Panton to build community with 250th party

PANTON — On Saturday, Sept. 10, Panton will join the cluster of Addison County towns commemorating their 250th birthday this calendar year, and townspeople are planning a daylong celebration with myriad activities and attractions for all ages to mark the occasion.
The celebration, which recalls the date in 1761 when colonial Gov. Benning Wentworth issued Panton’s official charter, will begin in earnest at 11 a.m. on the Beillo property south of the Panton Town Hall.
Preceding that, however, will be a Lake Champlain boat ride, beginning at 9 a.m., along the Panton shoreline. The boat, a vessel from Basin Harbor called The Escape, will depart from Basin Harbor and proceed south past Button Bay to the Panton coast. The boat holds roughly 45 passengers, and rides will cost $2 per person. Anyone who wants a seat should reserve one with Diana Raphael.
Louise Giovanella, one of the event organizers and a planning commission member, hopes the ride will be both entertaining and educational, as there will be guides on the boat providing information on historical points of interest.
“(It) will be an opportunity for some people who maybe haven’t ever been out on the lake, or who don’t get the chance to get out very much … to do that,” said Giovanella. “It should be an interesting experience for people.”
The celebration has plenty to offer those who don’t feel as seaworthy. The centerpiece of the day will be a pig roast and potluck, beginning at noon with live music and games and races for kids. Organizers are asking that people bring side dishes to the potluck to accompany the pig and a large quantity of birthday cake being provided. There is a suggested $2 donation for Panton residents coming to the pig roast.
At 1 p.m., there will be a group photo taken of all town residents in attendance by a professional photographer.
There is a pick-up softball game planned for 2 p.m., for all ages and abilities. Throughout the day, there also will be Civil War reenactments for the crowd’s enjoyment.
According to Giovanella, the event is mainly aimed at cultivating a sense of community among Panton residents.
“We’re really gearing this toward Panton, in an attempt to really foster some community spirit,” said Giovanella. “The town really hasn’t had anything since the Bicentennial.”
Giovanella is hopeful that this event will kick start a sense of tradition and community in the small west Addison County town. 
“We would like to just get people together and maybe start a tradition of some sort,” said Giovanella. “We’re hoping that it will create the beginnings of some of that.”
To that end, there will be historical displays in the town hall about the history of Panton’s farming community. Giovanella encourages anyone with old photos of Panton to bring them to the celebration to put on display.
Panton was chartered on Nov. 3, 1761, to James Nichols and 63 others, who were mostly citizens of Litchfield County, Conn., according to H.P. Smith’s “History of Addison County.”
There was confusion over the grant, which Nichols and the others thought gave them title to 25,000 acres of land, “extending seven miles west and six miles south from the lower falls of the Great Otter Creek.” However, surveys on the ground showed that those 25,000 acres extended a long distance into the lake. Although some effort was made to obtain the full amount of land promised, those efforts were unsuccessful.
Panton joins nine other Addison County towns in turning 250 this year, including Shoreham, New Haven, Salisbury, Weybridge, Cornwall, Bridport, Addison, Leicester and Middlebury.
Reporter Ian Trombulak is at [email protected].

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