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End of Summer Activities Proliferate Outside Boston

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STOWE, Vermont -- The presumed sadness of the upcoming end of summer can be mitigated easily by the many activities taking place while the weather is still gentle.

Take, for example, the second -- and final -- free Berkleefest show of the summer season coming up here Saturday, August 30, in conjunction with the Berklee College of Music. The concert, presented by Topnotch Resort, takes place at the lush mountain setting on the stunning Mansfield Overlook lawn from 2 to 6 p.m. and features pop, rock, jazz, and Latin music performed by the talented students of Berklee, considered by many to be the world's best contemporary music school. Alumni of the school, who come from all over the world, have won more than 270 Grammys and Latin Grammys.

A beer garden with 11 local craft beers, artists' booths and gourmet food from Topnotch Executive Chef Cortney Quinn will be part of the concert. The resort is funding two annual summer scholarships to send local Vermont students to attend Berklee's Five-Week Summer performance Program, and has also arranged for Berkleefest artists to teach music cynics at a local Vermont school. "With funding cut for arts programs in Vermont public schools, we wanted to create a way to encourage our local students. Berkleefest will not only entertain festival-goers, but the summer scholarships for Vermont musicians will help create a two-way flow of arts between Vermont and Boston," said Jordan Hollander, Business Development Officer of MetWest Ventures.

The Berklee groups who will perform on Saturday, August 30, include Great Caesar, Bigfoot Wallace, Will Gittens and Grey Season. Great Caesar uses music to spread LGBT awareness; Grey Season envelopes folk in rock 'n' roll; Bigfoot Wallace uses electronic and acoustic instruments, and Will Gittens is a singer/songwriter from Trinidad and Tobago.

Other Vermont festivals celebrate late summer throughout the state. DanceFest Vermont! on September 5 and 6 in Stowe and Barre features 10 choreographers of contemporary dance presenting new work collaborating with composers, costume, film and light designers. The Benson Bear Obstacle Challenge #4 in Benson offers either 3.1 or 6.2 miles of cross-country and wooded terrain with 30-plus of 50-plus obstacles to overcome. Check it out at www.shalehilladventure.com.

Pride Vermont features a week-long celebration from September 7 through 14 in Burlington, with a High Heel Race, a gender issues forum, and inter-faith service, Out-On-Church-Street discounts, a dance party, parade and festival, at www.northerndecadence.com.

The Vermpont Swing Dance Championships offers dance lessons with world class dance instructors, competitions, and hours of social dancing, including three days of West Coast Swing Dancing, in Bondville. Beginners and experienced dancers are welcome. www.vermontswingdancechampionships.com.

You can support the North Country Animal League in Jeffersonville on September 13 with a 5k run for dogs and humans. Begins at 9 a.m.; pick up your race packet by 8:30. Stay the weekend and receive 20 percent off lodging at www.sterliongridgeresort.com.

Vermont Farm Tours offers Tour de Goat in Colchester on September 14 is a 10 or 30 mile road ride (the road goat and/or a 6 or 18 mile mountain bike ride (the mountain goat). Return to the farm for tours, music, Nepali dinner and goat roast. www.vermontfarmtours.com/tourdegoat.html.

From September 15 through November 1, in Rutland, Vermont Backroad Foliage Tours will take you where the fall colors are at their grandest. Native Vermonter and guide Kelly Socia will discuss the history and culture of Vermont over the last half century. www.vtbackroadtours.com/Foliage.html.

The Wine and Harvest Festival of Historic Downtown Wilmington and at Mount Snow Resort features a rout and wine stroll with live music, craft and food vendors. www.thevermontfestival.com.

You can bike through Vermont's Northeast Kingdom with views of mountains and Lake Champlain with an inn to inn group tour at www.adventurecycling.org/guided-tours. For more excitement, the controlled white water release in Jamaica, on September 27, produces ideal rafting, kayaking and canoeing opportunities on the West River in southern Vermont. www.vistateparks.com/htm/jamaica.htm.

Western Massachusetts' Red Lion Inn sends its executive chef Brian Alberg to the James Beard House on September 5 to host his first solo dinner in seven years and his 11th appearance at the famous cooking venue in New York City. The dinner, entitled "Summer's End in the Berkshires," will feature memorable dishes from favorite restaurants that have inspired the chef over the course of his 30-year culinary career. The menu will adapt recipes to use locally sourced ingredients from more than 15 farms and food producers in the Berkshires, Hudson Valley, New York, and Vermont. The James Beard House, in Greenwich Village in Manhattan, is the former townhouse of celebrated cookbook author and television personality James Beard. More than 20 dining events are held monthly to showcase culinary artists from around the world, featuring multi-corse dinners with wine pairings prepared by guest chefs. The September 5 evening will begin at 7 pm. with a reception in the Greenhouse Gallery. A seated tasting menu will begin around 8 p.m. The price is $130 per person for James Beard Foundation embers and $170 per person for the general public. The house is located at 167 West 12th Street. For reservations, call 212-627-2308. To view this year's menu, the chef's full bio, plus photos and videos from previous years' events, visit http://www.redlioninn.com/?p=5655.

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