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Suzanne Francke, of The Bennington Arts Guild, converses with Jackie Kelly of Bennington last year for the 2015 EXPOsion! Bennington held at the Mount Anthony Country Club. The EXPOsion! is an expo showcasing the arts and cultural businesses of the surrounding areas and Bennington County.

BENNINGTON >> For a second year, EXPOsion! will come to the Mount Anthony Country Club to celebrate and preview the 2016 professional artistry season.

The premier press and trade conference will highlight various art, entertainment and performance events throughout the southwestern Vermont, eastern New York and northern Berkshire regions. These include the 125th Bennington Battle Monument celebration, Bennington Arts Weekend in August, the Bennington Museum's 2016 Grandma Moses exhibit, and the reincarnation of the Bennington Area Arts Council under the Cultural Bennington Planning Committee, according to an event release.

This year's exhibitors will feature the Bennington Museum, Bennington Center for the Arts, the Clark Institute, Vermont Arts Exchange, the Left Bank, Manchester Music Festival, Harwood Hill, The Bennington Arts Guild and the Shires of Vermont.

Director of the Better Bennington Corporation John Shannahan said last year's inaugural event exceeded the planning committee's expectation with the parking lot of the country club filled up and people continuing down Main St.

"We know there will be a big public presence there. The tables sold out for vendors from Berkshire organizations all the way up to Westin," he said. "They're all participating and everyone locally too. It's a very high energy, exciting event."


As per the Center for Arts Research at the Southern Methodist University, Bennington, Burlington and Barre were found to be one of the "Most Vibrant Arts Communities in the Country," for 2015, which is a result of an emerging art scene in towns that hold a population of a million or less.

Examples of this achievement involve story nights at pubs and tap houses, local comedy events and open mic nights, interactive paint classes, Community Theatre presentations, notable shows at Oldcastle Theatre Company and national musicians taking the state at the VAE's Basement Music Series. Groups and organizations small and large come together throughout the year to showcase artistic masterpieces of all types right in Bennington County and nearby.

Stephen Perkins, the new executive director of the Vermont Historical Society will be the keynote speaker at 1 p.m. His past efforts at the Bennington Museum and familiarity of cultural arts in the area is what lead him to be selected Shannahan said.

Even though the exhibit takes place during business days and hours, Shannahan said the intention is to root art culture into economic development versus using the field as "fluff."

"We're putting a lot of our eggs in the cultural entertainment basket," he explained. "Greg Van Houten said let's stop looking at it as a weekend pastime, so we continued the theory."

If you go..

What: Free; EXPOsion! 2016 arts, entertainment and performance exhibition.

Where: The Mount Anthony Country Club at 180 Country Club Drive in Bennington

When: April 20 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Why: To preview this year's arts and entertainment activities in southern Vermont and surrounding areas.

How: Register on

—Makayla-Courtney McGeeney can be reached at (802)-447-7567, ext. 118.