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    Kathleen Saville, Guiness Book of World Record holder, will read from her book, “Rowing for My Life” and Phillip Fried, Editor of the Manhattan Review, will read poetry from his latest collection, “Squaring the Circle”. The event is free and will take place at Nevermore Bookstore in Newport on August 19th, 6:00 p.m.

Guinness World Record holder and Manhattan Review editor to read at Newport Bookstore

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport/News

NEWPORT — Guinness Book of World Record holder Kathleen Saville and Manhattan Review Editor Phillip Fried will read from their books, “Rowing for My Life,” and “Squaring the Circle,” at Nevermore Bookstore in Newport.

The event is free and will take place August 19, at 6:00 p.m.

Saville holds two Guinness World Records as the first woman to row across the North Atlantic and across two oceans.

After her husband’s death in a trekking mishap in the Egyptian desert, she earned a degree in creative writing. She teaches at the American University in Cairo, travels widely, publishes articles, and blogs about her adventures.

She lives in Cairo, Egypt and Derby Line, Vermont.

Fried has published six previous volumes of poetry, including “Early/Late: New & Selected Poems” (Salmon 2011) and “Interrogating Water and Other Poems” (Salmon 2014).

His seventh collection is “Squaring the Circle.”

His poems and reviews have appeared in numerous journals. In addition to writing poetry, he also edits The Manhattan Review, an international poetry review he founded in 1980.

He lives in New York City.

The event includes light refreshments, and all are welcome.

Anyone with questions should call Larry Bradley at Nevermore Bookstore: 802-334-3844.

[VIDEO] Art in Bloom at the MAC Center for the Arts in Newport

in Arts and Entertainment/Video

Art was in bloom over the weekend at the MAC Center for the Arts in Newport, as traditional visual art pieces were paired with corresponding flower arrangements made by members of the Four Seasons Garden Club.

In this Newport Dispatch video, Tanya Mueller visits this uniquely “perishable” exhibition. Enjoy.

Howard Mosher tribute tour coming to Derby Line

DERBY LINE — Vermont filmmaker Jay Craven will hit the road this summer for a series of film screenings and personal reflections to pay tribute to his 30-year collaborator, Northeast Kingdom writer, Howard Frank Mosher.

He will screen his film and present reflections on his work with Mosher on Monday, August 21, at 7 p.m. at the Haskell Opera House in Derby Line.

“Howard Mosher died pretty unexpectedly in late January,” Craven said. “And many Vermonters already miss him for his laugh-out-loud humor and fertile imagination of our place. Writers miss him, too, because no one was more generous with his time and support.”

Craven will open each evening with prepared and off-the-cuff reflections, “My Life, So Far, With Howard,” that explores his long collaboration with Mosher.

He will then present a 25th Anniversary screening of his first Mosher feature film, “Where the Rivers Flow North,” starring Academy Award nominee Rip Torn, Native American actress Tantoo Cardinal, and Michael J. Fox.

“Howard was much more than a source for our film stories and characters,” said Craven. “He was also a constant ally, a ready source of laughs, and a steadying influence in times of strain. This was especially crucial during our struggles with headstrong actor Rip Torn on the filming of Rivers. I will tell a few tales that have not been publically shared before—because they capture a rarely seen side of Howard and his work.”

Set in 1927 in Vermont’s Northeast Kingdom, “Where the Rivers Flow North” tells the story of an old logger, Noel Lord, and his Native American mate, Bangor, who face the extinction of their way of life when the local power company plans to build a giant hydro dam that will flood them off their land. Lord and Bangor face emotional and physical challenges as they struggle with the power company, Vermont’s unforgiving terrain, and their own thorny relationship.

“Where the Rivers Flow North” played more than thirty festival dates including Sundance, Seattle, Avignon, Vienna, and Vancouver.

Special screenings include The Smithsonian, Lincoln Center, and Harvard Film Archive. The picture was also one of three U.S. finalists for Critics Week, Cannes International Film Festival.

The Mosher Tribute tour is produced by Kingdom County Productions with sponsorship support from Vermont Public Radio.

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    Photo by Phil White.

Kingdom Swim 2017 welcomes swimmers from all over the Americas

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom/Outdoors/Vermont

NEWPORT — Over the weekend, Lake Memphremagog welcomed open water swimmers and “yackers” to the 9th Annual Kingdom Swim.

They came from 25 different states, two Canadian provinces, and Argentina, with ages ranging from 10 to 74.

This year’s swim was underwritten by North Country Hospital.

Sandra Frimerman-Berquist, age 34 of Excelsior, MN, smashed the record for the 25 km, Border Buster with a time of 5:49:55, leading a record number of 30 swimmers to complete the event.

Winning among the men was Stephen Rouch, 37, of Indianapolis, IN, who finished with a time of 6:25:48.

Stealing the show was 13-year-old, Vera Rivard, of Springfield, NH, who came in third among the females and fifth overall, with a time of 7:15:33. She is the youngest ever to complete the Border Buster.

The “most mature” to complete the Buster was Dan Shaub, 68, of Baltimore Maryland, with a time of 9:58:59. He and his local “yacker” Pam Ladds sported a combined age of 136.

The Busters headed out at 6:00 a.m. with mist rising from the lake after a cold night, but had the benefit of light tail winds from the south as they headed north and then from the north as they headed south back from Canada.

One of the purposes of this cross-border swim is to promote a more open border. This year everyone celebrated a change in Canadian rules that now coincides with US rules that you don’t need to report at the crossing if you don’t touch Canadian soil or a Canadian boat.

Taking home walking sticks, hand-carved by Bill Peck of Derby, in the WOWSA 10 Mile Championship were Anthony Szmul, 24, of Queensbury, NY (4:36:57) and Emily Boerger, 22 of Kingston, MA (4:47:54).

Margaret Rivard, age 10, of Springfield, NH, became the youngest to complete the 10-mile course which she did with a time of 5:50:12, placing her in the middle of the pack.

Eric Nilsson, 30, of Cambridge, MA, returned for another year, and claimed the crown as king of the 10 km with his blistering time of 2:03:34. Eric is one of the fastest swimmers to ply the waters of Lake Memphremagog .

Winning among the women was Rachel Horgan, 31, of Atkinson, NH, with a time of 2:23:56.

Kevin Jaubert, 45, of Towson, MD finished second. He’s one of two “lifers” who have swum in every single Kingdom Swim since it was started in 2009.

In the 5-km distance, it was a battle of east and west among the women, with Elizabeth Mancuso, 31, of Boston, MA, (1:09:49) fending off Ali Hall, 55, of San Francisco, CA (1:15:24).

Winning among the men was Lawton Harper, 50, of North Conway, NH, with a time of 1:23:13.

Laura Maliewski, 47, of Westmore, VT kept her streak alive as a “Lifer.”

In the 1-mile swim, Luke Nicholas, 14, of Mesa, AZ, gunned down Stephen Rouch, 37, of Indianapolis, IN, with a winning time of 0:19:28. But then, Stephen had just finished the Border Buster and was still hungry for one more mile in mighty Memphremagog before the day was done.

Luke’s dad, Kent Nicholas, narrowly missed the chance to swim the one-mile course with his son, completing the Border Buster in 8:25:15, just 25 minutes after the start of the 1 mile.

Among the females, Gayla Chalmers of Athens, GA, took first place with her time of 0:26:20.

Lilly Jaubert, 12, of Towson, MD won the miler among the female youth.

Winning in the ¼ was 10-year-old Claire Jaubert, of Towson, MD and Rex Lord, 11, of Bloomfield, NJ.

Prizes of Brault’s Beef Jerky and Couture’s Maple Syrup were offered up to the winners in each race, with jerky to the 2nd and third place finishers.

Music for the weekend was provided by Patti Casey and Tom Mackenzie on Friday evening, Kingdom Dixie and DJ Rena Demeo, during the swim, and by The Hitman at the Pig Roast and Party at Prouty after the swim.

[VIDEO] Welcome to the beautiful Newport Country Club

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport/Outdoors

The beautiful Newport Country Club features an 18-hole, par 72 golf course that overlooks Lake Memphremagog to its north, as well as scenic views of Jay Peak and Willoughby Gap to its west and south.

The course accomplishes the rare feat of challenging serious golfers while offering a relaxed atmosphere that
allows all skill levels the ability to learn this classic game.

MAC Center for the Arts presents seventh annual Art in Bloom

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport

NEWPORT — The seventh annual Art in Bloom will open on August 4, at the MAC Center for the Arts, located at 158 Main Street, in Newport. The reception will start at 5 p.m.

Working in concert are the members of the Four Seasons Garden Club and MAC Center for the Arts exquisitely tailoring the annual fundraiser where nature meets art.

August 4 is a ticketed event to benefit both organizations.

This year’s fabulous door prizes are certainly worth the price of admission.

A summertime favorite, Art In Bloom boasts over 20 floral arrangements that glean their inspiration from the magnificent artwork currently on display in the MAC Gallery.

Interpretation and unique creativity provide this festival of insouciant charm and patrons can enjoy these displays through Saturday, August 6, open to the public.

Come gaze upon the distinctive presentations on both levels of the gallery with the Art in Bloom in the main gallery, August 4-6, and the summer exhibition, Preserving the Beauty of Our Waters in the lower gallery, thru September 6.

For tickets or more information, please call 802-334-1966, or visit and/or

Summer Block Party in Newport kicks off summer and free lunches

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

NEWPORT — The 4th Annual Summer Block Party will be held at Gardner Park in Newport, on Thursday, June 22 from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. The event is free and open to the public.

The afternoon will feature free food for all kids 18-years-old and younger from the Lunchbox food truck, family-friendly games and activities such as dancing and face painting, and a fun-run around the park.

The Summer Block Party is hosted by Green Mountain Farm-to-School and Newport Parks and Recreation.

“The Summer Block Party is an opportunity for us to say thank you to the community for all of their support while also letting them know that the Lunchbox will be serving free lunches to kids again this summer,” says James Hafferman, executive director of Green Mountain Farm-to-School.

The activities for the fun afternoon are organized by over a dozen community organizations that are participating in the event. United Church of Newport will be doing a sing-along and games, the Wellness Center of North Country Hospital will be doing dance and zumba, and Let’s Grow Kids will have life-sized Legos, to only name a few.

The event is also sponsored by various business throughout the region.

“The support of many different organizations and businesses make the Summer Block Party possible,” says Hafferman. “We are lucky to have such a caring community that comes together to make a fun, family-friendly event like this possible for everyone.”

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    Photo Copyright 2017 Karen Lippens – Lake Memphremagog

MAC Center teams up with Memphremagog Watershed Association in latest exhibition

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport

NEWPORT — The MAC Center for the Arts is presenting a collaborative exhibition to celebrate both the tenth anniversaries of the Memphremagog Watershed Association and the MAC Center for the Arts.

The exhibit, Memphremagog Watershed Association – Preserving the Beauty of Our Waters, will open on June 24 at 5 p.m. with a presentation by Louise Abbott, author and photographer whose second volume, Memphrémagog: An Illustrated History, vol. 2, will be published later this summer. All proceeds from this beautiful book will benefit the Watershed Association.

This unique exhibition on display in the Downstairs Gallery will run until September 5, and is free and open to the public.

Louise Abbott is a Canadian non-fiction writer, photographer, and filmmaker living in Quebec’s Eastern Townships. She graduated from McGill University in 1972, and is a featured writer and photographer, with works appearing in the Montreal Gazette, The Globe and Mail, The Canadian Encyclopedia, Canadian Heritage and Photo Life.

Abbott received the 2002 Canadian Journalism Foundation Greg Clark Internship Award, and in the same year the Professional Writers Association of Canada’s Norman Kucharsky Award for Cultural and Artistic Journalism. 

Her first book, The Coast Way: A Portrait of the English on the Lower North Shore of the St. Lawrence, was a finalist for the 1989 QSPELL Award.

In 2014, her documentary, Nunaaluk: A Forgotten Story, won the inaugural Jasper Short Film Festival Best Film by an Established Filmmaker award.

The Memphremagog Watershed Association (MWA) was formed in 2007 with a mission to promote public awareness of the Memphremagog Watershed and protect its unique ecosystem. They have worked closely with partners in the basin to implement many of the strategies laid out in the 2012 Basin 17 tactical basin plan, hosting watershed workshops, installing buffer plantings and rain gardens, selling rain barrels, lake and river clean-ups, hosting educational boat rides for adults and schools, providing scholarships for High School graduates who intend to study in an environmental field, and establishing a Vermont Invasive Species program for Lake Memphremagog. 

Members of MAC will exhibit new work in a variety of media using the lake and environment as inspiration in concert with informational materials and photographs on the important preservation work of the Watershed Association.

MAC Center for the Arts supports Vermont’s Creative Economy through the sale of its member’s work at the 4,000-square foot Main Street gallery.

In addition to our gallery store and seasonal opening receptions, they offer a full calendar of special events, performances, visiting and original exhibits, classes and workshops.

All are open to the public and most are free to attend.

For more information, visit or call 802-334-1966.

Cajun Meets Celtic at the Haskell Opera House Thursday May 25

in Arts and Entertainment/Derby Line

DERBY LINE – Southern and Northern fiddle traditions will come together in an international setting as Haskell Opera House presents an evening with David Greely, Mairi Rankin and Ailie Robertson Thursday, May 25 at 7:30 p.m.

David Greely’s French Louisiana music is opening a new wing in his tradition. David has taken the swampy syncopations of Cajun music and its renaissance French dialect to new level of sophistication without losing its urgency and texture.

In solo acoustic performance, he sounds like two or three fiddles, weaving accompaniment to his vocals as if it’s someone else singing. 

David was born in Baton Rouge of Cajun and Irish ancestry and learned Cajun music on dance hall stages throughout South Louisiana, in the archives of Cajun and Creole music at the University of Louisiana in Lafayette, and from his apprenticeship to Cajun fiddle master and National Heritage Fellow Dewey Balfa.

As a founding member of Steve Riley and the Mamou Playboys, David toured Folk Festivals worldwide for 23 years, and was nominated for four Grammy Awards. He has received the Louisiana Artist Fellowship Award for Folklife Performance, and is an adjunct instructor of Cajun fiddle at the University of Louisiana.

Winner of Best Group in both the Live Ireland awards and the Tradition In Review awards, the Rankin/Robertson Duo are one of the top Celtic acts in the world.

With their band The Outside Track, they were Best Live Act nominees in the 2013 MG Alba Scots Traditional Music Awards and won the German Radio Critics Prize 2014 for their latest album Flash Company.

Mairi Rankin is a member of the legendary Rankin Family from Cape Breton, while Ailie Robertson hales from Edinburgh is widely regarded as one of Scotland’s leading young traditional musicians.

The duo blend fiddle, harp, step-dance and vocals with breathtaking vitality. Their boundless energy and unmistakable joie de vivre has won them a large following around the globe.

Don’t miss this incredible evening. Tickets are $20 (Cdn) and are available through Picatic, and at the box office day of the concert.

Doors open at 6.30 p.m. The concert will begin promptly at 7.30 p.m.

Look for a full lineup of musical and theatrical performances this summer at the Haskell Opera House, including QNEK’s Guys and Dolls, Juno Award winner Whitehorse July 5 and CCMA Award winner Lindi Ortega August 15.

For more information, contact Hal Newman at

Howard Frank Mosher’s personal book collection to be housed at Leach Public Library

in Arts and Entertainment/Irasburg/Newport/News/Northeast Kingdom

IRASBURG — The Irasburg Selectboard and the Trustees of the Leach Public Library have announced an Open House to introduce and honor the Howard Frank Mosher book collection, to be housed at the library.

The event will take place from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Friday, June 2, at the library, located on the Irasburg Common.

The Open House will immediately precede a 2 p.m. memorial service for the beloved Irasburg author, to be held at the Irasburg United Church.

Howard Frank Mosher died on January 29, 2017, at his Irasburg home.

In December 2016, Mosher sent “A Christmas Letter to Irasburg’s Library Trustees and Select Board,” donating his book collection to the library.

“What an honor it is,” Mosher wrote in his letter, “to present my beloved personal book collection to the Leach Memorial Library in Irasburg, where my still-more-beloved Phillis and I have lived for forty very happy years. Here in this northern Vermont town founded in 1781 by Ethan Allen’s brother Ira, Phillis and I have made our home for most of our adult lives, raised our children, and caught (way too many) trout (brookies, browns, and rainbows, but mainly brookies). Here, too, is where I’ve written most of my fourteen books, including mu 1989 novel A Stranger in the Kingdom, inspired by the so-called “Irasburg Incident” of 1968. To this day, A Stranger in the Kingdom is probably my best known book, though my own favorite is Northern Borders.”

The donated collection includes several matched sets of the classics, including a set of Shakespeare’s works inherited from Mosher’s grandfather and a set of the works of Dickens previously owned by longtime Irasburg librarian Doris Alexander. Also included are books about the Lewis and Clark expedition and books on slavery and the civil war that the author used in research for two of his novels.

“I love to write,” Mosher concluded his December donation letter. “Always have. And Irasburg and the Kingdom have been a treasure trove of stories. But I live to read. I like thinking that, in the future, some aspiring young storywriter may pick up some of these books and, as I have, find them inspiring and helpful.”

Leach Library Director Laurie Holland echoed Mosher’s view.

“We look forward to introducing aspiring young story writers, and everyone else, to Howard’s extraordinary book collection,” she said.

Refreshments will be served at the Open House.

Fyre & Lightning Consort in Newport this Sunday

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport

NEWPORT — The Fyre and Lightning Consort, a trio of musicians living in Central Vermont dedicated to the study and performance of Medieval and Renaissance music, will be performing this Sunday, May 14, at St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in Newport.

Throughout its performing history, the group has become increasingly interested in traditional music of various types, including the music of the Sephardic Jews and traditional music of the British Isles, as well as arrangements and new compositions created by ensemble members.

The upcoming performance features Ellie Hayes, Kathy Light, and Steven Light.

The program includes music found in France, Italy, and Spain from the Middle Ages and early Renaissance as well as music of the Sephardic Jews. The performance will conclude with traditional music from Ireland, Scotland, and England, including 17th-century compositions by the blind harper Turlough O’Carolan.

Fyre and Lightning endeavors to present this fascinating music in an informal, accessible style. The music and instruments will be described and audience members are invited to ask questions and try out the instruments after the concert.

The show starts at 3 p.m. and there is a suggested donation at the door of $10. Lite refreshments will be served during the intermission.

Introducing Diane McHeffey, Golf Pro at Newport Country Club

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport/Outdoors

Diane McHeffey is the new Golf Pro at the beautiful Newport Country Club.

In this interview, McHeffey talks with Tanya Mueller about her career in golf, as well as all the opportunities for golfers of all ages this year.

For more information on this season at the Newport Country Club, CLICK HERE.

9th Annual Dandelion Run to be held May 20

in Arts and Entertainment/Derby/Holland/Morgan/Newport/News/Outdoors

DERBY — The Dandelion Run is back on May 20, 2017. The run offers varying distances from one mile to a half marathon on dirt roads through the “world famous” dandelion fields of Morgan, Holland, and Derby.

It’s held in honor and memory of Terri Weed, a 15-year-old girl who tragically lost her life due to domestic violence on May 21, 1981.

For each adult registration, 20 percent will be donated to support Umbrella and its advocacy and support of victims of violence.

“The Dandy” is held in conjunction with the Dandelion Fiddlefest celebrating “High Spring” in the Northeast Kingdom, a time when the dandelions are at their peak.

As in previous years, Reckless Breakfast, a contemporary bluegrass band will be playing at the corner of Dumas and Hayward Hollow Roads.

Champion master fiddler, Scott Campbell will be playing at Route 111 and the North Gore Road. Patti Casey of Montpelier will be back at the corner of Route 111 and Dumas Road. Courtney Drew, an 18-year-old fiddler from Quebec, will be playing at the one mile turnaround.

Rick Geisel, Don Houghton, and Terri Churchill will be playing at other locations along the course.

The running and walking options include a 13.1 mile, 10 km, 4 mile, 2 mile and 1 mile. The ages of runners and walkers typically range from 4 years old to 80 years old. Each year many local schools field teams of young runners.

Last year, Community National Bank helped organize the first 4 mile walk, which was very popular and which we expect will grow.

The bank’s Community Circle members put on their walking shoes and enjoyed the event festivities with the other “Dandy” participants from many other states.

The Dandy is widely recognized as one of the top running races in Vermont. It has been featured several times in Vermont Sports Magazine and was named one of the best events in Vermont by Yankee Magazine in 2011.

Already runners have been signing up from California, Oklahoma, Florida, North Carolina, New York, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, all over Vermont, The Eastern Townships of Quebec, Quebec City, Montreal, and Ontario.

Online registration is open at

QNEK Productions kicking off final season with Lend Me a Tenor on April 28th

in Arts and Entertainment/Derby Line/Newport

DERBY LINE — QNEK Productions is kicking off its 25th and final season with Lend Me a Tenor, a farce that will keep you laughing long after the curtain comes down. It will run at the Haskell Opera House from April 28 – May 7.

The show will feature an impressive party of local talents in Todd Cubit, Michael Desjardins, Phil Gosselin, Kim Gannon, Rhonda Lucas, Tiffany Quinn, Ron St. John, and Andrea Webster.

In September of 1934, Henry Saunders, the general manager of the Cleveland Grand Opera Company, is primed to welcome world famous Tito Merelli, the greatest tenor of his generation, to appear for one night only as Otello.

The star arrives late, and through a hilarious series of mishaps is given a double dose of tranquilizers and passes out. His pulse is so low that Saunders and his assistant Max believe he’s dead.

In a frantic attempt to salvage the evening, Saunders persuades Max to get into Merelli’s Otello costume and fool the audience into thinking he’s Il Stupendo.

Meanwhile, Merelli wakes up, puts on the costume as well, and madcap hijinks ensue.

The impressive art deco set is brought to life by Set Engineers Rick Gosselin and George Lague. Judy Castonguay is the Stage Manager with Jenny Dunne Directing.

You don’t want to miss this uproarious start to QNEK’s final season.

You can catch Lend Me a Tenor at the Haskell Opera House on April 28 – May 7, Fridays and Saturdays at 7:30 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m.

Tickets are available by visiting, calling the QNEK Box Office at (802) 334-2216, in person at The MAC Center for the Arts, by visiting, or by calling the Catamount Arts Box Office at (888) 757-5559.

MAC Center for the Arts celebrates second annual Recycling Exhibit

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport

NEWPORT — Recycled art is not something that’s beautiful but just a waste of time and space. It’s like alchemy which turns base metal into gold. The MAC Center for the Arts, located at 158 Main Street, in Newport, will be celebrating the second annual Recycling Exhibit.

The opening day will be April 28, 2017 with a reception from 5:00 – 7:00 p.m.

The event is free, and all are welcome to attend.

The exhibit will continue thru May 27 and features artists repurposed and recycled whimsies and unique sculptures making for an interesting and sometimes odd exhibition.

A call to artists for this unusual exhibition engages the talents of many local collective artists guilds in the Northeast Kingdom.

Visit the MAC Downstairs Gallery for some rediscovered artistry that leaves no carbon footprint. Visitors are promised to be amazed by the beauty of reformed trash.

For more information, visit or call 802-334-1966.

[VIDEO] Megan Bonnell interview and music from the Haskell Library

in Arts and Entertainment/Vermont

On Monday, Toronto-based singer-songwriter Megan Bonnell opened up for Great Lake Swimmers at the Haskell Library.

After the show, she gave this interview with Tanya Mueller to discuss her musical background, and offer some advice to young artists who are starting out.

For more on this artist, check out

[VIDEO] Great Lake Swimmers live at the Haskell Library

in Arts and Entertainment/Video

On Monday evening Canadian indie band Great Lake Swimmers played an intimate show at the Haskell Library.

Tanya Mueller caught up with the band after the show for an exclusive interview with Newport Dispatch.

Great Lake Swimmers is a Canadian band built around the melodic folk rock songs of singer-songwriter Tony Dekker.

Originally from Wainfleet, Ontario, the band is currently based in Toronto.

The show at the Haskell finished off a small tour the band was on, playing as a trio.

Elisabeth von Trapp to perform in Newport on Sunday

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport/News

NEWPORT — Elisabeth von Trapp will return to Newport on Sunday, for a concert that will take place at the United Church of Newport.

Ms. von Trapp first came to Newport ten years ago and is being welcomed back through the Now Playing Newport Music Series.

Granddaughter of the legendary Maria and Baron von Trapp, whose story inspired “The Sound of Music,” music is part of her earliest memories.

Inspired by her father’s guitar playing and singing, she began taking piano lessons when she was eight.

By sixteen she was playing guitar and traveling the back roads of New England performing with her siblings at weddings, gospel meetings, town halls, and county fairs.

Growing up she heard the sounds of Beethoven, Bach, Vivaldi and Mozart from her father’s record collection and the voices of the Beatles, Dylan, Joni Mitchell, and the Rolling Stones from the open airways of Vermont radio.

“Cold winter nights, I would sit on my bed in the dark, picking out a Join Mitchell song on my guitar as the sounds of Tchaikovsky’s Violin Concerto on the phonograph would float up the stairs from the living room below, where my mother sat knitting,” von Trapp said.

She has released five self-produced albums and her music has been featured on BBC-Radio, Japanese National Radio, and CNN Spanish Radio.

The program begins on Sunday, April 2, at 3:00 p.m., followed by a reception.

There is a suggested donation at the door of $10.

Free screening of Forgotten Farms at Newport City Cinema March 30th

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport

NEWPORT — The Orleans County Conservation District will be hosting a free community viewing of the documentary film “Forgotten Farms,” that examines class divides in our farm and food communities, followed by a discussion panel with filmmakers, local dairy farmers and Vermont Housing and Conservation Board Agricultural Director, Nancy Everhart.

The screening will take place March 30 at Newport City Cinema, and will start at 4:00 p.m.

Most people buy their food in supermarkets and don’t have a chance to “know your farmer,” as the bumper sticker recommends.

In more affluent communities, farm-to-table restaurants, farmer’s markets, and CSAs are booming and the new farmers are celebrated. But there is another farmer who is left out of the local food celebration.

The Vermont Dairy Promotion council economic assessment lists Orleans County as having 15.3 percent of the state’s dairy farms with 131 dairy farms, 22 of which are Certified Organic, with a total of 21,081 cows.

Dairy farmers are a significant foundational part of our local economy and cultural in Orleans County, but often these farmers are overlooked.

This event will showcase these farmers by highlighting the importance of the dairy industry which is very relevant to our Northeast Kingdom communities.
Only 100 years ago, New England produced most of its food on 16 million acres of farmland. And now, climate change demands that more of our food is grown closer to where we live. As we strive to revive local production, we have much to learn from dairy farmers who have been managing most of the farmland and sustaining the farm economy for generations.

The film gives us a glimpse into the past and a vision for a future regional food system through conversations with farmers and policy experts and reconsiders the role of the vital but forgotten farmers.

MAC Center getting ready to host indoor yard sale April First

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport

NEWPORT — The MAC Center for the Arts, located at 158 Main Street, in Newport, is gearing up for their “Le Junque du Jour Sale,” which will take place on Saturday, April 1.

April Fool’s Day will be replete with fun for shoppers of all ages when the MAC Center hosts their first ever indoor yard sale.

The event starts at 10:00 a.m and runs until 3:00 p.m. The sale will take place in the downstairs gallery.

There are many one-of-a-kind items, including four antique sewing tables, two weathered spindle back chairs, vintage wood rolling office chair, hand painted end table, a Roland electric digital piano, display racks, three drafting tables, small bookshelf, coveted Glass Hurricane lamps, signed artwork, windchimes, and vintage pottery.

Going on a trip? They’ve got luggage. Need a chapeau? They’ve got hats. If you’re not into that kind of hat, how about a lampshade?

There will be art supplies, jewelry, books, new items, gently loved items, and a plethora of collectibles.

Everything is priced to sell or make an offer because everything must go.

All proceeds benefit the MAC Center for the Arts and the continuing arts programming.

For more information, please visit their website, or call 332-1966.

Gregory Douglass returns to Haskell Opera House, Tod Pronto opening

in Arts and Entertainment/Derby Line

DERBY LINE — On Saturday, April 1, musician Gregory Douglass will take the stage at the Haskell Opera House, with singer/songwriter Tod Pronto opening the show.

After a recent spotlight on NPR’s Morning Edition, Douglass has been coined “one of New England’s best-kept secrets.” According to OUT Magazine, his evocative, alternative sound blend “Rufus Wainwright’s opulent musicality and Justin Timberlake’s accessible soulfulness.”

Douglass has shared the stage with artists like Regina Spektor, They Might Be Giants, Shawn Colvin, The Weepies, Jason Mraz, and Margaret Cho.

Douglass will be releasing “My Hero, The Enemy,” his 9th studio album.

“This new album is the most deeply personal account of my years in music so far.” he said. “It’s also an ode to being a creative person in the age of information, and what a blessing and a curse it can be.”

Catch Douglass as he returns to the Haskell Opera House, Saturday, April 1, and celebrate the worldwide release of the new album. Tickets are $20.00, and are on sale at:

The show starts at 7:30 p.m.

To see a live version of “Point Of View,” go to:

January theater workshop enrollment open for kids ages 5 through 8 at the MAC Center

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport

NEWPORT — The MAC Center for the Arts in partnership with ACT 1, the Northeast Kingdom’s Premiere Theater Academy, have announced plans for 2017.

Saturday, January 21, will debut “Once Upon a Time: Peter Pan,” for students 5 to 8 years old, and will provide a half day of theater learning and fun.

Starting at 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m., students will be led through exploratory activities to learn about all aspects of storytelling, culminating in a short performance for family and friends at 4:00 p.m. 

“Once Upon a Time: Peter Pan” will teach participants about learning music and movement for the stage in addition to creating costume pieces and decorating the space to reflect Neverland as they imagine it.

Character work will be a major theme throughout the afternoon as the students learn the roles of “Lost Boys” and “Pirates,” bringing their unique personalities to the performance as an ensemble.

Local middle school performers will act as “Show Captains” borrowed from the term “Dance Captains” in the theater business, and will lead the little ones through their show. 

Cost for the afternoon is $25 for one participant and $40 for a pair.

Registration includes water, materials, and an ACT 1 t-shirt in addition to professional training.

All are welcome, no experience required, just a love of creativity is all your child needs to have a memorable afternoon.

To register for the January 21 event, please stop by or call the MAC Center for the Arts.

All questions regarding the day of the event should be directed to ACT 1 at or Lynn Leimer at

For more information and registration, visit or call 802-334-1966

A Northeast Kingdom Vermont Christmas story, written in 1955

in Arts and Entertainment

William T. Logan Jr. was principal of Newport Center Vermont High School in 1953-54. While going through some of his things recently, a family member found a typewritten copy of a story he wrote about an experience he had as principal one Christmas. Below is a copy of the story, titled “The Schoolhouse Christmas Tree.”


In the days before consolidation of schools and the formation of large union districts, Vermont was dotted with small “high schools” which housed the village’s elementary students in the same building as the secondary ones. A High School Principal or Headmaster was employed as a full-time teacher and disciplinarian for the building. Should there be a shortage of volunteer extra-curricular supervisors, the principal filled in with such other duties as basketball and baseball coach, substitute bus driver, and movie projector operator at the local Ladies Aid Society meeting. Life was anything but dull for these budding school administrators.

Much has been written on “Boot Camp” training of military recruits, but little has been recorded on the “hands on” experiences of these neophyte educational leaders. With barely three years experience in the classroom, on the one hand, and a master’s degree diploma in the other, they accepted positions in rural towns throughout the state. They moved their families into unfamiliar communities, for at least a three-year stint, and tried to operate an educational and recreational program that raised the standards of the areas they served.

I was one of the “chosen few” who graduated from the University in Burlington in 1950, had done my three years tour of classroom duty in a central school in New York State, and returned to the Green Mountains to help move the budding school consolidation movement along. I accepted “the call” to go to Newport Town in the Northeast Kingdom as the Teaching—Principal of Newport Center High School.

That school house was a wooden framed building. It stood on a postage stamp size lot about a couple hundred yards from a railroad crossing and the three stores and a bowling alley that made up the commercial center of the community. It was about two stories and a half high. The first floor was a half a story above ground and contained three multigrade elementary classrooms and a home economics room.

The rest of the “high school” consisted of a science laboratory, without running water or Bunsen burners, in the basement next to the wood burning furnace and the entire second floor of the building.

Because the total secondary student population for Grades 7 to 12 never exceeded seventy-five pupils, these kids were assigned “home room” desks in the assembly room – or study hall — and attended academic classes in small adjoining classrooms. Boys who enrolled in vocational agriculture spent half their school day in a separate school facility in the neighboring town of North Troy and traveled back and forth in a school bus which was driven by one of the students frequently. Teaching full time and keeping track of the students required the skills of a professional juggler.

On the tongue-in-cheek advice of Dean Bennett C. Douglass, I obtained the personal, professional library recommended for all high school principals going into school administration for the first time. It consisted of three books. These were a Dictionary to help me spell, the King James Version of the Bible to give my spiritual solace, and an Atlas so I could figure out where I was at any given moment. I followed his other advice and checked the toilet rooms frequently each day.

In a school building where a lithograph of Sir Lancelot and the Holy Grail and a colored picture calendar showing a prize-winning Holstein cow made up the entire art gallery, decorating the assembly room for holiday occasions provided a cultural experience. The Christmas season was an especially exciting time in that land of fir trees and snow.

Christmas trees are a “cash crop” in Orleans County. Thousands of trees have been commercially harvested, bailed, and shipped south by Thanksgiving time each year. Every local family has selected, and left standing for cutting later, the special tree that would decorate its home. The Future Farmers of America at Newport Center High School had located and identified the “perfect” tree to beautify our assembly hall. All that was needed to kick off the holiday season was permission from the Principal to leave school for a long enough time to cut the tree and deliver it to the building. A half hour was the generous time estimate given for this venture and it was granted.

One hour after the FFA Chapter members left on their mission, the pay phone in the Principal’s office rang. The message was concise. The tree had been obtained and loaded on the truck and – as soon as the fellows were through dressing out the ewe — they would be right back to the school.

Unlike the children in Clement Moore’s “Night Before Christmas“ who had “visions of sugar plums“ in their heads, I had visions of the local constable arriving at my door with a summons to appear before a judge to answer the charges on abetting the destruction of property – namely a female sheep! I kept asking myself how could a half dozen young men, sent to do a simple task like cutting a tree, manage to kill an innocent sheep? How could I pay for it? Only time would tell – and it did!

It seems that the “perfect” tree was growing on the property of the parents of one of our elementary school children. The land owner was not at home at that moment and the tree was inconveniently located far enough from the road that a tractor would be desirable in its retrieval. A tractor was parked on the ground-level barn floor – where the farmer also kept a few of his sheep for the winter months. In the process of moving the tractor in an out of the barn, a dung fork was dislodged and fell to the floor where a skittish ewe managed to impale herself. The problem was addressed, the sheep butchered, and the food value of the animal assured. The problem of explaining the situtation to the owner was to be resolved at a future time.

The boys dutifully returned to the school, erected the tree to the delight of the student body, and a festive spirit filled the air – except in the cubby-hole that was known as the Principal’s office. With baited breath I waited for the call from the irate farmer whose generous offer of a tree had resulted in the loss of a valuable animal.

In that season of “Peace on Earth” and “Good Will to Men”, the joyful spirit in the schoolhouse must have emanated through the whole township. At least it reached as far as the farm where my boys had killed the sheep, for in due time the telephone rang and the voice of the farmer was heard. My heart skipped a beat or two when it wished me a “Merry Christmas“, congratulated me for sending such bright young men to get the tree that they were capable of handling a crisis, and offering me the gift of half a mutton for our hot lunch program after the holidays!

Nothing I had studied in college or graduate school had prepared me to deal with that kind of crisis. Nothing I did solved the problem. It was the spirit of Christmas that took over and turned an embarrassing incident into a special symbol of love and generosity that I shall cherish forever.

VIDEO: Meet the cast of QNEK’s “It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play”

in Arts and Entertainment/Derby Line/Newport

DERBY LINE — Over the weekend, QNEK Productions ended its 24th season by presenting the holiday classic, It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play.

Staged at the beautiful First Universalist Parish Hall in Derby Line, the shows starred Steve Gonyaw, Marilee Andres, Aidan Mulroy, Tiffany Quinn, and Brian McCrae.

It was directed by Phil Gosselin.

In this video, Newport Dispatch got a chance to talk with the cast about this year’s holiday production.

Photos and interview by Tanya Mueller.

VIDEO: 2017 Northeast Kingdom calendar by photographer Rick Desrochers

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport

NEWPORT — Local photographer Rick Desrochers, who owns Northern Dreams Photography, took us out for a day of shooting in the Northeast Kingdom, to discuss his art, and the two 2017 calendars he is putting out.

Desrochers is a photographer from Newport, Vermont. He grew up loving photography and all the beauty this area has to offer.

To dream of the direction of North symbolizes reality. It also indicates that you are making progress and moving forward in life.

“While living in Florida, I dreamt of the four seasons of the North, and Northern Dreams Photography was born, a dream that has become reality,” Desrochers said. “It’s about capturing the simple things in life and the beauty of nature that we sometimes miss and take for granted. It’s about helping us to believe in our dreams of moving forward and anywhere that we can imagine.”

The 2017 Northeast Kingdom Calendar is also printed locally at the UPS Store in Newport.

For more information about Northern Dreams Photography, email Rick at

VIDEO: Haskell Opera House appoints new director

in Arts and Entertainment/Derby Line/Stanstead/Video

DERBY LINE — The trustees of the Haskell Free Library and Opera House recently announced the appointment of Hal Newman of Stanstead, Quebec as the new director of the Haskell Opera House.

In keeping with the cross-border nature of the Haskell, Newman was raised in Montreal West and attended university in the United States. After a career as, among other things, a paramedic, he and his family moved to Stanstead six years ago, where he works as a chief marketing officer for a cardiovascular research company and social media specialist for emergency management.

Newman has been involved in the arts throughout his life. Over the past two years, he has been the organizer and chief concert host of the Stanstead House Concerts Network, which has brought dozens of artists to Stanstead and region, including Oh Pep! from Australia and Canadian band The Great Lake Swimmers.

“We’re excited to welcome Hal to the Haskell team,” said Haskell board president Matthew Farfan. “He cares about the community, and he brings with him an awareness of the performing arts culture on both sides of the border. We look forward to Hal putting his vision and acute networking skills in place to make the Haskell Opera House a must-perform venue for artists.”

Founded in 1901, the Haskell Free Library and Opera House supports the cultural needs of the community on both sides of the Canada-U.S. border, both English and French, through access to information, reading material, a broad range of library services and programming as well as the visual and performing arts.

As a heritage building and as a cultural centre, the Haskell plays a critical role in enriching the lives of its members and the community.

“It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play” coming to Derby Line

in Arts and Entertainment/Derby Line

DERBY LINE — QNEK Productions continues the celebration of its 24th season by presenting the holiday classic, It’s A Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play, adapted by Joe Landry.

QNEK has developed a strong tradition of appetizing audience’s hearts for this “most wonderful time of the year,” with hilarious and thoughtful stage entertainment.

In this year’s holiday production, QNEK takes on a radio play version of the beautiful and iconic story that has become a Christmas Eve television staple of families for generations.

If you’ve never seen or heard it live, with sound effects, you won’t want to miss this chance.

Based on the famous 1946 film directed by Frank Capra, It’s A Wonderful Life, Joe Landry’s adaptation of this American holiday classic for all ages will transport audiences straight to Bedford Falls, NY, through a live 1940s radio broadcast.

The show is directed by Phil Gosselin.

The story of idealistic George Bailey unfolds as he discovers what the world would be like without him in it. This international cast features five actors playing all of the roles and doing all of the sound effects live on stage.

The show stars Steve Gonyaw, Marilee Andres, Aidan Mulroy, Tiffany Quinn, and Brian McCrae.

Close to 70 years after it’s screen debut, the story of George Bailey, Mary Hatch, Clarence the Angel, little Zuzu, and all of Bedford Falls still touches the hearts of all ages.

It’s a Wonderful Life: A Live Radio Play performs at the First Universalist Parish Hall in Derby Line on December 9 -11, Friday and Saturday at 7:30 p.m., and Sunday at 2 p.m.

Refreshments will be served at all performances.

Tickets are available by visiting, calling the QNEK Box Office at (802) 334-2216, at The MAC Center for the Arts, by visiting, or by calling the Catamount Arts Box Office at (888) 757-5559.

  • Screen-Shot-2016-11-17-at-4.32.53-PM.png
    Photo by Jason Griffith.

Andrea Webster of Glover competes for Miss Vermont this weekend

in Arts and Entertainment/Glover

GLOVER — The Miss Vermont USA Pageant will be held this weekend at the Spruce Peak Performing Arts Center in Stowe, and one of the contestants in this year’s competition is Andrea Webster, of Glover.

The Miss Vermont USA pageant preliminary show will be held on Saturday, November 19, at 8 p.m. The contestants will be competing in the evening gown and swimsuit competitions.

At 2 p.m. on Sunday, contestants will once again take to the stage and ultimately the field will be narrowed down to the finalists.

The final five will each have a final question which will help the judges determine who will be the next Miss Vermont USA.

The new Miss Vermont USA will go on to represent the state in the Miss USA Pageant.

Portrait of a Forest exhibit opens at the MAC Center this Friday

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport

NEWPORT — The MAC Center for the Arts will host an Exclusive Opening for its new exhibit, “Portrait of a Forest: Men and Machine,” on Friday, from 5 to 7 p.m.

The opening is in conjunction with the annual Holiday Reception at the MAC.

The exhibit, on loan to MAC from the Vermont Folklife Center, combines contemporary photographs by Weybridge photojournalist, George Bellerose, with historical photographs and commentary by the logging and forest products community, will run through December 31.

“Unlike Vermonters of the past, many of us no longer have a direct connection to the working landscape,” Bellerose said of the origin of his project. “We see logging trucks and the occasional roadside log collection, but rarely do we have contact with loggers or fully understand their importance to the state.”

Coverage ranges from solo loggers with a chainsaw to multi-machine chipping operations, from backyard sawmills to state-of-the-art flooring mills.

“My hope is that this documentation will help everyone better understand the challenges facing the industry today and appreciate its role in preserving a healthy forest,” Bellerose added. “This project is an essential part of the Vermont Folklife Center’s mission to help people become visible to one another,”

Greg Sharrow, co-director of the Center commented, “George Bellerose’s photography opens a powerful window into the lives and work of loggers in Vermont.”

The exhibit and projected book are companion pieces to an earlier Bellerose and Vermont Folklife Center project, Forty-Six Years of Pretty Straight Going: The Life of a Family Dairy Farm.

“Both occupations involve long days and hard work,” Bellerose commented. “Both are often a generational way of life and a tough way to make a living. Both have shaped the landscape and culture of Vermont. Both face economic challenges today, and both often feel that the work they do is not understood or appreciated.”

This exhibit and reception is free and open to the public.

For more information, please visit or call 802 334 -1966.

Act 1 Theatre Workshop Group Photo - Finale Pose Front (l to r) Alician Socia, Sophia Aiken, Evvi Tower-Pierce, Ben Gonyaw, Josie Pearson, Dayna Alexandre, Annika Socia Back (l to r) Thomas Alexandre, Brandan Alexandre, Grace Castle, Hannah Poginy, Kaeleb Bertiuame, Marianna Barrett, Emily Wilkie, Aaron Nichols

Academy for Children in Theatre debuts in Newport

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport

NEWPORT — A local theater workshop for young people was recently showcased in Newport. This new and timely venture that has emerged at the MAC Center for the Arts, is called the Academy for Children in Theatre.

Conceptualized and created by Lynn Leimer and Sunny Naughton, a pair that began working together over 20 years ago, the project aims to bring their knowledge to area theater lovers, both young and old alike.

Participants recently completed the ACT 1 Workshop, and ranged in ages from 8-13, hailing from Derby, Newport, Barton, Westmore and even downtown Manhattan.

The ensemble spent eight hours learning the business of Broadway, choreography, staging, vocalization and high-speed musical training.

“Knowledge is power and we intend to fill each student with an arsenal of theatrical savvy, on stage and behind the scenes,” said Leimer.

Organizers say the workshop will not only enhance the cultural tone of the community, but sustain the mission of the Memphremagog Arts Collaborative and their commitment to all facets of the arts.

Leimer is a founding and charter member of MAC and sits on the Board of Directors as Secretary, and is the Chair of the Performance Committee.

Naughton is a MAC member/writer/performer and sits on the Performance Committee.

Before the end of 2016, Leimer and Naughton will announce the spring workshop schedule with upcoming programs.

“They say to be the person you needed when you were a kid,” said Naughton. “I had exposure to a lot of wonderful artists here in the Kingdom so I didn’t need much. However, after working in theater across the country, what I do believe our theater lovers can benefit from is a place to come together, outside of rehearsal for our wonderful community theaters and high school productions, to hone their craft.”

Naughton and Leimer say they want a space where all students who want to put in the time and effort can learn to appreciate not only the stage, but all aspects of putting on a show.

They plan to produce workshops for musicians, wardrobe, hair and make-up, scenic design and more.

The pair believes that in the past fifteen years more students have gone into paying jobs in the arts than the larger community realizes.

For more information about upcoming workshops keep an eye on the MAC Center website or email or

WATCH: Newport songwriter releases heartwarming song and video to honor mother’s memory

in Arts and Entertainment/Newport

NEWPORT — Last fall, when Tod Pronto stepped out on the stage at the Haskell Opera House, he brought with him a very personal song to share with the audience. The song was called “Hide Away (From the Sun).”

With the first strum of his acoustic guitar the packed house went silent. The audience hung onto every word of this touching song he had recently penned for his mother.

“Eskimo kisses and a faded smile is my last memory to hold onto for a while,” he sang.

As a child, Pronto’s mother used to give him “eskimo kisses” before bed almost every night. It was the last thing he gave back to her before she passed.

Pronto lost his mother to a rare form of cancer. Pierrette Marsh was born on April 29, 1953 and passed away on Tuesday, June 30, 2015. “Pret,” as people called her, was a much loved member of the Newport community.

She was a cosmetologist who owned and operated Pret’s Beauty Shop in Newport for years. When she received her teaching degree she was hired by the North Country Career Center, where she helped develop the Cosmetology Program from the ground-up.

“She loved teaching and being with her students and was very proud of her work at the school,” Pronto said. “She was very kind and would help anyone in need, lend an ear and always had a smile.”

Hide Away (From the Sun) continued to be performed by Pronto out on the road, and it quickly became the song most people resonated with and would ask him about. So he decided to release it as a single instead of waiting for his new album to be finished.

“It’s sad to say, but almost everybody has been affected by cancer in some way, and if I was able to tap into that emotion then I’m glad I could in my mother’s honor,” Pronto said. “She was the strongest person I will ever know. She fought for almost ten years. I wanted to honor her and the only thing I really know how to do well is write songs.”

The song itself only took Pronto about 20 minutes to get down, describing the songwriting process as being something that just “poured out” of him.

“I remember I tuned my guitar down to a drop D tuning and threw a capo on the guitar and the song was done,” he said. “I really believe that my mother had a hand in making this song come to life. I never needed to tweak the arrangement or anything. I knew that it needed no more or no less.”

Today Pronto has released the single, as well as a beautiful music video that was filmed at one of Pret’s favorite spots, Seymour Lake.

The single can be purchased through iTunes.

For more details go to .

Music video note:

The video was shot by Paul Barnard. Barnard has a long history in filmmaking, and after a number of films across North America he settled in the Northeast Kingdom where he does videos on the side. He is the owner of North Mountain Financial.

[VIDEO] Local foliage, local music

in Arts and Entertainment

NEWPORT — It’s a typical Vermont tradition: The weather cools, the leaves start to change and leaf peepers come out in droves to see the brilliant fall colors.

But up until the invention of unmanned aerial vehicles, or, as they are better known, drones, nobody got to peep these colors from the perspective of a bird, soaring through the forest.

Local videographer Paul Barnard, and musicians Tod Pronto and Nathan Michaud combine forces in this video to bring this unique perspective of fall foliage 2016 over the Northeast Kingdom.

Pronto and Barnard recently worked on shooting a music video for one of Pronto’s songs, which we will be posting more about on Friday, when the single is released.

Until then, enjoy the sights and sounds.

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