Friday, April 9, 2021

Field and Forest 5K Run @ Flanders Nature Center


Flanders Nature Center & Land Trust is excited to announce the return of their popular Field & Forest 5K Trail Run! The race is planned for Friday, June 4th at the Flanders Van Vleck Farm & Nature Sanctuary in Woodbury at 6PM. All ages and skill levels of runners, joggers, and walkers are welcome to register to enjoy this 3.1-mile run/walk through the trails and rolling hills of the picturesque nature center. 

After the race, participants will enjoy live music by the popular local rock band, Scratch, as well as be able to purchase food from local food trucks and local craft beer from Woodbury Brewing Company. Additionally, Flanders is offering a virtual option to allow participants who cannot attend to still participate from anywhere in the world! 

The registration fee is $25 for all ages (plus processing fees). Those signing up by May 1st will receive a performance race shirt! Registration will close on June 3rd and we will not have same-day race registration. Awards will be given to top male and female finishers overall as well as in 8 age categories ranging from age under 10 to over 60.

 “We are looking forward to an outdoor in-person event that historically has been a fun evening out for the whole family,” commented Heidi Ball who is co-chairing the race with Heather Dever. “We encourage people to register as soon as possible and bring friends and family for this great evening of fitness, food, and fun!” added Heather. 

 For full information and to register online go to . The race will begin promptly at 6PM and will be held rain or shine; however, Flanders reserves the right to cancel in the case of lightning. We are sorry but the event cannot accommodate strollers or pets on the course.

Thursday, April 8, 2021

The Art of Spring Foraging in the Eastern Woodlands - April 18, 2021

 Native Americans lived off the land and were able to identify edible plants and fungi from a young age. Most people today don’t invest the time to gain the experience required to know where to look for and how to identify wild food and edible plants. If you have ever been curious about foraging and what is edible in the woodlands of Connecticut, don’t miss the Spring Foraging Forum on April 18 with Griffin Kalin, a Museum Educator and Traditional Skills Expert at the Institute for American Indian Studies located at 38 Curtis Road in Washington, Connecticut. This program is recommended for the entire family and will be held in three one-hour time slots starting at 1:00 pm. 

Simply put, foraging is searching for wild food and provisions. It is a wonderful way to experience the natural world and connect with the land through traditional ways that have become less commonly practiced. Wild greens and edibles in the Spring were an important source of nutrition for many Native communities and this forum offers a fascinating glimpse of how important this food source was. Spring is one of the most important times of year to forage because many types of plants and fungi are just starting to re-emerge after a long winter’s rest, which helps supplement the end of winter food supplies. 

Foraging can be as simple as picking berries or identifying plants, tubers, and mushrooms that are good to eat. It can also involve more complicated and time-consuming processes, like grinding acorns into fine flour or tapping a maple tree for sap. This forum teaches us that foraging is an art that requires us to use all our senses and to understand and respect the habitat that plants grow in. Please note, this program is intended for educational purposes only; never eat any forage item you can’t be 100% certain about.

Space per time slot is limited and pre-registration is required. To sign up for this workshop, visit Please call (860) 868-0518 or email with any questions. 

About Institute for American Indian Studies 
 Located on 15 acres of woodland acres the Institute For American Indian Studies preserves and educates through archeology, research, exhibitions, and programs. They have the 16th c. Algonquian Village, Award-Winning Wigwam Escape, and a museum with temporary and permanent displays of authentic artifacts from prehistory to the present that allows visitors to foster a new understanding of the world and the history and culture of Native Americans. The Institute for American Indian Studies is located on 38 Curtis Road, Washington, CT.

Monday, April 5, 2021

How to Make Exploring Norfolk, Connecticut, Easy This Spring

Norfolk is an enchanting small community located high in the Litchfield Hills. Although it is a small town, it has an amazing number of things to do and see, sure to delight the whole family. Known for its natural beauty, classic village green, interesting shops, good eateries, and architectural treasures, this community also makes it easy for visitors to find their way around town. The folks that live here have made a series of virtual visits that give visitors a sneak peek into the Norfolk life that they enjoy and like to share with others. These videos are part of their town-wide, semi-annual festival Weekend in Norfolk (WIN) that takes place every winter and summer.
If you are in the mood to explore one of Connecticut's brightest hidden gems, you might want to watch these short videos to get the lay of the land. A must-see video before an in-person exploration of Norfolk is the guided tour of the Battell Chapel's beautiful stained glass windows, designed by D. Maitland Armstrong and Louis Comfort Tiffany. Three large windows designed by Armstrong and made of opalescent glass fill the west end of the chapel. Tiffany’s five smaller windows face them from the east; they depict the four seasons, with a brilliant sunrise as the center. In addition to highlighting the magnificent stained glass windows, this video provides an overview of all of the attractions that surround Norfolk Green including the Congregational Church, the White House Yale Summer School of Music, the Stanford White Fountain, the Norfolk Historical Society, the Norfolk Library, Battell House and the Chapel. To view the Stained Glass Windows video and more click here. Another option for history and architectural lovers is the nine-minute tour of Norfolk with historian, William Hosley. For the architectural tour of Norfolk click here. Originally founded in 1744 as a farming community, today Norfolk's farmers proudly carry on the town's agricultural heritage that can be seen in a fascinating video, "What Farmers Do in the Winter." Everyone knows that summer is the busiest time for farmers when they are taking care of their crops and produce, making cheese, and tending to their animals. This video gives viewers a glimpse into life on a New England farm in the winter. To watch the video click here.
Husky Meadows Farm is situated on three acres and is an organic-certified farm sustainably growing a wide variety of vegetables. In addition to vegetables, they tend to antique fruit trees including a one-hundred-year-old pear tree, planted by John Curtiss. A new venture that is highlighted in this video is the cultivation of log-grown mushrooms including shiitake, chestnut, and pearl mushrooms. Coming in the summer of 2021, Husky Meadows Farm will also be offering a Seed and Spoon Culinary Retreat to one Covid pod per weekend. This is your chance to actually live on a Connecticut farm!

Broad Field Farm grows organic tomatoes and fresh vegetables and sells them at local farmers' markets as well as at their own stand on Winchester Road in season. In this video, enter an empty greenhouse and learn about the work and different techniques used to cultivate organic produce. The surprising amount of winter office work from ordering seeds to planning for crop rotation and getting the greenhouse ready for cultivation is also discussed.

Lost Ruby Farm is a micro goat dairy and creamery specializing in crafting small-scale handmade cheeses. They use only milk from their small herd of pasture-raised goats. This heartwarming video shows how lovingly these goats are cared for and a glimpse of how the goats live in the winter. If you are a cheese lover and want to try their cheeses, Lost Ruby Farm is open for farm pick-ups Thursday to Sunday at 2 p.m. and 6 p.m. Pre-orders 24 hours in advance are required and can be made by clicking here. 

 These are just a few highlights of the many videos to choose from when visiting the Weekend in Norfolk website. There is something for everyone online that will appeal to the entire family and make in-person visits easy. For a complete listing of videos including many from the Summer 2020 virtual festival click

Tuesday, March 23, 2021

Call for Exhibitors & Sponsors for the Norwalk Oyster Festival 2021

The Seaport Association is looking for vendors, sponsors, and exhibitors that want to get in on the fun at the 43rd annual Norwalk Oyster Festival being held this year on September 10,11, and 12, 2021 at Veterans Park in Norwalk. The festival has a proven track record making it the perfect place to showcase your business or non-profit organization.

The Norwalk Oyster Festival offers artists and craftspeople, non-profit community groups, museums and institutions, vendors, food concessions, and sponsors the opportunity to be associated with one of the most popular events in New England that attracts tens of thousands of people year after year. "We are seeking local and regional food merchants, clothing, jewelry and merchandising vendors, museums and institutions as well as artists and craftspeople that have interesting and unusual items to sell at our event," said Mike Reilly, President of the Norwalk Oyster Festival. "We are always open to talented and innovative vendors and exhibitors. 

The festival is ideal for people in search of an opportunity to earn money and work at a high-energy and popular event that has been successful for 42 years. Our reputation is stellar because our festival provides valuable exposure for all that participate because it is well known and popular with the public." Applications for sponsors are now available online. Sponsors get extensive in-person exposure at this event and are aggressively promoted on the Seaport's social media platforms and in their highly successful public relations and advertising campaigns. This is an excellent opportunity to showcase your business in a highly cost-effective way. For sponsorship opportunities click here. For an arts and crafts application and all the details of how to display your products click here. 

Applications are being accepted now through August 17, 2021. The Seaport Association will select approximately 125 arts and crafts exhibitors for the festival, so get your applications in today. Applications for nonprofits are available by clicking here. 

The Norwalk Oyster Festival is tailor-made for brands and specialty products that want to interact and engage with the public. A booth at the festival allows sales and merchandising participants to enjoy valuable face time with prospects. Click here to get your Marketing and Merchandising application. If you are a food vendor or have a concession and would like to be considered for this year's festival click here for details. 

Slots are expected to fill up quickly for this highly anticipated annual event so it is recommended to get your applications in early. 

About the Norwalk Oyster Festival 

Started in 1978 by a small group of people to celebrate Norwalk's maritime heritage, this festival has grown exponentially over the years attracting tens of thousands of people to one of the best events in New England of its kind. Proceeds from the Festival's support the Seaport's Sheffield Island Lighthouse, Ferry service for public access and environmental programs. Over the years, the Norwalk Seaport Association Oyster Festival has been recognized by the state of Connecticut, Library of Congress, American Bus Association and the International Festival and Events Association as one of the top events in the country and for the vital role of the volunteers and nonprofit organizations in the production and continuing success of the Oyster Festival.

Tuesday, March 16, 2021

Can You Meet the Challenge of Wigwam Escape?

Escape rooms are the new medium for learning, storytelling, and play. In December 2020, Wigwam Escape (located at The Institute of American Indian Studies in Washington, Connecticut) won the coveted escape room “2020 Golden Lock Award” by the Room Escape Artist. They were impressed by Wigwam Escape's unique take on learning through play, with their innovative and interactive puzzles allowing for problem-solving and critical thinking from multiple perspectives. 

“We are thrilled that Wigwam Escape has won this award – it is truly an honor. It is really rewarding to have Wigwam Escape recognized not only for its educational value but also for the fact that it is fun,” said Lauren Bennett-Dionne, Manager of Wigwam Escape. 

 The Wigwam Escape journey begins in the year 1518 - players leave all modern-day devices like watches and cell phones behind, learning to take cues from the world around them. The room itself has hand-painted murals of New England forests, fields, streams, ponds, and gardens that allow players to be immersed in the pre-contact environment of Connecticut's woodlands. The centerpiece of the room is a to-scale wigwam, crafted using traditional methods from local bark and trees.

Players learn that a nearby fishing village has requested help, so they must hunt, forage, and gather supplies for a journey ahead. This unique, hands-on approach connects players to the ways Native peoples lived and the skills they relied on 500 years ago in their daily lives. Some of these lessons are timeless, allowing for an even broader takeaway from the experience of Wigwam Escape.

If you have friends and family members that are puzzle lovers, history buffs, story seekers, and enjoy immersive experiences, this adventure will definitely challenge and delight them! Wigwam Escape is committed to keeping visitors and staff safe by having each escape room be a private experience, with only one group playing at a time, and strict sanitation of all touchable game surfaces and waiting areas between groups. 

 This spring from March 15th – April 25th, Wigwam Escape is offering players a special deal. 20% off your ENTIRE booking with discount code DEERANTLER 

 If you are looking for a safe and exciting outing that is sure to chase away the winter doldrums, call Wigwam Escape at 860-868-0151 or book online at

Monday, March 15, 2021

Tapping into the Past: Tavern Life in Early Connecticut

The Keeler Tavern Museum in Ridgefield is hosting a virtual program, Tapping into the Past: Tavern Life in Early Connecticut on Tuesday, March 16 @ 6:30 p.m. 

Keeler Tavern has a 
long history of being a community gathering place. In the eighteenth century, as a working tavern, the historic structure helped connect Ridgefield residents to people, information, and ideas from the New England region and beyond. Learn about how taverns were an essential part of every Connecticut town – including Ridgefield – tomorrow, Tuesday, March 16th, as educators from the Connecticut Historical Society (CHS) join us for a virtual presentation.

CHS’s Natalie Belanger, Adult Programs Manager, and Taylor McClure, Museum Educator will explain how, in early Connecticut, taverns were more than just a place to drink. Travelers and locals alike saw taverns as a place to be entertained, spread news and gossip, have a good meal, and get a night's lodging.

Register at or by clicking this link

Celebrate St. Patrick's Day @ Haight Brown Vineyard in Litchfield

On Friday, March 19, Haight Brown Vineyard on Chestnut Hill Road in Litchfield is hosting two in-person events.

The first event from 5:30 to 8 pm on March 19 is a wine glass painting workshop. 
An instructor will guide you through the creation of 2 wine glasses to take home. There will be several sample designs for inspiration, or create your very own original design. No experience necessary. The fee includes instruction, materials, and a GLASS of WINE. Cancellations 7 days in advance for a refund. The cost for this event is $40. To reserve your spot click here.

The second event from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on March 19 is a St. Patrick's Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Pairing. Participants will enjoy several Haight Brown wines paired with cheese & chocolate. Eat & drink, make some new friends and learn some interesting facts about wine. The class will be held indoors w/ appropriate distancing. Cancellations must occur 10 days in advance for a refund. The cost of this event is $35. To register click here.

About Haight Brown Vineyard

In 1975, Sherman Haight established the first winery in the state of Connecticut.  He worked with UCONN and Cornell to grow the state’s first vinis vinifera in the form of Chardonnay and Riesling, 1100 feet above sea level on Chestnut Hill in Litchfield.  He petitioned the state of Connecticut to create legislation recognizing farm wineries and contracted an architect to build a large Tudor-style winery building.  In 1976,  the structure and the surrounding vineyards became known as Haight Vineyard, the first established winery in the state of Connecticut.

 In 2007, Amy Senew purchased Haight Vineyards from Sherman Haight promising to uphold the tradition he had started over thirty years before. Amy renamed the winery Haight-Brown Vineyard in an attempt to preserve Sherman’s legacy while at the same time associating a new name and a fresh start with the winery.  Today, Amy Senew serves as General Manager of Haight-Brown Vineyard.

Haight-Brown Vineyard owns and leases over twenty acres for its winery and vineyards. The vineyard grows vinifera and hybrids including Chardonnay, Chardonelle, Marechal Foch, De Chaunac, Marquette, and Seyval Blanc. Its current vineyard capacity can yield upwards of thirty-five tons annually.

Monday, March 8, 2021

Bored on Saturday March 13? No Problem... it is Virtual Nature Trivia Night @ White Memorial Foundation

White Memorial Foundation, the largest nature sanctuary in Connecticut located in the gorgeous town of Litchfield is hosting a Nature Trivia Night on Saturday, March 13 from 7 pm to 9 pm via Zoom. Sounds like a lot of fun! 

If you aren't afraid of a challenge and think you have got what it takes -- or if you want to learn something new then register for this zoom call to hook up with the experts!  Here is how to Pre-register: And, don't forget to invite a few friends!

Here is how it works... This trivia night will be facilitated via Zoom using Breakout Rooms. It will be a team event, however, you will register individually. If you would like to be on the same virtual team as another registrant(s), list their name(s) in the “Team Members” box on the registration page. Otherwise, they will randomly assign you to a team before the night begins. 

Registrations MUST be in by 4pm on Friday, March 12 so that we have time to formulate teams in the Zoom Breakout Rooms. No prizes or food will be included this year, just a guaranteed good time! Goofy costumes and Zoom background screens are encouraged. 

Pre-registration and pre-payment are required. Space is limited! Click here to register or call 860-567-0857 to register.  Members: $5.00, Non-members: $10.00 7:00 P.M. A ZOOM link will be sent to you the day before the event.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Explore Norfolk's Architectural and Outdoor Attractions Before Setting Out! @ WIN!

If you are in the mood for a Saturday or Sunday drive check out these new Winter Weekend In Norfolk Connecticut videos that will help you plan a route before setting out. Winter Weekend in Norfolk made its debut virtually last weekend and is still offering on-demand videos to stream. The videos featured are series to watch that will be helpful if you are planning an in-person drive to bucolic Norfolk. These videos will show viewers a variety of points of interest that can be explored safely in Norfolk from self-guided architectural tours to nature walks and even cross-country skiing and winter photography. There are many videos to choose from when visiting the Weekend in Norfolk website that will appeal to the entire family. For the Winter Win website

If there were a competition for the most architecturally distinguished small U.S. town of 2,000 people or fewer, Norfolk, Conn., might win it. It is the only town of that size with landmark buildings designed by eight nationally-significant architects, all within a short walk of the town green, as well as many other distinguished buildings scattered throughout. If you want to see why architecture matters, take this virtual tour or, even better, plan on visiting Norfolk in person. 

William Hosley, your tour guide, is a curator, historian, writer, and photographer. He is passionate about local history and historic preservation and has developed a deep attachment to dozens of places worth caring about. He is the former director of the New Haven Museum and Connecticut Landmarks and was a curator at the Wadsworth Atheneum, where he organized several major exhibitions. 

This nine-minute video takes visitors on an in-depth tour of Norfolk's architectural wonders that will give visitors and residents alike a new appreciation of why Norfolk looks like it does today.  To take the tour

Another historic house tour offered is that of The Alders that is one of Norfolk’s grandest estates. Built-in 1898 to a design by Ehrick Rossiter, who also designed the Yale Norfolk Music Shed and the tower on Haystack Mountain, the Alders features stunning architectural details including intricate cherry woodwork, majestic Moorish arches, 20 stained glass windows, unique tile, and wood fireplace mantels and many more period details. 

Take a virtual tour of this grand estate and learn about Charles Spofford, the wealthy New Yorker who commissioned Rossiter to build the Alders and brought Gilded Age opulence to Norfolk. Spofford was the son of the country’s sixth Librarian of Congress and played a key role in the industrial revolution as a railroad magnate. He also founded companies with Thomas Edison to bring public transportation and electricity to towns and cities across the United States. To watch this video click here The Alders is located on Maple Street in Norfolk.

Norfolk is also known for its great unspoiled natural beauty. As the "icebox" of Connecticut, there is a good chance there will still be snow in Norfolk when it has melted in other parts of the state! Norfolk has three state parks and miles of cross-country skiing trails just waiting to be explored. If cross-country skiing is in your future, this video is not to be missed.

Join local resident, Star Child's to find out about Norfolk's many cross-country ski trails. Cross country skiing is a wonderful winter sport for the entire family that wants to enjoy the fresh Norfolk air. Star offers some tips on how to get the most out of cross-country skiing and shares some of the best trails in Norfolk, including the highly recommended Landtrust Trails. To watch the video for an inside peek of where and how to cross-country ski in  Norfolk click Best of all, there are links to maps of all the trails mentioned in this video - so hit the trail and enjoy!

Doug McDevitte Photo

The white on white textures of winter photography can be tricky. If you are looking for an evocative place to sharpen your winter photography skills watch this video then head to Norfolk, it is a paradise for photographers. Ardent Norfolk photographers, Chris Keyes and Doug McDevitte offer tips and tricks for creating good winter images as well as sharing some of their favorite places to take photos in Norfolk in this helpful video. 

Photo: Chris Keyes @ Mountain Road

Some wonderful opportunities talked about and shown in this twelve-minute video include the Norfolk Green, Campbell Falls State Park, the Blackberry River, Haystack Mountain, Great Mountain Forest, and many others In addition to photography tips, the best things to wear in the snow and on the ice is also shared. To watch the video

Thursday, February 18, 2021

Sav R CT @ Jesse Camille's Restaurant in Naugatuck

For the past several years  the Naugatuck Historical Society hosts Savor CT, a wine, beer, spirit and food tasting. Due to the pandemic, we are unable to host the event. Every year restaurants graciously donate their food and time to our event. This year all February the Society wants to support them.

Jesse Camille's

Naugatuck Historical Society will feature different restaurants on different days, eat in or take out on those days. Email a photo of your receipt and be put in a raffle for a gift card from that restaurant and membership for the Society. Email your receipt to Winners will be contacted by email within three days from the specific event date.

The Station

This is not a fundraiser, just the Naugatuck Historical Society's way of local supporting local. Contact to be added to our list of featured restaurants. Look out for dates for Corner Tavern, Tucks Tavern, Station Restaurant, and Jesse Camille’s. And a special shopping event hosted by Fascia’s Chocolates!

Fascia's Chocolates

The following restaurant will be featured on the following dates: February 18, Jesse Camille’s RestaurantFebruary 22, The Station Restaurant, and February 23-27 - Fascia’s Chocolate Shopping, Code Fun$hopNHS021.

About the Naugatuck Historical Society
The Naugatuck Historical Society is an organization keeping the stories of Naugatuck alive and accessible to the public through exhibits, research, and presentations. We maintain and preserve collections for the purpose of inspiring a love of local history and contributing to civic pride.

Tuesday, February 16, 2021

In-Person Event @ Winter WIN - Skating Away & More!

The charming town of Norfolk located in the heart of the Litchfield Hills organizes a town-wide weekend celebration of art, music, and nature every August and February. Although most of the events being planned this year for the Winter Win are virtual, Mother Nature permitting, the Norfolk Volunteer Fire Department is hosting an in-person event on Saturday, February 20th from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. at the Town Skating Rink. Bring your skates and enjoy the fresh air and natural beauty of Norfolk while skating on this pond that is surrounded by the beautiful Litchfield Hills. There will be a bonfire going to keep skaters warm and even s'mores for that extra energy boost! WIN organizers ask that skaters wear masks while at the event and social distance in accordance with CDC protocols. If you can't make it on February 20th, no worries, the Fire Department maintains the rink through the winter season. 

After enjoying your time on the ice, take time to explore all that Norfolk has to offer. There are fabulous hiking trails at Haystack Mountain State Park and at Dennis Hill State Park. The views of the surrounding countryside are spectacular any time of year so don't forget your camera. Don't miss the Norfolk Village Green that is located at the junction of Rte. 44 and Rte. 272. Surrounding the green you will see the Stoeckel Estate, home of the Yale Summer School of Music, a Federal-style Congregational Church, a Romanesque styled Church, and the shingle style Norfolk Library that was built in 1888. At the southern tip of the Green is a memorial fountain designed by architect Stamford White. The On-Demand Video featuring an Architectural Tour of Norfolk with William Hosely, a prominent Connecticut Historian, and Preservationist is a fascinating introduction to the many treasured buildings in town. Watch it before visiting Norfolk to get the lay of the land. 

If in-person events aren't on your agenda, Winter WIN has a fantastic number of Live-Streamed and On-Demand videos that will be available to view beginning Saturday, February 20th. There are so many videos to choose from in five different categories including music, art, nature, fun for kids, and more! There is something to please every viewer on the list. 

Visit the studio of a costume designer and puppet maker or attend a workshop on winter photography. If you like music, there is plenty of it with everything from a classical Quartet to piano, drum, and guitar performances. If you like the great outdoors take a walk on the wild side with John Anderson or check out Norfolk's miles of pristine cross country ski trails with Star Childs. If the winter night sky is of interest don't miss the video with the astronomer, Mathew Moore Johnson. 

If you want to try something new to eat, check out the Spanish cooking class with Martina Gago from Santiago de Compostela. Viewers will learn how to make Tortillas de Patatas, one of the signature dishes of Spanish cuisine made with eggs, potatoes, and onions. This tasty dish can be served hot or at room temperature as tapas. 

Curling has a long and rich history that is thought to have originated in Scotland in the 16th century. In Norfolk curling has been alive and well since 1956. The On-Demand video shows the camaraderie among the players as well as how the club makes ice! 

Animal lovers will enjoy the On- Demand videos by Lost Ruby, Husky Meadows, and Broad Field Farms because they give viewers an inside peek of what life is like on a farm in the winter! 

The length of each video and a short description is included on the website. For complete information visit The winter weekend videos are slated to go live on February 20. In the meantime to help you pass the weary winter days, the videos from the 2020 Summer WIN are still available to watch on the website. 

 About Weekend in Norfolk 

Now in its sixth year, the all-volunteer WIN Committee organizes two town-wide events annually: the Summer WIN and the Winter WIN. Norfolk’s town officials, the Economic Development Commission, and a multitude of local organizations, institutions, and individuals support these two town-wide festivals.

Monday, February 15, 2021

George Washington slept in many places, but where did George Washington's horses sleep?

George Washington's horses slept in Wadsworth Stable in Hartford, the capital city of Connecticut! This stable was originally located in downtown Hartford, built by the Rev. Daniel Wadsworth on his estate in 1730. His son, Col. Jeremiah Wadsworth, served as Commissary General for the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War. 

On September 20, 1780, Wadsworth hosted the first meeting between Washington and Rochambeau at his Hartford mansion. During this meeting, Washington's horses were housed in the Wadsworth Stable. Perhaps Washington's faithful horses Nelson or Blueskin were fed and watered there! 

In 1801, the stable was razed as a firebreak. It was then rebuilt in the Palladian style to complement the Wadsworth mansion. 

In 1950, the stable was scheduled for demolition.  Katherine Seymour Day formed The Friends of Hartford and raised enough money to relocate the stable.  In 1954, the Connecticut Daughters of the American Revolution agreed to assume ownership of the stable.  The building was dismantled, moved to Lebanon, and reassembled in its current location.  The stable is now home to various farm tools, ironware, and numerous antique wagons including a fully restored 200 year old enclosed sleigh.  The sleigh was given to the Oliver Ellsworth Homestead by the Wadsworth Chapter of the CTDAR in 1906 and was moved to its new home in the Wadsworth Stable in 2008.

Friday, February 12, 2021

How to Celebrate Mardi Gras @ Home

 Mardi Gras is a splendid celebration -- it is a kaleidoscope of color, music, revelry, and joy. It is one of the few regional festivals that have spread across the country. It is a festival that says - catch the gold beads, dress up in outrageous costumes, dance, drink, and be merry! It is a festival that says, tomorrow we shall be virtuous, but today, we party! Mardi Gras is the French word for Fat Tuesday and is celebrated in towns along the Gulf Coast including Louisiana, Alabama, and Mississippi. Most of us think of New Orleans, known affectionately as NOLA by the locals as Mardi Gras party central. 

The History

Historians have traced the origin of Mardi Gras to Medieval Europe. It is thought to have originated in Rome and Venice in the 17th and 18th centuries. Eventually, this pre-Lentian celebration moved to France and from there it moved to Louisana. The first Mardi Gras celebration was held in 1703 in the tiny settlement of Fort Lous de la Mobile, which is now Mobile, Alabama. New Orleans was founded in 1718 and the first Mardi Gras was celebrated there in the 1730s. Louisiana's governor, the Marquis de Vaudreuil, established elegant society balls which became the model for the New Orleans Mardi Gras balls of today. By the late 1830s, New Orleans held street processions of markers with carriages and horseback riders to celebrate Mardi Gras. 

By 1856, dazzling gaslight torches or "flambeaux," floats and a masked ball was added to the festivities. In honor of a visit of a Russian Grand Duke, a parade was started in 1872 and is one of the most popular spectacles of the celebration today. The colors of Mardi Gras are purple, green, and gold and were selected to honor the visiting Grand Duke's imperial house colors. These royal colors are symbolic; purple stands for justice, gold for power, and green for faith.

The floats, that are the centerpiece of today's parades are financed by private social clubs known as Krewes that work year-round to get them ready. By law, all riders on the floats must wear masks and on Fat Tuesday, decorative carnival masks are legal for everyone else. Many people get into the spirit of the celebration by wearing elaborate costumes, wigs, and masks. The most delicious aspect of New Orleans' Madri Gras traditions is the King Cake which is only eaten at this time of year. 

How to Celebrate Mardi Gras @ Home

Even if you can't make it to NOLA this year, there is no reason why you can't celebrate Mardi Gras at home. This holiday isn't limited to just those folks that live in New Orleans, it is celebrated all over the world. It is easy to adopt some of the traditions of Mardi Gras no matter how far you are from New Orleans!  Here are our favorite ways to get into the spirit of this celebration.

Decorate Your House & Dress the Part

This is a great opportunity to brighten up a dreary February day and night! Decorate your house in gold, green and purple. For your dining table put on a green table cloth, use gold napkins and glittery gold placemats and plate chargers. Complete the look with purple confetti or beads around the placemats and glowing purple candles at the head and end of the table. For a centerpiece use an assortment of purple flowers wrapped in gold surrounded by colorful masks and glittering Mardi Gras beads. And, don't forget to dress the part by wearing something gold, green, and purple - the more glittery the better!

Pass Out Party Favors & Colorful Masks

Throws from the colorful floats of the Mardi Gras parade are one of the most beloved traditions. Head to the store and stock up on coins, beads, and other trinkets that you can give out to your friends and family. Make sure to have a selection of colorful masks on hand to liven things up. It is fun to look like you have just left the revelry of Bourbon Street with colorful beads and trinkets around your neck. After all, masks are such a big part of the festival it helps revelers get into the spirit of Mardi Gras - no matter where you are!

Mardi Gras for All Y'all 

A three-night signature celebration is being planned virtually in 2021, called Mardi Gras for All Y'all that is being presented by and Blain Kern's Mardi Gras World. This live streaming event will have appearances by Emeril Lagasse, Hoda Kotb, Preservation Jazz Band, Archie Manning, Marine Forces Reserve Band, Ashton Ramsey, and Jimmy Buffett. There will also be special guest performances by Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award Winners Leo Nocentelli and George Porter, Jr. For the full line-up click here.

The Music

Music inflames temperament and adds to the festivities of any Mardi Gras party at home. Everyone knows that food and music are the heart and soul of NOLA. Organized by the New Orleans Visitors and Convention Bureau, to tune into concerts that are live-streamed directly from the clubs of NOLA click here. You will find everything from steamy jazz and funky brass to soulful blues, honky-tonk piano, and much more.

Shaken, Stirred, and Savored!

If you like cocktails then you will feel right at home in New Orleans where vendors sell drinks of all manner outside and in. If you want to start your celebration off with a cocktail try the Sazerac, the cocktail most linked with New Orleans and, as of 2008, the official cocktail of the state of Louisana. It is named after the Sazerac de Forge et Fils brand of cognac brandy that is the original main ingredient.  Often described as a cousin of the Old Fashioned the Sazerac's secret ingredients, a dash of absinthe and bitters, makes this cocktail a strong aromatic drink that embodies the spirit of NOLA. For a recipe click here. Another popular drink is the sweet, red Hurricane, a rum-based drink served in a glass that resembles a hurricane lamp and embellished with a cherry and slice of orange. First served at Pat O'Brien's in the French Quarter in the 1940s, this drink remains one of the most popular today. For a recipe click here.

Cook Themed  Food or Order Out

Cook an inspired NOLA meal like po'boys or gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish etouffee, or red rice and beans. Perhaps the most iconic dish of New Orleans is gumbo, a thick seafood stew served over rice. The roots of this dish go back to its French and African heritage. There are a number of variations of gumbo and each one is delicious. For the recipe by late famed chef, Paul Prudhomme that is served at Mr. B's Bistro in the French quarter click here.  A trip to NOLA isn't complete without having sweet and creamy pralines. Aunt Sally's Creole Pralines have been around since the early 1900s and are still made the traditional way starting with Louisiana pecans. For a special surprise to add to your festivities order a Mardi Gras NOLA gift basket from Aunt Sally by clicking here.

Bake a King Cake 

The King Cake is only available during Mardi Gras. It is a circular cake that looks like a braided crown that is frosted with green, gold, and purple icing and sugar. The cake is made of rich brioche dough and can be filled with pralines, cinnamon, chocolate, or cream cheese. Basically, a King Cake is baked like your average bundt cake, except that buried inside the batter is a tiny, plastic baby figurine. There are two theories of why a plastic baby is baked into the cake. The first is that the baby is symbolic of the infant Jesus because of the religious connections of this holiday to King's Day. The second theory is that whoever had the piece of cake with the baby in it was crowned King or Queen of the Mardi Gras celebrations. Today, it is a symbol of good luck. 

For a King Cake recipe click here. If you don't want to make a King Cake from scratch you can order Mam Papaul's King Cake mix on Amazon that includes praline filling, colored sugar, and even a plastic baby! To order click here.

We hope that until you travel with us to NOLA and take our Mississippi River Cruise that these suggestions will make your Mardi Gras at home fun and's time to let the Good Times Roll!  For information on Tours of Distinction's Mississippi River Cruise that includes NOLA click here.

Thursday, February 11, 2021

Winter Weekend Walk - Lover's Leap

Since Valentine's Day is on Sunday, we decided to feature a romantic walk to Lover's Leap in New Milford. This scenic 160-acre park has a storied past as well as hiking trails, scenic vistas, and historic ruins.

Heading away from the parking lot, visitors will walk over the Berlin Iron Bridge, built-in 1895 that spans the Housatonic River. It is only one of five remaining bridges that span the river. This bridge is closed to auto traffic but can be enjoyed by hikers. The bridge provides scenic views of the Housatonic River.

Across the bridge, the Lovers Leap Trail heads southeast 1,200 feet to the rock formation that gives the park its name. From here, tradition has it, that the Pootatuck Indian Chief Waramaug’s daughter, Princess Lillinonah, fell in love with an Englishman. He left her with the intention of returning one day, but in her despair, she flung herself into the Housatonic River. As she plunged into the now buried "great falls" in her birch canoe, her lover having just returned dove in after her. Both drowned. The Chief himself died in 1735.

The path through the woods follows the Housatonic River to a lookout of Lake Lillinonah and the surrounding hills. The path is easy to walk on and shaded with oak trees.

The blue trail leads to the highest point of the area and hikers will traverse a bit of an incline. Along the way, hikers will pass the ruins of a castle and other overgrown foundations, and the tea house. The blue trail leads to a splendid scenic view of the Housatonic River and the rolling Litchfield Hills.  

For a map of the park click here. The park is located off Grove Street in New Milford. There is also a small parking area off of Town Farm Road.

This Valentine’s Day Take Your Romance to New Heights @ Salisbury Jumpfest, February 12, 13, 14

Coming up with something unusual and unforgettable for Valentine’s Day is never easy, regardless if you have been together for five years or five decades! This year, the 95th annual in-person Salisbury Jumpfest is taking place on Valentine’s Day Weekend, February 12, 13, and 14th making it perfect for people that love excitement, daredevils, amazing athletes, and the beauty of the great outdoors. 

Jumpfest promises to be the highlight of the 2021 Winter Season in Connecticut because it offers the rare opportunity to watch ski jumpers glide through the air – up close and personal. This is a sport that gets your heart pumping as you watch ski jumpers travel up to 200 feet through the air at more than fifty miles an hour! 

When it comes to celebrating Valentine’s Day, it is important to make the day extra special for your significant other, especially if you want to do something beyond a box of chocolates and flowers. Jumpfest is perfect for people looking for a fun, safe, and different way to spend the sweetest day of the year. Here are five tips on taking your romance to new heights at Jumpfest! 

Enjoy A Change of Scenery – Jumpfest is situated in the heart of the Litchfield Hills that gently rise into the Berkshires. This area is known worldwide for its’ natural beauty. If you are looking for a change of scenery and an escape from the confines of home or the office, this unspoiled landscape is ideal for a romantic getaway. It is so rewarding to be able to unplug and enjoy the landscape together! 

Warm Up to Winter – For extra cuddles, bring a cozy blanket and outdoor seating pads so you can snuggle up and watch the ski jumpers fly through the air. 

Don’t Forget the Hot Chocolate – Everyone knows that chocolate and Valentine’s Day go together. On your way to Jumpfest stop in at Milk House Chocolates in Goshen, the best chocolatier in Connecticut and pick up a selection of chocolates – they are the sweetest treat ever! Don’t forget to bring along a thermos of hot chocolate and your favorite snacks…like heart-shaped cookies and sandwiches! 

 Bring Your Cowbell – Choosing your favorite ski jumpers together and cheering them on by ringing your cowbell is a great way to bond and make memories. Draw a heart on your cowbell for luck! 

 Take a “Together” Selfie – Photos are the perfect way to make memories…and you will have tons of fun taking them. Photos taken at Jumpfest are especially meaningful because they are taken amid a magnificent landscape with the skiers gliding overhead. Photos that you will both treasure of this unique experience for years to come. 

Tickets and Regulations 

The Salisbury Winter Sports Association has initiated several changes in order to comply with all COVID-19 regulations to keep spectators and athletes safe. This is an outdoor event in a wide-open area. Attendance each day will be limited to the first 400 tickets sold. This number reflects 25% of the facility’s capacity as required by Connecticut regulations. Additional spectators will be admitted as people leave the venue. Tickets will be available at the gate and are $15 for adults on Saturday and Sunday, on Friday night there is no admission charge. Kids under 12 are free all three days. In compliance with CDC and State mandates six-foot social distancing should be adhered to and masks must be worn at all times throughout the facility. 

 The Jump Schedule 

There are only half a dozen ski jump facilities on the East Coast, with Satre Hill in Salisbury being the southernmost location. Some of the best athletes will be here competing in JumpFest, an event that has launched many Olympians including three of the four men that participated at Sochi. Friday, 

February 12, 2021 
JumpFest kicks off on Friday, February 12 at 6 p.m. with practice jumps. Target Jumping under the lights begins at 7 p.m. Two large bonfires and warm food and beverages will be available for purchase from a variety of food trucks. There is no admission charge on Friday night. 

Saturday, February 13, 2021 
On Saturday morning, February 13, things warm up with the strongest Junior Jumpers from Lake Placid, New York, and the Salisbury Winter Sports Association competing on 20 to 30-meter hills. The action kicks off at 9 a.m. with these youngsters showing off their strength, skill, and conditioning that makes them fly effortlessly through the air. Medals will be awarded on the hill. The real action of the day starts at 11 a.m. with warm-up jumps by the Development Team, composed of an elite group of jumpers from around the country. These competitors are the best of the best that have been in rigorous training at the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex, which was built for the 1980 Olympic Games in Lake Placid, New York. The competition begins at 1 p.m. This event is thrilling to watch as these expert flyers go from 0 to 50 miles an hour in seconds and seem to defy gravity with runs up to 70 plus meters. 

 Sunday, February 14, 2021 
he highly anticipated Eastern U.S. Ski Jumping Championships on Sunday, February 14th beginning with practice jumps that run from 11 a.m. through noon. The long-awaited annual competition starts at 1 pm. At this event, there are often Olympic hopefuls competing. These expert jumpers seem fearless as they display the tremendous coordination, skill, balance, and strength that it takes to soar so far and so high in the air and to land smoothly. If you want to find some of the bravest athletes in sports just stand at the bottom of a ski jump and watch them soar through the sky. It is exhilarating. Even the most sedentary spectators will appreciate the extraordinary coordination and skill required to make a jump! After all, most jumpers tell you that it is the closest you get to flying…without the wings or a parachute.  
About the Salisbury Winter Sports Association
 In the winter of 1926, John Satre a resident of Salisbury jumped off the roof of his shed wearing skis to show his friends and neighbors a sport he learned in his native homeland of Norway. Town residents were so amazed as they watched Satre soar through the air that they decided to build a proper ski run that summer, and form the Salisbury Winter Sports Association. The Association hosted the first ski jump competition in January 1927. JumpFest has become a highly anticipated event in Connecticut and throughout much of the East Coast.