Home   Calendar   Holidays   the United States   Town Meeting Day
Flag for USA

Town Meeting Day in the United States

Vermont's Town Meeting Day gives the state's residents the chance to speak their minds in a public forum on the first Tuesday of March. This event is also the anniversary of Vermont’s admission to the union as the 14th state in 1791.

Is Town Meeting Day a Public Holiday?

Town Meeting Day is a public holiday in Vermont, where it is a day off for the general population, and schools and most businesses are closed.

Town Meeting Day in Vermont gives residents a chance to voice their opinions in a public forum.
Town Meeting Day in Vermont gives residents a chance to voice their opinions in a public forum.
©iStockphoto.com/P_Wei

What Do People Do?

Town Meeting Day marks a special event in which residents meet in about 40 towns across Vermont, in the United States. They discuss the business of their town and any issue is open to debate. They also elect local officials, approve a budget for the following year, and conduct other local business. It is a time for neighbors to discuss the civic issues of their community, state, and nation.

Vermont town meetings (with one exception) are the practice of direct democracy. That is, eligible citizens of the town may vote on specific issues that are announced through a warning. The town meeting warning tells people when and where town meeting will be held, and it lists all of the articles (topics) that are going to be discussed and voted on at the meeting. The warning must be posted at least 30 days before the meeting.

Public Life

Vermont law makes Town Meeting Day a holiday for state government employees.  The law also gives any worker (private employees) the right to take unpaid leave from work to attend his or her annual town meeting, subject to the essential operation of the business or government.

Students who are over 18 years also have the right to attend town meeting, unless the student is in state custody at a secure facility.  According to law, these students may not be treated as truants for missing school to attend town meetings.

Background

For more than 200 years, Town Meeting Day has been an important political event that sees local officers being elected and budgets being voted.  It is a tradition dating back to before there was a Vermont. The first town meeting was held in Bennington, Vermont, in 1762, which was 15 years before Vermont was created.

In the late 1700s, people held meetings to address the problems and issues they faced collectively. Popular legislation matters in earlier town meetings included whether or not to let pigs run free or if smallpox vaccinations should be allowed in the town (some people were against vaccinations). Voters also decided what goods or labor could be used as payment for taxes.

Like past town meetings, the meetings that occur on Town Meeting Day in modern times also serve as a social function by bringing people together, strengthening social ties within a town and helping people work together to tackle community problems.

Town Meeting Day Observances

YearWeekdayDateNameHoliday TypeArea
2010TueMar 2Town Meeting DayState holidayVermont
2011TueMar 1Town Meeting DayState holidayVermont
2012TueMar 6Town Meeting DayState holidayVermont
2013TueMar 5Town Meeting DayState holidayVermont
2014TueMar 4Town Meeting DayState holidayVermont
2015TueMar 3Town Meeting DayState holidayVermont
2016TueMar 1Town Meeting DayState holidayVermont
2017TueMar 7Town Meeting DayState holidayVermont
2018TueMar 6Town Meeting DayState holidayVermont
2019TueMar 5Town Meeting DayState holidayVermont
2020TueMar 3Town Meeting DayState holidayVermont

You might also like

The Hindu deity Rahu.

Solar Eclipse Myths

The solar eclipse has inspired many mythical stories and influenced human behavior. Even today, eclipses of the Sun are considered bad omens in many cultures. more

Watching Lunar Eclipses

A lunar eclipse can be seen with the naked eye, unlike solar eclipses, which have special safety requirements. more

December Solstice Facts

10 things you may not know about the December Solstice, the shortest day of the year in the Northern Hemisphere. more