Broadening, strengthening, and deepening our understanding of Vermont; assuring a repository for our collective cultural memory; and strengthening communities by building connections among the diverse peoples of Vermont.

Weathering the Storm

The Vermont Folklife Center announces the release Weathering the Storm, a new audio documentary that explores the experiences of Tropical Storm Irene in the state.

Weathering the Storm features the voices of 40 Vermonters sharing their accounts of the storm and the recovery. The accounts that shape Weathering the Storm are drawn from Story Circles facilitated by VFC as a part of the Irene Storytelling Project.

You can stream Weathering the Storm here:

Weathering the Storm on

Weathering the Storm was produced by 2011-2012 Vermont Folklife Center Fellow, Aylie Baker.

The Fiddling Tradition

VFC on VPR!  Our partnership with Vermont Public Radio, “The Fiddling Tradition” now complete and available online! Co-produced by VFC’s Andy Kolovos and VPR’s Steve Zind, “The Fiddling Tradition” presents the music and perspectives of Vermont musicians Lausanne Allen, Erica and Erik Andrus, Adam Boyce, Oliver Scanlon and Pete Sutherland.

Go on and give it a listen:

The Fiddling Tradition

VFC on VPR Roundup! Updated!

VFC on VPR update!

The Fiddling Tradition

Co-produced by VFC’s Andy Kolovos and VPR’s Steve Zind, “The Fiddling Tradition” presentsthe music and perspectives of Vermont musicians Lausanne Allen, Erica and Erik Andrus, Adam Boyce, Oliver Scanlon and Pete Sutherland.

Vermont Food Traditions and the Localvore Movement

Greg Sharrow and UVM anthropologist Amy Trubek explore the connections and disconnections between traditional foodways and the modern localvore movement.  Originally aired on 05/29/2012.

Sap Beer, A Traditional Farm Brew Survives

Steve Zind explores the partnership between the Vermont Folklife Center and the Fiddlehead Brewing Company to produce Frog Run Sap Beer.  Originally aird on 04/25/2012.

Daisy Turner: One Woman’s Amazing Life

Jane Lindholm discusses the life of Daisy Turner with VFC founder, Jane Beck.  Daisy was the daughter of Alec and Sally Turner, former slaves who settled in Grafton, VT.  Originally aired on 02/22/2012.

Exhibit Showcases Drag Queens

Jane Lindholm talks with photographer Evie Lovett, and drag performers Mike Powers (aka Candi) and Mark Hermon May (aka Mama) about the VFC exhibit, Backstage at the Rainbow Cattle Co.: The Drag Queens of Dummerston, Vermont.  Originally aired on 10/26/2011.

VT Artists Preserve Songs With New Recordings

Steve Zind speaks with VFC Archivist, Andy Kolovos and musicians Robin MacArthur (of the band Red Heart the Ticker), Tony Barrand and Keith Murphy about new recording projects they’ve undertaken using the Vermont field recordings of Margaret MacArthur that are part of the VFC Archive collection.  Includes tracks from the artists’ CDs, Your Name in Secret I Would Write by Red Heard the Ticker and On the Banks of Coldbrook by Barrand and Murphy. Originally aired on 10/04/2011.

Exhibit Showcases Iconic VT Photos

Steve Zind talks with VFC Director of Education, Greg Sharrow about VFC exhibit, Visions of Place: The Photography of John Miller, Peter Miller, and Richard Brown, including excerpts from interviews Greg recorded with each of the photographers.  Originally aired on 07/21/11.

Fragile Music Recordings Preserved

Steve Zind discusses the VFC’s GRAMMY Foundation funded music preservation project with VFC Archivist, Andy Kolovos.  Originally aired on 02/10/11

Thrufters and Throughstones series

A series that featured VFC Archivist, Andy Kolovos discussing selections from the Vermont Music Library’s Lake Champlain Quadricentennial Project, Thrufters and Throughstones. Originally aired 07/20/2010 - 07/24/2010.

The Art Of Action Project series

A series created to run along side the Art of Action Project, featuring interviews conducted by VFC Executive Director, Brent Bjorkman with artists who participated.  Originally aired from 01/04/2010 - 01/08/2010.

Exhibit recalls Nearing’s homestead experience

Steve Zind examines the VFC exhibit of Rebecca Lepkoff’s photographs of the community that formed around Scott and Helen Nearing in Jamaica, Vermont—Almost Utopia: In Search of the Good Life in Mid-Century America.  The piece includes excerpts from interviews condcuted by the VFC, and comments by VFC Executive Director, Brent Bjorkman and Nearing historian, Greg Joly.  Originally aired 08/24/2009.

Exhibit looks at the lives of Mexican farm workers in Vermont

Steve Zind explores the VFC exhibit, The Golden Cage: Mexican Migrant Workers and Vermont Dairy Farmers, including excerpts from interviews by Chris Urban, and comments by Chris himself.  Originally aired on 09/23/2008.

Interview: Brent Bjorkman, Director, Vermont Folklife Center

Jane Lindholm talks with VFC Executive Director, Brent Bjorkman about the work of the Vermont Folklife Center.  Originally aired on 11/01/2007.

A New Treasure in the VFC Archive!

In January of this year, John Stone of Randolph, VT contacted us regarding a reel-to-reel tape he wanted to donate to the Vermont Folklife Center archive—a recording of a Newfane, VT square dance from 1956.  Yup, that’s right, a field recording of a Vermont square dance from the mid 1950s!

You can understand the significance of this recording!  And you can help us preserve it and share it with the world!  VFC Archivist, Andy, estimates that the cost to catalog the tape and to have it professionally digitized by an experienced audiotape preservation specialist will cost $500.. Can you lend us a hand?  Every little bit makes a difference, and your donation is tax deductible!

Donate Now!

As a special thank you, each donor of $50 or more will receive a copy of the recording on CD!

Tape donor, John Stone shared the following thoughts about the recording, and about the square dances he attended during the time period:

"The square dances on this tape were wonderful. They represent a time when Vermont square dances were local, earthy, informal and for all comers. No fancy instruction or college educated hosts and hostesses or apple cider during the breaks. You learned by watching, imitating and being told by those in the square who knew what to do. And when the break time came, there were trucks and cars to neck in and beers to drink. Real basic stuff. I started square dancing in Vermont during World War II and it didn’t change much through the fifties. I’m not really aware of its current status in the state, but the last one I attended was mild and more formal."

One of several interesting things about the the recording is the band, the Dick Perry Orchestra.  Seeking out some additional information, Andy contacted his friend and colleague at the Western Folklife Center, archivist Steve Green.  Steve was active in the contra dance scene in Vermont during the late 1970s and early 1980s, and  has a keen interest in the history of music and dance in New England.  When asked about the Dick Perry Orchestra, Steve replied with some background, and pictures!

Dick Perry Orchestra, Putney, VT Town Hall, 1950s.

As Steve mentioned in his email, “Note the use of horns and drums—not the fiddles and pump organs of days gone by :).”  Steve’s comments highlight something else:  this tape documents a fascinating point of transition and overlap in regional popular entertainment.  The fusion of dance orchestras like the Dick Perry Orchestra with the long-standing practice of community dances brought together the new and the old—renewing and refreshing traditional practice, and keeping these community gatherings relevant to the lives of the participants.  The tape provides us a window into a time where the popularity of square dances eclipsed the older contras, and where popular taste encouraged different kinds of instrumentation.

Which brings us to the next point—while dances like this were not uncommon at the time, recordings of community dancing are less common than might be supposed. That’s one more thing that makes this tape so important—it is an unusual record of a local, everyday event as it unfolded.

Dick Perry Orchestra, Putney, VT Town Hall, 1950s.

And we can’t wait to hear the tape!  Can you?

If you can lend a hand, please considering making a donation online via PayPal, by phone at (802) 388-4964 or by mail at Vermont Folklife Center, 88 Main Street, Middlebury, VT 05753.