‘One Town at a Time’ film explores every town in Vermont – some twice

SCOOTER MACMILLAN
Staff Writer

In 2006, Mike Leonard visited Hinesburg … and every other town in Vermont. All 251 of them.

On Aug. 23, he visited Hinesburg again.

Thirteen years ago, he was filming his visit. This time, he was visiting with his film, “One Town at a Time.”

Leonard screened his film of the 251 visits to all of Vermont’s towns and of revisiting many of them 12 years later in 2018 at the Carpenter-Carse Library.

The film is a travelogue of a charming state. It includes clips from his interview with Sandy Levesque, the executive director of the 251 Club.

She said that there are no rules to achieving the 251 milestone. For example, one couple celebrated their visit to each town with a kiss. Leonard interviewed a retired postal worker who visited every post office in every Vermont town. Jim Douglas, Vermont governor from 2003-11, visited every town clerk in the Green Mountain State.

“It’s a very Vermonty way to do it,” Levesque said.

Twelve years later when Leonard returned to many of the towns he’d visited in 2006, he was able to find some of the same people that he interviewed 12 years before.

There’s Lewis, one of five unorganized towns in Vermont, with a population of zero. The joke is that Lewis is the last town that everyone on the 251 quest visits.

In Glover, Leonard and his friends visited the Bread and Puppet Theater, where they learned it was one of the oldest self-supporting theater companies in the United States.

When he visited Glastenbury in 2006, the population was eight, and when he returned in 2018, the population was five. He said it was one of Vermont’s weirdest towns because it has the most paranormal phenomenon, which is appropriate since it’s essentially a ghost town.

Leonard said it is unique to live in a state where you can actually visit every town. When asked what his favorite Vermont town is, he said that he has “a model of the Vermont town, of a tight small community, and the nice thing is you have that all over the state.”

What did he learn from his travels?

“I learned that Vermont is bigger and smaller than I thought,” he said.

Leonard has shown “One Town at a Time” to 370 people in Brattleboro and to two people in Newport. Around 35 showed up for the showing in Hinesburg, a turnout that pleased him. They even had to bring in extra chairs.

“One Town at a Time” is showing at the Charlotte Grange at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25.

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