Build it and they will come…that doesn’t just apply to baseball!

The hills were alive. Saturday night June 12th and just past 5:00 p.m. cars filled the gravel parking lots of Artistree Community Arts Center. Jenni & the Junketeers: Divas of Jazz & Blues were scheduled to perform outdoors at 5:30 p.m.  The newly mowed field at the base of the hill was employed to manage overflow parking. Some 200 strong brought food, drink, blankets and chairs to usher in our return to live performances. The clouds overhead white and fluffy against a stunning cobalt blue clear sky. The Vermont landscape was shades of emerald. The hills surrounding the small South Pomfret village were a blanket of green velvet. Not quite summer but summer it was…

We climbed the hill to stake our viewing claim after checking in. Our dusty blue and green beach chairs listed in protest to the slope. We had a bird’s eye view of the stage while I scanned the Artistree structures that were partially hidden by beautiful grand old trees. Sugar maples maybe. The red renovated barn now houses art classrooms. A loft with preserved beams highlights every musical guest. The experience enhanced by a large window showcasing the Suicide 6 ski resort in the background. The Vermont landscape is such a large part of our living experience that we honor and include it as often as possible. The yellow farmhouse now a vibrant art gallery. Not pretentious since the original wooden floorboards would creak in protest. The gallery showcases the many local talented artists with rotating exhibits. The grange just across the road renovated to a small state of the art theater where productions have delighted locals and visitors alike. Our newly beautifully renovated general store Teagos thoughtfully designed with a focus on the kitchen and the heart of our community.  A woman with a vision. A woman with heart and soul. Thank you, Kathleen Dolan.

We watched Jenni and the Jazz Junketeers set up on a large field stone stage about a quarter of the way down the hill from us. Vermont sized fieldstones. Organic in appearance but spectacularly designed for outdoor performances. A classic standup bass. At least 3 or 4 saxophones. A flute. An electric guitar set to more jazz tones than rock n roll, but rock n roll we did! Jenni the lead singer sang the blues, thrilled the audience with some jazz notes and her exquisite version of Bonnie Raitt’s “Something to Talk About!” certainly did just that.

A young girl of 4 or 5 dressed in a fancy silver and gold party dress with feet that were bare danced, twirled, spun and danced some more. The “dancefloor” was all hers. Momentarily anyway. Little girls in brightly colored summer dresses repeatedly rolled down the steep hill and right into summer. A toddler walked through the crowd oblivious to those around him and equally unsure of his destination while dad gave him berth to do so under his watchful eye. Freedom to be a child. Vermont.

Towards the end of an evening that no one wanted to end the band played “Dancing in the Street” by Martha and the Vandellas.  We got up from our chairs to join the expanding dance party. Cautious steps relaxed into the moment and the music despite tight hips after a 3-hour hike with friends earlier in the day. Nearly everyone was on their feet while dancing around the many natural holes in the field and uneven surface. No self-respecting burrowing animal would have dared to challenge the wild footed humans that danced above their homes. Wilson Pickett’s Mustang Sally brought the house down. The dancing was even more joyful while the singing grew stronger. Happiness was the rhythm of the evening. Covid relief and release. Neighbors hugged and a community danced. There was an ample supply of magic in the Vermont air last weekend…



Author: Elizabeth Ricketson

A graduate of Providence College with a BA in English, Elizabeth Ricketson has always had a love of literature and the fine arts. Elizabeth’s essays focus on life experiences and life in Vermont.

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