ARTBITS by Richard B. Harper

VOLUME 7 * * All Arts News On the Web * * April 17, 2003


      ArtBits always features a calendar of the goings on of Franklin County artists. Check out these events around Franklin County. Each issue includes the entire text of our weekly newspaper column.

      Stop in for live music and more at the Fairfax Music Sessions at the Foothills Bakery in Fairfax most Saturday afternoons, at the Kept Writer in St Albans most Friday and Saturday evenings, at the Bayside in St Albans Town most Sunday afternoons, and the Cambridge CoffeeHouses at 7 p.m. on the first and third Wednesday of every month.
     These gatherings bring new opportunities, gossip, "show-and-tell" and occasional workshops. The booked performances and acoustic Open Mike Nights feature music, readings, and more from the best new artists in Vermont.


      The 37th Annual Vermont Maple Festival begins next weekend, April 25-27, in St. Albans. This year, the theme is Vermont Maple Syrup: It Doesn't Get any Better!
      This week will cover some of the music and entertainment. Next week, I will describe the rest of the music and the arts.
      The AAC books all of the Main Street entertainment for Vermont Maple Festival; each year we boast some of the best performers in Franklin County. For 2003, the continuous music on Main Street will last until 7 p.m. Friday and 6 p.m. Saturday.
      Continuous free entertainment begins at noon next Friday on the Main Street stage with the Maple Festival singers, the Kids on the Block-Vermont gigantic puppet show, folk music from Jim LaClair and Dennis Brown, classical and jazz piano of Melinda Firkey, the BFA Chamber Singers, and the country rock music of Borderline.
      Folk singers Jim LaClair of Richford and Dennis Brown of Fairfield are "relics" of the music boom of the 1960s. Heavily influenced by Joan Baez, Gordon Lightfoot, and Bob Dylan, they play traditional folk songs with a topical message.
      Soloist and composer Melinda Firkey will play and make piano magic with classical and upbeat jazz. If we are very, very nice, she might sing.
      The Youth Talent Show takes over BFA Auditorium on Friday evening. This annual favorite brings together some of the most talented children in the County competing for scholarship prizes. Tickets are available at the Chamber of Commerce and at the festival office.
      The Main Street Stage carries on the continuous free entertainment on Saturday with the Croppies, the country music of Yankee Wild, singer Mark Shelton, The Spyders, the danceable jazz of Joe Levesque's Big Band, and a free preview of the Fiddler's Variety Show. The Roxy Bissonette Dance Studio show and award winners from the Talent Show will perform. The Main Stage music continues until 6 p.m.
      The Croppies, a "not even close to traditional" American-Irish band, performs Irish, English, North American and contemporary songs, ranging from the jigs and reels of Gaelic dance to Breton melodies and the baroque flavored compositions of O'Carolan. Named for the rebels of the 1798 Irish Rebellion, the Croppies are Cheryl Kerr, fiddle, bodhran, mandolin, banjo, vocals; John Murray, bouzouki, vocals; Padrick Smith, button accordion, 4 string banjo, cittern, mandolinola, and vocals; Steve Foley, mandolin; and Chris Gauthier, bodhran, percussion, and vocals.
      Mark Shelton's fifties Christian rock show drew crowds at the Vermont Dairy Festival, headlined at the AAC CoffeeHouse, and he keeps company with some of our great local musicians. His new CD Radical is part of his ongoing ministry.
      The First Congregational Church continues its monthly tradition with a community Contra and Square dance at City Elementary school in St. Albans. The caller is Mark Sustic, with Frank Heyburn, fiddle, Michele Choiniere, piano, and an army of area fiddlers to play from 5:00-7:30 p.m. Admission is $5/person or $10 for the whole family. Tickets are available at the Chamber of Commerce, at the festival office, and at the door.
      The Fiddler's Variety Show is an annual sellout in BFA Auditorium. "Come for two hours (or more) of Canadian and American singers, dancers, pickers, comedy, clogging, and even some pretty fancy fiddlin' around," said Frank Heyburn. Tickets are available at the Chamber of Commerce and at the festival office.
      On Sunday, the free Main Street Stage hosts WLFE Disk Jockey Chris O'Neil plus the Vermont Maple Festival Cabaret and the classic Green Mountain Wind Ensemble. Village Harmony will present a spring concert in the First Congregational Church sanctuary.
      The Maple Festival has free shows all day long at the Main Street stage as well as concerts at BFA, at City School and at the First Congregational Church. With longer hours on Friday and Saturday, the music will play until the sun goes down.
      On Saturday and Sunday, the All Arts Council fine art exhibit features 15 Franklin County artists with exceptional oil and watercolor paintings, fine art photographs, mixed media, and sculpture in St. Albans City Hall and the Maple Festival Antique Show and Sale will take place at the St. Albans Town Central School. The Festival Crafts Show will take place on all three days in the BFA Gymnasium.
      Main Street also hosts a maple cotton candy booth, more maple exhibits, food concessions, plus contests and drawings at WRSA/WLFE, the official radio stations of the Vermont Maple Festival.
      The biggest event of the weekend is the 37th annual Maple Festival Parade. Starting from Houghton Street on Sunday, the parade stretches out for miles with over 120 bands, unique floats, clowns, horses and tractors, the ever-popular pooper scooper.


LUNAFEST - BY, FOR, OR ABOUT WOMEN FILM FESTIVAL (April 30)--seeks films by women, for women or about women. Films up to 40 minutes accepted include shorts, documentaries, features, fiction, or narrative. Special category for student shorts. Format for entries is VHS. A $25 entry fee made payable to The Breast Cancer Fund and Proceeds benefit the Fund. Cash prizes. Email E-mail OR visit for an entry form or more info.

JURIED ON-LINE EXHIBITION ISQ303 (May 15)--The theme of this juried on-line show is Red, White and Blue. The majority of focus of the artwork must be Red, White or Blue. Work can be 2 or 3 dimensional in any media and may include other colors. Entry fee. Email E-mail OR visit for more info.

8TH ANNUAL PHOTOGRAPHIC COMPETITION EXHIBITION, SUSTAINING VISION (April 30)--The juried competition is open to all photographers, all photographic processes, and all themes. Entry fee. Cash Awards. Photographers are encouraged to submit 5 to 10 slides. OR visit for prospectus.

HIDDEN TALENT SHORT STORY CONTEST (May 31)--Tall Tales Press Book Publishing's annual contest offers over $1200 in cash prizes plus publication. Click here.


      For online chat lovers, Dance Ballet is a general discussion group about classical dance and ballet and related topics. Regulars include professional dancers, directors, students, instructors, choreographers, dance artists and photographers, studio owners and more.


      ArtBits features a quick weekly peek at the bookshelf or night stand of the folks you know in and around Franklin County. That popular feature has a page of its own at the Franklin County Bookshelf here on the AAC site.


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      This article was originally published in the St Albans Messenger and other traditional print media. It is Copyright © 2003 by Richard B. Harper. All rights reserved. Archival material is provided as-is. Links are not necessarily maintained (if a link in this article fails, try or your favorite search engine).
      Thanks to recent misuse of copyright material on the Internet by individuals and archival firms alike, we emphasize that your rights to this article are limited to viewing it and printing it for personal use only. You must receive explicit permission from the All Arts Council and the author before reprinting or redistributing this article in any medium.