Even in a Certain Cemetery

A digita poster for Garlic Town USA 2021.
Garlic Town USA

August 30, 2021

We’ve told you once (see last month’s post) and we’re telling you twice, Garlic Town USA is coming to town on Saturday, September 4, at the outset of Labor Day Weekend.

Last year Bennington rebranded its popular Southern Vermont Garlic and Herb Festival as the aspirational “Garlic Town USA.” The colorful retro logo shows a head of garlic shining like a sun from the southern portion of a cut-out of Vermont.

Vendors and festival-goers come from a wider region, but if you’re looking for Vermont spirits, for example, you’ll be able to check out bottles from eight different Green Mountain State distilleries. Among garlic growers, Grá Den Talún Farm from nearby White Creek, New York, will be offering some fifty different varieties for sale, including some in the category of “Wild and Unclassified Garlics,” garlics with names like Psekem River and Ferganskij. This is garlic to die (and go to heaven) for. In the meantime, regular consumption of the aromatic and medicinally potent bulbs may well prolong your life. 

Due to Covid, the Garlic Festival was relocated to downtown last year, and that’s where it will be this year too. It’s a well-organized event, with more than 100 food, drink, and craft vendors grouped into three “cloves” in the downtown area. There’ll be a variety of food-truck treats, sidewalk sales from local merchants, live bands, and drink specials from local restaurants, too, plus activities for kids and families.

Everything takes place within a walkable one-mile area, with parking shuttles and tractor rides available throughout the day. All-access tickets may be purchased in advance or at the door: adults $12, kids under 12 $5, and family passes (unlimited kids!), $30. A list of vendors and information on tickets and parking is available at Southwestern Vermont Chamber of Commerce.

Bennington Food Truck Festival

A photo of the Bennington Food Truck Festival.

Why not time a visit to Bennington to coincide with the 3rd annual Food Truck Festival on Saturday, September 18, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.? Entry is free. Food trucks and vendors from Vermont and beyond will be serving up a wide variety of dishes and showing off their culinary skills.

The organizers promise Thai and Jamaican treats, comfort foods, BBQ, signature sandwiches, maple items, international fare, wings, smoothies, slushies, and more. Local musicians will keep it lively. 

Stone Skipping Festival

You could get that food truck sandwich wrapped and enjoy it over at Lake Paran in North Bennington while you watch champion stone skippers compete from noon to 4 p.m. on September 18 in what organizers bill as the only stone-skipping festival in New England put on by Paran Recreations.

It’s become a popular annual happening. The skippers are amazingly good, the water is usually as smooth as glass, and the setting couldn’t be more scenic. Want to compete yourself? There’s no entry fee. Just purchase a bucket of stones for five bucks. Kids can compete in their own age brackets, too. Plus, there’s beer and food trucks. Unique.

Live Theater for All

The Turn of the Screw presented by Oldcastle Theatre Company.
Turn of the Screw – Oldcastle Theatre

Two unusual theatrical presentations also highlight the September calendar. Bennington’s own equity company, the Oldcastle Theatre, is staging Jeffrey Hatcher’s “The Turn of the Screw” September 3-12 at its downtown location. This two-person play is an acclaimed adaptation of Henry James’s’ haunting story of the same name.

In his preface to the story, James wrote, “Only make the reader’s general vision of evil intense enough, and his own experience, imagination, sympathy, and horror will supply him quite sufficiently with all the particulars.”

Be forewarned: these actors (Rebecca Mozzo and Oliver Wadsworth) know how to stimulate the imagination. Jillian Armanante directs.

Speaking of the dead, you may or may not be aware that reviving the departed at the site of their burial, in the form of costumed actors standing in for the deceased, is a thing.

Voices from the Grave in Bennington 2021.
Voices from the Grave

Bennington is about to join a growing list of communities that have ventured into this realm of popular drama. The Bennington Centre Cemetery, next to Old Bennington’s Old First Church, is the oldest and one of the most interesting graveyards in Vermont, and a dozen of its denizens, including Robert and Elinor Frost, will speak about their lives to successive small groups in “Voices from the Grave,” beginning at 10 a.m. on September 25 and October 2.

The production, directed by Ingrid Magdaleyne, is the fruit of a collaboration between actors from the Bennington Community Theater and researchers and writers from the Bennington Historical Society (full disclosure, I’m one of them), as well as local costume designers and makers.

You’ll hear “directly” from a diverse and fascinating group of men and women who lived from the 18th to the 20th century and are buried only a few feet in front of you.

Writer Phil Holland of Pownal pens a monthly blog post for the Town of Bennington.