July 25 & 26, 2020 – Adapting to the COVID-19 pandemic, we pivoted to a virtual celebration with panel discussions, workshops, a keynote presentation by Storm Cunningham on the “Transition to a Regenerative Economy” (in partnership with the Center for Public Action at Bennington College) and return musical performances by Freddi Shehadi, Lara Herscovitch, and the introduction of Patchouli & Terra Guitarra. Rain was not an issue!
July 21, 2019 – Returning to our roots, Bonnie & Oliver Levis made SolarFest-ers right at home at Earth Sky Time Community Farm in Manchester, VT. The day included a full range of information from 25+ workshops and the keynote address from Dr. Edward Cameron on “The Just and Sustainable World.” As the music stage was modelled after Forget-Me-Not-Farm, there was a deep sense of deja vu watching performances by The Gaslight Tinkers, Mowgli Bluegrass, Rio Mira, Freddi Shehadi & Friends, and the Chicago Afro Beat Project.
August 18 & 19, 2018 – Exploring new sites & new partners. SolarFest joined with the Stratton Mountain Music Series at the Stratton Mountain Resort, just up the mountain from Manchester, VT. SolarFest brought over 50 workshops, a captivating keynote presentation by Chris Martenson on “Building Resilience” and a live performance of “The Truth Has Changed” by Josh Fox, the Oscar Nominated, Emmy Winning Director of the movie Gasland. Stratton provided the music of The Balkun Brothers; 2017’s Best Rock Band in New England, and Burlington’s own, high-energy Gang of Thieves. Torrential rain on Friday and Saturday couldn’t dampen spirits in the camping area at the Sun Bowl or on the gondola rides.
2017 – Due to venue conflicts, there was no festival in 2017 : (
July 15 & 16, 2016 – After a year of planning, the SolarFest Sunrise Celebration was launched at our new home on the beautiful 120 acre campus of the Southern Vermont Arts Center in Manchester, VT. The festival continued all the best traditions including over 65 workshops, Songwriter Showcase, Theater-in-the-Woods, keynote presentations by Peter O’Connor from the Union of Concerned Scientists and Maeve McBride of 350.VT, and 14 headliners on two solar-powered stages, including musical performances by Dar Williams, Donna the Buffalo, Marcia Ball, Wild Adriatic, blood drum spirit, the House Jacks, Sister Carol, Connor Garvey, Freddi Shehadi, Lara Herscovitch, Pitch Blak, Madaila, and the SolarFest House Band.
July 18, 2015 – Connor Garvey sang, Theater-in-the-Woods performed, and one last potluck meal was enjoyed at the SolarFest Sunset Celebration, concluding a decade of festivals at the Forget-Me-Not Farm in Tinmouth, VT. The gathering announced the formation of a transition team to explore opportunities for even greater successes in support of the mission of SolarFest to educate and inform.
July 18, 19 & 20, 2014 – Three days of perfect weather! Keynote speakers were Alec Guettel, Sungevity co-founder, and food writer Sandor Ellix Katz. The festival continued to include Songwriter Showcase, Theater-in-the-Woods, etc. and featured musical performances by Keeghan Nolan, Bow Thayer, Soule Monde, SolarFest House Band, Waylon Speed, Eastbound Jesus, Martin Swinger, Entrain, Lukas Nelson & P.O.T.R., Dirty Dozen Brass Band, Break of Reality, Barika, Sleepy Wonder & Geometric Echoes.
July 12, 13 & 14, 2013 – Weeks of constant rain leading up to the festival made site preparation a huge challenge. But the rain did finally stop, and it was an amazing festival. With three days of perfect weather and much new programming, including the first SolarFest Mini Maker Faire, and the 350.org Climate Camp, SolarFest 2013 was one of our best. Our keynote speaker was Ben Cohen, co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s. We had a surprise visit from Vermont Congressman Peter Welch who spoke with our attendees about his experience on the House Technology and Energy Committee. Some of the Main Stage performances included Max Creek, The Skatalites, Seth Yacavone Band, Kina Zoré, Jatoba, Melodeego, Sparkplug, Jesse Dee, DJ Sinna-G, Soule Monde, Derek Burkins, plus our Songwriter Showcase, and a contra dance with The Sun Dogs & Mary Wesley.
July 20, 21 & 22, 2012 – Voted Rutland Herald’s Best of the Best Summer Music Festival. Keynote Speakers – Steven Strong & Bill McKibben. Bands on the Main Stage included The Wood Brothers, Adam Ezra Group, Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion, The Grift, Banjo Dan & the Mid-nite Plowboys, Gold Town, Duane Carleton & the Backwoods Messiahs, DJ Sinna-G, The SolarFest House Band, Split Tongue Crow, Soule Monde, Katrin, Lara Herscovitch, Vermont Joy Parade, plus our Songwriter Showcase and a contra dance with Atlantic Crossing.
July 15, 16 & 17, 2011 – Keynote Speaker Jeff Wolfe. Bands on the Main Stage included Jon Cleary’s Philthy Phew, Roomful of Blues, Bow Thayer & Perfect Trainwreck, Sarah Lee Guthrie & Johnny Irion, Antje Duvekot, Peter Mulvey, Justin Black & Big Heart, Bluegrass Gospel Project, Phil Henry, Moors & McCumber, Jessica Smucker & The Sleeping World, The SolarFest House Band, plus Songwriter Showcase and a contra dance with Atlantic Crossing.
July 16, 17 & 18, 2010 – VT Chamber of Commerce’s Top Ten Summer Events. SolarFest at Forget-Me-Not-Farm enjoys a beautiful, hot and sunny weekend! The week prior to festival time, solar panels installed by our pre-festival workshop intensive led by Richard Gottlieb of Sunnyside Solar, crank up and store power to use during the event. 2010 marks 16 years since conception, and our Zero Waste continues to grow and prosper. SolarFest works with vendors and festival attendees to ensure all materials that can be are recycled or composted. Volunteers teach guests how to sort their materials into correct bins and the mission is successful, very minimal trash is produced for the entire weekend! (only 90 pounds for over 3 days with 5500 people)
Frank Asch is back with his newest Theater-in-the-Woods play, The Treehugger, directed by Wheaton Squier, and guests enjoy comedy and entertainment in the cool respite of the SolarFest woods. Solar energy rocks a state of the art main stage for performances by our SolarFest House Band Friday night, along with weekend musical showdowns by Rubblebucket, Barefoot Truth, Perpetual e-Motion, Impulse Ensemble and the Stereofidelics. Keynote Bill McKibben addresses a packed main stage on the urgent topic of climate change and hope for the future. Our workshops once again are filled out in all five tracks- Renewable Energy, Sustainable Living, Solar Generation, Green Building, and Thriving Locally. Renowned experts, authors and teachers share their expertise with thousands of festival attendees in another very successful workshop year.
July 10, 11 & 12, 2009 – VT Chamber of Commerce’s Top Ten Summer Events, and our 15th year!! Over 100 workshops offered this year! We celebrated by adding a new workshop track – The Solar Generation – focusing on educating the younger generation in all things sustainable. Keynote Speaker Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! packed the house. Jim Gilmour organized the first SolarFest House Band, which proved to be an instant classic. For this anniversary year many performers returned including Break of Reality, Entrain, Peter Mulvey, The House Jacks, and Xande Cruz, The Singer Songwriter Competition saw its 10th year, and Theater in the Woods took the audience along for a tale inspired by an event at an early SolarFest involving a coyote, a plastic jar, and, well, you probably saw it.
July 11, 12 & 13, 2008 – VT Chamber of Commerce’s Top Ten Summer Events. Workshops grow to over 70 this year in four different tracks. Keynote speaker Frances Moore Lappé rivets the audience talking about world food issues. On stage The New Groove Orchestra got the crowd shaking it while The Born Again Floozies, Dar Williams, Emma’s Revolution, Anais Mitchell, and Barefoot Truth turned in great sets.
July 14 & 15, 2007 – SolarFest walks the walk by raising funds for and erecting a permanent solar array on the site to offset our energy use year-round. Bill McKibben and John Elder provide the Keynote speeches, while Twiddle, Break of Reality, The House Jacks, Jeh Kulu, and Ember Swift get things moving on stage. The Singer Songwriter competition enters its eighth year, Theater-in-the-Woods takes us into Humpty Dumpty’s Dream, the contra dance and bonfire continue as valued traditions. SolarFest adds a new tradition with a Peace Pole Ceremony on Sunday morning. Workshops have moved far beyond renewable energy into areas ranging from straw bale building to responsible investing to humanure.
July 15 & 16, 2006 – SolarFest goes multicultural with performances from Grammy award winner Bill Miller (native american), Ember Swift (Canadian), Xande Cruz (Brazilian), Samputu (Ugandan), and Mawwal (middle eastern). Dar Williams provided a wonderful set and local favorites Twiddle rocked the stage. Author James Howard Kunstler provides the Keynote address. The number and scope of workshops continues to expand steadily. Prince Charming lures theater goers into the woods for another quirky take on our favorite fairy tales. We begin our popular pre-festival Photovoltaic Workshop Series, where participants learn the basics of Solar Electricity and then help our power team set up the myriad electrical systems for our festival.
July 16 & 17, 2005 Forget-Me-Not Farm in Tinmouth, VT – SolarFest moves again and it feels like coming home. Just about a mile as the crow flies from its original site on Daisy Hollow Road in Middletown Springs, the new place is Forget-Me-Not Farm in Tinmouth, VT, owned by long time SolarFest volunteers Marshall and Melody Squier. Workshop tents bloom in the fields, campers dot the woods, vendors spread out in the arena, and the Main Stage sprouts off the big barn. David Holmgren delivers the Keynote. Dar Williams, The Duhks, Chris Chandler, The Jim Gilmour Band, and Village Harmony all grace the Main Stage. Theater-In-The-Woods delves deep into the forest with Frank Asch’s Elvin Hollow. A new tradition begins with an outdoor contra dance on Saturday.
July 10 & 11, 2004 – The Main Stage is under the bigtop this year and Dark Star Lighting has a ball doing their light show on the inside of the tent! Workshops, vendors, and exhibitors encircle the playing field. Mark Estrin provides the Keynote address and John Brown’s Body, Love Whip, Pamela Means, and Mad Agnes provide the soundtrack. The Singer Songwriter Competition celebrates its fifth year and Theater-In-The-Woods performs Wiley and the Hairy Man in the meadow on the GMC campus.
July 12 & 13, 2003 Green Mountain College in Poultney, VT– SolarFest makes a move, trading in the rolling fields and narrow dirt roads of Middletown Springs for the level grass and plentiful parking at Green Mountain College in Poultney, about 10 miles away. Bill McKibben is the first SolarFest Keynote Speaker. The solar arrays get bigger and better. Performers include Black 47, Inner VIsions, JAKA, the Ember Swift Band, and Smokin’ Grass. Theater-In-The-Woods takes a break. But the SolarFest Youth Troupe steps in and performs the Association of Vermont Recyclers traveling play The End of the World Show on the Family Stage.
July 13 & 14, 2002 – Vermont Chamber of Commerce’s Top Ten Summer Event and SolarFest hits mainstream respectability. We again host the Convocation of the invisible Universe with several Chelsea Green authors presenting ideas from their books. Performers include Balla Tounkara, Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams, Bonepony, Jeff Lang, and Entrain. Little Red Riding Wolf is spotted in the woods again.
July 14 & 15, 2001 – As part of this summer’s festival SolarFest plays host to Chelsea Green’s Convocation of the Invisible Universe, a celebration of the invisible links that bind us together. There are 16 workshops on the schedule on a variety of renewable energy topics. Performers include Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem, Laura Love, Gregory Douglass, Black Rebels, and Dr. Didg. Also the Annual Singer Songwriter Competition and the People’s Republic of Vermont Poetry Slam Team. Theater-In-The-Woods does a revival of Ziggy the Piggy.
July 29 & 30, 2000 – SolarFest is back in full swing, or nearly so. The festival runs for two days this year and features, among others, Peter Mulvey, Moxy Fruvous, The Neilds, Sloan Wainwright, Woods Tea Company, and GrooveLily. Theater-In-The-Woods is yet another Frank Asch classic, Goldilocks and the Six Bears. As another way of supporting the craft of live music SolarFest introduces another soo- to-be-tradition, the First Annual Singer Songwriter Competition. Outside of the festival, SolarFest partners with the Hayes Foundation in Wallingford, VT to provide content and leadership for their summer camp, teaching the campers about renewable energy and solar in particular.
Saturday July 17, 1999 – The Year of the Eclipse – As an organization SolarFest is growing – we incorporate as a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization and form a Board of Trustees. Despite the critical success and local popularity of the festival, the organization is deeply in debt. The Board votes to scale back the festival to one day and one stage. Many Friends come forward to perform for free or nearly so, including Laura Molinelli, Stephen Keirnan, Camille West, and AYE. No rain, but it is HOT! The field in front of the stage is nearly empty as people seek shade in the treeline.
July 17, 18 & 19, 1998 – SolarFest continues to grow and to present top notch performances. Acts include jazz great Stanley Jordan, Dar Williams (again donating her performance), Eddie From Ohio, The Kennedys, Box Set, Michael Manring, and The New Nile Orchestra. Theater-In-The-Woods presents another Frank Asch original instant classic – Little Red Riding Wolf. With donated equipment and materials SolarFest builds the Solar Roller, our own large portable solar generator. The Solar Roller hits the road over the next several years powering stages at Falcon Ridge, Clearwater, and numerous other festivals. This is soon followed by The Lightning Bug, a much smaller portable solar generator.
July 18, 19 & 20, 1997 – No rain this year, but a bizarre cold snap brings with it the name PolarFest, and our fleece wear vendor does a booming business. Main Stage performers include Patty Larkin, Dar Williams, Richard Shindell, John Gorka, and Jeh Kulu African Drum and Dance among many others. Just over the knoll Swamp Stage offered a wide array of story tellers, dancers, and puppet shows. Noted children’s book author Frank Asch writes Ziggy The Piggy for the first ever Theater-In-The- Woods play, kicking off one of the most popular SolarFest traditions.
July 26, 27 & 28, 1996 – Encouraged by the response the previous summer, we do it again! SolarFest gets a little formal, forming a Council, precursor to the Board of Trustees, and expands to three days. Several acts from the first year return joined by The MASS Ensemble, New Nile Orchestra, Jeh Kulu Drum and Dance, The In-Betweens, Donald Knaack, Tara Chaplin & Company, Esiotrot Dance , and Coyote Man. Vendor’s Row is established and despite the rain SolarFest proves that solar works!
August 5 & 6, 1995 – The Birth of SolarFest in Middletown Springs, VT! A group of friends with overlapping passions for music and renewable energy plan a big party. The place is Ed Updike and Nance Dean’s land in Middletown Springs. The site is off-grid so sound and lights are solar powered by necessity. We build a large stage in a natural amphitheater and invite local favorites to perform including The Huge Members, Sam’s Planet, Tin Pan Alley, Strung Out, Piraeus, Wayne Surrell, Gypsy Reel, and Woodchuck’s Revenge. Despite the rain – SolarFest proves that solar works!