Summer preview of events

MANCHESTER -- Summertime in New England has always been seen as a well-needed break from the cold and gray months that preceded it, and residents will look for any opportunity to get out of the house and into the sunshine. In Manchester this summer, those who are looking to do just that have a full calendar to choose from this season.

StreetFest kicked things off last Friday when they took over a chunk of Main Street, from Thai Basil to the button roundabout, from 6 to 9 p.m. It was both a celebration of the completion of the roundabout project and of the start of summer. The Don't Leave Band entertained from a stage in the middle of the street, while a dunk tank featuring local figures - including Town Manager John O'Keefe - raised money for the MEMS PTO.

Starting on July 9, and running every Tuesday night through August 20, a rotating schedule of bands will perform on the Town Green for Tuesday Concerts on the Green. The weekly, eight-night concert series will feature local musicians including Manchester's own The Battenkillers - set to perform all of The Rolling Stones' "Exile on Main Street" - and Southern Vermont bluegrass band The Bondville Boys.

Bennington-based blues band, Blues Sanctuary, will begin the series on July 9, preceding bluegrass locals Gold Town on July 16. They are followed by The Battenkillers on July 23, The Bondville Boys, another bluegrass group, on July 30, Don't Leave Band on August 6, and "folk impurists" The Buskers on August 13. The final band to play Tuesday Concerts on the Green will be folk rock duo Sullivan & White on August 20. In the event of rain, the concerts will take place in the Park House. For band bios, head to the Chamber of Commerce's website

On the Fourth of July, the town plans to hold its traditional celebration at the rec park, complete with a band and fireworks. However, on July 2, there will be a concert by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra at Hunter Park, complete with fireworks. The concert starts at 7:30 p.m., and admission is $32 in advance, $37 at the door, with children under 18 free in advance and $12 at the door.

For those looking for something to do that is more edible, Gringo Jack's will begin hosting barbecue parties every-other Sunday, starting July 7 from 1 to 6 p.m. They will be setting up a smoker to the right of the building, serving a variety of summer barbecue foods. A spot for live music will also be added, and Fred Shehaci and Company will be performing the parties throughout July.

"We're hoping to continue these at least to September," said Gringo Jack's COO Michelle Kropp.

The Vermont Summer Festival returns this summer on July 2 to the Harold Beebe Farm in East Dorset. For six weeks, the farm will host six rotations of equestrian shows - the Vermont Summer Special from July 2 to 7, the Manchester Summer Festival from July 9-14, the Manchester Classic Horse Show from July 16 to 21, the Valley Classic Horse Show from July 23 to 28, the Manchester & the Mountains from July 30 to August 4, and the Vermont Summer Celebration from Aug. 6 to 11.

"It features Olympic-quality riders and such beautiful horses," said Berta Maginniss, Executive Director of the Manchester Chamber of Commerce. "It really is a top dollar show."

Each week's shows begin on Tuesday and run through Sunday; each week will feature new riders and their horses in addition to new judges and course designers.

"I love this being in our town," Maginniss said. "It is six weeks of people in our inns... shopping in our stores... whatever they do, they will be doing it in our community."

For those who prefer to spend nice, summer days with a good book, Northshire Book Store has a full calendar of events planned for readers of all ages. Nobel Peace Prize winner, and Vermont native, Jody Williams will be at the bookstore on June 28, at 7 p.m., to discuss her book "My Name is Jody Williams: A Vermont Girl's Winding Path to the Nobel Peace Prize."

"This is really special because she is only one of ten women to win the Nobel Peace Prize," said Mary Allen, Director of Public Events and Publicity at Northshire Bookstore.

Children are invited to see author James Howe, famous for his 1979 children's book "Bunnicula," speak at the bookstore on July 27 at 11 a.m. The event is titled "Bunnicula and Friends," and follows the conclusion of his two-week summer camp of the same name. The event, and the camp, are tied in with the Dorset Theatre Festival. For more information on the camp, head to its website at

Northsire bookstore is about more than just books, and they show that by hosting craft series Create with Bogate on the third Saturday of each month, from July through December. Each session has a specific theme and project, starting with felting.

Adults are invited to a wine and cheese tasting with author Michael Paterniti on August 29 while he discusses his book "The Telling Room: A Tale of Love, Betrayal, Revenge, and the World's Greatest Piece of Cheese."

A full, and detailed calendar of events for the bookstore can be found on their website,

This year, Manchester will be a part of the six-week Hills Alive! festival in multiple ways. The formerly one-week festival has expanded this year, not only in length but in content, and includes the Manchester Music Festival as well. MMF spotlights classical, chamber and orchestral music in eight concerts between July 11 and August 25. A full schedule can be found on The Concerts on the Green are also considered a part of the Hills Alive! performances. Other events, including those happening in Bennington, are listed on the Hills Alive! website:

To stay updated with each event, and for announcements of newly added events, check out the Manchester Chamber of Commerce's website


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