Lake Champlain honored in many summer festivities

The Waterfront Festival was a celebration of the 400th anniversary of French explorer Samuel de Champlain’s expedition to the lake that came to bear his name, as well as a commemoration of the cultures and people who populate Vermont.For the past year, Jay Craven, the festival producer, worked to compile and schedule enough events to fill the two-week festival, which ran from July 2 to 14.”In October, I approached the city and said, this is going to be a pretty big deal, maybe we should cut it to four or five days,” Craven said. “But the city was clear — they wanted a festival that would run through two weekends.”Festivities included music, theatre, dance, cinema and fine art ­— all of which were covered in the two weeks of the celebration.Along with ensuring that events for many different age groups and interests were included, the international aspect of the festival was a very important focal point in creating the schedule of acts, Craven said.”I began trying to put together an event that would include the international element — the French of Quebec, Native Americans and also those from Champlain Valley,” he said.There are more than 100 French Quebec artists that are a part of the festivities, according to Craven.Along with Vermont’s northern neighbors, special attention was given to the Native American population of Vermont throughout the festival weeks.Traditional Abenaki storytelling, dancing and singing performances occurred during the two weeks, as well as academic discussions and documentaries on the relationship between Native and European cultures in Vermont since Champlain’s expedition.”The idea was to have a collaboration between French, Quebec, Vermont and Native American artists as a kind of metaphor for the Champlain expedition,” Craven said.Burlington is not the only place the Quadricentennial was celebrated. The two-week extravaganza was part of Vermont-wide festivities this summer.Events occurring outside of Burlington range from the Made in Vermont Music Festival, put on by the Vermont Symphony Orchestra, to a military history tour of Vermont’s countryside.The Made in Vermont Festival —­­ which will extend well into September — includes a piece written specifically for the Quadricentennial, which pays tribute with a piece based on an Abenaki creation story.