Would you like to visit 150 Vermont historical societies, museums, and heritage organizations? Even better, would you like to do so in one afternoon? Still better, you can also taste Vermont foods, listen to old-time music, and participate in a number of other activities in the same afternoon.
The annual Vermont History Expo will be held on June 23 and 24 in the metropolis of Tunbridge, Vermont. The Expo is held at the same site as the annual Tunbridge World's Fair.
Here is a note to anyone who has never been to Tunbridge: that's an inside joke. Tunbridge has a population of about 1,300 people for most of the year, increasing by several thousand for two days each June for the Vermont History Expo and again in September for the Tunbridge World's Fair. Actually, the Tunbridge World's Fair is a county fair that has run for 136 years, but organizers decided years ago to call it a "world's fair" to attract more people. The name stuck.
Tunbridge is only a few miles from Montpelier and White River Junction, Vermont, as well as close to Hanover and Lebanon, New Hampshire. I used to live nearby and have been to this town many times. It is a picture-perfect Vermont town with photographs of the town frequently found in glossy magazines and scenic calendars. If you have ever seen a picture of Tunbridge, you know that you are looking at Vermont.
The Vermont History Expo is a collection of 150 local historical societies, museums, and heritage organizations that meet annually to celebrate Vermont history with exhibits, music, family activities, music, food, presentations, performances, and lots more in a timeless Vermont fairgrounds setting. Each year's event has a different theme and a different selection of main events. This year's theme is "Travel & Transportation: or How Vermonters Got There from Here."
I have been to this History Expo a couple of times in past years and must say that I really enjoyed it. Two things that stick in my mind are a group of men riding on high-wheel bicycles and a farmer showing how our ancestors made irrigation pipes 100 or more years ago. (They took long logs, bored holes through the center lengthwise in an ingenious method I had never seen before, beveled the ends, then connected them end-to-end to make wooden pipes.)
I also took some photos at the Vermont History Expo a couple years ago of several re-enactors in full Revolutionary War military dress, standing and talking with several World War II re-enactors, also in full uniform. The contrast of the two wars makes quite a picture.
This year's exhibits include a G-Gauge Garden Railroad Exhibit with an additional hands-on, interactive track. You may be familiar with HO gauge or perhaps even N gauge model railroads. OK, increase that size by a factor of 50 or so to create G-gauge. These are built to a scale of 0.533 inches = 1 foot. You won't run these trains in your basement!
This year's Expo will also feature a Genealogy Resource and Archive Center. Staff members and volunteers from the Vermont Historical Society Library, the Genealogical Society of Vermont, and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints will be on hand to answer questions about conducting genealogy research. Members of heritage societies and ethnic genealogy organizations will also be available to describe their groups' work and help with research.
Archivists will be available at several of the exhibits and will be glad to answer questions about the organization and storage of archival collections. Staff members from the Vermont Historical Society will also be scanning historic photos for preservation.
You can read a lot more about this year's Vermont History Expo 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: http://maps.google.com/maps?q=XXXXX+to+tunbridge,+vt&spn=2.218750,3.700593&hl=en
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
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.