Festival kicks off 37th musical affair

MIDDLEBURY — The town of Middlebury is gearing up for the 37th annual Festival on-the-Green, a week-long music festival featuring daily performances at Middlebury’s recreational park.
This year’s festival kicks off on Sunday, July 5, at 7 p.m. with a performance from Caroline Rose, who combines rockabilly, vintage country and blues to create her distinct sound. The 24-year-old songwriter will be performing selections from her national debut album, “I Will Not Be Afraid,” alongside several musicians from the Burlington area. During the week, Middlebury will host 19 other artists from all over the country.
“We have an amazing line-up of performances,” said Pat Boera, one of the festival’s founding members. “We’ve got great programs for the kids during the weekdays and a terrific array of music of many different genres during the evenings.”
The festival, which runs from July 5 through 11, will also feature performances for children every weekday from noon to 1 p.m. Young festival-goers are invited to bring their lunch to these afternoon “brown bag specials” for family-friendly shows Monday through Friday.
The evening concerts, which all begin at 7 p.m., feature a wide variety of artists and musical genres, including folk, country, blues and jazz. Some highlights include a Monday night performance from Ten Strings and a Goatskin, a young trio of Canadian folk-fusion musicians. In addition, festival-goers should watch for Darlingside, a Massachusetts-based group who combine ’60s folk with a “modern indie-rock sensibility.”
Now voted a Top Ten Summer event by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce, the Festival on-the-Green first got its start in the 1970s when Middlebury College professor of dance Dana Holby organized a performance for her company, Coincidance.
“She discovered that it cost as much to have a tent for a day as it did for a week, so she built some other performances around the performance of her dance company,” explained Boera. “That was the humble beginnings of the Festival on-the-Green.”
This year, the festival again will be held at Middlebury’s recreational park instead of the town green because of the planned construction project downtown. Boera says the change in location, which will occur for the second time this year, brings both new challenges and new opportunities.
“(The rec park) is a great space that is very well used by the community. There’s plenty of space to spread out for those who come to see the festival, and there is plenty of parking,” she said. “The downside is that we lose the visibility of people just driving by and saying, ‘Oh, I wonder what’s going on under that big white tent on the green.’ We lose those people who sort of happen upon us.”
The festival will close on Saturday night with a street dance performance by the Vermont Jazz Ensemble. The 17-piece band, which is composed of musicians from all over the state, has been the festival’s closing act for over 25 years.
“Don’t hesitate to come and join us,” said Boera. “It’s fun to have a big crowd, and it is a free event.” 

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