Village hosts festival to celebrate the nuisance blackflies

AP News
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Posted: Jun 03, 2016 1:54 PM
Village hosts festival to celebrate the nuisance blackflies

CALAIS, Vt. (AP) — A Vermont village is hosting a festival to celebrate a nuisance of spring in New England: the blackfly.

The 13th annual Adamant Blackfly Festival on Saturday includes a fashion show, a blackfly poetry slam and a blackfly pie contest in which entries are judged on their taste and blackfly homage. Blackflies aren't actually an ingredient in the pies, though. Some cooks try to make designs that resemble blackflies.

"It's just about being festive and happy, and damn the flies!" said Janet MacLeod, an artist with a studio in Adamant.

MacLeod said one year a participant actually made the pies fly by shooting them off into the woods.

Festival organizers say about 40 species of blackfly exist in Vermont, with only four or five that bite humans. In late April or May, they emerge from streams in droves in search of blood.

In other parts of the world, they spread diseases like river blindness but not in New England.

"Up here they are just basically protectors of our wild areas," said Alan Graham, Vermont state entomologist.

Adamant, a village in the 1,600-resident town of Calais in central Vermont, has conditions that blackflies like: clean moving water in the form of streams.

The festival schedule also includes live music, an auction and the annual Blackfly Parade, with a marching band, tractors and floats. Somebody might even bring their goats this year, MacLeod said.

"We never kind of know what's going to be there until 2:00 when people start lining up," MacLeod said.

The event, which is expected to draw 100 to 200 people, raises money for the Adamant Co-op, a community-run general store and post office.

The festival ends between 4:30 p.m. and 5 p.m. at which time the schedule notes: "Blackflies all die."

"That's optimistic," MacLeod said.