ADDISON COUNTY — For local residents staying close to home and out-of-towners visiting for the first big holiday weekend of the summer, Addison County and Brandon will offer lots of Fourth of July fun and great family activities, ranging from live music and fireworks to living history events and town parades.
There is so much happening this year that one day cannot contain all the events. Activities run from Thursday through Saturday evening.
Independence Day events kick off a day early with a classic slice of Americana on Thursday, July 3. That evening the Orwell village green will host another in its weekly summer concerts by the town band, 7:30-8:30 p.m.
And what is the Independence Day without fireworks?
Look for fireworks at three separate venues on the eve of the Fourth — in Bristol, Vergennes and Ferrisburgh. Bristol’s night-before activities — food, music and face painting — get under way at 6 p.m. at the town recreation field. At 6:30 p.m., the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum in Ferrisburgh gets started with its “Big ShaBANG” event. The public is welcome to bring lawn chairs and join in an evening of food, fun and a front-row seat to Basin Harbor Club’s fireworks display. Admission for LCMM members is $15, nonmembers $25, kids 12 and under $10.
In the Little City, the American Legion Post No. 14 and the Addison County Eagles will host their usual fireworks display at the athletic field behind Vergennes Union High School. The Vergennes City Band directed by Susan O’Daniel will be there playing an assortment of patriotic songs leading up to the fireworks.
Fireworks in all three venues begin at dusk.
If you’re looking for something a little quieter that evening, the Point CounterPoint faculty concert in Salisbury is a great option. From 7:30-9 p.m., the Salisbury Congregational Church will host a chamber music concert by the 2014 PCP Chamber Players. On the program will be Mozart’s String Quartet in C major, K 465; Ravel’s Piano Trio in A minor. Free-will donations accepted.
But Salisbury isn’t all high-brow entertainment. The next day, July 4, the annual Lake Dunmore Boat Parade will proceed around the lake. Decorate your boat and the people on it with some patriotic theme, then sign up at the Kampersville Store. Owners of the best boats in the show will receive cash prizes, ranging from $25 for third place to $100 for first place. The parade starts at 2 p.m.
The Salisbury Congregational Church will host the 40th Annual Ice Cream Social at the church from 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. on Friday, July 4. Ice cream by the cone or dish, toppings including strawberries, chocolate and butterscotch sauce, nuts and whipped cream and homemade pies and cakes will all be on sale. The social will be held rain or shine.
But before you head to the ice cream social or the boat parade, head to Bristol for the biggest Independence Day tradition in the county. The town’s famous Great Bristol Outhouse Race will see its 31st annual running on July 4 at 9 a.m. The event, held on Main Street, is sponsored by the Five Town GGG Club and the Bristol 4th of July Committee. Teams push someone in erstwhile outhouses on wheels down West Street in front of the town green in an event that is fun but also seriously competitive.
Bristol’s big annual parade will follow the outhouse races at 10:30 a.m.
A good way to wind down at the end of a busy Independence Day might be a stop on the Middlebury College campus to hear the first of the summer Carillon Series. George Matthew Jr. will play the bells in the Mead Chapel tower at 5 p.m. Come into the chapel or sit on the surrounding lawns and enjoy the melodious sounds of the carillon bells.
If you are looking for some music that will get you up out of your seat on Friday night, head to Brandon for the annual Fourth of July street dance in Central Park. DJ JamMan will get the busy weekend in Brandon started with a great mix of danceable music. There will also be food vendors selling hot dogs, hamburgers, roast pig, barbecue, bread dough, strawberry shortcake and more. The event runs from 5 to 10 p.m.
And that’s just a warm up for Brandon’s all-day celebration on Saturday, July 5. Events run from 9 a.m. until after dark. The celebration, which will be held in Central Park and Park Village, will include vendors, a silent auction, activities for children, a pie eating contest at noon, a parade at 1 p.m., the Great Ball Race, a concert by the Keating Five band — and last, but not least, fireworks.