Chandler’s 20th Annual New World Festival — A Milestone and a Mix of Old and New

Bob Eddy | First Light Studios

Chandler’s New World Festival, a beloved annual music and dance tradition since 1993, celebrates its 20th anniversary year on Sunday September 2 with a mix of old favorites from the festival’s first year and new bands who are appearing at the festival for the first time.

This 12-hour event on Labor Day Sunday, celebrates the region’s Celtic and French Canadian musical traditions brought to northern New England by English, Scottish, Irish and French-Canadian immigrants. It has earned a reputation as one of the finest traditional music events in Vermont and once again, has been designated as a Top Ten Fall Event by the Vermont Chamber of Commerce. Nearly 75 of the best regional and international musicians play concerts on six all-weather stages, offer workshops, participate in dance bands, and share tunes and traditions at this family-friendly festival.

The Clayfoot Strutters, Wind That Shakes the Barley, Claude Méthé and Dana Whittle (Mil), Roberts & Barrand, Sarah Blair, and John and Deb Drury are musicians featured on the 1993 roster returning to the festival this year. De Temps Antan, the Nuala Kennedy Trio, Elixir, and The Fretless are on the line-up for the first time.

The New World Festival has been a great showcase for French Canadian music and dance and has been a driving force in the growing popularity of this exuberant musical heritage. De Temps Antan, Rapetipetam, Mil, and Méthé, Savoie-Levac, Chartrand & Babineau represent this vibrant musical tradition at this year’s festival.

The Nuala Kennedy Trio headlines the Celtic portion of the festival. National Heritage Fellow Norman Kennedy will share songs and stories learned while growing up in Aberdeen, Scotland, and Dominique Dodge offers Celtic harp and singing. The perennially popular band, Cantrip, returns for another round of performances sure to bring the house down.

From 7 – 10 PM, the festival’s sixth stage in Chandler’s upper gallery will be transformed into a pub with acoustic performances of old Vermont songs by Pete Sutherland, Keith Murphy and Tony Barrand; and performances by Wind That Shakes the Barley and Roberts & Barrand. Beer and wine will be for sale.

Contradancing and freestyle dancing close out the dance tent at the festival’s end. Reduced prices are offered after 6 PM.

Affordable student and children’s ticket prices ($11/$5, free for under age 2) and an array of creative activities in the children’s tent, including storytelling by Jennings & Ponder and performances by the No Strings Marionette Company, make the festival family-friendly. An array of food and drink offerings from local organizations and caterers will satisfy diverse appetites.