Atlatl Championship returns to Addison

ADDISON — Chimney Point State Historic Site in Addison is throwing it way back this weekend with the 23rd Northeastern Open Atlatl Championship. The what? The Atlatl Championship.

Don’t worry atlatl (pronounced “attle-attle”) is not a word most of us use these days, but a fun one to know. So what is it? Generally speaking, it’s any type of spear-throwing tool. There’s a spur or notch that holds the spear and an extension arm that has various types of grips; the idea is that the tool gives your throwing arm more leverage and accuracy. And get this, atlatls have been around since the Upper Paleolithic era (that’s like 30,000 years ago).

Cool right?

The weekend kicks off this Friday, Sept. 21 with an atlatl-making workshop from 12-5 p.m. with Robert Berg of Thunderbird Atlatl. The $70 fee includes materials, instruction and coaching. Participants make an atlatl and three fletched darts, receive instructions on using them, and are welcome to compete the next day. Pre-registration is required.

The competitions start on Saturday at the Chimney Point field. Contestants from all over New England and New York use an atlatl to test their prowess in accuracy and distance by throwing at a variety of targets. Registration opens at 10 a.m., followed by the International Standard Accuracy Competition, and then the accuracy and distance event. The contest ends with a “Grand Champion” shootout. Categories include youth girl and boy, women and men. All are welcome. Competitors pay $7 with pre-registration or $8 on the day.

The weekend is part of Vermont’s Archaeology Month. Saturday’s events will also include flint-knapping (making tools out of stone) with expert Barry Keegan; atlatl making and more with Thunderbird Atlatl, making Woodland pottery with Charlie Paquin, learning about birchbark canoes and how the Europeans adapted them from Mike Blakeslee, and flint and steel fire-making from the Revolutionary War period with Charlie Paquin. Special children’s activities will take place from 11 a.m.-2 p.m.

On Sunday, from 10 a.m.-4:30 p.m., Barry Keegan offers a new basket-making workshop — with basswood bark strips. The $60 fee includes materials. Dress for getting wet. Pre-registration is required. Bring your lunch.

Admission for Saturday’s event is included with the regular museum ticket of $5 for adults and free for children under 15. Call (802) 759-2412  for pre-registration and more info.

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