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Counting Down to First Night St. Johnsbury 2016!
What am I grinning so broadly about? This photo could be me enjoying a delightful moment at First Night St. Johnsbury. Actually, I'm laughing at something my three-year old granddaughter Josie just did. But whether you can count your age on three fingers or need a calculator, there is always plenty to smile about at the biggest festival of the arts in Vermont's Northeast Kingdom and New Hampshire's North Country.
I did use a calculator to figure just how big First Night 2016 will be. And this 23rd edition may well be our biggest entertainment extravaganza yet. You can use this program to count for yourself, but I came up with 56 different shows put on by well over 200 artists in 111 performances at 20 venues! All of it taking place in just eight hours (4 pm to midnight) on Thursday, December 31, 2015!
The only count that really matters though is how many of these shows you're planning to see. Or should I say hear? First Night is mostly about music. Our region's rich musical scene showcases about as many genres as you can think of - folk, pop, rock, jazz, bluegrass, Broadway, sacred, silly, contemporary, country, classical, covers, originals, and some that defy one-word description. But there's plenty to "see" too: dance, circus acrobatics, magic, hypnotism, comedy, pyrotechnics, and planetarium shows, and movies.
Are you smiling in anticipation yet? About the only thing about First Night that makes people frown is the tough decisions you have to make.
Some folks start with their perennial favorites. I count 35 First Night veterans in the line-up, a few for the 20th time (or more!) and some returning for the first time. In particular we are delighted to bring back to center stage the Nimble Arts Ruckus Circus, whose aerial acrobatics (ala Cirque du Soleil) amazed packed audiences last year.
Others are always wondering, "What's new this year?" Debuting in the First Night contingent of at least 36 musical acts will be (in alphabetical order) The Atlantic Effect, The Barn Band Duo, BLPC, Jean Charles, The Counselors, The Drummatics, Fyre and Lightning Consort, Skip Gorman and his Prairie Pals, The Hitmen, Islay Mist Celidh, Mono Malo, Nisht Geferlach Klezmer Band, and Out Late with Diana DiGioia.
Outside on Main Street, appropriately near the fire station, Phoenix Bazaar will gather audiences with their fiery antics. Nearby, The Foundry will put on a light show all night long.
The movies at the two Catamount Arts theaters are something old that is uniquely "new": old-time films. Theater 1 will be screening four of Universal Studios' hilarious "Ma and Pa Kettle" series. Theater 2 will host a Three Stooges film festival with continuous showing (with no repeats!) of some of the over 200 shorts that Larry, Curly (or Shemp), and Moe made in their long careers.
As always, the kids can work off some energy on the Family Fun Fair's giant inflatable playground and enjoy games and activities or spend some quiet time at The Athenaeum's story hours.
When not enjoying all the entertainment, you can buy a wide variety of food and beverage at several venues. And the free late-night pancake supper is always popular.
The Finale of the evening takes place at midnight when everyone is invited to St. Johnsbury Academy's gym parking lot to welcome in the New Year with the raising of the our new New Year's ball, setting off the spectacular fireworks show.
All this for the price of a keepsake First Night button. (That's right, by popular demand, it's buttons for everybody, rather than wristbands.)
And again we're offering a 40% off Early Bird Special. Up to November 30, you can buy an adult button for only $12, and a student admission for only $8, through the Catamount Arts box office! After that, you can still get 25% off ($15, adult and $10, student) with an advance purchase before New Year's Eve at any of our many button outlets. A full price admission on December 31, at the First Night Booth in front of Courthouse Park or at Catamount Arts is only $20 for adults and $13 for students. And preschoolers are always free!
But let me make a plug for helping the tradition of First Night continue. You can support our policy of keeping the festival affordable for everyone by buying First Night supporters' glowing buttons. These glow-in-the dark special buttons are $50, or two for $75, and $100 for three, available through the Catamount Arts box office while supplies last.
First Night volunteers who put in time working a shift checking buttons, etc. on New Year's Eve are entitled to a free button. To volunteer or get other information about First Night St. Johnsbury go to www.firstnightstj.com or call Catamount Arts at 748-2600.
First Night's happy collaboration with Catamount Arts is now in its sixth year. The professional management provided by directors Jody Fried and Jerry Aldredge, and staff and volunteers, is perfectly in line with Catamount Arts' mission to "inspire appreciation of and participation in the arts, promote the arts throughout the region, and cultivate the arts as an integral part of community life".
Finally, count me in as the first of many First Nighters to wish you a Happy New Year!
-Jay Sprout, First Night Committee chair
DON'T MISS NIBLE ARTS RUCKUS CIRCUS!
KINGDOM ALL STARS
CLICK HERE TO SEE PHOTOS FROM PAST EVENTS
Jay Sprout, President
First Night St. Johnsbury
First Night St. Johnsbury
P.O. Box 634
St. Johnsbury, VT 05819
3:00pm - 2:00am
The First Night shuttle bus will run counterclockwise and the route will service every venue.
From the Comfort Inn on Rte 5 the shuttle will travel north onto Railroad St.
Turn left onto Eastern Ave (passengers can be picked up from state parking area)
Turn right onto Pearl St (passengers can be picked up from municipal/Dunkin Donuts parking area)
Turn Left onto Maple St.
Turn Left onto Cherry St. (stop for Universalist - Utitarian Congregational Church)
Turn right onto Eastern Ave (stop for Gatto Nero Studio and VFW)
Continue up Eastern Ave
Turn right onto Main St. (stops at Fairbanks Museum and North Church)
Continue down Main St.
Turn Left onto Winter St.
Turn left onto Summer St. (stop for Kingdom Recovery Center)
Turn left onto Central St (stop for Grace Church)
Continue to end of Central St. (stop for St. J House)
Turn right onto Main St (stop at ST J Athenaeum)
Continue down Main St.
Turn right onto Western Ave. (turn around at St. Johnsbury School rotary)
Turn right back up Western Ave.
Turn right on Main St (stops for Streeter Hall, Field House)
Turn around Field House rotary
Turn left back onto Main St. (stops for Fuller Hall and South Church)
Continue down Main St (can stop at StJ Info center)
Turn right down Eastern Ave (stop at Catamount Arts)
Continue down Eastern Ave
Turn right onto Railroad St (down to Comfort Inn)