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With summer finally here, and the ability to travel, the streets of Montpelier are busy once again. It is so heartening to see people walking down State or Main with shopping bags in one hand, a pastry or coffee in the other, and a smile on their faces. There is an eagerness to connect with each other, and the local businesses that drive the vitality and economy of our town. Though staffing has been an issue at our local eateries, there is joy in the fact that we can share food together again.

Montpelier has been known for many things, including the golden dome, the eclectic arts scene, and the abundance of cafes and eateries. For a small town, it is truly amazing to say there are almost 40 places to get food or beverage, and not just any food — good food. Not to be overlooked is our robust farmers market, with almost 50 Vermont vendors each week. Summer is just paradise here, and we get to revel in its fruits and all it has to offer. How great is that?

It’s important to keep sight of the small joys these days as we emerge from the difficulties of a long COVID winter. The return of live events has been welcomed in our community, and each one acts as a celebration of togetherness. In light of this, Montpelier Alive has planned the first annual Taste of Montpelier Food Festival, Sept. 11. The premiere Taste of Montpelier will bring the best of Vermont’s culinary scene to the heart of its capital city. The Taste of Montpelier promises to be unique among its peers: seamlessly integrated into a downtown, with events that appeal to foodies and families alike, and world-class entertainment paired with world-class food. Proceeds benefit the Vermont Food Bank and Montpelier Alive.

The festival is an all-day celebration, beginning with the Capitol City Farmers Market from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Fresh vegetables and fruits, quality meats, specialty cheeses, artisan bread, baked goods, ethnic foods, herbs, plants, flowers, arts and crafts, honey and maple syrup … the list goes on and on. Following the farmers market will be the Feast of Fools from 2 to 5 p.m., where festival attendees are invited to stroll the streets of Montpelier and enjoy a taste of our amazing restaurants. Redeem your food tickets, purchased at the festival entrance, at each restaurant for small plates showcasing Montpelier’s culinary offerings. On State Street, you’ll find even more culinary delights, including food truck favorites and artisans showcasing Vermont food products (with free samples!). The State Street Festival Grounds will also feature world-class entertainment curated by artistic director Woody Keppel, co-founder of Burlington’s Festival of Fools, and a beer garden, highlighting local spirits and craft beers. The day’s events will culminate in a community picnic on the State House lawn from 5 to 8 p.m. The 14-piece brass band from Rhode Island, What Cheer? Brigade (locals may remember them from NEK Fest), and the formerly Vermont-based gypsy-klezmer band Inner Fire District, will play live music until the sun goes down. And just for icing on top, Barr Hill will host an after-party at their outdoor patio.

The Taste of Montpelier is something to look forward to, for sure. Montpelier Alive is still seeking food vendors for this event. We want to highlight Vermont’s finest, so please join us. For more information, visit www.montpelieralive.com/taste

In addition to the Food Festival, Montpelier Alive is ambitiously going forward with the Hunger Mountain Coop Brown Bag Concert Series at Christ Church park. Plus, a Fall Family Festival on Oct. 31, on the State House lawn. We hope to see you at these events.

Katie Trautz does outreach for Montpelier Alive.

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