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East Poultney Day
August 13 @ 9:00 am - 4:00 pm
The Poultney Historical Society will hold the 81st annual East Poultney Day on Saturday, August 13, 2016 from 9am to 4pm on the East Poultney green, highlighting the theme Democracy in Poultney. Vermont has a long tradition of local democracy, and Poultney is no exception. Come celebrate and learn more about our legacy of town meetings and democratic decision-making, as well as experience music, demonstrations, activities, and more.
Over forty local vendors will include area farmers, artisans, and organizations, which will fill the green with unique products and collectibles, including antiques, handcrafted jewelry, artwork, woodcarvings, maple syrup, farm products and homemade foods. The Poultney Valley Snowmobile Devils will provide tasty grilled burgers and hotdogs, and other fresh food vendors will have snacks and beverages to enjoy as well.
Our featured speaker is Susan Clark at 12:30pm, author of the book Slow Democracy, who has focused her career on reinvigorating community democracy. She encourages citizens to govern themselves locally with processes that are inclusive and citizen powered. Her work has earned her broad recognition, including the 2010 Vermont Secretary of State’s Enduring Democracy Award. She will be available after her talk for a book signing of Slow Democracy, which will also be offered for purchase.
Re-experience the past on the green with exhibits and demonstrations of traditional skills throughout the day including woodworking on a replica shaving horse workbench (also available as a raffle prize), wool spinning, loading and firing of a Civil War era historic musket, and old-fashioned silhouette portrait–making by flashlight or candlelight. Daniel Lang will display his carpentry skills with his nearly completed tiny house temporarily re-located on the green for the day, and visitors can watch celebrated local artist Peter Huntoon paint one of his signature Vermont scenes.
All three of the Historical Society museums will be open during the entire event with exhibits or activities at each building. The East Poultney Schoolhouse will feature the original Poultney Ballot Box where you can cast your vote on a 1916 “Yellow Ballot” for or against “immediate alcohol prohibition.” Make your decision based on the arguments published back in that year’s Poultney Journal, and take a look at reproductions of news items from historic votes in town.
In the Melodeon Factory, view historic photographs with the new exhibit “The Lake: 1890-1910,” featuring prints of glass plate negatives with families enjoying Lake St. Catherine at the turn of the last century in elaborate summer clothing.
The 1791 Union Academy will be the center for children’s activities. At 9:30am, there will be a morning story hour by Poultney Public Library director, Rebecca Cook. And horse-drawn wagon rides for families around the green until mid-day by Addison County Teamster Nick Hammond. Dancer Maya Kraus will offer lessons to children in early American dance on the lawn. In the afternoon, and kids can join the democratic process by getting involved in the ‘Greatest American Ice Cream’ Vote (free tastings of course) with the winning flavor announced during the 3-4pm raffle drawing.
Expect to hear much more music this year in the main events tent in the center of the green featuring these groups:
- 10 am – Extra Stout: A traditional Irish band singing a variety of music from raucous drinking songs, ballads of home and country, rocking reels, jigs and polkas.
- 11 am and 3pm – Ben Grosscup: Using the power of song to amplify the ideas of social change, Ben, who is executive director of People’s Music Network, plays at rallies, conferences, coffee houses and house concerts.
- 1:45 pm – Spruce Knob Uprising: A local string band, led by singer/songwriter Laird Christensen, weaves local landmarks into its music. The band plays at concerts and events throughout the region and has pleased crowds at East Poultney Day for the last 9 years.
East Poultney Day ends with the annual Poultney Historical Society Raffle Drawing at 3pm accompanied by Ben Grosscup’s music. Grand Prizes include an exquisitely-made Hubbardton Forge floor lamp, a locally built reproduction shaving horse, paintings by Peter Huntoon and Dick Weis, and $100 cash. There will be many items in the raffle from local businesses, including gift cards useful throughout the year, so be sure to buy your raffle tickets by 3pm at the latest.
Plan to stay in East Poultney after the vendors pack up for a worship service in nearby St. John’s Episcopal Church at 4pm, which will feature music from the rare Nutting organ, played by James Cassarino. This antique church, built in 1832, has remained unchanged for almost 200 years. Worshippers, historians and the curious may sit in gated pews under globed kerosene lamps to hear a rare Vermont-made hand-pumped organ, still rich in sound. The Rev. John Miller of Fair Haven will conduct the Episcopal service and James Cassarino, Professor of Music at Green Mountain College, will bring the organ to life.
And we’re fortunate this year that the United Baptist Church of Poultney will once again offer its Church Supper from 5-7pm, restoring a tradition that locals remember and anticipate.
Joining the activities on the green, non-profit organizations such as BROC, the Poultney-Mettowee Natural Resources Conservation District, Slate Valley Museum, Poultney Valley Snowmobile Devils, The Silent Friend Slate Project, and the Slate Quarry Park Group will represent their programs as well.
The original event in 1935 was a commemoration of the role of Poultney citizens in the Battle of Bennington and the extraordinary bravery of the “Valiant Thirteen”, Poultney women who, during the Revolutionary War, fled their homes in Poultney before Burgoyne’s advance after the Battle of Hubbardton to seek the relative safety of the Bennington area.
The event has evolved into a full day of activities on-the-green in East Poultney for the entire family to enjoy. Throughout the day, there are demonstrations of beekeeping, rug hooking, spinning and weaving.
Visitors often enjoy living history experiences as an 18th Century schoolmaster conducts class in the 1791 Union Academy (Vermont’s second oldest school building) while a British Army Regular periodically disturbs the peace with musket fire.
On a corner of the green, Green Mountain College’s Cerridwen Farm displays live animals, including sheep and oxen, and offers fresh produce, eggs and flowers.
Scheduled at various times during the day are historical programs, musical concerts, and demonstrations of melodeons made at the Melodeon Factory Museum in the 1850’s.
Food is available all day long, provided by the Poultney Snowmobile Club and the East Poultney Store, as well as any offerings from vendors.
Visitors can help support the work of the Historical Society by becoming members and buying raffle tickets.