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Thursday, Jun 20, 2024

Civic organization brings community engagement to Middlebury in the summer and beyond

From lively festivals to summer markets and outdoor adventures, there are many engaging activities to find off campus in the town of Middlebury.

The Better Middlebury Partnership is a civic organization nearly four decades old that works to plan events in the town of Middlebury throughout the year. 

Karen Duguay, the executive director of the Better Middlebury Partnership, said the organization operates with a team of 14 board members in addition to herself, focused on the mission of promoting community engagement in Middlebury through a wide array of events and activities catering to both residents and college students. 

One of the main highlights for the organization over the summer was the Midd Summer Market in Triangle Park between Merchant Row and Main Street, which ran from June 1 to Aug. 31. The market featured around 40 vendors a week from the greater Middlebury area, who sold a range of items, from jewelry to pottery, Duguay told The Campus. 

Students who stayed at Middlebury over the summer enjoyed attending the summer market as a way of getting off campus and engaging more with folks in town. 

Josette Chun ’26 went to the market and loved shopping from the variety of local vendors.

“They had so many displays of local jewelry and a tent for a make-your-own bracelet with stone and crystals, local honey and maple syrup. I overall think it is a great place to shop local from vintage items to some homegrown foods you can’t get at the dining hall,” Chun said. 

Although the majority of the Thursday markets were successful throughout the summer, the market, like many other events, was impacted by the heavy rain and flooding that hit Vermont in July and August, with one of the weeks of the market being canceled, Duguay said.

“It has been frustrating with all of this rain, but all of us in the town were adaptable,” she added. “On the night of flash floods, we were able to pull everyone out of the market safely because we were being proactive.”

Other events were impacted as well. The eigh8th annual Foodaroo, an event in which Vermont’s most skilled culinary craftsman come together to celebrate diverse cuisine at Marble Works, put on by Underground Middlebury and sponsored by a number of local organizations, including the Better Middlebury Partnership, was set to take place on June 25, but due to weather conditions, had to be moved to Aug. 13. The Foodaroo continued as planned in August, featuring some of the greatest culinary artisans from across Addison County and the state as a whole. 

Another popular series of events was the Festival on the Green. The town celebrated its 44th annual celebration of the festival and was held this year from July 9–15. Festival on the Green typically involves a number of musical performances from blues to R&B, as well as street dancing and vendors to shop and eat from.

“The festival still went as planned,” Duguay said. “However, we did have to move some days to an inside venue because of the weather.”

The festival attracted many students interning and studying during the summer, such as Hannah Alberti ’26. “I attended the jazz dancing on the street and it was some of the most fun I had all summer. It was beautiful to just goof off with my friends as we tried to learn the steps. I also really loved watching couples dance with each other, especially old ones,” Alberti said.

The Better Middlebury Partnership events will continue into the fall, with a number of upcoming activities open to both locals and college students.

“On September 30, during parents' weekend at the college, from 10 a.m.:00–2 p.m.:00, downtown Middlebury will have about 50 vendors,” Duguay said. “There will be lots of food and music at the gazebo. It's something both students and parents should check out.”

Other events on the fall schedule include the Middlebury Car Show and Festival on Oct. 15, as well as a Halloween trick-or-treating for kids in town on Oct. 29, both of which are open to the public. 

Students who are looking to become more involved in the Middlebury community can email or can visit Experience Middlebury to find upcoming events. 

“We want the town and the college to be connected, as this is a place for everyone to come together,” Dugay added.

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Mandy Berghela

Mandy Berghela '26 (she/her) is a Local Editor. 

She previously served as the SGA Correspondent and contributing writer for the Campus. She plans to major in Political Science, with a minor in Arabic. Along with the paper, Mandy serves on the Judicial Board, social media manager for the Southeast Asian Society (SEAS), and is also involved in many campus theatre productions. On her free time, she enjoys long walks, cycling, and reading fantasy novels.