Kingly Duties Swimming Man Festival

The 2,367.4-mile Mississippi River Swim has made me the focus of some attention. The latest came in the form of a phone call from Poppa Neutrino. I was honored when he asked if I would serve as king of the first “Swimming Man Festival” in Burlington, VT. I asked what that meant. He said come to Burlington and perform. I said, “Okay.”

Margarita Baumann became queen. We motored from Winona, MN to Manitowoc, WI and boarded the SS Badger for a 4-hour Lake Michigan crossing landing at Ludington, MI. We took the bridge into Canada at Port Huron intending Toronto, but the border officials informed us of 500 arrests at the G-8 Conference. Not wanting to risk delays, we detoured down to Niagara Falls to become quite touristy. Then it was up to Montreal for a fine view of the St. Lawrence Seaway from Mount Royal. About 90 miles heading stateside and another, but much shorter, ferry crossing and we arrived in Burlington on June 30.

After a morning show interview on public radio, I joined Poppa Neutrino and helped put some finishing touches on the raft/stage. I joined the crew paddling it to North Beach. It turned into a two-day project with a bit of weather and waves slowing us down. I jumped in to recover my blown away Panama hat with good result. The Lake Champlain waters were refreshing even though I lost a pair of glasses.

Long-time-running musical partner, John Pendergast, drove in from New Haven, CT with his violin and guitar. We ended our “Swimming Man” set with the “River Rap” and I threw myself into the lake to bring the re-claiming the waters and its environmental statement home. There were too many other performers to keep straight – just let it be said – it was a great time. Aerialists from NYC flew above the raft twisting and turning down the red silks crowning the stage. The vessel had been strategically anchored at North Beach to take advantage of the large crowds that always gathered for the fireworks displays. The jugglers, dancers and all the players and performers joined together during a dance jam as the night sky exploded with color. We stayed over an extra night for my final kingly duties and a screening of “Swimming the Mississippi” and “Death Valley Desert Classic” at Radio Bean. I hung up my crown and became homeward bound, but the activities will continue all summer in Burlington. Check out a couple of images in the photo gallery and get on over there.

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