Main Street Arts, Historical Society host Fireside Chats

SAXTONS RIVER, Vt. – Main Street Arts and the Saxtons River Historical Society are again pairing for a series of Fireside Chats to highlight the area’s history and nature three Sundays in January, from 5:30 to 6:45 p.m., in the dining room of the Saxtons River Inn.

Eric Bye will present the first Fireside Chat in Saxtons River
Eric Bye will talk about early gunsmiths at this year’s first Fireside Chat Sunday, Jan. 5 at the Saxtons River Inn. Photo provided

This year’s series features talks on early gunsmiths, theater in the area, and Wagyu beef. This series begins Jan. 5 with a talk by Eric Bye of North Springfield, the former editor of Muzzle Blasts magazine, a rendezvous coordinator, a member of the National Muzzle Loading Rifle Association and author of “Flintlocks: A Practical Guide for Their Use and Appreciation.” He is the national record holder with flint pistol on NMLRA’s Curley Gostomsky National Primitive Range and is an experienced deer and turkey hunter. In his real life, Bye is a translator accredited by the American Translators Association and is fluent in French, Spanish, and German.

His talk will highlight two local gunsmiths: Artemas Leonard of Saxtons River (1804-1859) and Norman Brockway of Bellows Falls (1841-1936). While Leonard was best known locally, Brockway’s skill and prowess enjoyed national fame.

The second in the series is Jan. 12 when the topic will be “Rockingham’s Love Affair with Theater,” featuring actor and theater owner Falko Schilling and Rick Cowan telling the story of theatrics from the 1800s at the Bellows Falls Opera House to more recent productions at the Saxtons River Playhouse, Vermont Academy, and Main Street Arts.

The series concludes Jan. 19 with a talk on the production of Vermont Wagyu beef at Spring-Rock Farm with owner Sheila Patinkin and supervisor and general farm manager Roger Osinchuk.

Attendees are always invited to share their own experiences, photos, artifacts, and stories related to the topic of the evening. The series is offered at no charge, with donations accepted. Those attending are invited to bring their own memories and memorabilia to share in this informal setting.

The inn’s dining room will be open for dinner after the presentation for further socializing. Reservations are appreciated by calling 802-869-2110. In case of inclement weather, cancellation information will be available by calling the Saxtons River Inn or on their Facebook page.

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