Vermont’s and New York’s annual shared celebration of Lake Champlain, The Festival of Nations, hosted by the Chimney Point and Crown Point, N.Y., State Historic Sites will be held Sept. 18-20 and will feature a wide variety of events, including the 14th Annual Northeastern Open Atlatl Championship at Chimney Point.
The event honors the Native American, French, and early American history of the region and includes music; food vendors; Native American and primitive life and craft demonstrations; exhibits; showings of the award-winning documentary film Champlain: The Lake Between; a colonial French encampment with re-enactors; tours of Crown Point’s historic forts; historic, cultural, educational, nature, and family activities; a ceremony re-dedicating the Champlain Memorial lighthouse; and fireworks on Saturday night. The nearby DAR (Daughters of the American Revolution) State Park will offer camping on a first-come, first-served basis.
The atlatl, a shaped wooden stick, acts as an extension of the throwing arm, so hunters can throw long, flexible darts with greater accuracy, energy, and speed. The atlatl was one of the earliest prehistoric weapons, pre-dating the bow and arrow, and was used by many cultures, including Native Americans.
On Friday, there will be a workshop held at Chimney Point at which participants can learn modern and ancient atlatl construction as they build their own dart-thrower and projectiles and learn how to use them. The fee of $65 includes instruction by champion atlatlist Robert Berg and all materials. Pre-registration is required.
On Saturday competitors of all ages test their prowess in using the atlatl to “hunt” wooly mammoth, bison, and other game targets; shoot at modern day bulls-eyes (International Standards Accuracy), and compete in a distance challenge.
The winners in each category compete in a shoot-out at the end of the event for the title of Grand Champion. At 5:30 p.m. and leading up to the start of the fireworks, enjoy lively music from Atlantic Crossing, well-known for their vast repertoire of music highlighting and honoring the history of the region. The Seth Warner Mount Independence Fife and Drum Corps will also perform.
On Sunday morning, from 7:30 a.m. to 8:30 a.m. one lane of the Lake Champlain Bridge between Addison and Crown Point, N.Y. will be open for pedestrian and bicycle traffic. The Sky Blue Boys, Banjo Dan and Willy Lindner, will be performing their lively music near the Vermont end of the bridge from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m.
On Sunday morning there will be another International Standards Accuracy competition at 10:00 a.m., followed by master coaching for youth and the young at heart, as well as conversations with Samuel de Champlain and wood carving demonstrations.
Saturday’s and Sunday’s contests are $5 and $3 respectively to enter. Admission to the site on each day is free.
Photo: John Morris using an atlatl. Morris, along with Greg Maurer, will be offering master coaching on Sunday, as well as competing on Saturday. Courtesy Vermont Division for Historic Preservation