VT Untapped
Episode 18: Meet Cute 2021 - Everest and Marjo

Episode 18: Meet Cute 2021 - Everest and Marjo

February 12, 2021

It’s that time of year again! Although our annual “Meet Cute” episode is a bit different this year, isn’t everything?

We’re coming up on one year of living through the Covid-19 pandemic, and as a part of our Listening in Place project, we’ve focused on hearing from Vermonters about their experiences of this tumultuous time, in their own voices.

We know that Vermonters have continued to cultivate new romantic connections during this time but, to be honest, we paused a bit around asking people to tell us their touching stories of new flowering love in the midst of the pandemic. Would anyone really want to put a spotlight on a newly forged connection by sitting down for an interview with us?

So instead, our 2021 Meet Cute focuses on two themes that have consistently emerged through Listening in Place: resilience and human connections. Less of a “meet cute,” this year’s February episode of VT Untapped explores Covid as a catalyst for strengthening an existing relationship—a story about love across distance and across borders. We hope you enjoy!


VT Untapped™ is produced by the Vermont Folklife Center. Learn more on our website: www.vtfolklife.org/untapped 

Episode 17: The Audio Diary of Pete Sutherland

Episode 17: The Audio Diary of Pete Sutherland

December 18, 2020

Back in March 2020, Pete Sutherland opened up the voice memo app on his phone, hit record and said “This is just day-one of one person's journal about isolation in the time of the Coronavirus outbreak worldwide.” In the following nine months, Pete continued to hit record and share his thoughts with what he calls “the vault” on his phone. Sometimes he discusses the COVID-19 Pandemic, other times he reflects on walks in the woods, his family, teaching, or the 2020 election. In this episode of VT Untapped™, we bring you excerpts of Pete’s COVID Diary.

Pete is a longtime friend of the VFC and a vastly influential contributor to traditional culture in Vermont. He is prolific as a musician, teacher, visual artist, composer, writer, and storyteller and his way with words comes through in this diary. Beyond the words, the sonic experience of the diary transports us right into Pete’s world; many of his entries are made “on site” as he goes about his daily life. So take a seat and join Pete on his journey through COVID times.

In addition to providing material for this podcast, Pete has donated his diary in its entirety to the VFC archive where it will add to our growing collection of materials documenting the COVID-19 pandemic and our Listening in Place project. We are profoundly grateful to Pete for agreeing to share this personal account with us.


VT Untapped™ is produced by the Vermont Folklife Center. Visit our website for more information.

Episode 16: 2020 Thanksgiving Special!

Episode 16: 2020 Thanksgiving Special!

November 25, 2020

Driving turkeys


As we’re all gearing up for what is likely to be one of the most, shall we say “unusual,” Thanksgivings of our lifetimes (thanks again, 2020), here at VT Untapped™ we reached out VFC founder Jane Beck once more in search of suggestions for a seasonal story. Not surprisingly, once again Jane came through!

Jane directed us to a series of interviews she conducted with Earle Fuller of Warren, VT between 1979 and 1983. Jane interviewed Earle over 45 times during that period, discussing his family’s history in the area, and the Fuller family tradition of raising, training and trading horses during the era of horse power. Earle was born in Warren in 1888.

In two interviews, one from 1979 and one from 1981, Earle recounted to Jane the experience of driving turkeys from Vermont to market in Boston. To be clear, when we say “drive” we mean “herd”—literally marching a flock of (in Earle’s account) over 500 turkeys by road, through towns, over bridges on a journey that lasted 10 days round trip.

Turkey drives were a seasonal sight to behold in New England in the 18th and 19th centuries, with flocks as large as 2,000 birds traveling from farms to cities for slaughter and sale. As Earle shares, even railroads were unwilling to transport the live birds, so herding turkeys through the countryside persisted as the simplest way to transport them to urban markets.

Based on a number of clues embedded in the stories we’re honestly not sure if Earle is reporting from personal experience or if he is recounting someone else’s. For one, Earle begins his initial account in the third person—as if he is talking about someone else—then gradually shifts to telling it in the first person, setting himself in the tale. In addition, Earle states that he was 11 when the drive he describes occurred, which would set the date around 1899. As we understand it, the turn of the century would have been pretty late for a turkey drive like this to have taken place. This stated, we really just don’t know with any certainty and—truly—we don’t think it really matters all that much. Earle’s evocative account of trouping a bunch of red-headed, gobbling turkeys from VT to Boston rings true to other sources that describe similar trips, so what he shares is accurate based on comparison. Earle’s own story or not, it’s a trip well worth joining him on.

VT Untapped™ is produced by the Vermont Folklife Center. For more information visit www.vtfolklife.org/untapped

Episode 15: The Apprentices

Episode 15: The Apprentices

November 20, 2020

Established in 1991, our Vermont Traditional Arts Apprenticeship Program (VTAAP) was created to support the vitality of Vermont's living cultural heritage. In this episode we explore VTAAP by talking with some of the program participants—master artists and their apprentices—to explore their perspectives on these time-honored art forms, and the experience of teaching and learning during a global pandemic.

Traditional arts are often perceived as primarily—or even exclusively—tied to the past, but we see them as living practices, constantly evolving and changing to meet the unfolding needs of the people who care about them. Traditional art draws on the past, but is continually refined and shaped by needs and perspectives of the present. 

Over the years the program has supported traditional forms ranging from Abenaki basketry and dance, Yankee and Franco-American fiddling, Somali Bantu instrument making, memorial stone carving in Barre, Japanese Ikebana, Congolese Dance, and Tibetan dranyan performance among hundreds of others. VTAAP is supported by the National Endowment for the Arts and donors around the state.

Despite the current challenges of the pandemic, 13 collaborations between master artists and apprentices are being supported in the 2020-2021 VTAAP cycle (you can see the full list of projects here). In this episode you’ll come along with VFC staff on three "virtual site visits” to meet a few of this year’s cohort of artists and apprentices and hear about the art forms and projects they’ll be working on over the course of the next 10 months.


VT Untapped™ is produced by the Vermont Folklife Center. Visit our website for more information. 

Episode 14: Spooky Halloween Special 2020

Episode 14: Spooky Halloween Special 2020

October 30, 2020

It’s Halloween! Which means it’s time for our annual SPOOKY HALLOWEEN SPECIAL! This year we reached out to VFC founder Jane Beck to see if she could think of any extra spooky stories in the archive—and boy did she come up with a corker!

Jane interviewed Floyd Cowdrey on November 14, 1994. It’s a wide ranging interview, with Floyd recounting events from the late 19th and early 20th century including family stories, grisly details of a few local murders, some off-color (and by today’s standards frankly offensive) jokes and, importantly, a pretty darn good haunted house story.

The events described by Floyd took place in the mid 1920s in Hartland, VT. We won’t go into the details here—we’ll leave those to Floyd—but we will say that you might find yourself thinking differently about that mysterious, late night knock on your bedroom door after hearing what Floyd has to say…

VT Untapped™ is produced by the Vermont Folklife Center. Visit our website for more information.

Episode 13: Sounds of Camp

Episode 13: Sounds of Camp

October 23, 2020

What does a vibrant camp sound like without its campers? 

Camp Killooleet sits on the banks of the Hancock Branch, a tributary to the White River in Hancock, Vermont. Since 1927 it’s welcomed kids ages 9-14 for a classic summer camp experience. Hiking and swimming, arts and woodworking, sports, horse-back riding and a particularly strong music and song culture due in large part to the longtime connection of the Seeger family with Killooleet. John and Ellie Seeger bought the camp in 1949 and today their daughter, Kate Seeger and her husband Dean Spencer are the camp directors. John Seeger was the brother of the legendary folk singer, Pete Seeger.   

Back in August, Mary Wesley and assistant producer Abra Clawson drove down to Hancock to meet with Kate, Dean and Kate’s brother, Tony Seeger. Tony is an anthropologist and audio-visual archivist and he serves on the Board of Directors for the VFC. It was an unusual visit because for the first time in 93 years, Camp Killooleet was closed, due to Covid -19. Where you’d expect to hear splashing and shouting in the pond and music in the camp house there was only birdsong and a slight breeze.   

This episode explores the ways in which a summer camp community, an inherently ephemeral group, stays connected over time and distance. Camp Killoolleet in particular offers a unique site of observation and reflection thanks to two albums recorded in 1958 available from Smithsonian Folkways: Songs of Camp and Sounds of Camp. These historical recordings feature documentary soundscapes and sing-alongs that allow us to travel back in time to hear just what was missing from Killooleet during this “camper-less” summer of 2020.  

We thank Smithsonian Folkways for granting us permission to feature selections from Sounds of Camp and Songs of Camp in this episode. You can find both albums--as well as the entire Smithsonian Folkways catalog here on their website

The campers and counselors featured in this episode are Charlie, Kim, Smitty, Danny and Avi. You can sit in on one of the Killooleet Virtual Campfires here on YouTube


Vermont Untapped is produced by the Vermont Folklife Center. For more information visit our website

Episode 12: Project Independence

Episode 12: Project Independence

September 18, 2020

This episode of VT Untapped™ is the first in a six-part series built around our “Listening in Placeproject. We’ll take you into six different Vermont communities where we’ve spent some time listening to what people are going through and what they’re thinking about during the pandemic and beyond.

Since mid May the VFC has been working in partnership with Project Independence, an elderly day center in Middlebury, as part of our Listening in Place project, which seeks to document the everyday lives of Vermonters as they live through the extraordinary events of 2020. Project Independence serves over 100 participants with the goal of keeping elderly people independent and at home for longer. However after the COVID-19 pandemic hit, it was clear that they had to greatly adapt their in-person programming in order to keep their participants and staff safe. Project Independence transitioned to Zoom video calls, which required much technical support and providing people with new devices that would fit their needs. Now each day, participants can take part in a large array of activities online.

Between May 12 and August 5, one of these activities was to participate in an online interview with the VFC. We spoke with 22 different people, participants, staff and volunteers who shared their perspectives on life during Covid.

Having a conversation and recording online could be tricky and many times we heard the common refrain, “Can you hear me? Are you there?” But when technology cooperated the connection went deeper than just a clear internet signal. People shared about the impact of suddenly having to stay home (for some, visiting Project Independence was their only outing), missing family and friends, honest confessions of loneliness and powerful messages of resilience that perhaps only the perspective of age can allow. We hope you enjoy hearing some of these perspectives in this episode of VT Untapped™.

This podcast is produced by the Vermont Folklife Center. Please visit our website to learn more. 


VT Untapped Special: Story Circles

VT Untapped Special: Story Circles

April 21, 2020

This special episode of VT Untapped shares three stories that were recorded during a “Virtual Story Circle” in early April during the Covid-19 pandemic. A Story Circle is a supported space where participants respect the testimony of others as each person is invited to speak about their own experience. In this case, people are speaking about their experience living in Vermont during the COVID-19 global pandemic.

The VFC first used this model of group storytelling as a response to Tropical Storm Irene, finding that it offered a unique opportunity for individuals trying to process and understand a shared traumatic experience, both by talking about their own experience and listening deeply to the experiences of others. Although we can’t safely form in-person circles at this time, the widely available video conferencing platforms to which many of us have turned to stay connected can also connect us to share our experiences.

Just as each person’s experience of this time differs, every participant will relate their story in their own unique way. We hope that by bringing forth a multitude of perspectives in a group setting, participants and observers will encounter the broad scope of experiences of the COVID-19 pandemic as it unfolds—and that will come to define our collective understanding of this period in time.

These Story Circles are part of the VFC’s Listening in Place project, developed in response to the pandemic. VFC will be holding Circles on an ongoing basis according to public interest. We have also developed a facilitator’s guide for community members wishing to host their own. Learn more at www.vtfolklife.org/listening

Episode 11: Meet Cute 2020!

Episode 11: Meet Cute 2020!

February 12, 2020

‘How did you meet?’ is probably one of the most common questions couples receive. In the spirit of Valentine’s day we’re sharing another round of these love stories recorded by VFC staff through interviews with friends and neighbors.

So what do we mean by “Meet Cute”? Well, the term refers to the conditions under which two potential partners meet—trust us, it’s in the Oxford English Dictionary. Last year in Episode 4 we shared three stories of Vermonters finding love, and this year we’ve got three new ones for you. It’s 2020 after all, so some folks meet on Tinder, some owe it to the Seven Days personals, and thank goodness, some still meet in a good, old fashioned, hipster coffee shop! Hear them all in this month’s episode!

We are slowly growing our “meet cute” collection and we have more stories than we could fit in the episode so be sure to check out this playlist to hear them all! Some are from earlier interviews and some more recent. All are pretty darn cute!

Episode 10: Pub Sing!

Episode 10: Pub Sing!

December 18, 2019

A guy walks into a bar and…starts singing? If that bar is Brattleboro’s McNeill’s Brewery and it’s the third Saturday of the month between 3-5 pm then the chances of this happening are pretty high.

That’s when the Brattleboro Pub Sing meets.

And in this episode of VT Untapped you get to come along!

The pub-sing or pub-session tradition originates in the British Isles. “The Pub” being a place where people gather as much to socialize with friends and family as to enjoy a local brew, the addition of music seems only natural. A pub-sing isn’t a performance, it’s more like a participatory grown-up sing along—think group karaoke only without a machine—and everyone is welcome. Popular repertoire tends to be songs with a call-and-response structure or with an easily repeated chorus so that the crowd can join in and ‘raise the rafters.’

Amanda Witman and Tony Barrand started the Brattleboro Pub Sing in 2011. Tony is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology, College of Arts and Sciences, Boston University and a prolific musician and performer. He’s best known for his musical collaboration with John Roberts in their duo “Roberts and Barrand,” who recorded ten albums together between 1971 and 2003. A longtime Brattleboro resident, Tony has been teaching English folk song for years through the Brattleboro Music Center and other local events. After several successful one-off pub sings at the BMC’s Northern Roots Festival, Amanda, a local folk song enthusiast, asked if Tony would help her make pub singing a regular occurrence.

To learn more about VT Untapped visit: www.vermontfolklifecenter.org/untapped

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