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Summer Must-Dos: A Flotilla Concert, Picnic Concert Series and Poetry in the Woods

Words and photos courtesy of Seven Days

Summer Must-Dos: A Flotilla Concert, Picnic Concert Series and Poetry in the Woods
By Emily Hamilton

Bolton Memorial Flotilla Concert
Saturday, July 16, at Community Sailing Center in Burlington. Buy tickets and register boats at

In search of summer fun? Just add water. Burlington's Community Sailing Center rocks the boat with its third annual Bolton Memorial Flotilla Concert, an afternoon full of performances with Lake Champlain as the stage. Whether attendees choose to sit on a dock or turn their own boat into box seats, it's a show like no other.

"The flotilla concert is the year's only on-water concert event," CSC executive director Owen Milne said, noting that audiences can attend for free by kayak, canoe or sailboat or snag a dock access ticket. "Plus, all donations go towards providing lake recreation to underserved youth in the community. A complete win-win!"

Founded in 2020, the Dana Bolton Legacy Fund memorializes a beloved CSC volunteer, instructor and board member by directing donations toward projects he was passionate about. Proceeds from last year's flotilla concert totaled more than $45,000, and this year the CSC is aiming even higher. Ticket prices and additional donations will support two initiatives: the Dana Pier, a new walkway that will make the CSC campus accessible to all; and the Dana Scholarship, which helps local kids ages 6 through 14 attend the CSC's LeaderShip program to learn important life skills and sailing fundamentals.

This year's concert lineup features the Ryan Montbleau Band, whose recent multipart album, Wood, Fire, Water and Air, links thematically with the elemental nature of the outdoor show. Also performing are the superstar team-up of soul performers Jennifer Hartswick and Nick Cassarino, as well as high-octane New England funk and hip-hop fusion outfit Harsh Armadillo.

Picnic Concert Series
Begins on Friday, July 8, at Knoll Farm in Fayston; additional dates follow. See full schedule and buy tickets at

Summer in Vermont signifies many things — hiking season, blueberry season, maple creemee season — but one of the best is outdoor concert season. Fayston's Knoll Farm strikes the right note with its Picnic Concert Series. All summer long, families and friends take in folk music while lounging in the grass between the blueberry fields and the Icelandic sheep herds. Premade, farm-fresh picnic dinners, as well as wood-fired pizza by the slice, are available for those who don't want to BYO.

"Last summer, Kat Wright performed on our gorgeous new stage, surrounded by flowers and fields and mountains and stars," Knoll Farm co-owner and cofounder Helen Whybrow said. "It was a drop-dead inspiring and beautiful event and left us all wanting to do more."

This year's lineup includes Cold Chocolate, a high-energy, genre-bending Americana outfit known for tight harmonies and folk-funk fusion; April Verch and Cody Walters, a husband-and-wife duo combining disparate bluegrass backgrounds into foot-stomping fiddle and banjo tunes; and innovative old-time twosome Marc and Billy, hailing from the hills of Vermont and New Hampshire. Each show comes with a backdrop of spectacular views of the Northfield and Green Mountain ranges.

"I think we have all been craving more ways to celebrate and feel joy in shared spaces again," Whybrow said. "What better way to do that than to spread out on a gorgeous hillside and listen to live music on a summer evening?"

summer must do's in vermont

Words in the Woods
Begins on Saturday, June 11, at Elmore State Park; additional dates and locations follow. See full schedule at

Hot tip: If two roads diverge in a yellow wood, take the one that leads to Words in the Woods. For the third summer, local poets will guide lit lovers into the wilderness for this hit series, a collaboration of Vermont Humanities, Vermont State Parks and Vermont Arts Council. And for the first time, every poetry reading-cum-nature walk will be held in person (though some will be recorded for at-home viewing).

"Many of our programs tend to take place indoors during cold weather, so it's a treat to go out into the state parks in the summertime," Vermont Humanities interim director of programs and communications Ryan Newswanger said. "Being outdoors adds an extra dimension to the works that the poets read, like the way food always tastes better around a campfire."

In addition to getting an incomparable literary experience from poets Bryan Blanchette, Toussaint St. Negritude, Carol Potter and Keiselim "Keysi" Montás, participants will experience the beauty of Vermont's state parks in the summertime. Families already planning to camp at or visit the parks won't even have to preregister.

"Since the inception of the Words in the Woods program in 2020, we've highlighted LGBTQ+ poets and poets of color. This season, we'll do the same," Newswanger said. "It feels important to counter the dominant narrative of who camps and who doesn't, and who can be inspired by nature in their creative work. Inspiration from nature goes across any racial, class and gender boundaries."

About the series

This series, a partnership between Vermont Department of Tourism and Marketing and Seven Days, will run seasonally, presenting curated excursions in every corner of Vermont. The idea is to highlight the state's restaurants, retailers, attractions and outdoor adventures so Vermonters and visitors alike can plan safe, local trips and discover new corners of the state. Happy traveling, and stay safe.