• Weekend brings full slate of events
    By Gordon Dritschilo
    Staff Writer | October 11,2013
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    Columbus Day weekend brings a frenzy of activity to Rutland this year.

    “It’s never too much,” said Tom Donahue, executive vice president of the Rutland Region Chamber of Commerce. “Columbus Day weekend is always traditionally the peak in many respects. The long weekend gives people a chance to get out of town, come to Vermont. You can’t nail down exactly when peak foliage is, but it’s always particularly beautiful in Vermont this weekend.”

    So, Donahue said, local businesses and organizations endeavor to give visitors plenty to do before, after or during breaks in the middle of leaf peeping.

    The weekend sees two major annual events, HavestFest and Art in the Park, with horse-drawn wagons carrying passengers between the two from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

    HarvestFest, put on by the Downtown Rutland Partnership, runs alongside the farmers market and features live jazz, booths for local artisans and several children’s activities like a scarecrow decorating and a scavenger hunt organized by the Wonderfeet Kids’ Museum.

    Organizer Chris Ettori said the scarecrows will arrive pre-made, leaving just the decorating to young visitors.

    “The kids can paint the faces, put on the clothes,” he said. “When the downtown puts on an event we always see a big increase in numbers.”

    One of the displays will feature Rutland’s contribution to a global interactive art project titled “Before I Die.”

    A stenciled chalkboard and basket of chalk will give passersby an opportunity to consider and then share their personal aspirations in a few words. “Before I Die” was conceived in New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The project has since spread worldwide and walls have been created in more than 350 communities in 55 countries and 25 languages.

    Rutland’s wall project, which will be on display on Center Street from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m., has been created by a locals including Annabelle Williams, Susan Beard, Susan Farrow, Sharon Nimtz and Carol Tashie.

    Art in the Park, organized by the Chaffee Art Center, brings artists and artisans to Main Street Park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. The event is free, but the Chaffee solicits donations at the entrance. Organizers say they expect about 100 vendors offering fine art, jewelry, clothing and craftwork, working in clay, metal, glass, fiber, photography and wood.

    Several specialty food vendors and musical entertainment are also available.

    Main Street Park will also be the starting point, around sundown, of “Zombie Outbreak,” a city-wide zombie-themed tag game.

    Around the same time, the Paramount Theatre will host “Dancing with the Rutland Stars,” a fundraiser for local children’s programs. The show features local celebrities competing in a dance-off while paired with professionals, as in the similarly named television program.

    “It is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life,” said Steve Costello of Green Mountain Power, one of the stars. “I’ve run five marathons and this is harder than training for that. I’m totally shocked at how difficult it’s been.”

    Sunday brings one more event, when a historic 1913 rail car arrives in the city to move into its new how at the Vermont Farmers Food Center. West Street will be closed starting from 9 a.m., and at 9:30 two cranes will lift the car from the tracks, rotate it 90 degrees and deposit it on the new site. The entire process is expected to take roughly 4 hours.

    “I’m really looking forward to that,” Donahue said. “That’s going to be quite the spectacle.”

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