4th Annual French Heritage Days Coming to VergennesBy Sue Hoxie
Recognized as Lake Champlain Quadricentennial Signature Event and 2009 Top 20 Event by Yankee Magazine
Vergennes, Vermont – July 8, 2009 – The Vergennes Area Chamber of Commerce, a division of the Addison County Chamber of Commerce, is hosting French Heritage Days on Friday and Saturday, July 17 and 18, 2009 in Vergennes. The event celebrates the area’s French-Canadian heritage, but can be enjoyed by all, regardless of family descent. Full details of the event and a schedule of activities is available at www.frenchheritageday.com.
The French Heritage Days festival has been recognized as a 2009 Top 20 event by Yankee Magazine and designated as a “Signature Event” of the 2009 Lake Champlain Quadricentennial, which marks the 400th anniversary of French explorer and cartographer Samuel de Champlain’s travels by sail, oar and paddle to the lake that now bears his name.
The event kicks off on Friday, July 17 from 6 to 9 pm with a Veillée (pronounced “vay yea”), a traditional French Canadian Supper (served from 6 to 7 pm), held at the Vergennes Opera House. The evening features a lively evening of dance with instruction and song.
Activities on Saturday, July 18 run from 7 am to 9:30 pm. The days’ activities begin with a French toast breakfast at the Vergennes Fire Station and is followed by parade at 9:30 pm. Hosted in Vergennes City Park, day-long activities feature colorful re-enactors, Franco-American music, French-Canadian fiddling, response songs, step-dancing, fencing demonstrations, French food, and traditional craft demonstrations such as spinning, weaving, rug hooking, rag rug making, crocheting, knitting, chair caning and rush weaving, a woodwright, and canoe, basket and knife making. Exhibits range from the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum's replica canal schooner, the Lois McClure, to antique vehicles and engines.
Hands-on fun includes churning ice cream, pumping water, making rope, old-time games and children’s activities. Plan to stroll through the farmers’ market, trace your roots with the Vermont French-Canadian Genealogical Society, or practice your French with any number of people including participating local French conversational groups. Take a horse and carriage ride or join in a French and English-narrated walking tour of the Otter Creek Basin and the City of Vergennes. Explore the historic Otter Creek on a narrated Carillon boat cruise.
Performances in the Vergennes Opera House will include such local groups as Va-et-Vient, La Famille Roy-Coté, plus The Sutlerlands with Jeremiah McLane and a Quebec caller/instructor/step-dancer, Roger Perrault, Lausanne LaBombarde, and the Seth Warner Mount Independence Fife and Drum Corps.
French Heritage Days is held with the support of many sponsors: Vermont Arts Council, National Endowment for the Arts, Quebec Government Office in Boston, Addison Outfitters, American Legion, Black Sheep Bistro, City of Vergennes, Classic Stitching, everyWEAR, Gaines Insurance Agency, Good Companion Bakery, Jackman Fuels, Inc., Linda’s Apparel and Gifts, Lisa Sprague, Mel Simmons, Merchants Bank, National Bank of Middlebury, Neat Repeats Resale Shop, Roland’s Place, Smart Communication, Inc., 3 Squares Café, Tim Hodson and VHB Pioneer.
About Addison County Chamber of Commerce
The Addison County Chamber of Commerce (ACCOC) is an association of individuals representing business interest, working together to promote commercial business in Addison County. The Chamber can be found on the Web at www.addisoncounty.com.