Fish Ladder Visitors Center opens; Chester artists open for Studio Weekend; Cavendish grants awarded

The Bellows Falls Fish Ladder Visitor Center will open for the season at 10 a.m. Friday, May 24 next to the Post Office on Bridge Street in Bellows Falls. The center’s regular hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays from Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend.
Long-time environmental educator Susan Foster has been hired to serve as the center’s naturalist interpreter for the 2013 season. She will offer hands-on activities and programs for all ages throughout the summer.
Admission is free.

Although the fish ladder itself is not always in operation, live fish to be viewed at the visitor center. There are also exhibits, activities and dioramas related to the Connecticut River watershed. The Nature Museum of Grafton operates the visitor center on behalf of TransCanada Corp., owner of the fish ladder as well as the hydroelectric facility in Bellows Falls.

Aquaponics class

On Saturday, June 15 from 10:30 a.m. to noon, the Nature Museum will offer an Introduction to Aquaponics with Brattleboro native and founder of Brattleponics Mark Crowther. The workshop will be held in the Windham Hotel ballroom at Popolo, 36 The Square, Bellows Falls. Crowther will introduce participants to creating their own home systems for growing vegetables that are fertilized by fish. Admission is by donation.

Fish Ladder open house

Also on June 15 from 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. the Nature Museum will host a free Open House at the Fish Ladder Visitor Center. Lael Will, a fisheries biologist with the Vermont Agency of Natural Resources, will talk about the health of the Connecticut River and its fish. The Nature Museum of Grafton is located at 186 Townshend Road in Grafton, offers exhibits, programs for adults and children, tours for school groups, and in-depth naturalist residencies in schools. For information on this and other programs click here or e-mail

The Chester area art loop

Open Studio 2013

Bonnie’s Bundles dolls, top, and watercolorist Diane Bell, bottom, will be open this weekend for the annual Open Studio.

The 21st annual Vermont Crafts Council’s Spring Open Studio Weekend will take place state-wide from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 25 and 26, during Memorial Day weekend this year.

  • blown glass artist Nick Kekic of Tsuga Studios on Goldthwaite Road in Chester;
  • dollmaker Bonnie Watters of Bonnie’s Bundles Route 103 in Chester’s historic Stone Village;
  • Conrad Delia who handcrafts 18th century reproduction American Windsor chairs and tables, 1300 Popple Dungeon Road also in Chester;
  • watercolorist Diane Bell on Maple Hill Road, Weston;
  • painter Robert Sydorowich, East Hill Road, Andover;
  • woodturner Rich DeTrano, Andover Road, Ludlow; and
  • photographer Janie Marie Dumas of Little Cricket Photography, 22 Smith St., Ludlow;

A copy of Windsor area’s artists’ map may be downloaded at Or if in the Windsor area on Memorial Day weekend, follow the studio weekend’s yellow signs to each of the artists’ studios.
For information on the Windsor artist’s contact . Information on the statewide event may be found at

 Cavendish Community grants go to theater program, Raise the Roof music series

The Cavendish Community Fund has announced that it awarded grants to two Cavendish organizations for educational and cultural events that will benefit Cavendish residents.

Cavendish Town Elementary School was awarded a grant to defray the cost of providing the third-grade class with a hands-on theater production experience through writing, directing and acting in a play.  The entire experience will be coordinated by Weston Playhouse teaching director and actress Susan Haefner.  To culminate their experience the third graders will welcome the larger community to a theater presentation and luncheon to strengthen ties between the youth and community elders.

The second grant went to Gethsemane Church to underwrite the Raise the Roof Music Series and to enable the organizers to attract a wide variety of musical programs.  The goal is to create vibrant musical events in a beautiful, intimate setting with a range of music to appeal to many tastes.  The music series was initiated this year and will continue in the fall with several more concerts open to everyone.

The Cavendish Community Fund has awarded nearly $24,000 in grants since 2007 to local groups and individuals for programs of an educational, artistic or cultural nature.  The next round of grants will be awarded in the fall and the application deadline will be announced in late summer.  For more information on the fund, please visit the website and click on Cavendish Community Fund.  You can also call Barbara Dickey at 802-226-7187 or Peter LaBelle at 802-226-7250.

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