Kenyon Arena) at 7:30 p.m. (the grounds will be open two hours earlier for picnicking). The fund-raiser concludes with fireworks.
Brandon picks up the baton on Friday with its Food Fest and Street Dance at Central Park. Food vendors open 5 p.m. and a street dance runs 6-10 p.m.
Saturday is the big day with food and craft vendors and karaoke in the bandstand in Central Park beginning at 9 a.m. Other activities throughout the day are a silent auction, juggling and the Great Brandon Ball. A big parade steps off at 1 p.m. at the top of Park Street and ends at Route 73 West by the post office.
Stay for the Wildwood Bluegrass Band playing in Central Park from 2:15- 3:15 p.m. and fireworks at dusk.
Sunday, July 3, will be a busy day. The Independence Day concert in Lincoln at 4 p.m. outdoors at Burnham Hall will feature the Patrick Fitzsimmons Band, with Band Anna opening.
Want more dancing? The duo of Joe and Jackie will provide the music for a dance at the American Legion in Vergennes from 5-9 p.m.
If that’s not your kind of music, the city band will play a concert at 7:30 p.m. on the athletic fields behind VUHS. Fireworks start at dusk. Bring chairs, blankets, picnics, etc. Food and other vendors will be on site.
Bristol will host its own live music with performances by the Bob Levinson Trio and Mark LaVoie at the ball field beginning at 6 p.m. There will be fireworks at dusk.
If you’re up and about on the morning of Monday, July 4, head to Shoreham for a pancake breakfast, 7-11 a.m., at the Shoreham Congregational Church.
Independence Day festivities in Bristol will kick off bright and early at 7:30 a.m. Monday with a 5K road race in memory of Pam Paradee.
Next on the list at 9 a.m. is the zany zenith of July 4 competitions — the outhouse race. In its 33rd-annual running, four separate heats of four outhouses decked out in vibrant fashion will roll down Main Street. The four winning teams will then battle it out for the “World Championship” and this year’s bragging rights. Will the Snap’s team successfully defend their 2010 title?
A raffle will be held in conjunction with the race to raise funds for the celebration and dictionaries for Bristol Elementary third-graders. Raffle participants have a chance to win as much as $75 a round.
At 10:30 a.m. Bristol will hold its 141st-annual Independence Day parade. This year’s theme is “A Century of Stories” in commemoration of the Lawrence Memorial Library’s 100th anniversary.  Bristol resident Bill James, who is set to turn 100 on July 5, will ride in a horse-drawn coach at the front of the parade as Bristol’s Grand Marshal. He will be accompanied by the young winner of a recent library-reading contest.
The parade will begin on Pine Street, wind its way through the village eventually heading west on Main Street and ending at the recreation field at noon. During the parade a group of four Vermont National Guard F-16 Tomcat fighter jets are slated to fly over town at 11 a.m.
Afterwards festivities will move to the town green. The Vermont-based Starline Rhythm Boys band will crank out their country-bluegrass blues all through the afternoon. Lemonade, watermelon, rainbow ice and many other delicacies will be available. Bristol Friends of the Arts will put on a silent auction featuring hand-painted chairs and the Lawrence Memorial Library and Lincoln Library are scheduled to hold used book sales. A wide range of craft and jewelry makers will also highlight their designs across the green.
If those activities don’t tickle your fancy, you might have better luck with the car raffle or the Federated Church pie sale.
A final annual tradition will end the day on a homey note. Salisbury will host is annual Ice Cream Social at the Congregational Church in the village from 2 to 5 p.m.
Reporter Andrew Stein is at [email protected].

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