The festival begins with a party on May 24, at the Dover Forge on Route 100, featuring over 20 vendors selling Vermont goods from crafts to wine, bouncy houses for the kids, and many choices of food including, of course, fiddleheads. The Twin Valley Junior Iron Chefs will be hosting a fiddlehead cooking contest from 1 to 3 pm as well, open to professionals and amateurs alike. The day also will include live music from Kevin Perry from 11 am to 1 pm, Josh Casano from 3 to 5 pm, and “fiddling frenzy” in between, featuring Cajun, zydeco, Irish, and traditional New England fiddle styles.
On Sunday, at 5:30 pm, the festival moves south to Wilmington for a block party on South Main Street, from the traffic lights to Beaver Street. Vendors, live music, and events for children will dot the street, while the cooking goes south of the border at the Junior Iron Chef salsa contest. Attendees can bring their own salsa for $20 per entry, with cash prizes awarded to the top three. Those who donate $5 can be salsa judges and try a bowl of each. Participants in the contest are asked to sign up online before the block party.
According to Adam Grinold, executive director of Wilmington Works, who is also working with the chamber to coordinate the festival, the Fiddlehead theme is to help in the push to get the plant statewide recognition, as well as provide a late-spring-into-summer festival for visitors and residents. “Fiddleheads come out this time of year, and we’ve been working on an effort to make them the official vegetable of Vermont,” said Grinold. “We know they aren’t really vegetables, but this effort has been around since the 1980s and we’re picking up that mantle as the originators of this festival as well.”
While Grinold admits the fight for the fiddlehead is an uphill battle against vegetables like kale, he says that they are a unique attribute of Vermont, and one that deserves celebrating. “It’s also just a great name for a festival,” added Grinold.
While Wilmington Works is sponsoring the downtown block party, the Dover Economic Development Committee provided $12,000 to pay for festival advertising, as well as all of the events, tents, and entertainment for the event in Dover.
The same weekend, Honora Winery in Jacksonville will be hosting its annual chocolate festival, while Sunday morning is the annual Make-a-Wish Deerfield River duck race, which begins with registration at 10:30 am on Sunday. The weekend ends with the annual Memorial Day parade on Monday at 11:15 am in downtown Wilmington.
Grinold said that with multiple events in the month of May, the the chamber and valley businesses are turning one of the area’s slowest months into an eventful one.
For a schedule of events and to register for the salsa contest go to vermontfiddleheadfestival.com.