Vermont International Festival / ESSEX JUNCTION VT.

ESSEX JUNCTION – The Vermont International Festival, a multi-cultural community event sponsored by the Vermont Performing Arts League, returns to the Champlain Valley Exposition on Dec. 3-5.

For the 12th year, the International Festival will celebrate music, dance and crafts from around the world. The three-day festival, which includes a special programs on Friday for area school groups and senior citizens, is sponsored by the Vermont Performing Arts League (VPAL) under the leadership of Ben Bergstein and April Werner.

The international marketplace setting at the Robert E. Miller Expo Centre features more than 40 vendors selling reasonably-priced, unique, imported handcrafts (clothing and accessories, home decor and gift items, pottery, wall-hangings and rugs, holiday decorations, instruments, sculptures, carvings and jewelry).

Visitors will also find ethnic food with the distinct flavors of Russia, Africa, Jamaica, Mexico, the Middle East, Japan, Bosnia, Turkey, Germany, Thailand and France. And throughout the weekend, there will be non-stop performances of local and international musicians and dancers on several stages.

The Vermont International Festival has its roots with the formation of The Green Mountain Volunteers and Vermont FolKids, two VPAL projects that have fostered friendship and cultural understanding through the arts between Vermont and people from around the world. Through these two projects, Vermonters have traveled the globe, sharing and exchanging our music, songs and dance at international festivals in many lands.

In 1986 the idea to host a huge International Festival was introduced to the city of Burlington, based on the same grand style and scale that has been so popular in Europe. This Festival became known as "Interfolk-86." It included eight days of parades, concerts, dance and music, workshops and international foods and crafts and featured groups from India, Poland, Scotland, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Canada and US. From that festival came the idea for a smaller, annual Vermont International Festival that continues to flourish at the Champlain Valley Exposition.

The Festival is also supported by many community groups, including YouthBuild (whose members construct displays for the festival), The Japan-American Society, The Fletcher Free Library, the Organization of Returned Peace Corps Volunteers, Burlington Yaroslavl Sister City Committee, The Champlain Senior Center and many area high school clubs and volunteers programs.

THE 12TH ANNUAL VERMONT INTERNATIONAL FESTIVAL, Dec. 3-5, at Champlain Valley Exposition, Route 15, in Essex Junction. It's an annual celebration of the many cultures that make up the local and global communities. The four major elements of the three-day event are world crafts, performing arts, international cuisines, and ethnic traditions. Started in 1993, the festival is presented by the Vermont Performing Arts League at the beginning of December. Hours, Friday, Dec. 3 – 5 to 8 p.m.; Saturday, Dec. 4 – 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; Sunday, Dec. 5 – 11a.m. to 5 p.m. General admission, Admission is good for the entire weekend $5 adults; $3 children 6-12 years old; under 6 free; $12 family pass. For information, call 863-6713 or visit www.vermontinternationalfestival.com or www.cvfair.com

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