This weekend is Memorial Day Weekend and it is, according to lore, the “official” start of the New England summer season. In Vermont, we start celebrating the summer as soon as the last of the snow leaves the shady spots and the daytime temperature climbs above 40 degrees. Thus, for many of us, “gearing up for another amazing summer arts season” has been in full swing for about a month now.
In virtually every corner of the state, in every nook and cranny throughout the length and breadth of the Green Mountains, along the highways and byways that capture the minds and hearts of both residents and visitors, you can find almost any kind of cultural entertainment you like. But it is the Memorial Day Weekend Open Studio tour and Bennington Mayfest that, for most people, signal the start Vermont’s most vital (in economic terms) tourist season.
Having just celebrated its 20th anniversary in 2012, the Open Studio tour (organized by its founder, Martha Fitch, director of the Vermont Crafts Council) will showcase more than 240 artists and artisans in their studios throughout the state. It is considered by many to be one of the best reasons to visit Vermont since it allows visitors from near and far to get to know their favorite artists/artisans in person over the years.
Bennington Mayfest, is organized very differently. Designed as a one-day festival, the setting covers just a few blocks of downtown of Bennington and showcases artists, artisans, and food vendors in stalls and tents, all in a family and pet-friendly environment. Now in its 28th year, the Mayfest might have the bragging rights where longevity is concerned, but Open Studio tour covers a lot more ground and showcases many more artists. Each event, however, in its own way successfully showcases the variety and talent of Vermont artists and craftspeople.
And that is just a small taste of a few things that are on tap for the next couple of months. For a complete guide to what is happening not just in the visual arts but in the performing arts let me simply suggest you keep an eye out for the Times-Argus’s Summer Guide to the Arts which should be dropping as an insert in the May 24th issue. If ever there was a reason to get excited about the next few months, this is it. From classical to folk/traditional concerts and festivals, to amateur and professional theater offerings all over the state, the Times-Argus’s guide is one of the few pieces that I keep handy. A copy on my desk at work, a copy in my car, a copy or two at home—it serves as a constant and handy resource that helps me plan my summer. Don’t miss it! In fact, check out a few things that interest you and invite some friends for a visit. First on my plate? The Burlington Discover Jazz Festival. But that’s possibly the subject of another whole post…