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Top 10 of 2021: Live music and events return

ONE OF MORE than 1,800 patrons at the Viva El Sabor Fiesta at the Marble Works complex in Middlebury enjoyed authentic Central American cuisine created by a collective of women from that region. Independent file photo/William Haig

When the pandemic struck in March 2020, the Addison Independent replaced our community events calendar with a weekly list of almost entirely virtual activities. A few months into 2021 we saw the return of in-person gatherings, albeit most of them outside — and with it we resurrected our actual live events calendar.

By late June, it was bursting at the seams with live music, theater, food trucks events and festivals. We saw the return, in person, of the Middlebury College Performing Arts Series, Shoreham’s Strawberry Festival, Festival on the Green musical performances in Middlebury, Vergennes Day, the Brandon Carnival, the Middlebury New Filmmakers Festival and, of course, Addison County Fair & Field Days. Plus, new events such as Foolaroo and an entirely outdoor Town Hall Theater summer season. Many of the events were somewhat scaled back from previous years, and anything indoors required masks and sometimes proof of vaccination.

NICE WEATHER AND huge crowds greeted the return of the Festival on the Green to Middlebury after it missed a year due to the coronavirus pandemic. On Monday, Kenyan musical artist KeruBo and her band wowed the crowd with a fun mix of Afro-jazz, blues, gospel and traditional African music.
Independent file photo/Steve James

In May, the Bundle Markets in downtown Middlebury drew large (mostly still masked outdoors) crowds with live music, arts and crafts by the community art project Find Your Wings, and food trucks. The Human-Powered Parade inspired folks to don wacky costumes and ride their bikes — or scooters, or incredible creations, such as Dan Brett’s dinosaur skull on wheels — through downtown Bristol.

Town Hall Theater erected a tent in the Marble Works and kicked off an outdoor season featuring magic shows, dance parties, a comedy show for kids and adults, the return of Doc Lyle Sol’s Medicine Show and an outdoor bee-themed performance by Ballet Vermont.

AMERICAN FLATBREAD INVESTED in a brand-new timberframe pavilion behind its Middlebury restaurant. Independent photo/William Haig

Area restaurants got creative with outdoor dining options: American Flatbread built a massive timber-frame pavilion. Blueberry Hill Inn in Goshen hosted Pizza by the Pond dinners each week with live music. Bobcat Café rolled its food truck up to the Bristol Green every Friday for well attended weekly festivals. The Friends of the Union Meeting Hall brought food truck festivals to the green in Ferrisburgh. A farmers market popped up at Branbury Beach in Salisbury.

Everyone seemed to have a music series, including some folks in West Cornwall who opened up their private property for public Sunday night concerts throughout the summer.

There were art openings at galleries around the county and at the Lemon Fair Sculpture Park outdoors in Shoreham.

Town pools reopened and kids could once again gather in person for free lunches — and outdoor story times — throughout the county.

In late June the Marble Works literally overflowed with some 1,800 people who came out (and lined up) to eat the authentic Central American cuisine of Viva el Sabor, a local culinary collective. Some said it was the largest crowd the Marble Works had ever seen, and for many it was the first time they had been in a crowd that big in more than a year.

The Youth Company performed “Newsies” at the Town Hall Theater — in person and without masks — in July. THT Executive Director Lisa Mitchell was thrilled to welcome theatergoers back for a high-energy production. “The magic is back — live at THT!” she exclaimed.

The volunteers at the Vergennes Opera House once again presented live shows in the Little City. From the performance of the Unknown Blues Band to the return of “Broadway Direct” in Decemebr the opera house staff and helpers really did a great job enriching Addison County spirits.

Halloween roared back to life with (a very rainy) drive-through and walk-through downtown Spooktacular. And as temperatures dropped the Opera Company of Middlebury and the Middlebury Acting Company returned to Town Hall Theater’s indoor stage.

PLAYERS IN MOUNT Abraham’s “Beauty and the Beast” rehearse for
a show; shown from left are Abby Johnson and Sean Davison in background, as well as Bella Bluteau,
Evan Jennison, Elena Bronson, Kami Clodgo and Greta Jennison. Photo by Buzz Kuhns

In November, local high school students sang and acted their hearts out (all masked up) in “Beauty and the Beast” (Mount Abe), “Bye Bye Birdie” (VUHS), “The Sound of Music” (MUHS), and “The Addams Family” (Otter Valley).

And in December, Santa visited with kids all over the county and returned to his throne — outdoors and at a distance from his adoring fans on a very cold morning — at the kickoff to Very Merry Middlebury.

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