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With the help of local contra dancers the Capital City Grange is one step closer to being fully accessible

People stand in front of a house at night.
Krizzia Soto-Villanueva
/
Vermont Public
Montpelier Contra Dance helped raise more than $3,600 to help install a wheelchair lift in the Capital City Grange during its annual fundraiser.

A popular, volunteer-run dance hall in central Vermont hopes to soon be fully accessible.

Capital City Grange #469, otherwise known as the Capital City Grange Hall or CCG, is well-known for being the dance floor of the Montpelier Contra Dance.

Earlier this fall, an annual fundraiser organized by the group, raised more than $3,600 to help fund a lift to the basement and improved air circulation in the building.

"The grange aspires to be an open community," said president Tim Swartz. "The Montpelier contra dance community has always worked on trying to make sure that everybody who comes to the dance feels comfortable and has a great time."

Since 2008, the hall has installed two bathrooms that are compliant under the Americans with Disabilities Act, an ADA accessible entrance, and a new dance floor with support from the Vermont Arts Council and a loan from the Vermont State Grange Organization.

With further support from the Vermont Arts Council and the state, the Grange is moving forward with the project to install a wheelchair lift providing access to the building’s stage, dance floor, and downstairs hall.

The grange also aims to be inclusive in other ways.

Ken Gagnon, who has been dancing at the grange for 40 years, drives 1.5 hours from southern Vermont to dance with Montpelier Contra.

“It’s a community,” Gagnon said. “This particular spot is dynamic and growing. One of the best dances in New England.”

Farrar Ransom, a student at Dartmouth College, organizes trips to the grange from New Hampshire for fellow students. To Ransom, Montpelier Contra is special because of its demographic makeup.

“I really like Montpelier because it’s more young queer people," he said. "It’s fun to come here… [and] make new friends.”

Montpelier contra dances at the grange are held every first and third Saturday and are open to dancers of all skill levels.

This story is a collaboration between Vermont Public and the Community News Service. The Community News Service is a student-powered partnership between the University of Vermont’s Reporting & Documentary Storytelling program and community newspapers across Vermont.

Krizzia Soto-Villanueva is a Ph.D. student studying food systems at the University of Vermont.
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