The Vermont International Festival is a multi-cultural community event sponsored by the Vermont Performing Arts League. VPAL is a non-profit organization that has been active in the promotion of international music, dance and crafts since 1978.
VPAL’s roots started with the formation of The Green Mountain Volunteers and Vermont FolKids, two projects that have fostered friendship and cultural understanding through the arts between Vermont and people from around the world. Through these two projects, Vermonters have traveled the globe, sharing and exchanging our music, songs and dance at international festivals in many lands.
In 1986 the idea to host a huge International Festival was introduced to the city of Burlington, based on the same grand style and scale that has been so popular in Europe. This Festival became known as “Interfolk-86”. The Interfolk-86 Festival included eight days of parades, concerts, dance and music, workshops and international foods and crafts and featured groups from India, Poland, Scotland, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Nicaragua, the Philippines, Canada and US.
Interfolk proved to be a bigger event in all ways than ever imagined! The festival brought the world to Burlington’s door step and introduced a new interest in ethnic music, dance and culture. The magnitude of this event made the idea of continuing it as an annual event impossible. But its roots laid the foundation for a new idea.
The Interfolk organizers proposed to the city of Burlington a plan for a smaller International Festival that the city could support. Interfolk’s concept became the scaled down model of a new event, at first called “The Vermont International Craft Fair and Cultural Expo”. The event brought together international vendors, musicians, story tellers, dancers and craft people in a fun weekend of education and entertainment. Now called the Vermont International Festival, it is held at the Champlain Valley Exposition, Route 15 Pearl Street, Essex Junction, VT.
One of the most essential components of the Vermont International Festival is its focus on school participation in the event. Through the funding generated by the schools, the festival has been able to continue as an annual winter event.
Four important components of this celebration are:
- Performing arts: Traditional International folk music, songs, dance, and stories.
- Crafts from all over the world: Made by local international communities or imported.
- Food: International cuisine and gourmet food.
- Community Awareness: Local cultural & ethnic organizations provide information on their programs.