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BENNINGTON — Gen. John Stark’s sword is back where it belongs, and the town is set to commemorate the 1777 Battle of Bennington with multiple events next week, culminating with the annual parade on Aug. 14.

Marylou Chicote, manager for the Bennington Battle Monument historic site in Old Bennington, said contractor Robert Wright finished attaching the bronze sword to the Gen. Stack statue this week, restoring a piece broken off two years ago by an unknown party.

Although whoever took the detached sword “had second thoughts a couple days later” — sticking it into the ground near the statue — Chicote said it took some time for the state to bid the work according to guidelines and hire the contractor. The work was completed on Tuesday.

For state Rep. Mary Morrissey, R-Bennington, who had advocated with state officials to ensure the general had his sword back in time for the 2022 Battle Day events, it was important to meet that deadline.

“I have been reaching out to Historic Preservation on a regular basis to get this done sooner rather than later,” she said this week. “I had told them that I hoped it would be back in its rightful place by Bennington Battle Day.”

PRE-PANDEMIC FORM

Compared to the past three years of canceled or shortened events during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Battle Day celebration this year will be more like “the full boat,” said Battle Day parade Chairman Rick Knapp of the Bennington Fire Department.

After two canceled annual parades and a scaled-down version in 2021, he said there are already 11 marching bands expected, a dozen floats and 14 or more fire departments.

“There is no deadline to get in the parade,” Knapp added, and he expects more participating units — especially fire departments — will march.

The annual Vermont State Firefighters Association also is meeting in Bennington this year, Aug. 12 to 14, he said, which always means “a big impact on motels and restaurants."

CRAMMED WEEK

While the battle weekend events pick up Thursday, they actually kick off this Saturday, with the return of Basket Bingo at the Bennington Firehouse on River Street.

When it debuted in 2019, “it was a big success,” Knapp said, but the event was canceled because of the pandemic over the next two years.

The weekend events, beginning Thursday, Aug. 11, include a cornhole tournament at The Dutchman’s Tavern on Depot Street. Registration begins at 5 p.m.; games start at 6 pm.

A cruise-in will be held downtown from 5 to 8 p.m. on Thursday, featuring dozens of classic or antique vehicles and sponsored by Hemmings Motor News and the Better Bennington Corporation.

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On Friday, a lunch of hot sausage, burgers and hot dogs will be available for purchase from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Bennington Firehouse.

The annual chicken barbecue dinner will begin Friday at 4 p.m. and continue until all meals are distributed. Tickets are $12 per person and must be purchased in advance from a firefighter or during afternoons at the firehouse.

Las Vegas Night is scheduled from 6 to 10 p.m. on Friday at the firehouse.

AT THE MONUMENT

The 17th annual Battle Day 5K road race, sponsored by the Friends of the Monument, will begin and end Saturday morning at the Battle Monument in Old Bennington. Registration begins at 7 a.m. and the race starts at 8:30 a.m. at Monument Circle. A half-mile kids’ “fun run” will follow.

Registration forms are available online at raceentry.com/battle-day-5k-road-race/race-information.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, historical re-enactors will be at the Monument to discuss the importance of the Battle of Bennington and what life was like in the era for soldiers.

From noon to 2 p.m., Moodus Drum and Fife Corps will march and play on the south side of the lawn of the Monument.

A children-centered day will be held from 10 a.m. to noon on the grounds of the Vermont Veterans’ Home on the Park Street side. That includes bubble play, a bounce house, water shower/spray from the department’s ladder truck, water slide with a small bouncy house, the Copsicle Wagon and popcorn.

From 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., there will be historical re-enactments and an encampment on the Bennington Battlefield site in Walloomsac, N.Y. More details are available at brigade.org/bennington2022.

At noon, a memorial service for the USS Bennington will be held in from of the town offices on South Street, including a wreath laying ceremony at the ship’s bell.

The 4th Annual Downtown Bennington Food Truck Festival will be Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the corner of Main and School streets. Email bennfoodtruckfest@gmail.com for more information.

From 5 to 6:30 p.m. Saturday, a Potluck Dinner with the re-enactors will be held at the Church Barn on Monument Circle. Bring a potluck dish to enjoy conversation and food with the 18th-century guardians of the Bennington Storehouse.

The Battle Day Parade steps off on the mile-long route through the downtown at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.

Raffle prizes and parade trophies will be awarded at 4 p.m. at the firehouse.

Jim Therrien writes for Vermont News and Media, including the Bennington Banner, Manchester Journal and Brattleboro Reformer. Email jtherrien@benningtonbanner.com

Reporter/editor

Jim Therrien reports for the three Vermont News and Media newspapers in Southern Vermont. He previously worked as a reporter and editor at the Berkshire Eagle, the Bennington Banner, the Springfield Republican, and the former North Adams Transcript.


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