Vermont Weirdos Unite for a Festival All Their Own | 802 Much | Seven Days | Vermont's Independent Voice

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Vermont Weirdos Unite for a Festival All Their Own

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Marchers in the Weirdofest parade - COURTESY OF BRITTEN LEIGH
  • COURTESY OF BRITTEN LEIGH
  • Marchers in the Weirdofest parade

Add Weirdofest to the list of offbeat celebrations in Vermont.

Onion River Campground owners Jaquelyn Fernandez Rieke and Raul Fernandez hosted the third annual fest on Saturday at their Marshfield property.

"It's like a big party," said Fernandez Rieke, adding that it's "youth-driven."

Indeed. At just 12 years old, Xavier Woogmaster served as master of ceremonies, performing musical bits and comedic acts throughout the day, while a 10-year-old acted as head chef. A group of middle-school-age girls ran a Weir-'Do booth where they styled attendees' hair.

Fernandez Rieke, who also owns the granola company Nutty Steph's, organized the eccentric event. She used to hold similarly zany evening gatherings — such as Bacon Thursday — at her Middlesex storefront but had to cut back a few years ago. After holding a pig roast during the first Weirdofest, she vowed to keep the vibe alive.

COURTESY OF BRITTEN LEIGH
  • COURTESY OF BRITTEN LEIGH

On Saturday, a nattily dressed crew of about 140 people kicked things off with a parade. From there, 5-year-old Fred Daniels took the stage to sing his song "Captain Naked."

"That was my favorite part," said Fernandez Rieke. "He had it written on several sheets of paper, and he'd throw them to the ground as he went while his dad played a blues riff in the background."

The festival continued into the evening, when Umlaut, described by Fernandez Rieke as "Vermont's premier polka-rock outfit," performed their cover of Frank Sinatra's "Love and Marriage."

"Except their version went, 'Trump and Putin / Go together like wheat and gluten,'" noted Fernandez Rieke, with a laugh.

The celebration is free and meant to foster community, she said.

"I'm just a huge proponent of diversity, and that's the point of naming something as explicitly as Weirdofest," Fernandez Rieke said. "Everybody's different, and diversity is good. Somebody said as they were leaving that it was a very life-affirming event, and I thought that was a very gratifying thing to hear."


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