Thursday, February 26, 2015

Maple Sugaring in Litchfield Hills and Fairfield County

It may seem as though this cold, snowy winter will never end, but take heart. The plumes of smoke and sweet scents of maple syrup in the making are the first hopeful signs that spring is on the way. In Western Connecticut, where sugar maple trees are abundant, visitors are invited to see the fascinating process from taps to tastes..
 More than a dozen sugar houses In Fairfield County and the Litchfield Hills welcome visitors during peak syrup season in March. .From family farms to nature centers to museums on wooded grounds, guests can see how the trees are tapped and buckets hung to collect the sap, then watch in the sugar house as big bubbling kettles of thin sap boil down to thick fragrant syrup. And, of course, visitors get to sample the delicious results. Many operations are open every weekend, while some have special maple celebrations.

Maple festivals will take place on March 7 and 8 at the Stamford Museum and on March 14 at the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington and the South Wind Farm in East Hartland.  March 21 is the gala date at the New Canaan Nature Center and the Sharon Audubon Center.

Nights below freezing and warmer days are required for the sap to run so dates for syrup making can vary.  A call ahead is essential before visiting.

Boil Down Fridays featuring demonstrations at the Sugar Shack continue at the New Canaan Nature Center from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. until the end of March On Friday, March 6 a special Boil Down Under the Stars will add family games and folklore stories around the campfire to the agenda. The annual Syrup Saturday and Pancake Brunch on March 21 from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. features flapjack feasts and a family Lumberjack Challenge with competitions at log heaving and firewood stacking

The annual Maple Sugar Festival at the Stamford Museum is set for March 7 and 8 at the little red Sugar House on the museum’s Heckscher Farm. Family activities include a scavenger hunt, face painting and maple-themed crafts. Saturday’s Teen Chef Challenge from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. features dishes using maple syrup and local syrup is the star at Sunday’s pancake brunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

At Warrups Farm in Redding, visitors are welcome the first three weekends in March from noon to 5 watch the whole process in the log cabin sugar house, and to take a taste of the sap direct from the trees as well as the new syrup.


The handsome, newly expanded showroom at Lamothe’s Sugar House in Burlington holds sugar-making demonstrations every March weekend.  Hours are 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturdays and noon to 5 p.m. Sundays. This family-owned operation, begun as a hobby, has grown to over 4500 taps and year-round showroom. Visitors enjoy complimentary maple coffee or hot chocolate.

All the family is invited to the 9th annual Maple Festival at Sweet Wind Farm in East Hartford from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m... Besides syrup making, guests will enjoy sugar candy making demonstration, a sugar-on-snow eat, tours, videos, tree tapping demonstration, kids’ activities and live music. Visitors are also welcome on any Saturday in March when the sugarhouse is in

The Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington will have a different take on sugaring at its annual festival on March 14th.  Demonstrations will show how local Native Americans traditionally made maple syrup and its importance to their culture and pancakes made by IAIS staff will served with local maple syrup

The Sharon Audubon Society also features a re-creation of Native American and early colonial sugaring methods along with its modern sugarhouse. The annual Maplefest will take place on Saturday, March 21 with guided 45 minute tours, but the public is welcome to drop in any March weekend if the sap is flowing. Be sure to call ahead.
 One of the largest and most unique operations is the Great Brook Sugar House on the Sullivan Farm in New Milford. This program sponsored by the New Milford Youth Agency uses high school and college students to help tap over 1600 trees on property donated by local residents. The young syrup makers also aid in collecting the sap and overseeing the boiling over a traditional wood-fired evaporator. Visitors are welcome to stop by any day that steam can be seen floating up from the sugar house. 860-354-0047
Another busy sugaring spot is the Flanders Nature Center Sugar House at Van Vleck Farm Sanctuary in Woodbury.  Taps already are in place at over 300 trees at the Nature Center and around town, and the boiling down from sap to syrup can be seen on Saturday and Sundays, March 7,8,14,15,21 and 22 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Several other family farms also welcome visitors to their sugar housses, but an advance appointment is necessary. These include: Brookside Farm, Litchfield, 860-567-3805, Brothers and Sons Sugarhouse, Torrington, 860-489-2719; Hilljack Sugarshack, Litchfield, 860-482-6052; Kasulaiis Farm and Sugarhouse, Barkhamsted, 860-379-8787; West Hill Sugarhouse, New Hartford, 860-379-9672 and Woodbury Sugarshed, Woodbury, 203-263-4550

For information on maple syrup making and a guide to all Connecticut sugar houses, see For information on other spring activities in the area and a free copy of Unwind, a full-color, 152-page booklet detailing what to do and see, and where to stay, shop and dine in the Litchfield Hills and Fairfield County in Western Connecticut, contact the Western Connecticut Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, (860) 567-4506, or visit their web site at

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Collections, Community & Conversation...Continued at the Danbury Museum and Historical Society

The Danbury Museum & Historical Society launched their latest exhibit, "Collections, Community, & Conversation...Continued this winter. 

The cases in Huntington Hall, the museum exhibit space, are filled with a wealth of interesting objects gleaned from the collections of individuals from The Greater Danbury area. On display is an eclectic mix of objects including vintage bottle openers, robots, custard cups, Disney memorabilia, militaria, pottery, bells, buttons, kites and much more.
The exhibit will be open to the public Wednesday through Friday from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and Saturdays from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. Collections will be on display through March 21, 2015.
In addition, the museum will be hosting several free documentary film programs on the subject of craft, collecting and object appraisal throughout the exhibit run. A schedule of events and additional information will be available on the museum website
About the DMHSA:
The Danbury Museum & Historical Society was formed in 1947 to acquire, preserve, exhibit and interpret New England's past; focusing particularly on the heritage of Danbury. Situated in downtown Danbury, the museum preserves the John and Mary Rider House (c.1785), the Dodd Hat Shop (c. 1790), the Marian Anderson Studio and the Charles Ives Birthplace. Huntington Hall, a modern exhibit building houses the museum offices and research library.
For more event information

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Square One Theatre Company's 25th ANNIVERSARY SEASON Continues With GOOD PEOPLE

Square One Theatre Company, in Stratford, Connecticut, continues its 25th Anniversary Season with David Lindsay-Abaire’s Good People, opening Friday, March 6 and continuing Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through March 21, 2015.

With his signature humor, David Lindsay-Abaire, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright (Rabbit Hole), has set his new play in South Boston’s Lower End and in Chestnut Hill, an affluent Boston suburb. A former ‘Southie’ himself, the playwright explores the struggles, shifting loyalties and unshakeable hopes that come with having next to nothing in America. The audience meets Margaret Walsh, a down-on-her-luck 50-year-old woman, who grew up on the rough and tumble south end of Boston and is facing eviction and scrambling to catch a break. When a friend from the old neighborhood moves back to town, he just night be her last chance. Margaret perseveres and eventually her life begins to look a bit brighter.

The cast of Good People includes Square One Subscriber Award-Winners Janet Rathert (New Canaan), Danielle Sultini (Milford), Alice McMahon (Ridgefield) and Brian Michael Riley (Milford) along with Darius James Copland (Pelham, NY) and Jessica Myers (New Haven) making their Square One debuts.

Good People is directed by Stratford’s Tom Holehan, who is also the theatre and film critic for Elm City Newspapers, a co-founder of the Connecticut Critics Circle and resident critic for WPKN-FM’s State of the ARTS.

David Lindsay-Abaire grew up in the rough South Boston neighborhood. His first Off-Broadway hit was Fuddy Meers followed by Wonder of the World, Kimberly Akimbo and Rabbit Hole, for which he won the Pulitzer Prize. His film writing credits include “Robots,” “Inkheart,” the book for High Fidelity as well as the book and lyrics for Shrek the Musical.
Performances of GOOD PEOPLE are :
Friday, March 6 (2015) at 8pm
Saturday, March 7 at 8pm
Sunday, March 8 at 2pm (matinee) 
Friday, March 13 at 8pm
Saturday, March 14 at 8pm
Sunday, March 15 at 2pm (matinee) 
Friday, March 20 at 8pm
Saturday, March 21 at 4pm ( twilight matinee)
Saturday, March 21 at 8pm
For matinees performances (Sundays, March 8 & 15 at 2pm; Saturday, March 21 at 4pm), Tammy Trojanowski with Stratford Community Services will join the cast for post performances discussions with the audience.

All performances are on the stage of the Stratford Theatre2422 Main Street in Stratford, Connecticut, located off I-95 Exit 32 (northbound and southbound) in Stratford Center.
Tickets are:
$20 for adult single tickets
$19 for senior citizens students
Single tickets may be purchased :
By phone : Box Office at 203.375.8778(24/7)
In person : at box office 60 minutes prior to each performance
By mail : self-addressed, stamped envelope & check payable to Square One Theatre sent to Administrative Office; 656 Longbrook Avenue, Stratford, Ct 06614-5117
Square One Theatre’s 25th Anniversary Season also includes The Winslow Boy (May 15 – 302015).

The Stratford Theatre is wheelchair accessible and also offers its patrons hearing-assisted listening devices as needed. Please inform the box office of any special needs when reserving tickets.
For more information and up-to-date news about suggested parking, the theatre, the plays, the actors and seating chart visit
For further information call the theatre box office at 203.375.8778.

Monday, February 23, 2015

New at the Beardsley Zoo this Winter

The Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport Connecticut has new guests this winter.  The rare and beautiful Amur leopards are now on exhibit.  The pair of Amur leopards we received from the Copenhagen Zoo are now on exhibit. The male can be seen quite often perched on the rock in front of the exhibit. Both are beautiful cats. They hope to receive a breeding recommendation for this endangered species. To make room for this pair, Zoo staff sent their  female Amur leopard, Sofiya, to the Maryland Zoo.

The new year is bringing new animals to the Zoo. While many of them still need to go through their quarantine procedures or wait for their new exhibits to be completed, this year you will enjoy seeing a male Amur tiger from the Indianapolis Zoo, a male Pygmy marmoset from Fort Wayne Children's Zoo and a female from Brevard Zoo, a male and female red wolf pair from the Wolf Center, three male vicuna from the Berlin Zoo,and a male and a female giant anteater from Dreher Park Zoo. Beardsley Zoo has also recently received two yellow-spotted turtles, a purple gallinule, three black-bellied whistling ducks and three giant river turtles.

As part of these moves, many made as part of accredited breeding programs for endangered and threatened species, the Zoo removed a male Amur tiger, two male and three female river otters, one male common marmoset, one male pygmy marmoset, and two male and three female red wolves.

This may seem like a lot, but they tend to relocate animals during cooler months when they will be most comfortable, so a lot of movement happens at once.

For more information about the Beardsley Zoo visit and for area information