Big plans for Champlain Valley Expo to build capacity

The Champlain Valley Exposition, a Vermont institution, along with its community partner Higher Ground, is working to bring more music to Essex Junction, with an ultimate goal of revamping the grandstand and growing its appeal as a venue.

The announcement comes in tandem with the news of a benefit concert in September, featuring Strafford native Noah Kahan on the Midway Lawn. All proceeds from the event will go to Kahan’s mental health charity, The Busyhead Project.

Courtesy photo. 
The Champlain Valley Exposition has more than 100 years of history in Essex Junction.

Representatives from the Champlain Valley Expo plan to ask the Essex Junction City Council on June 26 to approve 15 additional sound waivers. The results of that request were not known at press time. The community was invited to a forum on June 18 to learn more in advance of this.

Additional waivers would allow the site to host approximately three concerts per month from May through September in addition to the 20 currently produced annually.

The added income from these events will empower a growth plan to revitalize the grandstand, which is structurally sound but aesthetically outdated. It will also fund efforts to address impervious surfaces to meet new state stormwater regulations — which comes with an estimated $1.5 million price tag.

An estimated $12 goes directly to the community for each ticket sold, meaning that local hotels, restaurants, coffee shops and retail businesses will benefit from the proposed growth plan.

If approved for additional sound waivers, the Champlain Valley Expo will for the specific events have exemptions from Essex Junction’s sound ordinance.

“This partnership and the work we’re doing is a win-win-win,” Champlain Valley Expo executive director Tim Shea said. “It’s great for the community, it’s great for music lovers and performers, and it ensures the longevity of Champlain Valley Expo, which is synonymous with our city — the Ferris wheel is on the city’s municipal logo, that’s how connected we are.”

In addition to what can only be described as the “Essex Era” for Taylor Swift, who performed at the site in 2007, Champlain Valley Expo highlights include a 2011 benefit concert from Phish, which brought more than 12,000 people — and more than $1.2 million for Tropical Storm Irene recovery efforts. The Champlain Valley Expo also hosts a number of local non-profit and public safety events at either a free or reduced charge.