One of the highlights of my summer is attending the Vermont History Expo in late June. Set in the scenic hills of the tiny village of Tunbridge, Vermont, this exposition has something for every genealogist and history buff. This year's event will be held in just a few weeks: the weekend of June 25-26.
If you are not familiar with this event, you will be surprised how many demonstrations, lectures, and exhibits are packed into this tiny community's fairgrounds. For instance, there will be 150 exhibits by local historical societies, museums, and other heritage organizations. I am a former Vermont resident, and I didn't believe there could be that many historical organizations in this small state! It seems that almost every historical society in Vermont turns out for the annual Vermont History Expo.
Genealogists will find numerous organizations at the fair, including staff members and volunteers from the Vermont Historical Society Library, the Church of the Latter Day Saints, the New England Historic Genealogical Society, and the Genealogical Society of Vermont. All will be on hand to answer questions about conducting genealogy research.
Once again, public access computers will provide visitors the opportunity to search for their family histories on the Internet or on CD-ROM databases. In addition, many of the participating organizations will offer a variety of genealogical publications for sale.
Members of heritage societies and ethnic genealogy organizations will also be available to describe their groups' work. Archivists will staff exhibits from their repositories and answer questions about the organization and storage of archival collections. Representatives from The Flow of History, a history education network in communities along the Connecticut River, will show how they are using archival materials with students.
The following will be present at the Vermont History Expo 2005:
Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Burlington, Vermont Family History Center)
Genealogical Society of Vermont
New England Historic Genealogical Society
Vermont Historical Society Library
Ethnic Genealogical Organizations
St. Andrews Society of Vermont
Vermont French-Canadian Genealogical Society
Welsh-American Genealogical Society
Sons of the American Revolution
Sons of Union Veterans
Vermont State Society, Daughters of the American Revolution
Bailey/Howe Library, University of Vermont
St. Michael's College
The Flow of History
New England Archivists
Public Records Division, State of Vermont
National Archives and Records Administration
State Archives, Vermont Secretary of State
Vermont Historical Society Library
This year will mark my third time at the annual event. While I enjoy talking with the genealogy and historical societies, I must say that my favorite events are the many demonstrations going on all the time. It seems that there is always something happening. Singers and musicians perform old time music almost constantly, parades of various themes go by, and demonstrations of old automobiles, old tractors, and horse-powered farming implements are conducted all day long on both days.
You can see military re-enactors perform while dressed in period uniforms of the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Civil War, and even World War II. Musket shoots are performed, and you can even watch Revolutionary War re-enactors make their own musket balls. One of my favorite pictures from last year's Fair is that of a man in full Revolutionary War costume, holding a musket, seated and eating lunch in the middle of the World War II bivouac area, surrounded by military trucks and men in GI uniforms of the 1940s. The contrast was intriguing.
Home and farming demonstrations are also conducted all weekend. You can see quilting, rug braiding, lace making, sheep shearing, flax spinning, and more. One exhibit that fascinated me last year was a man creating irrigation pipes in the manner of our great-great-grandfathers: he bored holes in logs to make wooden "pipes" and then connected them end-to-end to move water hundreds of yards to the fields.
Finally, where else can you see a half-dozen men dressed in 1880s costumes, riding around on high-wheel bicycles?
While everything is focused on Vermont during this event, most of the crafts, farming exhibits, and lifestyle exhibits would apply to your ancestors anywhere in the northeastern United States or eastern Canada. This is a great place to learn about the lifestyles of your ancestors.
The Vermont History Expo 2005 will be held at the Tunbridge World's Fair Grounds, undoubtedly the most scenic spot I have ever seen for a genealogy and history event. Admission is a modest $8.00 a day for adults and $4.00 for those aged 6 though 18. Children 5 years and under are admitted free of charge. Even better, you can enter for half-price admission on Saturday if you are in period dress.
For more information about Vermont History Expo 2005, look at http://www.vermonthistory.org/expo
You can obtain driving directions to Tunbridge, Vermont if you substitute your own ZIP code in place of the "XXXXX" in the following URL:
For instance, if your ZIP code is 01532, go to this URL: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=01532+to+tunbridge,+vt&spn=2.218750,3.700593&hl=en
I enjoyed my two previous visits to the Vermont History Expo and look forward to this year's event. This time I will spend most of the time at the exhibit sponsored by the New England Historic Genealogical Society. Stop by and say "hello" if you have a chance.
You will want to bring your camera. If you like, send any digital pictures to me via e-mail after this year's event, and I will post a sample of them online on the blog edition of this newsletter. That way, everyone can see what happens at the Vermont History Expo.