Catch the BIG ONE at the Riverton Fishing Derby on the Farmington River

April 19, the official opening of the fishing season in the Nutmeg State is the day when fly-fishing aficionados from near and far flock to the Annual Riverton Fishing Derby in the Riverton section of Barkhamsted, located in the beautiful Litchfield Hills.

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The day starts before daybreak with a hearty breakfast beginning at 4 a.m. at the Riverton Fire Department on 3 Riverton Rd. in the center of town. Breakfast, lunch and snacks will be available at the Riverton General Store located in the center of town in a mid.-19th century building that is the hub of activity for this village. Green mountain coffee, made to order sandwiches, homemade soups, chili, salad and pastries are just some of the things offered here. For more information on Riverton General Store www.rivertongeneralstore.com.

This exciting Litchfield Hills event takes place on April 19th on the West branch of the Farmington River, a Nationally designated “Wild and Scenic” river that is known to host an abundance of rainbow, brown and brook trout. As a matter of fact, on Friday afternoon before this event, over 100 fish are purchased and released into the Farmington River adding even more incentive to catch the “big one.” The contest, complete with prizes, begins at 6 a.m. and lasts for about four hours, ending at 10 a.m. and it’s all-free; and there is no registration or fee required.

The public is always welcome to attend this event and to cheer on their favorite fisherman. Last year some 500 enthusiasts participated in the derby. An even bigger crowd is expected this year. Prizes include items donated by local merchants as well as by Orvis, Cabela’s and Dick’s. The coveted grand prize is a village chair of Riverton donated by the Hitchcock Chair Company. The Hitchcock Chair Company Store is located in Riverton and stocks an excellent selection of this classic hand stenciled furniture. For information about the Hitchcock Chair Company visit www.hitchcockchair.com.

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A bit further upriver a section of the flowing waters especially stocked for the occasion, is set aside for the “Kid’ Derby”. Any tot under 16 who is able to hold a fishing pole, can join in the fun. Special prizes are awarded to kids.

To find out more about the Fishing Derby and other events in Riverton, visit http://rivertonct.com.

The easiest way of getting a fishing license is to visit the Connecticut Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s online sportsmen licensing at https://ct.outdoorcentral.net/InternetSales. Fishing licenses are also available from town clerks and this website has a complete listing of town clerks and businesses that sell fishing licenses. The website also has a weekly fishing report that runs from opening day through the end of November. The report is a summary of fresh and saltwater fishing activity in the state as reported by tackle stores around the state.

For more information on Litchfield Hills, where to stay, dine and what to see and do visit www.litchfieldhills.com.

Ride a Vintage Train to Visit the Easter Bunny in Danbury CT

The Easter Bunny will once again pay a visit to the Danbury Railway Museum and you can take a ride in a vintage train through the historic railyard to visit him. This popular annual family event will take place on Saturday & Sunday, April 12 & 13, and Friday & Saturday, April 18 & 19. Museum hours are 10:00-4:30 on Friday and Saturday; noon-4:30 on Sunday. Trains leave every 30 minutes from 12:30 to 3:30. Admission is $10.00 (age 2 and over); each child will receive a small gift from the Bunny. Reservations are suggested and may be made by visiting the museum’s Web site at http://www.danburyrail.org/.

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The short train ride in a fully-restored 1953 New Haven RR Rail Diesel Car (Budd RDC), will take visitors past the fully operational turntable, over 70 vintage railroad cars and locomotives, and many unique pieces of railroad history, including a Boston & Maine steam locomotive built in 1907. The train ride will stop at the Easter Bunny’s special railroad car. The museum’s beautifully restored circa-1910 Railway Post Office (RPO) car will also be open. Of course, the exhibits inside the restored 1903 Danbury station will be open, along with a coloring station, temporary tattoos, Thomas® play table, and the operating model train layouts. A fully-stocked gift shop will also be open.

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The Danbury Railway Museum is a non-profit organization, staffed solely by volunteers, and is dedicated to the preservation of, and education about, railroad history. The museum is located in the restored 1903 Danbury Station and rail yard at 120 White Street, Danbury, CT. For further information, visit the Web site at http://www.danburyrail.org, email info@danburyrail.org, or call the museum at 203-778-8337.

April Fun at Audubon Greenwich

Spring gets into full swing in April at Audubon Greenwich. There are many family fun events taking place here that will provide fun for the whole family.

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On Saturday, April 12, for example,two exciting walks are planned. The Ponds and Vernal Pools walk will teach you how to search for salamanders, frogs and more and will take place from 2 p.m. – 3:30. All ages are welcome on this walk. RSVP is required so call Ted Gilman at 203-869-5272 x230 to reserve your spot.

There is also a springtime sunset and moonlight walk from 7:45 p.m. – 9:15 p.m. Participants will seek out the sights, sounds, and smells of a spring evening visiting field, pond, forest, and lake in search of wildlife. Participants will also listen overhead and look up at the moon in search of silhouettes of night-flying springtime bird migrants. This walk is good for kids Ages 7 and up. Space is limited and an RSVP is required to Ted at 203-869-5272 x230.

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The month of April is ends with two events. The first is a documentary film, called Unacceptable Levels from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. on Saturday April 26. Learn more about common chemicals, how their effects can be more profound on children than on adults, and how the Conn. General Assembly’s Children’s Committee has proposed legislation, “An Act Concerning Children’s Products and Chemicals of High Concern,” which, if passed, could authorize studies that will guide recommendations to protect children. This event is suitable for adults and interested youth. Location: Cole Auditorium, Greenwich Library (101 W Putnam Ave). Call Jeff Cordulack at 203-869-5272 x239 with questions and RSVPs are appreciated to greenwichcenter@audubon.org.

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On Sunday, April 27, there will be a Nature Art Class with Adriana Rostovsky from 11 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. This class will show participants how to create textures and collages with nature’s treasures found outdoors. These sessions will focus on using natural items like cones, pods and seed heads to create nature-themed decorations. All ages’ welcome. $25 for first two people; $5 per additional participant. RSVP and advance payment required to greenwichcenter@audubon.org or Jeff at 203-869-5272 x239.

The Audubon Greenwich is located on 613 Riversville Rd. For more information greenwichcenter@audubon.org

21 Annual Chocolate Lovers Expo in Southbury

The 21st Annual Chocolate Lovers’ Spring Expo to benefit Easter Seals will be held on Sunday, April 6 from 11a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Southbury off of I-84 exit 16.

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With chocolate lovers in mind, this event showcases many of the areas finest chocolate delights and specialty food items from a wide variety of exhibitors and culinary schools.

In addition to chocolate, event goers are sure to enjoy a silent auction, door prizes, special drawings, and demonstrations as well as music by Excite Disc Jockey Entertainment and Bella Winds Woodwind Ensemble as you shop for chocolate goodies, unique gifts, products & services.

Tickets are $25 in advance ($30 at the door). Children’s tickets (ages 5-12) are $5. For tickets or exhibitor information please call 203-754-5141 Faith Hull (ext. 251) or Carolee Kalita, (ext. 243). Proceeds benefit the programs and services of Easter Seals, serving the special needs of infants, children, and adults with disabilities in greater Waterbury, central, and northwestern Connecticut. www.waterburyct.easterseals.com

For area information www.litchfieldhills.com

Spring into spring at Bent of the River Audubon

Bent of the River Audubon located on 185 East Flat Hill Road in Southbury is celebrating the return of spring migratory birds this April with several programs that are sure to help you enjoy this annual migration.

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On April 4 for example at 6:30 p.m., Bent of the River is hosting a program called “Timberdoodling”! Participants will meet in the Bent of the River Parking Lot (members free, non-members $5) to observe one of North America’s most intriguing mating displays as the male American Woodcock struts, peents, flies, and whistles his way into the females favor. Past walks have proven very successful in witnessing this impressive display. In addition, we are also likely to see the courtship flight of Mourning Doves, and hear the classic “who cooks for you, who cooks for you all” call from our resident Barred Owls, all with a background symphony of Spring peepers. This is a very popular program and registration is limited so register soon. Rain cancels this event. Registration is required. Please email Jim Drennan at jdrennan@audubon.org or call (203)264-5098 ext. 303.

On Tuesday, April 8 at 7 p.m. the Land Management Staff of Bent of the River will present information on how Audubon manages sanctuaries for birds and other wildlife at the Kingsley Room in the Southbury Public Library on 100 Poverty Rd. in Southbury. This free event will include information on how to improve landscapes at home to provide better habitats for birds and other wildlife. The focus of this evening will be on shrub and grassland habitat species including butterflies, dragon flies and the plants they need to survive and thrive. This presentation is perfect for gardeners interested in improving their gardens and landscape while spending less maintenance time! The meeting is free and open to the public. Registration is required. Please email Jim Drennan at jdrennan@audubon.org or call (203)264-5098 ext. 303.

Jewels of the Blue — Eastern Bluebird management will be the topic of discussion on Thursday, April 17 at 7 pm at the historic barn at Bent of the River Audubon Center. The cost for this program is $3 for members and $5 for non-members. It has been estimated that the Eastern Bluebird population has decreased 90% since the mid 1800’s due to the introduction of the starling and house sparrow from Europe. These species are more aggressive than the bluebird and will kill both adults and eggs to take over the nesting location. However, since the late 1960’s, populations have been recovering due in large part to the popularity of constructing bluebird nest boxes designed to keep starlings out and educating the public about how to deal with house sparrows. Bent of the River land manager, Jim Drennan, will lead a discussion on how best to attract, care for, and manage your bluebirds, and relate the challenges Audubon faces caring for their 25 Bluebird nest boxes. If time permits, there will be a walk into the meadow to observe bluebird habitat.
Registration is required. Please email Jim Drennan at jdrennan@audubon.org or call (203)264-5098 ext. 303.

For more information about Bent of the River visit http://bentoftheriver.audubon.org. For information on the Litchfield Hills www.litchfieldhills.com.

CONNfection- Connecticut Food and Wine Showcase

The Waterbury Neighborhood Council will host the second annual CONNfection event, a showcase featuring Connecticut made food and wine, on Thursday, March 27, from 6p.m. – 9p.m. at the Palace Theater in Waterbury. Tickets are $25 per person and can be purchased by phone at 203-346-2000, online at www.palacetheaterct.org, or in person at the Box Office, 100 East Main Street in Waterbury.

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CONNfection attendees will have the delight of sampling some of the best home grown and homemade products that Connecticut has to offer, including pasta, sausages, artisanal breads, gourmet olive oils, specialty condiments and relishes, biscotti, cookies, chocolates, cupcakes and more.

Guests will also have the opportunity to sample a variety of beer and wine from local breweries and vineyards, as well as Onyx Moonshine, the first legal moonshine to be brewed in New England. The list of vendors scheduled to appear include 1249 Restaurant, The Bites Company, Fascia’s Chocolate, The Grotto Restaurant & Mrs. G, recent “Cupcake Wars” winner Hardcore Sweet Cupcakes, La Molisana Sausage, The Olive Oil Factory, Pasta Gallery, The Provender of New Morning Market, Saha Sauces LLC, Sweet Confections by Regina LLC, Sweet Maria’s, and more to be announced.

CONNfection is sponsored in part by The Good Life Wine and Spirits, as well as the City of Waterbury’s Arts and Tourism Commission. Proceeds from the event will be used by the Waterbury Neighborhood Council for their work on behalf of all Waterbury neighborhoods, including downtown where the Palace Theater is prominently located.

For information on Litchfield Hills visit www.litchfieldhills.com

Journey to a Magical Cloud Forest- A Quiet Place at the Oliver Wolcott Library and White Flower Farm

The Oliver Wolcott Library on 160 South Street in Litchfield is hosting the photographs of Sue Kennedy through April 25 in the Gallery of this lovely library.

Twenty years ago Sue Kennedy was in Texas working on a Kinesiology and Adapted Physical Education PhD. If anyone had told her that photographing and raising orchids was what she would be doing today, she wouldn’t have believed them. She is here to share her journey, and hopes you will smile, find joy, and most of all, peace from these images of her quiet and powerful children of the Magical Cloud Forest.

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Sue’s father was a pediatrician in the Torrington/Litchfield area, but he always had a second great passion…orchids. Before medical school he earned a PhD in Botany from Cornell and dreamed of discovering and naming a new orchid. After retiring from medicine and armed with a U.S. Department of Agriculture permit, he and his wife took many collecting excursions including the Amazon, Peru, Ecuador, Mexico, Venezuela, Costa Rica, and Nicaragua. Plants were brought home, potted or mounted, and treasured in his “quiet place,” the greenhouse he had built.

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When her father passed away and her mother became ill, Sue was forced with a dilemma – let the orchids die, sell them off or give it a go. She dove in and never looked back. With each blossom she began to see and photograph the unique character of each plant. She shared her images with friends and would see their eyes light up with a kind of childish wonder, peace and joy. Sue continues to capture how light is reflected and penetrates; how it enlightens; how each bloom is a fascination.

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After visiting the Library, stop by White Flower Farm to look at the fabulous selection of plants to be found there. White Flower Farm is located on Rte. 63, 167 Litchfield Rd. a few miles south of the center of Litchfield. Visitors to White Flower Farm will find a wide array of plants for sale. The shop at White Flower Farm opens in April. Visitors may also explore several beautiful display gardens that are adjacent to the shop. For more information about White Flower Farm visit www.whiteflowerfarm.com.

For more information on programs at the Oliver Wolcott Library call 860-567-8030 or www.owlibrary.org For information on Litchfield Hills www.litchfieldhills.com

Women Make A Difference at Wesport Historical Society

As part of the Westport Historical Society’s Women Who Make A Difference program, there will be a presentation on Kimberly Wilson on March 20 from 12 noon to 1:15. If you’ve ever wanted to meet Harriet Tubman or one of the other African American women who made black history, come to the WHS for Westport actress Kimberly Wilson’s one- woman show “A JOURNEY…”

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Wilson’s performance uses song, movement and dialogue to bring to life Tubman, a runaway slave who led hundreds of other slaves to freedom along the Underground Railroad, as well as former slave and Abolitionist leader Sojourner Truth, civil rights pioneer Rosa Parks and the poet Maya Angelou.

In addition to presenting such iconic historical figures as Tubman and Parks, Wilson also includes an African queen and a slave woman, who are intended to be representative of the African American experience. African Queen, who endures a brutal journey on a slave ship, is a reminder of the rich native African culture and heritage in place before the start of the slave trade, Wilson says. The slave woman, the actress says, represents the struggles of slaves in a strange land with a strange language, crushed by the destruction of family and culture, and surviving through courage, hope, hard work and never-ending faith.

Sojourner Truth was a former slave from New York who became an outspoken advocate for the rights of both blacks and women and helped recruit black troops for the Union Army during the Civil War. Fast-forward 100 years to Rosa Parks, who, with many others, helped “kick-off the Civil Rights Movement when she refused to give up her seat to a white passenger on a Montgomery, Ala. bus, spurring a city-wide bus boycott and forcing the city to lift the law requiring segregation on public buses. Pulitzer Prize-nominated poet and author Maya Angelou is also an important Civil Rights Era figure whose poems and books emphasize looking to the future with hope and courage, Wilson says.

Actress, singer, poet Kimberly Wilson was a member of theater companies in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn. She is now an active member and Board Treasurer of the Theatre Artists Workshop in Norwalk, CT.

This event is sponsored by Catamount Wealth Management, Catered Lunch included $15, WHS Members $12, For Reservations 203-222-1424 or visit http://westporthistory.org. For area information: www.visitfairfieldcountyct.com

In the Dark at the Bruce Museum

The dark is a place of mystery. Sometimes scary, always intriguing, the darkness inspires the imagination and encourages exploration.

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Darkness is also a natural evolutionary selective pressure that has caused plants and animals to adapt to dark ecosystems like caves, the forest and desert at night, and underneath the ground.

In the Dark: Animal Survival Strategies, on view through April 13 at the Bruce Museum, located on One Museum Drive in Greenwich invites visitors to explore different environments of darkness and the unique life forms that inhabit them through a combination of hands-on and whole-body interactives, specimens and walk-through dioramas.

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Since prehistoric times, humans have sought to understand the function of darkness and have invented ways to change it. With this immersive, entertaining and family-friendly exhibition that explores four environments – fragile caves, deep soil, and the forest and desert at night – people of all ages will discover how animals adapt to living in the dark and learn how we can help preserve fragile worlds without light.

March Programs

Look & See: In the Dark!
Wednesday, March 12; 12:30 – 1:15 pm
A program especially designed for children ages 3-5 years and their adult caregivers, who will explore the Museum’s exhibition through hands-on experiences, stories and more. Children will explore the exhibition and then make their own animal of the dark! $5 for members and $7 for non-members per child, per class. Parents/guardians are free. Please make reservations by calling the Museum at 203 869-0376.

Animals of the Dark Family Day
Sunday, March 30; 1:00 – 4:00 pm
Explore the exhibition to find out which animals survive best at nighttime! Make your own night-creature crafts in the workshop! At 2:00 pm and again at 4:00 pm, Live Night Creatures with animal specialist Rob Mies from the Organization for Bat Conservation, who will teach us all about some animals that live in the dark such as owls, bats and sloths. All activities are suitable for students of all abilities ages 5 years and up. Free with Museum admission.

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About the Bruce Museum: Explore Art and Science at the Bruce Museum, located at One Museum Drive in Greenwich, Connecticut. The Museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 am to 5 pm and Sunday from 1 pm to 5 pm; closed Mondays and major holidays. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for students up to 22 years, $6 for seniors and free for members and children under 5 years. Individual admission is free on Tuesday. Free on-site parking is available and the Museum is accessible to individuals with disabilities. For additional information, call the Bruce Museum at (203) 869-0376 or visit the website at http://www.brucemuseum.org.

TheatreWorks New Milford -Celebrating 50 Years of Neil Simon

On Friday, February 28, TheatreWorks New Milford will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Neil Simon’s first and longest-running theatrical hit, BAREFOOT IN THE PARK, by kicking off its 2014 season with that very show. The curtain goes up at 8:00 p.m. on a three-week run.

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In this classic, comedic romp, newlyweds Paul and Corie Bratter are proof positive that opposites attract. He’s a straight-as-an-arrow lawyer; she’s a free spirit. But they quickly discover married life is no paradise, having to endure a new apartment that’s falling to pieces, surprise visits from Corie’s overly protective mother, and the antics of their eccentric neighbor-in-the-attic, Velasco. Paul doesn’t understand Corie’s impulsiveness, while she wants him to be more spontaneous. Maybe running “barefoot in the park” would be a start?

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Neil Simon is arguably the greatest living comedic American playwright, and this is his first ‘hit’ production, that kept audiences laughing on Broadway for nearly four years straight in the 1960s. There are references to things from the past, and it is set it in 1963 to reflect that, but the comedy never gets old.

The production features six of the finest actors from across the region: Daniel Willey (Harwinton), Jessica Alex (New York, NY), Jeff Savage (Northfield), M.J. Hartell (Brookfield), Jonathan Ross (Thomaston), and Kevin Sosbe (New Milford). Besides Director and Co-Producer, Tom Libonate and Co-Producer, Glenn R. Couture, the show’s crew consists of Co-Producer and Co-Set Designer Richard Pettibone, Costume Designer Susan Pettibone, Technical Director Scott Wyshynski, Stage Manager Kathy Bolster and Assistant Stage Manager Abby Hambidge.

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BAREFOOT IN THE PARK runs March 1, 7,8,9 14,15,16. Curtain time is 8:00 p.m. Fridays & Saturdays, with two 2:00 p.m. Sunday matinees on March 9 and March 16. Tickets for all shows are $23 for reserved seating.

Students and Military personnel with ID will be admitted for just $18.

On Thursday, February 27, senior citizens are invited to a FREE dress rehearsal at 8:00 p.m. Thursday, March 6 at 8:00 p.m. is TheatreWorks’ Pay-What-You-Want night. At this performance, you name the price for your ticket.

Reservations can be made online at WWW.THEATREWORKS.US or by calling the box office at (860) 350-6863.

TheatreWorks is an award-winning, regional theatre company located in the Litchfield Hills on 5 Brookside Avenue, just off Route 202 (next to the CVS), in New Milford, Conn.

For information about the Litchfield Hills, where to stay, dine and what to see visit www.litchfieldhills.com

Louisiana-Styled Fun at the Carousel Museum Mardi Gras Celebration

Mardi Gras seems has never been more popular with events to fete the carnival season popping up all over. Mardi Gras refers to Kings Day and culminates in Ash Wednesday. In French it means “fat Tuesday” referring to the practice of the last night of eating rich foods before the ritual fasting of the Lenten season. This year, the New England Carousel Museum will be in full carnival mode during its 24th Anniversary Mardi Gras celebration that is taking place on Saturday, March 1, 2014 from 7-11 PM.

The Museum has organized a Louisiana-styled evening that will feature dancing to the music of the acclaimed Billy Cofrances Jazz Quartet in the museum ballroom. In addition to dancing, there will be with a silent auction with many exciting prizes up for grabs, a wine and bourbon tasting, and food a plenty!

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Attendees are encouraged to wear a mask or come in full costume and to BOYB. The evening festivities will culminate in the crowning of a king and queen of the ball. “This party is sure to pull you out of your winter doldrums while helping to support the Museum’s educational programs.

Tickets are on sale at the Carousel Museum. RSVP by February 24, 2014 by calling (860) 585-5411. The cost is $50 per person pre-paid tables of 8 may be reserved. The proceeds will support educational programming and general operating costs. The event will be held on site at the New England Carousel Museum, 95 Riverside Ave., Bristol.

For more information or to purchase tickets, please contact The New England Carousel Museum at (860) 585-5411 or email info@the carouselmuseum.org. For more information about the museum visit www.thecarouselmuseum.org. For area information www.litchfieldhills.com

Saltana Caves a great place to unwind

In Europe and Asia, salt caves are well known for their healing powers. Visitors to Litchfield Hills can experience the healing and wellness powers of a salt cave at Saltana Cave Spa, at the junction of Rte. 7 and Rte. 35 on 590 Danbury Rd. in Ridgefield located between Danbury and Norwalk. Here you will experience the European tradition and health benefits of a salt cave.

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Entering the salt cave at Saltana Cave Spa you are surrounded with tons of pink and tan hued health healing Himalayan salt crystals. The salt is underfoot and the crystals are literally and beautifully embedded in the walls. The room glows with a warm pink light that induces immediate relaxation.

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Saltana Caves offers speleotherapy better known as salt cave therapy as well as halotherapy, a special treatment that uses a salt vapor. Halotherapy is reputed to treat respiratory ailments, skin irritations and is said to combat mental lethargy.
As you get settled in zero gravity chairs the first thing you will notice is that you are entirely surrounded by salt, the cave even has a glimmering salt fireplace.

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Imperceptibly dry aerosol salt vapor is pumped into the air and is accompanied by a tape that details the health benefits of the salt minerals that surround you. Soft new age music follows the introduction to salt cave therapy and is perfect to unwind to. A highly regarded benefit of salt cave therapy is the naturally produced negative ions that are said to reduce stress, headaches, and lethargy.

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Cave sessions last about 45 minutes and run on the hour from noon to 7 p.m. (last session at 6 p.m.) from Tuesday – Friday. On Sat. the Cave is open from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and on Sunday from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sessions for children one to eight take place Tuesday – Friday at 12 noon and 5 p.m. and on Saturday and Sunday at 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. Guests are asked to arrive 15 minutes early to allow time to be signed in. Call (203) 969-4327 for reservations. For more information http://saltanacave.com

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Several area hotels have packages with Saltana including Danbury Crowne Plaza that offers a package with a salt treatment for one through December 31, 2014 starting at $144 inclusive of overnight stay and salt cave treatment for one. Additional passes for the salt cave experience can be purchased. Call the Crowne Plaza for 203-794-0600 for reservations.

Snowshoeing in Litchfield Hills

Bredeson Outdoor Adventures is offering a day of guided snowshoeing in Washington and Warren, Connecticut in the heart of the Litchfield Hills. Participants will meet at 9:45 a.m. at Hopkins Vineyard located on Hopkins Road in New Preston overlooking beautiful Lake Waramaug.

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A short shuttle ride will take participants to Macricostas Preserve, where you will explore the area’s boardwalks and admire the dramatic view of Lake Waramaug. This 368-acre parcel of land, known as Meeker Swamp is a mix of meadowland, farmland, wooded ridge and wetlands with a pinnacle that overlooks Lake Waramaug. Bee Brook and the Shepaug River wends its way through this lovely preserve.

The day will consist of intermediate snowshoeing or walking if no snow (approximately 4-6 miles total) in beautiful countryside under the leadership of a professional and enthusiastic guide. No prior snowshoeing experience is necessary; this but tour is rated intermediate because snowshoeing 4-6 miles requires a fair amount of energy, unless there is little snow. Due to the venue and optional winetasting, participants should be 21 years or older.

Participants will enjoy lunch and lake views upstairs in the warmth of the Hopkins Vineyard’s Hayloft Wine Bar and an optional wine tasting downstairs by the fire. The Breseson Outdoor Adventures Tour Company will provide lunch and hot tea and cocoa, information on where to rent snowshoes (they have a few pair available for rent), brief instruction and a day of winter fun. Tips and lists for what to wear, bring and do to enjoy a safe cold weather outing are also part of the package.

After lunch, participants will snowshoe through the vineyard and on Lake Waramaug. The cost of this outing is $63 per person. For more information visit http://bredeson.com/trip-sign-up. For information on Hopkins Vineyard www.hopkinsvineyard.com.

For area information www.litchfieldhills.com

Transcending Continents: A Black History Month Celebration

The Housatonic Museum of Art in collaboration with Shanna Melton of Poetic Soul Arts presents Transcending Continents: A Black History Month Celebration in the Performing Arts Center of Housatonic Community College at 900 Lafayette Blvd., Bridgeport, CT on Thursday, Febuary 27, 2014 from 6 – 9 pm, free and open to the public. Call 203-572-4937 or visit www.HousatonicMuseum.org for more information.

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This event includes artists from Senegal, Antigua and America who will explore how music, poetry and storytelling create a spiritual communication that transcends continents to create a psychic connection. Stories of love and ancestry that are universal are conveyed through the gift of art. Featured performers Bideew Bou Bess accompanied by Tony Vacca, along with Gina LeVon Simpson, Tenisi Davis and Iyaba Ibo Mandigo use words and sounds to share their experience.

Poet, painter, writer, actor and playwright, Iyaba Ibo Mandingo is a native of Antigua, West Indies, who came to the US in 1980 as a young boy. Mandingo appears regularly as an international performance poet. US venues include Nuyorican Poetry Café, Brooklyn Moon, and Next Door Café. He was the keynote performer at the 2011 Westchester, NY Poetry Festival. He was recently seen at 59E59 in Deb Margolin’s The Expenses of Rain (Laura Barnett, director.) Mandingo is the author of three chapbooks of poetry, 41 Times, Amerikkan Exile, and his latest, 40 days & 40 nites of write. His new novel, Sins of My Fathers, was released in 2013. He is a New York Theatre Workshop Summer, 2011 Artist in Residence. Mandingo was awarded a national Percent for the Arts Program artist grant, as well as grants from the Connecticut Commission on the Arts, and multiple commendations from the Nassau County African American Museum. His artwork has been included in over a dozen group and individual international shows.

Gina LeVon Simpson, another performer that is a producer at Sound View Community Media, where she received two awards. Simpson has performed one woman shows, skits, poetry, drumming and presented workshops at many functions in Connecticut, Massachusetts, New York, and Ghana, West Africa, and in local community centers, libraries and churches. She was the Playwright and Creative Director of “The MAAFA Influence – Evoking the Pain of the Past…Building a Strong and Powerful Future” from 2004 through 2010. This original production showcased in Connecticut, Brooklyn, NY, and Aiken, South Carolina. Simpson is a minister, consultant, poet, storyteller, illustrator, producer, writer and director who passionately seeks to inspire, encourage, and teach through the many gifts she has embraced since childhood.

Tony Vacca’s Senegal-America Project combines the spectacle and spectacular performance of internationally renowned percussionist Tony Vacca and the West African hip-hop group Bideew Bou Bess. Vacca brings his American perspective to the African Balaphone, gongs and assorted other percussion instruments. Bideew Bou Bess, one of Senegal’s most popular and innovative bands is comprised of three brothers: Beydi, Moctar and Ibrahima Sall. They combine ancient griot traditions with global-minded contemporary Hip-Hop sounds. Together the four musicians create a very high energy, interactive cross cultural extravaganza.

ChowderFest at Bridgeport’s Webster Arena

The 6th annual “Chowderfest” is taking place on Sunday, February 2 from 11 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Webster Bank Arena on 600 Main Street in Bridgeport. Chowder is a long time New England favorite and the brisk month of February is the perfect time to sample this delicious Connecticut staple.

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At this fest you are the judge of this competition pitting 28 award winning chefs against each other. When you arrive, you get a pencil a ballot and a spoon! Then you are invited to slurp down 32 decadent samples of chowder, soup and bisque! It is up to you to vote and to determine who is the best!

This popular event is held annually as a pre-event to the Super Bowl on Feb. 2 — fans of this event like to call it the “Soup – er Bowl”! The event runs until three so football fans have plenty of time to get home to watch the big game.

Chowderfest is one of the best deals around. It’s just $12 (adults) $5 kids (6-12). Tickets are on-sale at the arena box office. SAVE $2 on each adult ticket when purchased at advance at any New Haven or Fairfield County Stop & Shop through January. Kids receive FREE chef hats, stickers and more while supplies last.

This incredible fundraiser benefits Connecticut Food Bank. Get your tickets early to avoid box office lines. Come dressed in your favorite football jersey. Grab the in-laws, the neighbors, co-workers and car pool down for all the fun.

For tickets visit http://www.websterbankarena.com.