Teddy Roosevelt Day: Isle La Motte’s Autumn Festival
September in the Champlain Islands is coming in as blue and gold days, touches of crimson in the maple trees, and apples abundant in the orchards.
On Isle La Motte folks are preparing for the annual day-long celebration of Teddy Roosevelt Day – this year on September 17 – marking the visit in 1901 of Vice President Theodore Roosevelt. The day is a celebration of Conservation and Community in the spirit of TR who, during his nine year presidency, set aside 230 million acres as public land in the form of national forests, preserves, bird sanctuaries, parks and monuments. Isle La Motte’s TR Day celebrates the conservation of natural, cultural, and agricultural resources in the form of conserved land, preserved historic buildings, our remaining family farm.
Events of the day include tours of three historic barns including the Harmon Noble Barn on Noble Hill Road, the Horse and Carriage Barn at Fisk Farm, and the Dairy Barn on the Goodsell Ridge Preserve. Other restored and repurposed buildings are the former Isle La Motte Elementary School on School Street, now a bicycle hostel and B&B, the Historical Society Buildings including the stone school house, blacksmith shop and the slab log cabin. At Hall Home Place the South End Cafe is housed in one of the 1828 stone houses built by the Scottish stone mason James Ritchie. At Fisk Farm stone ruins of the great stone house built by the Fisk Farmily in 1803 still stand. On a path through the woods across the road from the Historical Society campus, one of the most fascinating historic exhibits of the day will be a wigwam basecamp – a replica 18th Century Native American Encampment with interpretor, Sharon Powers present to answer questions.
Art and Crafts will be featured throughout the day with specialty crafts and goods at Hall Homeplace, an exhibit of Vermont landscape paintings along with other crafts at the Horse and Carriage Barn at Fisk Farm and a photography show entitiled “Patterns in Nature” in the Goodsell Ridge Preserve Barn.
Music by Vermont folk groups will enliven the day. Tin Penny – folk duo Larry and Beth Welton with two guitars, and harmonica – will play a mix of old and new, borrowed and blue songs at Hall Home place. Dick Staber, master on the mandolin, and Judith Chasnoff on guitar will offer their unique brand of folk and bluegrass at the Isle La Motte Historical Society. A great bunch of singing guys – Towne Meeting from the Plattsburgh area – known for their powerful vocal harmonies, and great instrumentation will perform songs from Americana to acoustic rock at the Goodsell Ridge Preserve Dairy Barn. Consult the schedule for performance times.
A variety of pastries and paninis along with great coffee and cold drinks will be available at the South End Cafe from 8:30 to 2:30. Pick apples at Hall’s Orchard , watch cider pressing and don’t forget to visit the tasting room to relax and enjoy a glass of Hall’s Ice Ciders or Hard Cider.
Conserved lands on Isle La Motte are the Fisk Quarry and Goodsell Ridge Preserves owned and managed by the Isle La Motte Preservation Trust which protect important sites of the ancient Chazy Fossil Reef – some 480 million years old and designated as National Natural Landmarks. The preserves are open all day and a tour of the rocks and fossils of the Goodsell Ridge Preserve entitled “From Glacial to Tropica Conditions” will be led by geologist Tony Fowler from 2:00 to 3:00. (After that head down to the Barn to hear music by Towne Meeting and watch the annual TR Day parade arrive at 3:45.
Though visits to TR Festival sites can take place throughout the day, this year a TR Tour especially designed for parents and children is designed to foster awareness of Isle La Motte history and the importance of conservation. The tour begins at 1:00 pm at historic Fisk Farm on West Shore Road. Displays of the Roosevelt 1901 visit will be set up in the remains of the stone mansion where children from the Isle La Motte Elementary School will perform several special songs. The next stop on the tour is Hall’s Orchard where apple picking, music and special children’s activities will delight young and old visitors. From there it is a short hop to the Isle La Motte Historical Society buildings where an exhibit of island history will be displayed in the restored log cabin, a blacksmith will be working his forge outside the blacksmith shop, and the folk duo Tin Penny, will add to the fun. The native American encampment will be set up across the road on a path leading into the woods.
The annual Teddy Roosevelt Parade will convene at the Historical Society at 3:15 and children and all who wish to participate in the parade should gather at that time. Parade participants will walk or bike along with a procession of antique vehicles bearing “Vice President Roosevelt”, and other notables, possibly a horse bearing yet another incarnation of Teddy Roosevelt, and an Isle La Motte fire truck (to make it an official parade). All will make the short trip to the Goodsell Ridge Preserve around the corner where festivities will take place in the newly restored Barn.
The day will end at the Goodsell Ridge Preserve with music by “Towne Meeting,” the arrival of the TR Parade, the annual Teddy Roosevelt Drama and a celebrational Hamburger and Hot Dog Cookout complete with salads and desserts provided by the Isle La Motte Community Organization. The full schedule can be found on the websites of ilmpt.org, Hall Home Place, or can be emailed to you by contacting email@example.com.