Bondville Concert Series returns with added features

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BONDVILLE — From the headlines surrounding the proposed 50th anniversary Woodstock festival, which as of this writing still lacked a venue and permits less than a month from its target dates, it might seem that putting together a music festival is an impossible undertaking.

But the Bondville Concert Series doesn't face the problems that are giving Woodstock 50's organizers headaches. In fact, its organizer, Andy Gluss, has two things Woodstock 50's organizers can't seem to buy at any price: A site that has welcomed them in the Bondville Fairgrounds, and the goodwill of the host community that enjoys free concerts, and local sponsors who are willing to help make it happen.

After a successful first summer season, the series is back for a second year with some key additions. A farmers' market and food vendors have been added to the lineup, and the fairgrounds are open two additional hours, from 4-8 p.m. (Bands still go on at 6 p.m.) About 20 vendors are signed up.

The rest is mostly unchanged. Winhall businesses lined up to sponsor the shows. Admission and parking are free. And donations are still being collected for Winhall-area non-profit organizations.

The next concert is Friday, when New Orleans-style funk band Bayoux takes the stage. More shows are scheduled for every other Friday: August 2, August 16, August 30 and September 7 (at 1 p.m.).

Gluss, a longtime Winhall resident who helped found the Mountain Safety Patrol at Stratton, had long wondered if concerts would be a good use for the fairgrounds, which otherwise sit quietly for most of the year awaiting the fair. The results were concerts that drew hundreds of people to the fairgrounds and raised more than $1500 for non-profits.

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It made me feel good to give out the checks that I did," Gluss said of the fundraising effort.

The Winhall Industrial Society leases the fairgrounds to Gluss for $1 and has mowed the grounds. In return Gluss has volunteers pitching in, but he's handling most of the details himself, down to taking out the trash at the end of Friday night.

"It's a big undertaking but it's not that big," he said.

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Why not charge? "I didn't want to do that. What about the family of four that can't afford $40? And if they can only afford top put $1 or $2 in the bucket, so be it. Not everybody has money," he said. "I know there were families here that couldn't have afforded it."

What did Gluss learn from his first year that he could teach the folks at Woodstock 50?

- Get local and state approvals hashed out, because there will be more than you expect. "I had to get Act 250 approval," he said. "I had meetings with the health department, the zoning board ... I just thought I could lease the property, come up here and have a concert."

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But get approvals, he did. And he smiles at the memory of a photo taken from the stage last year, showing children and adults all having a good time and listening to the music.

"It was just the coolest," he said.

"The reaction was terrific. everybody was thrilled with it," he said of the local response. "The community asked me all winter long "Are you doing it again? Are you doing it again? You have to do it again."'

- Line up the bands early. "I'm serious, don't wait until May to do that," Gluss said. "I book my bands in March."

He also learned a thing or two about what kinds of music work best. "I need upbeat rock and roll, 'want to get up and dance' music. and all the bands we have lined up provide that," Gluss said.

The sponsors include Brattleboro Savings & Loan, Homestead Landscaping, Stratton Mountain Resort, TPW Real Estate, Coleman's Auto, Cota & Cota, In The Moment Records, Mountain Realty, Stratton Trailblazers, Winhall Market, and Wohler Realty Group.


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