BENNINGTON — The 52nd Annual Bennington Battle Day Weekend returns today with three days of events.
The events, which run through Sunday, are in commemoration of the 239th anniversary of the Battle of Bennington.
A "kids' day," a silent auction, a car cruise, historical re-enactments and barbecues are all on tap this weekend.
It'll all be topped off with the Battle Day Parade on Sunday. This year's grand marshal will be Scott Legacy, a celebrated coach and physical education teacher. The Bennington native served as head wrestling coach at Mount Anthony Union High School for 31 years and brought students through 28 straight Vermont state championships. A New England Wrestling Hall of Fame inductee and 2014 USA Today National coach of the year, he was chosen to lead Castleton University's new wrestling program this fall.
The parade lineup starts at 10 a.m. and the parade kicks off at 12:30 p.m. The route is one mile long. It starts at Main and Safford streets and moves west to Depot Street; heads north on Depot Street to River Street; then east on River Street before it ends at the fire station. A reviewing stand will be at the intersection of Routes 7 and 9.
This is the 50th year the parade has been organized by the Bennington Village Fire Department.
Volunteers meet throughout the year to plan for the annual weekend, according to Fire Chief Jeff Vickers, chairman for the Battle Day Committee. He said support from the town and volunteers, like longtime parade organizer Rick Knapp, are what keep the events going every year.
More than a dozen floats are expected for the parade, according to Knapp. He's organized the parade for about 20 years, but has been involved in it for nearly 50. Community organizations like Southwestern Vermont Medical Center and scouts, as well as two fife and drum corps, will march as well. Some politicians are expected. Joining Bennington's local delegation will be Lt. Gov. Phil Scott.
Battle Day is a state holiday unique to Vermont and observed on Aug. 16. On that day in 1777, a colonial force made up of 2,000 New Hampshire and Massachusetts militiamen defeated a detachment of 700 British soldiers, under the command of Lieutenant Colonel Friedrich Baum. Baum had been sent by General John Burgoyne to raid Bennington for horses, food, and other supplies, believing the town to be lightly defended. Unbeknownst to Burgoyne, the militiamen of General John Stark had recently been stationed there. During the battle, Stark's men were reinforced by Colonel Seth Warner and members of the Green Mountain Boys. The Bennington Battlefield site is in nearby North Hoosick, N.Y. on Route 67A.
The events start today and include some at the River Street fire station. Department members will serve lunch at noon; hot sausage, burgers and hot dogs will be available for purchase. A chicken barbecue dinner starts at 4 p.m. and runs while supplies last; the cost is $10 per person.
A silent auction is from 4 to 9 p.m. A car cruise is from 6 to 8 p.m., with a parade of cars down Main Street to follow. A Las Vegas Night at the station is from 6 to 10 p.m. and will feature guest DJ Ben Patten from Magic 590 AM and 100.5 FM.
The 11th annual Battle Day 5K Road Race takes place at the Bennington Battle Monument on Saturday. The cost to register is $18 beforehand and $20 the day of, or $15 and $17 for Battenkill Valley Runners. Race registration starts at 8 a.m. and the race begins at 9:30 a.m.
Historical re-enactors will be at the monument from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday.
A Kids' Day, sponsored by the fire department, is from 10 a.m. to noon at the recreation center 655 Gage St.
The USS Bennington Memorial Service, with a wreath-laying ceremony at the Ship's Bell, will be held at noon at the town offices, 215 South St.
A softball game between the Bennington fire and police departments is at 6 p.m. at Willow Park.
The Bennington town offices and Public Works Department will be closed Monday, August 15, in observance of Bennington Battle Day. Offices will reopen on Tuesday at 8 a.m.
Contact Ed Damon at 802-447-7567, ext. 111.