251 Club of Vermont Celebrates 60th With New Travel Journal

August 22, 2014  
Filed under Travel

VermontTravelJournal_251The 251 Club of Vermont, celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2014, exists to encourage members to visit all of the state’s 251 towns and cities. Now the task has been made more convenient and enjoyable with the publication of a new travel journal designed specifically for the Vermont explorer.

“This project is as purely Vermont as a quart of maple syrup,” says Sandy Levesque, club director and editor of the journal. “Vintage Vermont postcards from another century provide the design element and contemporary lists of travel resources, such as maps, books, and websites, are included. Every element, from editing to design to physical production, was handled in Vermont.”

All of Vermont’s 255 civic/geographic entities or “places” – 237 towns, 9 cities, 5 unorganized towns, 3 gores, and 1 grant – are listed alphabetically, along with their charter, grant or patent date, on 160 lightly-lined writing pages. Once completed, the book will be a unique and highly personalized account of the owner’s Vermont experience.

The 6” x 9” journal is a perfect traveling companion, deliberately sized to fit in glove compartments, purses, backpacks, briefcases, and totes. It has a durable cover and spiral binding to facilitate writing on-the-go. Printed on cream-colored, acid-free, archival paper the Vermont Travel Journal is designed to preserve memories and become a treasured keepsake.

With over 4,000 members, the 251 Club of Vermont is one of the largest membership organizations in the state. For information on the club, or to order a copy of the Vermont Travel Journal, visit vt251.com or call 802-234-5039.

Is Going Organic Worth the Cost?

August 6, 2014  
Filed under Sustainable Living

August 2014

Buying organic food can reduce your exposure to chemicals and toxins, but sometime buying locally grown produce and other food items is the best way to improve your health and the health of the planet.

Buying organic food can reduce your exposure to chemicals and toxins, but sometime buying locally grown produce and other food items is the best way to improve your health and the health of the planet.

By Dr. Stuart Offer
Once upon a time, organic food was available only at health food stores, marketed to “tree-hugging” consumers willing to pay extra for “natural,” environmentally friendly foods. Today, organic foods are undeniably mainstream. Not only can they be found at most every neighborhood grocery store, but even giants like Walmart are getting into the act. People who buy organic are seeking assurance that food production is gentle to the earth, and/or looking for safer, purer, more natural foods. But are organic foods really worth the added expense?
When I say “going organic,” I do not mean an all or nothing approach. As with all of my advice, I strive to focus on what will give the most “bang for the buck” in regards to convenience, cost, your comfort zone and health benefits. As with many nutritional subjects, there are far more questions and confusion than definitive answers. With most topics, I read about the prevailing research and mix in a heavy dose of common sense and voila, I find my direction. There is always a middle ground that makes the most sense to me.
Here are the compelling reasons to choose organic, even if it’s only a portion of your purchases. Organic produce often has higher levels of potentially healthy compounds. These are polyphenols, a strong antioxidant that combats many chronic diseases including cancer and Type 2 diabetes. Organics will also reduce your exposure to many toxic chemicals that have been shown to cause health issues. The impact is greater on developing children and developing fetuses, but we all can benefit from a lower dose of toxins. Many of these substances are neuro-toxins and carcinogens. Research has shown that high levels of these toxins resulted in lower IQ scores in children. Another issue is the environmental impact on the world. Reports paint a stark picture of diminishing populations of pollinators such as bees and butterflies, as well as the pollution of our waterways.
What does the term “organic” mean? Organic foods can include fruits, vegetables, grains, dairy foods, eggs and, to some extent, meats and poultry. Organic foods are defined as those foods that are grown without the use of synthetic fertilizers, sewage sludge (human and animal waste—yuck), irradiation, genetic engineering, pesticides or drugs. Pesticides are chemical or control agents made to kill insects, weeds and fungal pests that damage crops.
Over the past few years, there have been many studies that have stated there is no benefit to organic produce vs. conventional produce. The confusion is rooted in poor research. In order to make a good comparison, you need to study produce from the same environment. A poor study would compare conventional grapes grown in New York with organic grapes grown in Florida. A good piece of research would study the grapes grown side by side with the same soil, sunlight, etc.
Here are some thoughts and recommendations: Food does not have to be organic to be safe and environmentally friendly. One good strategy is focusing on eating food grown close to where you live. Some organic foods come from multinational companies and have been trucked across the country. They may be organic, but the environmental footprint includes lots of petrochemicals used in transportation, whereas if you buy produce from your local market, it may not be organic but it is farm-fresh and less impactful on the environment. Some smaller farms may not have the organic label—which can be costly to obtain—but follow similar practices. Buying local allows you to talk to the farmers and get to know their practices.
And just because food is labeled organic doesn’t mean it is completely free of pesticides. Contamination can occur from soil and ground water containing previously used chemicals, or during transport, processing and storage.
I advise those on limited budgets to consider buying organic versions of foods on the Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list, or focus on organic versions of foods eaten most frequently. Eating more fruits, vegetables and whole grains and less processed foods remains the goal.
EWG’s Dirty Dozen for 2014 (see www.ewg.org) list of produce contained a number of different pesticide residues and showed high concentrations of pesticides relative to other produce items.
EWG’s Clean Fifteen for 2014 includes the produce least likely to hold pesticide residues, and tests found low total concentrations of pesticides. Don’t waste your money buying organic here, go for the conventional to save a little.
One thing the experts agree on — regardless of whether you choose locally grown, organic, or conventional foods, the important thing is to eat plenty of fruits and vegetables. The health benefits of such a diet far outweigh any potential risks from pesticide exposure. Given what we know, the best diet advice I can give is to eat a wide variety of produce and whole grains. What do I do? I buy organic as long as it fits into my budget and does not break my piggy bank.

 

WHEN TO GO ORGANIC

DIRTY DOZEN
The Environmental Working Group’s “Dirty Dozen” list includes produce with the highest levels of pesticide residues. Focus on organic versions of these foods or the foods eaten most frequently.

Apples, strawberries, grapes, celery, peaches, spinach, sweet bell peppers, imported nectarines, cucumbers, cherry tomatoes, imported snap peas and potatoes.

CLEAN FIFTEEN
EWG’s Clean Fifteen for 2014 includes the produce least likely to hold pesticide residues. Relatively few pesticides were detected on these foods, and tests found low total concentrations of pesticides. The list includes:

Avocados, sweet corn, pineapples, cabbage, frozen sweet peas, onions, asparagus, mangoes, papayas, kiwis, eggplant, grapefruit, cantaloupe, cauliflower and sweet potatoes.

 

Lane Series Announces 59th Season

August 6, 2014  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

August 2014

Room Full of Teeth

Room Full of Teeth

The 2014-2015 UVM Lane Series will present a season of live performances at UVM Recital Hall, with additional events scheduled at the Flynn Center for the Performing Arts, Fleming Museum and Mann Hall Gymnasium. Performance genres represented include world music, folk music, early music, film, dance, jazz and classical.
The “soft opening” will occur on Sept. 19 as a collaboration between the Lane Series and the UVM Department of Music and Dance. This partnership event, NC Dances VT, features work by the Van Dyke Dance Group, Paul Besaw (UVM Dance chair) and Christal Brown (Middlebury Dance chair).
The season officially opens on Sept. 26 with the Grammy Award-winning vocal ensemble Roomful of Teeth. The concert will feature a performance of the group’s Pulitzer Prize award composition (by member Caroline Shaw) “Partita for Eight Voices,” which explores the limits and dimensions of the human voice.
Other “new to Lane” artists this year include: the Juno-Award winner Kiran Ahluwalia, performing her contemporary take on Indian Ghazel singing accompanied by guitar, harmonium and tabla; French-Dominican Jazz singer Cyrille Aimée and her four- piece band; and the Nordic Fiddlers Bloc, a blend of fiddlers from Norway, Sweden and the Shetland Islands. Also making its Lane debut this year is the Brentano String Quartet.
Lane will also present some favorite returning artists including: The Rose Ensemble in a program celebrating St. Francis of Assisi; Anonymous 4; blues guitarist and singer Eric Bibb; and singer-songwriter Peter Mulvey performing with musicians Kris Delmhorst and Jeffrey Foucault.
Lane Series also collaborates with the Flynn on three shows this year: The Lovesong of R. Buckminster Fuller, a documentary narrated live by filmmaker Sam Green with an original score performed on stage by the legendary Indie Rock band Yo La Tengo; St. Patrick’s Day with fiddler Eileen Ivers; and a large-scale residency and concert with musicians from five Nile nations entitled The Nile Project.
In a brand new endeavor, the Lane Series will partner with the UVM Department of Music and Dance to present four events throughout the year. These include: a concert with jazz guitarist Dave Stryker, who will perform with the UVM Big Band; pianist Andrew Rangell; and two dance performances with guest artists.

For more information, visit www.uvm.edu/laneseries, or call 656-4455 for a brochure or to order tickets by phone.

Vermont Artists Fill the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center this Summer

August 6, 2014  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

August 2014

The Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center in Stowe presents local singer-songwriters, musicians, classical ensembles, physical comedians and more as part of the Peak VTartists series this summer.
The series celebrates the indigenous artistic community in Vermont, and since the series launch in spring 2013, the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center has presented nearly 20 Vermont-based artists, musicians, dance companies, comedians and family entertainers.
The lineup this summer includes:
Downtown Bob Stannard & Those Dangerous Bluesmen, featuring legendary blues piano player David Maxwell, Aug. 9, 8 p.m.
Tom Murphy in Laugh ‘Til You Die, Aug. 16, 7 p.m.
Mellow Yellow – A Multi-Media Tribute to Peace, Love & Grooviness, Aug. 30, 8 p.m.
Tickets start at $20 and may be purchased by visiting www.sprucepeakarts.org, or by calling the box office 802-760-4634.

New Opportunities to Explore Abenaki Heritage & Cultural

August 6, 2014  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

August 2014

This summer season, the Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing has partnered with Abenaki tribes to help Vermonters and visitors learn more about Vermont’s first peoples. The new VermontVacation.com/Abenaki website serves as a hub for events, exhibits and destinations that welcome visitors to explore the 12,000 year history and culture of today’s Abenaki.
Abenaki tribes celebrated at the Abenaki Heritage Weekend in late June at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes. Vermont’s four Abenaki tribes and members of the Abenaki Artists Association convened to share their heritage and culture, including beadwork, quillwork, basketry, pottery, woodworking, and demonstrations and performances of songs, drumming, dancing, games, food preparation and other life skills.
Additional summertime Abenaki cultural heritage events include Nulhegan 2014 Heritage Celebration & Encampment, Sept. 6-7 in Island Pond and the 19th Annual Northeast Open Atlatl Championship, Sept. 20 in Addison.
A number of Vermont museums host exhibits that introduce visitors to archaeological findings that illustrate the 12,000 years of regional habitation. Witness more than 2,000 artifacts, including a rare St. Lawrence Iroquoian-style ceramic vessel (c. 1500), that was unearthed in Vermont in the early 19th century, at the James B. Petersen Gallery of Native American Cultures at the University of Vermont’s Fleming Museum. Also, exhibits at Chimney Point State Historic Site in Addison and the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Vergennes explore 17th century Abenaki culture and the introduction of the French settlement of the region. Families are provided hands-on activities at a re-created Abenaki bark home at the Vermont History Museum in Montpelier and can view an extensive timeline exhibit at the Vermont Archaeology Center in Barre.
Visit www.vermontvacation.com/Abenaki for more information on these summertime events, as well as annual events that feature performances, demonstrations and opportunities for conversation with Abenaki artists, performers, cultural experts and historians.

Enjoy Outdoor Art at Stowe’s Sculpture Park

August 6, 2014  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

August 2014

‘Lady’ by Karen Petersen stands proudly in the sculpture park at West Branch Gallery. (Image courtesy of West Branch Gallery & Sculpture Park, Stowe. Photo by Ric Kasini Kadour)

‘Lady’ by Karen Petersen stands proudly in the sculpture park at West Branch Gallery. (Image courtesy of West Branch Gallery & Sculpture Park, Stowe. Photo by Ric Kasini Kadour)

West Branch Gallery & Sculpture Park is a good place in Vermont to experience contemporary art – indoors and out.
Since 2001, thousands of visitors have enjoyed 3,400 square-feet of gallery space in Stowe showcasing 60 contemporary artists and an outdoor park dotted with large outdoor sculpture.
The 3.5 acre park is dotted with large trees and is bordered by the winding West Branch of the Little River, making it a beautiful place to visit and contemplate the sculpture on view.
“Sculpture is something that can draw you outside,” said curator Christopher Curtis. “It amplifies the changes in the seasons and the weather. A sculpture in snow looks different than it does in the springtime, different than it does in the rain or with fog behind it. It makes the outdoors more appealing in some way, because you notice it more.”
The gallery is open Tuesday-Sunday from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m., and the sculpture park is open daily during daylight hours. There is no admission fee and visits are self-guided, with staff on hand in the gallery to answer questions during business hours. West Branch is located at 17 Towne Farm Lane, 1.5 miles outside of Stowe Village. Call (802) 253-8943 for more information.

‘Cooler in the Mountains’ Free Concert Series Celebrates 5th Year

August 6, 2014  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

August 2014

Concert goers enjoy Donavon Frankenreiter during the 2013 concert series (Contributed photo)

Concert goers enjoy Donavon Frankenreiter during the 2013 concert series
(Contributed photo)

Killington’s free concert series has returned for its fifth year — the Cooler in the Mountains summer concert series features national acts straddling a variety of musical genres.
The concerts, held Saturdays from 3:30 to 6:00 p.m., feature specialty Long Trail beer tastings along with a BBQ at Killington Resort’s Roaring Brook Umbrella Bars, lawn games and outdoor fun. All attendees will have the chance to win a 2014-2015 Killington season pass. Guests are encouraged to come early to enjoy the atmosphere or summer activities and enjoy a dinner after the show along Killington Road.
The lineup includes:
Aug. 9 – Entrain: the band has released seven albums, all of which have been praised for their ability to shift effortlessly between musical styles – from rock, blues, calypso and ska, to zydeco, jazz and funk – often within the same song.
Aug. 16 – Changes in Latitudes: A tribute show to the Mayor of Margaritaville, Jimmy Buffett. This nationally acclaimed band travels the country with beach balls and leis flying, dancing conga lines and “Trop Rock” fun.
Aug. 23 – Will Hoge: A Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter who made his name honing a blend of soulful Americana and heartland rock. Hoge received nods at the Academy of Country Music, Country Music Association and the Grammy awards for the Eli Young Band’s hit “Even if it Breaks Your Heart,” which he co-wrote with Eric Paslay.
Aug. 30 – Live at the Fillmore: A concert tribute to the Allman Brothers Band.
The Cooler in the Mountains summer concert series is produced by the Town of Killington and hosted at Killington Resort. More information on the shows as well as other upcoming summer events and offers can be found at DiscoverKillington.com or Facebook.com/DiscoverKillington .

Lyric Theatre Company Announces Auditions for ‘The Producers’

August 6, 2014  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

August 2014

The Kick-off/Information Meeting for Lyric Theatre Company’s “The Producers” is Aug. 20 at 7 p.m. at South Burlington High School. Meet the team — Production Supervisor Kathy Richards; Artistic Director Corey Gottfried; Music Director Carol Wheel; and Choreographer Donna Antell — and learn about opportunities to perform on stage as well as behind-the-scenes roles in Lyric’s fall 2014 production of Mel Brooks’ reknowned musical.The show will be presented on the Flynn MainStage in November.
Auditions for “The Producers” will be held Aug. 25-28 from 5:45-10 p.m. at Williston Central School.Mel Brooks (writer, director and composer) highlights his comic genius in this funny, satirical dark comedy that debuted as a film in 1968 and later became an acclaimed Academy Award-winning Broadway stage musical in 2001, with the stars reprising their roles in the movie version in 2005. Lyric’s production will feature a cast of 34 with stage ages ranging from 18 to 60+ including five featured roles for men, one featured female role and 28 chorus parts, with opportunities for lots of stage time. Auditionees must register between 5:45 and 6:15 p.m.

For more information, visit www.lyrictheatrevt.org

‘A Midsummer Night’s Dream’ coming to three area venues

August 6, 2014  
Filed under Arts & Entertainment

August 2014

Jena Necrason as Shakespeare’s Ariel. (Contributed photo)

Jena Necrason as Shakespeare’s Ariel. (Contributed photo)

Vermont Shakespeare Company performs in August

Tickets are now on sale for Vermont Shakespeare Company’s seventh season of summer Shakespeare.
A Midsummer’s Night’s Dream, Shakespeare’s magical comedy of lovers, fairies and rude mechanicals takes audiences from Athens to a moonlit forest full of intrigue and enchantment. The play is a joyous ride that reveals the nature of true love and the power of imagination.
Founded in 2005 by husband and wife team Jena Necrason and John Nagle, Vermont Shakespeare Company’s vision is to build a nationally recognized destination theatre festival. The festival will include outdoor and indoor shows, a funded educational component, pre-show arts events and Shakespeare-focused community events for all ages. Many area residents remember the popular Champlain Shakespeare Festival at UVM. Necrason and Nagle have a strong vision to follow existing national models to build a new festival in Burlington
In addition to ‘Shakespeare In The Park’ at Knight Point State Park in North Hero, the company will be performing on the Circus Lawn at Shelburne Museum. The season will conclude with performances at the celebrated Royall Tyler Theatre at the University of Vermont. Vermont Shakespeare Company and The UVM Department of Theatre are initiating a partnership with the mission of bringing Shakespeare back to the Royall Tyler Theatre, while providing professional opportunities for students in the theatre department.
Knight Point State Park, North Hero, Aug. 9 and 10 at 6 p.m.
Shelburne Museum, Aug. 13 and 14 at 6 p.m.
The Royall Tyler Theatre at the University of Vermont, Aug.16 at 7:30 p.m. and August 17 at 2 p.m.
For tickets, visit www.flynntix.org or call 86-FLYNN.
For more information visit www.vermontshakespeare.org

Al Fresco Summer Dining in Vermont

August 6, 2014  
Filed under Food

August 2014

By Phyl Newbeck

Summer in Vermont is fleeting so you’ll want to maximize your time in the great outdoors. One way to do that to go on a picnic! Whether it’s an afternoon on the beach, a hike to a scenic overlook, a family get-together or an evening at an outdoor concert, food just tastes better when it’s spread out on a blanket or a picnic table. Enjoy the summer. Dine out while you can!

If you know you’re going use a picnic table, you might want to bring an old plastic-coated cloth that’s easy to wipe down. That way you don’t have to worry about what previous guests – or seagulls – have left on the table. If you’re planning on staying at ground level, a good blanket will provide a little separation between you and the grass or sand. For an outdoor concert, you may want to bring a light, portable chair, but recognize that many venues ask those with taller chairs to sit in the back so they don’t block the views of others.

It’s beautiful outside,but you’re likely to be sharing your space with a few flying creatures, some of whom may think that you are the perfect picnic meal. Mosquitoes are fiercest in the early morning and late evening. Citronella candles can be very romantic, but you won’t want to carry them for long distances so bug repellent is probably something you should think about. For daytime picnics, you’ll also want to remember your sunscreen.

Glass containers aren’t recommended since they’re fragile, but if you do bring along some Chardonnay, don’t forget a bottle opener.

The length of your trip to the picnic site will obviously impact how much or how little you bring. If you’re not going far, a cooler will ensure that food doesn’t spoil and drinks stay cold. A hard-covered cooler has the advantage of doubling as a small table. If you’ve got farther to go, a big knapsack or Adirondack pack basket will do the trick. It’s best to avoid plastic bags unless you enjoy spending your time chasing after them as the wind blows them hither and yon.

Katherine Vanderminden of Village Roots Catering in Pawlet thinks a cold quinoa salad with roasted vegetables and maple balsamic is a perfect picnic dish for a day at the lake. She also favors homemade hummus or black bean dip with vegetable sticks and low salt corn chips. For longer treks, she likes to make venison jerky and will also pre-cut fruit for a healthier snack. Vanderminden cautions picnickers to avoid pasta salads, which dry out quickly, and mayonnaise based salads, which can spoil in the sun and heat.

It’s always safest to pack soft food like fruit or dessert in separate plastic containers. For sandwiches, there is reusable packaging made of cloth with one waxy side for the food and a Velcro clasp to cut down on the use of plastic bags and aluminum foil. One tip for avoiding soggy sandwiches is to put the driest material like meat or cheese closest to the bread with the lettuce and tomatoes in the center. If possible, buy sturdy, re-usable plastic utensils since lighter ones are more likely to break.

Not surprisingly, Director of Vermont State Parks Craig Whipple considers state parks ideal locations for picnics. A tab on the State Parks website even provides a list of prime locations. Whipple suggests the top of Mt. Philo as a great place to spread out a blanket and dine al fresco, but notes that many people prefer the shores of various ponds, lakes and reservoirs. Some parks have sheltered areas which are ideal for large groups of people and convenient for getting out of the weather.

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