Each town offers a different Independence Day tradition, with Wilmington providing the fireworks and Wardsboro a parade. Wardsboro will continue another tradition begun 64 years ago with their all-day street fair that features nearly 50 vendors, food from barbecue to baked beans, children’s activities, and what Fourth of July committee chair Nancy Perkins describes as a “down-home atmosphere.”
Wardsboro’s street fair may have a homey feel to it, but that may just be its main attraction, as thousands flock to the fair each year. “We do seem to have a following,” said Perkins. “Sometimes people come from far away, but they tend to come back each year.”
The street fair began 64 years ago when the ladies of the Methodist Church needed to raise funds for their parish’s upkeep. The first few years featured a hot meal and a few booths with games for local children. Over time, the fair had continual growth spurts and the descendants of that first Fourth of July Street fair have kept the tradition alive.
The Independence Day parade begins at 10 am on South Wardsboro Road, adding to the fun with participants spontaneously registering. “You never know who or what will be in it,” said Perkins, “but everyone really gets a big kick out of it.”
Heading down Route 100 to Wilmington, the day ends with a fireworks display. On Saturday, the weekend's Village Stroll features a twist this year: setting a world record.
The Mount Snow Valley Chamber of Commerce fireworks show begins at 9:15 pm, with festivities kicking off at 6 pm on Baker Field, featuring an assortment of children’s activities. Chamber executive director Adam Grinold is excited about this year’s celebration. “It always attracts a big crowd from these small communities,” said Grinold. “People are delighted by the quality and length, and really come together to make sure they are supported financially. They’re truly impressive.” The chamber has also set up July 5 as a tentative rain date.
On Saturday afternoon, all are invited to participate in Wilmington strolling into the record books, during the Village Stroll, which takes place from 5 to 8 pm. Village Stroll committee members Lisa Sullivan and Shelly Park are coordinating an effort to set a record for the number of people to stroll dance in one location, a fitting addition to the annual downtown night that showcases local businesses.
“The Village Stroll is meant for getting people downtown, and to be social,” said Sullivan, who also owns Bartleby’s Books on West Main Street. “It tends to be members of the local community as well as repeat visitors that come, and the stores and restaurants stay open late.”
Sullivan and Park began to spread the word after Melinda Coombs, owner of Beyond Imagination boutique, mentioned the stroll dance should somehow be the theme. Sullivan said choosing the location for the record-setting event was easy, with the new walking bridge on West Main Street providing the perfect width, and a perfect way to celebrate its opening last month.
If you are unsure how to do the stroll, don’t worry, Sullivan says the committee will provide the necessary personnel to teach you on the spot how to do the line dance two at a time across the Deerfield River.
The Village Stroll will also feature live performers on the Crafts Inn lawn, as well as sidewalk sales from local businesses.
Sullivan hopes to have at least 100 stroll dancers to submit to the Guinness Book of World Records.