Friday, November 27, 2015

Can you smell the gingerbread in Kent Connecticut's Litchfield Hills?

The sweet scents will tease your sense of smell as you enter the quaint village of Kent CT. The rolling pins are spinning and creative minds of all ages are working hard to create over 40 Gingerbread Houses. Ovens are filled to capacity and working overtime to get ready for the ANNUAL KENT GINGERBREAD FESTIVAL beginning on November 27 and running through December 24.

Gingerbread Houses of all shapes and sizes will be on display in many of Kent's beautifully decorated shop windows until December 24. As you approach Kent you will find yourself in what looks like a movie set of the perfect little New England town, twinkling lights will guide you through the unique one of a kind shops. What an enjoyable way to do your holiday shopping. 
Everyone is invited to follow the Gingerbread Walk through town to view imaginative and ingenious gingerbread delights. Visitors can enjoy the displays as they navigate the gingerbread map and solve the mysterious riddle the Ginger Girls have cooked up this year. At the end, we need you to vote for your favorite creations. Displays are guaranteed to delight all ages!
Should you be hungry after your Gingerbread  Walk there are many temptations that will lure you, from a chocolate shop and baked goods to delicious culinary delights in one of Kent's many restaurants & cafés. 
For more holiday information and the latest on Freddie visit

Thursday, November 26, 2015

Alpaca creations arrive at the Privet House in New Preston

The Privet House, a charming shop located on Rte. 45 in the center of New Preston, a bucolic village below Lake Waramaug is a wonderful emporium of home goods, antiques and curiosities.  Just in time for the holiday season, the Privet House has partnered with Alicia Adams Alpaca from November 20- January 3.   Alicia Adams Alpaca specializes in the production of alpaca wool ultimately woven or knitted into personal luxuries... from throws and blankets to capes and ponchos.

Alpaca is on the verge of being rediscovered as an under-the-radar luxurious alternative to cashmere. Due to its longer fibers, it is actually softer, lighter and warmer than cashmere, a commodity whose quality has declined with the price.

 In addition to throws, blankets and pillows, Alicia Adams Alpaca turns out accessories and clothing for men, women and children. All Alicia Adams Alpaca products are made in the United States and Peru, where the firm actively supports artisan families and their communities while preserving a pre-Incan tradition that worships alpaca wool as “the gold of the Andes”.

For the Privet House, it was an easy decision to feature this fabulous lifestyle brand that is dedicated to alpaca wool. Alicia Adams Alpaca is family-owned and operated and local to the Northeast.  Best of all, it is a proponent of artisans, that supports handmade products and goods as opposed to those that are mass produced. For more information on the Privet House visit their website.

For area event information on Litchfield Hills visit their website.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Great Trains Holiday Exhibit at the Wilton Historical Society

Black Friday’s Best Deal is Time with your Children and Grandchildren . . . Wilton’s favorite train exhibit and A Christmas Carol return for a day of family fun.  Great Trains Holiday Exhibit at the Wilton Historical Society opens Friday, November 27, 12-4  

The much anticipated Great Trains Holiday Exhibit: An Interactive Wonderland will open the day after Thanksgiving, Friday, November 27 from 12 - 4. Dressed for the holidays, the Society’s historic 18th and 19th century buildings are transformed into a train-lovers delight with eight different train layouts winding through tiny towns with many different kinds of buildings, tunnels, cable cars, and two working Ferris Wheels! New this year: a Wilton-themed HO layout; expanded “O” gauge layout; and a working Lego train set. The interactive display enchants visitors of all ages with lots of buttons to push and knowledgeable “train engineers” on hand to “talk trains”.   In a special train room for the youngest guests, there are buttons galore plus Thomas the Tank Engine and a Brio set for hands-on fun.

The Great Trains Holiday Exhibit will run from Friday, November 27, 2015 through Monday, January 18, 2016 on Thursdays – Saturdays, 10-4; Sundays 12-4; and Wednesdays by appointment. Admission is free for members of the Society, and $10 for non-member adults. Wilton Historical Society, 224 Danbury Road/Route 7, Wilton, CT 06897   More information at

To add to the holiday fun, A Christmas Carol One-Man Show by Dickens’ Descendant Gerald Charles Dickens will be performed  on Friday, November 27 at Wilton High School’s Clune Center at 7 p.m.   This heartwarming show-of-the-season is performed by Gerald Charles Dickens, the great-great grandson of literary master Charles Dickens. Gerald, an actor and producer hailing from Oxford, England, will be performing his captivating rendition of this timeless holiday classic. Presented at 7:00 pm, the event benefits the Wilton Historical Society. Admission is $15; tickets are available at

The Historical Christmas Barn is located in the historic Lambert House at 150 Danbury Road (corner of Route. 7 and Route 33), Wilton, Connecticut, and is open Monday – Saturday: 10 – 5 and Sunday 11-5.  For more holiday event information visit

Monday, November 23, 2015

Westport's Windows to the Past

Westport Historical Society will unveil an exhibit of photographs of historic Westport homes taken in the 1930's under the auspices of the federal Works Progress Administration.  All of the homes were at least 100 years old when photographed, making the exhibit a rare peek into the town's past. To show how the homes have changed, the WPA images will be displayed alongside photos taken today.

In all, the exhibit will include photographs of 131 dwellings. Some will be displayed in the Society's Betty R. & Ralph Sheffer Gallery and the Mollie Donovan Gallery. The remainder will be set aside in folders for visitors to look through. In addition, there will be booklets of historical information on the homes and their owners.
One of the sets of photos is of a house on Long Lots Road at the corner of Long Lots and North Avenue. Built in 1840, it was home to generations of Westport's Adams family, which traced its ancestry to a Greens Farms clergyman who met twice with George Washington during the Revolutionary War. The family tree also includes the founder of Adams Academy, which still stands on North Morningside Drive, the Sherwood triplets, clipper ship captains who plied the seven seas. More recently, this house was owned by Martha Stewart.
Window to Westport's Past and Present, runs through March 26, Mon-Fri, 10 am to 4pm, Saturday, Noon -4 pm, Westport Historical Society, 25 Avery Place, across from Town Hall. For more information about WHS: 203-222-1424.
For more area event information

Friday, November 20, 2015


As nostalgic as a Currier and Ives lithograph, so is the town of Kent, CT during the holidays. What better way to experience the town than to come to the 3rd Annual Kent Holiday Champagne Stroll, November 27 & 28, 5 – 8 pm.

Considered the benchmark for all holiday strolls, the town of Kent offers 30 shops serving 30 champagnes and bubblies, and offering 30 different promotions and sales. Kent has distinctive shops operated by the owners themselves. You can find everything from stylish clothing, teas and coffees, jewelry to cowboy boots. Many of the shops are featuring special sales and promotional events. R.T. Facts will be holding a drawing of items from their unique design line. Rolling River Antiques is 20% off storewide and Fitness Matters has a special price on their training sessions. And that’s just the beginning!

Strollers begin by visiting The Swift House, 12 Maple Street, to check in and purchase a champagne flute and map to use for the evening. The map divides the town into four zones. Visit at least three businesses in each zone, get your map stamped and your name will be entered into the drawing for one of three great bottles of champagnes: a Dom Perignon 2004 valued at over $200, a Tattinger Brut Française and a Roederer “Estate” vintage. At the end of the evening, strollers are invited to stay and enjoy dinner at one of the many great  restaurants in this charming Connecticut town.

Interested parties can register on-line at The ticket price is $10 for advanced registration. If you purchase your ticket at the door the price is $12. For more information, contact the Kent Chamber of Commerce, 860-592-0061 or Anne McAndrew, 860-927-3377.

For more holiday event information

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Start a new Thanksgiving Tradition at Mine Hill Preserve in Roxbury

In what has become a Thanksgiving weekend tradition, the Roxbury Land Trust is offering a self-guiding hike of its Mine Hill Preserve on Saturday, November 28 from noon to 2:00 p.m.

The 360-acre nature preserve, which is enrolled on the National Register of Historic Places, is the site of a 19th century iron-making complex and nearly four miles of hiking trails that offer glimpses of Roxbury’s industrial heritage and breathtaking natural beauty.  Nine interpretive signs installed by the Roxbury Land Trust tell the story of the rise and fall of the industrial venture. 

Land Trust historian David Beglan will be on hand to talk about mining in the 1800s, weather permitting, and maps and an educational brochure about Mine Hill will be available.
The self-guiding signs weave together renderings of what Mine Hill looked like during its heyday from 1865 to 1872; a step-by-step description of how the iron was mined and processed from ore to steel; a detailed explanation of how the blast furnace worked; and a diagram of the labyrinth of tunnels that lie beneath Mine Hill.
The signs also explain how granite quarries have prospered at the site for nearly two centuries and now the light gray Roxbury stone was prized for building churches, bridges and fine homes from New York City to New Britain.  In addition, the signs paint a vivid picture of Chalybes, the “boom town” at the base of Mine Hill that was once home to more than a dozen buildings, a Shepaug Valley Railroad station and hundreds of immigrant workers. 
Hikers should allow at least two hours to complete the entire loop, but much shorter walks are possible to see the roasting ovens and blast furnace, tunnel openings and mine shafts. Sturdy shoes are recommended. 
To reach the Mine Hill Preserve, follow Route 67 north from the center of Roxbury for 2.1 miles until it crosses over the Shepaug River.  Turn right onto Mine Hill Road and proceed 0.3 miles up the hill to the parking lot on the right. 

For more holiday event information

About the Roxbury Land Trust

The Roxbury Land Trust has preserved a total of 3,630 acres of farmland, woodlands, wildlife habitats, watercourses, wetlands and open space in Roxbury and neighboring communities since it was established 45 years ago. The non-profit organization, which is governed by a volunteer board of directors, is supported by membership dues and charitable contributions. The Land Trust does not receive annual operating support from the town, the state or the federal government. The Roxbury Land Trust maintains 32 preserves with 30 miles of hiking trails and three active farms, as well as offers a wide range of educational programs.  For more information, visit or call 860-350-4148.

Connecticut Craft Beer in Litchfield Hills and Fairfield County

The Litchfield History Museum is hosting a lecture on the history of Connecticut beer making on November 19 at 7 p.m. at the Litchfield History Museum located on the corner of Rte. 63 south and West Street in Litchfield. 

The history of the frothy beverage in Connecticut dates back to early colonists, who used it to quench their thirst in the absence of clean drinking water. Over the next two centuries,the number of breweries rose and then declined, especially after Prohibition.

It was not until the 1980s that home brewers brought this vital Nutmeg State tradition back to life. Join Will Siss, author and Connecticut Beer Snob, as he discusses his new book about the history of brewing in the Nutmeg State.

The craft beer craze sweeping the country has taken firm hold in Western Connecticut, where half a dozen micro breweries offer unique tastes on tap as well as the chance to sample and tour their one-of-a-kind facilities. Beer aficionados will discover many creative new combinations as young brewers experiment with intriguing ingredients.

Some of these beer makers have lost no time being recognized. Two Roads Brewing Company in Stratford was included in Boston Magazine’s “21 Top Breweries in New England and” O.E.C. Brewing in Oxford was Connecticut Magazine’s 2015 pick as best in the state.

Meeting the brewers is part of the fun of a visit as their backgrounds and goals are as unique as their products. Contact each property for current tasting and tour times.

Oxford Scholars
OEC stands for the Latin phrase, Orinen Ecentrici Coctores, loosely translated as The Eccentric Brewers  Influenced by the lost brewing traditions of Northern Germany and Belgium, this Oxford brewery does not filter or pasteurize any of their ales. The award-winning results include a number of sour beers and unusual brews such as Albus, a historic interpretation of a white ale and Arcanum, modeled after an extinct German style ale. 203-502-9768,

Black Hog Brewery, another Oxford operation, just opened for business in July, 2014 but their popular brews can already be found in neighboring Rhode Island and New York... Veteran Brewmaster Tyler Jones honed his skills at Smuttynose and the Portsmouth Brewery in New Hampshire and Mercury Brewing in Ipswich, Massachusetts.
Beer choices include. Ginga’ Ninja, a Red India Pale Ale brewed with ginger; Granola Brown Ale, brewed with oatmeal; S.W.A.G., a Summer Wheat Ale made with grapefruit peel; and Nitro Coffee Milk Stout. 203-262-6075,

Sending a message

Young proprietors who have realized a dream with their breweries hope to inspire others to their own fulfillment.  Conor Horrigan, founder of Stamford’s Half Full Brewery is a former Wall Street executive who put in four years of study and fund raising before the brewery’s first beers were poured on August 7, 2012. The name tells everyone his philosophy that a positive outlook can make for a more rewarding life.

Half Full produces a variety of ales including seasonal flavors such as pumpkin ale for fall and Winter White., 203-658-3631,

“Get Lit” the slogan at Firefly Hollow Brewing in Bristol refers to ideas not imbibing. The owners say. “We are a conglomerate of creative minds who believe we can make the world a better place by providing an atmosphere and a product conducive to creative expression.” Firefly is in the midst of an expansion that will double its production. Among its popular brews on tap are Toadstool Oat Stout-, Moonrise Amber and Penumbra Cream Ale., 860-845-8977,

Luck of the Irish
Shebeen Brewing in Wolcott takes its playful name from an Irish Gaelic word meaning “illegal brewhouse. “  Rich Visco the co-founder hails from Derry, Northern Ireland. The mural in the Tasting Room depicts his drinking adventures in Galway. Along with its signature Irish Pale Ale, the brewery creates unusual combinations like their Cannoli Beer and CucumberWasabi along with seasonals such as Pumpkin Scotch and Concord Grape Saison., 203-514-2336.

From Pabst to Pints

Brad Hittle, a former Pabst marketing executive, and brew master Phil Markowski head the team of Stratford’s award-winning Two Roads Brewery. Founded in 2012, Two Roads is known for its wide range and creative names such as Road 2 Ruin, “a temptingly hoppy ale,” and Unorthodox, a Russian Imperial stout aged in Aquavit barrels. The experimental Road Less Traveled Series includes Philsamic, a sour beer made with aged balsamic vinegar. 203-335-2010.

Down on the Farm
Kent Falls Brewing Company, one of the newer operations, is one of the few farm-based breweries.  The owners are producing farmhouse ale in Kent by growing their own hops, drawing water from their own well and sourcing local grains and ingredients. They plan to open their tasting room in the spring of 2016. 860-398-9645,

For information about lodging, dining and other 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 throughout Fairfield County and the Litchfield Hills of Western Connecticut, contact the Western Connecticut Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, (860) 567-4506, or visit their web site at