‘Black fly’ event?

CALAIS — Folks in Adamant will tell you COVID-19 didn’t put a dent in the local black fly population last year, though the pandemic did derail the quirky celebration of the insect those who live in that corner of Calais love to hate.

Their baaa-aaack and this year so is a pandemic-friendly edition of the Adamant Black Fly Festival.

The durable tradition spanned 17 years before the public health crisis snapped the string of summer-starting celebrations, which is about to pick up where it left off on June 2, 2019.

Don’t take our word for it. Just ask the folks at the Adamant Co-op, which got this peculiar party started in 2003 and kept it going and growing until last year.

“We’ve revamped our annual Blackfly Festival and created a COVID-friendly celebration!” they say. “Come see Adamant residents turn their homes, porches and lawns into Mardi Gras inspired house-floats for visitors to view ‘on the fly.’”

The fun starts at noon on Friday with what organizer Karen Kane described as an “anti-parade.”

The floats won’t be mobile. Neither will the 8-foot-long larvae Beth Ann Porter is making, or the “human-size black flies.”

“The parade won’t be moving, the viewers will,” Kane said of the concept of a drive-by display that will remain up through the weekend because the folks in Adamant take blood-sucking black flies seriously.

“They’re terrible,” said Dot Helling, who will host this year’s Black Fly Cafe and offer “citronella shots” to passers by. “They were terrible last year, and they’re terrible again this year.”

There will be signs for visitors, but Kane said the displays will extend from Martin Road, down Haggett Road and up a short section of Center Road from noon on Friday through 5 p.m. Sunday.

As for Saturday?

We’re told to expect “a sugary, musical haze of black-fly oblivion” between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. A bake sale featuring a broad assortment of black fly inspired desserts will share that time slot with a couple of musical performances.

Tom Mackenzie, Franklin Heyburn and Rick Winston will play tunes from Quebec, the British Isles and New England starting at 11 a.m. and a 1 p.m. performance will feature local musicians playing Swedish hambos, polkas, waltzes and walking tunes.

As for the flies?

“I’m sure they’ll love it,” Helling said, lamenting the fact that her summer wardrobe isn’t dictated by the temperature.

“It can be 80 degrees, but you have to wear clothes to protect yourself,” she said, explaining light colors are better than dark and exposed skin is a risky proposition in Adamant.

‘Blues’ clues?

WILLIAMSTOWN — If you’re wondering where the Dave Keller Band will perform a 2-hour drive-in concert on Sunday the dateline is your first clue.

It’s a pretty good one but, if you want to hear Keller’s brand of blues you’ll need more clues than “Williamstown.”

Here’s one.

The venue is a family-owned business that will celebrate it’s 70th anniversary next year.

Not enough?

Proctor Martin was one of its founders, his family still runs it and Gov. Phil Scott worked there as a woodworking instructor when he was 15 (Scott’s name is still on the shop’s wall).

That’s technically three clues in one. Here’s a fourth. It’s a day camp.

If you guessed Lotus Lake, you’re right, and while the camp will serve fewer children — 90 — this summer as it ramps back up, Keller and his band will kick off a series of drive-in concerts like the ones staged there last year.

The drill is pretty much the same.

It’s still $10 per person (cash and checks only), and folks are encouraged to pack a picnic and grab some lawn chairs Sunday and head out to the camp, which is just 2 miles south of the village on Route 14. Dancing is encouraged, but not mandatory and all are welcome at the camp, which opened its online registration on Feb. 15 and filled up all of the available slots two days later.

Party planner?

PLAINFIELD — After more than 55 years of public arts and community service in central Vermont, Michael Billingsley has cast himself as a party planner.

Seems Billingsley will celebrate his 75th birthday at Plainfield’s recreation field on Sunday and, well, you’re invited.

So says Billingsley, who on Wednesday was scrambling to find a portable toilet (they’re harder to find than you’d think this time of year) for the crew from the Waterbury Ambulance Service who have agreed to provide COVID-19 vaccinations to those who need and want them. He was also working to determine whether children 12 to 18 could be vaccinated if accompanied by a parent.

Details, details!

As for the party, here are the details, according to Billingsley, who is looking forward to celebrating his birthday (it actually is on Sunday) with a “BYOS” (bring your own supper) community picnic complete with live music.

Assuming he can solve his restroom problem, there will be shots for those who want them during an alcohol-free birthday party that is set to start at 4 p.m. and wrap up 4 hours later.

Billingsley doesn’t want presents, but he is asking folks to bring a donation to help pay for the band — The Larkspurs with Django Soulo. Donations of $5 to $20 sound about right, though those able to chip in more are welcome to do so. Though the party will run from 4 to 8 p.m, the band will play two sets — one at 5 p.m. and another at 7 p.m. and Billingsley has arranged for some “surprise guests.”

Whether you wear a mask will be up to you, but Billingsley’s birthday party will be “generally a mask-free event.” However, those who attend will be asked to maintain social distance outside their household or cohort.

Great Scots!

BARRE — An international, interactive live event allowed central Vermonters with memory loss and their caregivers to spend some quality time with folks just like them in Scotland on Wednesday.

The hour-long session (it was late-morning here and late-afternoon there) was the latest installment of “Memorable Times Online” — the virtual “memory cafe” that is a partnership between Central Vermont Council on Aging and the state’s ABLE Library.

What’s a memory cafe?

Well, way back in those pre-pandemic days that frankly seem hard to remember, they were monthly social gatherings that had for more than two years provided regular opportunities to share and enjoy stories, memories, music and community in a dementia-friendly setting that was therapeutic for those afflicted with memory loss, as well as their often isolated family caregivers. Those get-togethers happened at the Vermont History Center in Barre starting in October 2018, but spun off from the Montpelier Memory Cafe, which was launched at the Montpelier Senior Activity Center in 2014 and was a regular feature there for more than four years.

That was then.

Since the pandemic hit the memory cafes have been virtual affairs, like the one that had 13 folks from central Vermont, a couple from Texas and three from Scotland in the same Zoom room on Wednesday.

It was all part of “Screen Memories” — an interactive live event produced by Memories International of Austin, Texas, and Falkirk, Scotland, and piloted in Vermont.

The local memory cafe previously piloted a successful cross-Atlantic program — “Juke Box Days” — with a similar group from Falkirk in February and Wednesday’s program reconnected the groups with participants — new and old — enjoying film clips and out-takes from the 1964 Academy Awards hosted by Bob Hope.

Seems the group of virtual movie critics agreed the academy got it right when they selected Rex Harrison as “best actor” for his role in “My Fair Lady” and “My Fair Lady” as best picture that year.

However, in their virtual world, Julie Andrews wouldn’t have walked off with an Oscar for “best actress” for her role in “Mary Poppins” and her rendition to “Chim Chim Cher-ee” wouldn’t have won best song. The group favored Frank Sinatra’s “My Kind of Town” for the latter honor during the memorable hour-long event.

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