Can you smell the gingerbread in Kent?

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 3rd ANNUAL KENT GINGERBREAD FESTIVAL through Jan. 5, 2015.

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Gingerbread Houses of all shapes and sizes will be on display in over 40 beautifully decorated shop windows until the first week in January. 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. Add to that, a little Naughty Gingerbread Man named FREDDIE and you have the recipe for the most exciting Holiday Destination in Connecticut.

FREDDIE and his crew of ten Gingerbread Bad Boys will be hiding out in the shop windows amongst the Gingerbread Houses. So bring the family and friends and put on your detective hats and gumshoes. Vote for your favorite Window Display and House and you can also enter for free to win a great prize. Download a Gingerbread Manhunt Walking Map to find FREDDIE and his girlfriend GINGER, the cute, hot & spicy Gingerbread Girl he rescued from the bakery. Even though FREDDIE has been NAUGHTY, while you are in Kent, you can complete your NICE shopping list, away from the crowded malls & parking lots. Here you will find smiling faces, and even get your gifts wrapped for free in most shops.

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Should you be hungry after your Gingerbread Manhunt 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 twelve restaurants & cafés. Join in the “Find Freddie Fun” and make Kent CT your Annual Holiday Destination.

For more holiday information and the latest on Freddie visit www.kentct.com and for holiday events in Litchfield Hills www.litchfieldhills.com

‘Let’s Play Shakespeare’ free in Rowayton Dec. 12

Shakespeare on the Sound reaches down through the centuries to introduce the enduring and timeless themes of The Bard in premiering the 2015 version of “Let’s Play Shakespeare” Dec. 12 (Friday) at 3:30 p.m. in the Moose Room of the Rowayton Community Center on 33 Highland Avenue.

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The 50-minute production—to be followed by a question-and-answer opportunity—is an original and interactive theatrical work designed to give children from kindergarten to grade five an insight into Shakespeare– but appealing to all ages. Admission is free, donations optional.
The sweep of Shakespeare’s lyrical scythe from comedy to tragedy unfolds onstage as the actors argue over which passages they should perform—and who gets the biggest part– from a palate that shuffles iconic scenes from “Macbeth,” “Henry V,” “Much Ado About Nothing,” “As You Like It” and “A Midsummer Night’s Dream.

The performers work with props extracted from a trunk they bring onstage with them. All three are New York-based professionals who have all appeared in previous outdoor productions of Shakespeare on the Sound in Rowayton’s Pinkney Park. They are Katie Wieland, Matthew Lynch and Daniel Levitt.

The playwrights, Kelly and Bryan, created an innovative format where youngsters from the audience are invited on-stage to warm up with the actors and to act in the performance, becoming, for example, part of Henry V’s army. The play with its interactive dimension is also portable and available for presentation in schools and libraries.

For more information visit http://www.shakespareonthesound.org For area information www.visitfairfieldcountyct.com

Holiday House Tours in Connecticut

It happens only once a year. For the first two weeks in December, some of the finest private homes in Fairfield County and the Litchfield Hills will invite visitors in for one-day only during house tours to benefit local organizations. Tours in the towns of Woodbury, Westport and Greenwich will offer a rare chance to see exceptional residences dressed in their holiday best.

A 20th ANNIVERSARY IN WOODBURY

One of the most popular tours will mark its 20th anniversary when the Woodbury Holiday House Tour takes place on December 13 from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. in the Litchfield Hills to benefit the Woman’s Club of Woodbury. On the day of the tour, tickets will be available for $30 starting at 9 a.m. at the Senior and Community Center, 265 Main Street South.

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Six special homes chosen for this landmark year range from a 14-year-old contemporary with a fabulous kitchen to an antique-filled 250 year-old home including an artist’s studio. A restored 200-year-old schoolhouse will be seen on the spacious grounds of an elegant Colonial reproduction home, and a handsome mid-20th century Colonial features the studio of its sculptor-owner. See a complete list and details at www.womansclubofwoodbury.org

“ROOMS WITH A VIEW” IN WESTPORT

Interior designers, artists and architects are the owners of this year’s five homes in the annual Westport House Tour on December 7 to benefit the Westport Historical Society They include a Nantucket-style cottage at Compo Beach with a roof-top deck overlooking the water, and a hilltop chateau with sweeping vistas. Three of the houses are owned by interior designers, providing the chance to see how professionals decorate for the Christmas and Hanukkah seasons. A pianist will play at one of the homes, and several will be serving hot cider, hot chocolate, and holiday sweets.

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Following the tour a Twilight Soiree hosted by the Lillian August Store in Norwalk from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. will feature wine, hors d’oeuvres and a silent auction for prizes such as an America’s Cup Cruise, getaways to a Cape Cod vacation home and a mountain ski house, and a painting by Weston artist Kerri Rosenthal, whose home and studio are part of the tour. For more information, see http://westporthistory.org.

SHOWPLACES OPEN DOORS IN GREENWICH

One tour that always attracts visitors is The Antiquarius House Tour in Greenwich, a Fairfield County town known for its lavish residences. This year’s tour on Wednesday, December 10 will showcase five spectacular homes ranging in location from the shores of Long Island Sound to estates in the wooded backcountry. What all have in common is their always-spectacular holiday finery.

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The tour is part of a weeklong Antiquarius event to benefit the Greenwich Historical Society that includes the annual Greenwich Winter Antiques Show on Saturday and Sunday, December 6 and 7 at the Eastern Greenwich Civic Center. For full schedules, see http://www.hstg.org/antiquarius.

For more information about house tours 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, contact the Western Connecticut Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, (860) 567-4506, or visit their web site at www.visitwesternct.com.

Clare Romano & John Ross: 70 Years of Printmaking at Center for Contemporary Printmaking

The fall exhibition, featuring a sampling from the extensive collection of original prints by Clare Romano and John Ross, at The Center for Contemporary Printmaking (CCP), 299 West Ave., in Mathews Park, Norwalk, runs through Sunday, December 14, 2014.
Gallery visitors have the opportunity to view original prints made by these preeminent printmaking artists, educators, and authors—husband and wife, each with their own acclaimed individual careers—who have made the fine art of printmaking, with a particular emphasis on the art of the collagraph, their life’s work.

John Ross, "Duomo"

John Ross, “Duomo”

Clare Romano and John Ross had a major influence on the art printmaking and printmaking students. For many, their text, “The Complete Printmaker”, represented the next wave in printmaking. The exhibition showcases landscapes and cityscapes, lithographs, etchings, silkscreens, woodcuts, letterpress and, of course, collagraphs. Visitors will discover novel and innovative images using silk aquatint, asymmetrically cut plates, and the combination of intaglio and relief on the same plate.

The Center has scheduled an Artists Talk and Book Signing with John and Tim Ross for December 10 from 7 to 8:30 pm. Clare Romano and John Ross wrote and illustrated a number of books together, the first entitled Manhattan Island (1957) and the most important publication, The Complete Printmaker, originally published in 1972 is now in its second edition with Artist/Printmaker and Educator Tim Ross joining his parents as co-author. The Complete Printmaker is still used as a printmaking text in college classrooms today.

Clare Romano, "Silver Canyon"

Clare Romano, “Silver Canyon”

Normal hours are Tuesday through Sunday 9 am to 5 pm. The gallery is closed on Columbus Day, Veterans Day, and over the Thanksgiving Day weekend. Admission is free, and the gallery is handicapped accessible. For more information visit http://www.contemprints.org.

Feed and Count the Birds in Dec. at Sharon Audubon

Do you enjoy watching the birds at your feeders but don’t know what types of birds they are? Do you like to feed the birds, but are not sure which types of seed to offer or what kind of bird feeder to fill? Harlan will help you to understand which types of seeds most birds prefer and why, which feeders work best for your bird feeding set up, and how to identify some of the common species visiting your feeder this winter. All bird seed and bird feeders will be on sale as part of the Mega-Nature Store Sale this day, so you can leave the Center knowledgeable, prepared and stocked up for the winter bird feeding season!

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The Audubon Sharon Nature Store Sale takes place through December 13th. During the sale, you’ll find great discounts on various types of bird feeders, bird seed (including their very own Northwest Corner Blend,) t-shirts, toys, kids’ books, field guides, knick-knacks, coffee, ornaments, bird baths and so much more! Everything in our store will be on sale during the Mega-Sale on Dec. 6th and 7th!

On December 14, the Sharon Audubon is sponsoring an all day event called Trixie Strauss Christmas Bird Count that is free and open to the public. Audubon Sharon will once again be taking part in this count and they love to have people join them!

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The count area is a 15 mile circle with its center at Hotchkiss School, and includes good birding areas in Sharon, Salisbury, Amenia and Northeast. Teams from all over the state and country take part in Christmas Bird Count. The numbers are compiled and reported to help better understand flock formation and migrations.

For more information and for store hours, contact the Audubon Center at (860) 364-0520 or www.sharon.audubon.org. For holiday event information www.litchfieldhills.com

Holidays with the Bridgeport Symphony

The Bridgeport Symphony Orchestra has an exciting holiday season planned and tickets are selling fast. Once again this year, the orchestra is returning to Saturday night concerts beginning at 8 p.m. with a special optional 7:00 PM pre-concert open to all ticket buyers. Pre-concert attendees will hear the stories and letters that have inspired the repertoire for each concert by invited narrators. Pre-concert events also allow participants closer interactions with conductors, soloists and other musicians as well as the visuals that enhance each live performance.

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On November 15 at 8 p.m. the concert called Dream of Dances will feature György Ligeti – Old Hungarian Dances, Igor Stravinsky – Suite from Pulcinella, Ludwig Beethoven – Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Opus 92. The conductor, Jacomo Rafael Bairos has been described as “expressive and passionate” [Malaysian Straits Times], and lauded by the Leipziger Volkszeitung as an “impressive conductor… who is elegantly demanding”, Mr. Bairos enjoys an emerging career as an imaginative and inclusive conductor, dedicated collaborator and educator, and ardent champion of living American composers.

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On December 6 the orchestra has planned a special holiday concert that will also begin at 8 p.m. whose theme is A Folk Christmas. This concert will feature the work of Peter Ilich Tchaikovsky – Serenade, opus 48; Antonio Vivaldi – from The Four Seasons; Carols and folk songs and the conductor is Eric Jacobsen. This promises to be a night of holiday cheer!

In addition, the holiday concert will highlight a performance by the Fairfield County Children’s Choir conducted by Jon Noyes, Musical Director. The Fairfield County Children’s Choir (FCCC) is a community-based choral program made up of 300 children in grades four through twelve from communities in and around Fairfield County, Connecticut. The FCCC was founded in 1995 to provide children the opportunity to participate in a musical experience which is challenging, rewarding and enjoyable. The FCCC has performed throughout New England as well as in New York, Philadelphia, Washington DC, Maryland, New Orleans, San Francisco, Oakland, Hawaii, Canada, England, Ireland, Austria and the Czech Republic. The group has shared the stage with such artists as Renee Fleming, Charles Strouse, Stephen Schwartz, Lawrence Gilgore, Sam Waterston, Christopher Plummer, Nick Page, Ivan Rutherford, Michelle Mallardi, Henry Leck, Bob Chilcott, Jean Ashworth Bartle, Tom Chapin and Rob Hugh. We welcome FCCC back to perform a 2nd time with GBS!

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There will also be a performance by Sara Watkins who plays the fiddle and has spent nearly two decades, as singer and fiddle player for the Grammy Award–winning, bluegrass-folk hybrid Nickel Creek, a trio she’d started performing in when she was a mere eight years old. As a solo artist as the BBC put it, “Watkins’ time in the spotlight is a triumph with her agile playing and the kind of voice that gives your goose bumps the shivers.”

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The final performer is Aoife O’Donovon, best known as the founder and frontwoman of the string band Crooked Still. She is also one-third of the female trio Sometymes Why, and has appeared on the Prairie Home Companion radio program. She has collaborated with artists as varied as jazz trumpeter Dave Douglas, Yo-Yo Ma’s Edgar Meyer, Chris Thile’s Goat Rodeo Sessions band, the Boston Pops Orchestra, and Olabelle, to name just a few.

All performances are at the Klein Memorial Auditorium on 910 Fairfield Ave. in Bridgeport. For ticket information call 203-576-0263 or visit http://www.gbs.org.

November Fun Naturally at White Memorial Foundation

White Memorial Foundation located just off Rte. 202 on Whites Wood Road in Litchfield has planned a fun filled November for nature lovers.

photo credit: White Memorial

photo credit: White Memorial

On November 5 take a brisk walk with Gerri Griswold then relax with a super healthy meal. The objective is to share recipes, learn how to use herbs and spices to create wonderfully delicious meals that will keep you focused on your goal and to use this beautiful property to help you become the very best you can be. As for the featured dish of the night it is a Hearty Vegetarian Chili, Mesclun Greens with Oranges, Avocado, and Toasted Almonds, and Fresh Fruit. Make sure you dress for the weather and pack a flashlight! And, don’t forget to bring your own place setting! This event starts at 6:00 P.M., at the A.B. Ceder Room, Members: $15.00 Non-members: $25.00. Limited to 20 people! Pre-registration and prepayment are required.

On November 8, stop by Point Folly on the grounds of the Foundation anytime between 9 am and 12 pm to do some birdwatching with the new Education Director Carrie Szwed and don’t forget your binoculars to spot winter migrants and arrivals at this free event.

On November 15, get your paintbrush ready for a class with world renowned botanical artist Betsy Rogers-Knox! This is a great opportunity to learn techniques of botanical illustration from a pro. The class is for all levels of experience. All supplies are included. Ages 12 and up. 1:30 P.M. – 4:00 P.M., A. B. Ceder Room, Members: $35.00 Non-members: $45.00, Pre-registration and pre-payment are required.

If you give a “Hoot” then the felting workshop with Robin McCahill should be on your calendar for November 22 from 10 am – 4 pm. This is a perfect opportunity to create a handmade gift for a loved one (or to keep yourself!). Using soft wool and a special barbed felting needle, sculpt a night time owl of your choice. This one day workshop will enable you to finish your bird in time to adorn your home for the holidays. Learn some of the nocturnal habits of the famed owls while you work. All materials included! Members: $55.00, Non-members: $65.00, Pre-registration and pre-payment are required.

On November 23, there will be an afternoon Green Man Concert with with Michael McDermott and Friends Benefit Concert Supporting The White Memorial Conservation Center. he Green Man is a mysterious, eerie figure depicted mainly in medieval European stonework, believed to represent an ancient vegetation deity. It is nearly always depicted as a “foliate head,” that is, a face made of leaves and vines. Sometimes it appears as a human face peering out from leaves, other times with animal features. This joyful afternoon with ridiculously talented purveyor of joy, Michael McDermott and his band “Cead Mile Failte” Gaelic for “A Hundred Thousand Welcomes”, will include music by Joni Mitchell, James Taylor, Irish singer / songwriter Luka Bloom, and many more. What a splendid way to spend the Sunday afternoon before Thanksgiving! 100% of the proceeds from this concert benefit the Conservation Center. 2:00 P.M., Carriage House, Members: $15.00 Non-members: $20.00, Pre-registration and pre-payment are required.

To finish the month, on November 29, take a walk with Gerri Griswold along the Cranberry Pond Trail and cap off the walk with a cup of hot coffee and a thick wedge of Crimson Pie swimming in a pool of thick ginger crème anglaise! Meet in the Museum. 2:00 P.M., We’ll drive over to the trail head together. FREE…Donations will be accepted to help defray the Conservation Center’s programming expenses.

For more information about White Memorial Foundation visit http://www.whitememorialcc.org. For information on Litchfield Hills www.litchfieldhills.com