Shelton History Center Reopens Brownson House

The Shelton Historical Society has reopened the Brownson House. In late October 2015, the Shelton Historical Society suffered severe water damage to the Brownson House, the cornerstone of the Shelton History Center, during a rainstorm while the roof was being repaired. Water poured down through the roof and attic all the way to the main collection storeroom in the basement, ruining ceilings and walls in its wake. One of the bedroom ceilings collapsed; holes were punched in certain areas to relieve water pressure and to keep it from traveling further along beams in the ceilings. The Historical Society had to close the facility to the public during 2016 for repairs.

Gigantic industrial dehumidifiers were brought in by a disaster recovery company. Running constantly for over a month, they finally dried the ceilings and walls, albeit with an $800 electric bill. It took such a long time, not only due to the extent of the saturation, but because of the lath, horsehair, and lime that made up the plaster walls in the circa 1822 house. Specialized contractors were brought in to repair, replace, and paint.

While the house was closed and our attention was on the physical structure, consideration was given to a long-term project that had, out of necessity due to the disaster, been postponed: focusing the interior of the Brownson House to interpret a middle class lifestyle of the early 1900’s. The Society had been working room by room but having the house closed permitted the project to proceed without interruption. Committees could concentrate on locating and installing period-appropriate floor coverings, lace curtains, and other furnishings. The most challenging aspect was finding the correct wallpaper, so it was decided to have it custom designed and printed. Furnishings were cleaned, polished, photographed, and put back into place.

The decision to interpret the house to 1913 rather than 1822—when the house was built—is due to the significant collections of photographs, diaries, account books, furniture, and textiles from the 1890’s through the 1940’s that the Society holds. Using these sources in the environment of an appropriately decorated house enables Shelton’s history to be told in a clearly understood manner. We know how money was earned and spent, how neighbors socialized, and how the growing middle-class farm families interacted with the businesses and industries that called Shelton home during this time.

Additional opportunities to tell stories of a rapidly changing society are told using this new interpretation: women seeking the vote, unions organizing, immigrants flooding through Ellis Island, and a world war looming. All these factors were reflected locally and related to those who lived in Shelton at the time.

The preservation of the Brownson House as a pre-World War I era farmhouse will fill a gap in interpretive history in Connecticut, both in terms of the time period depicted and the status of people represented. Most historic homes and historical societies demonstrate the colonial period or a famous or wealthy individual. Through the lives of ordinary people—the Brownson’s—the Society illustrates, as Harriet Beecher Stowe once stated, that “Every individual is part and parcel of a great picture of the society in which he lives and acts, and his life cannot be painted without reproducing the picture of the world he lived in.”

In addition to the Brownson House, the Shelton History Center consists of the Wilson Barn, the one-room Trap Fall School, a carriage barn, a corncrib and an outhouse. While the Shelton History Center staff is available Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, they also accommodate appointments for those who would like to arrange tours or use research materials.

For more information, visit www.sheltonhistoricalsociety.org

Barnum Festival in Bridgeport

The annual Barnum Festival is a seasonal celebration of the City of Bridgeport and its surrounding towns including Monroe, Trumbull, Easton, Shelton, Stratford, and Fairfield. Dating back to 1948, the festival originated to help support local businesses and honor P.T. Barnum—a world-renowned showman and city leader. The Barnum Festival events span May 13 – June 25, 2017 and culminates in a weekend-long Barnum Palooza that hosts parades, concerts, fireworks, and other family-friendly festivities.

The festival celebrates many of Barnum’s imaginative concepts for entertaining the populace. The Wing Ding Parade for kids at Beardsley Zoo, concerts and musical competitions in the spirit of Jenny Lind, and the concluding event, a grand civic parade celebrating all of the wonderful assets the City of Bridgeport and surrounding area have to offer, are created to delight attendees of all ages.

On May 28, Memorial Day weekend join the Barnum Festival for the Aquarion Water Company Barnum Festival 5k & 10k Road Race. The timed race will begin at 8:30am at Webster Bank Arena taking runners along the picturesque Long Island Sound through Seaside Park with heart-thumping finish inside The Ballpark at Harbor Yard. There will be a FREE Kid’s Run in the Ball Park with kid’s prizes, a Bounce House, face painting, clowns & a magician to keep the fun going post-race. The race will be followed by The Best Race “After-Party on Earth” featuring great food & beer, a live band, swag bags, Dri-Fit shirts & tons of fun for the whole family.

On June 1, you can eat, drink and be merry! Join festival goers for a day of fun hitting the hot spots of historical Black Rock. There will be plenty of libations, food and drink specials, music, raffles, and fun. Each attendee must purchase a wristband* 21 and over only. All proceeds will benefit Barnum Festival activities and scholarships. Bar Crawl Itinerary: Hub & Spoke: 5-6pm Event Kickoff!, Tautog Tavern: 6-7pm, Fire Engine Pizza Co.: 7-8pm, Smitty’s of Black Rock: 8-9pm, Brennan’s Shebeen Irish Bar and Grill: 9-10pm & Afterparty *Pricing: Drinking wristbands = $25.00, Designated Driver = $10.00 (Includes free soda) Wristbands available for purchase day of for $30., Wristbands purchased online require pickup at The Cardinal Shehan Center. 1494 Main St, Bridgeport, CT 06604 Pickup Hours: 9am – 5pm, Monday-Friday. Purchase of wristband includes special drink pricing & free t-shirt! Once wristband is purchased t-shirt size will be noted and will be available to pick up at Brennan’s Shebeen 2 weeks prior to event; Please note: Guests are encouraged to wear their t-shirt to the crawl!

The Wing Ding Parade takes place beginning at 9 am on June 17 at the Beardsley Zoo.Bring the whole family for a day filled with excitement and entertainment. Get creative as you dress up for the kid’s parade through Beardsley Zoo. Your means of transportation are up to you—make a float, pull a wagon, ride a bike, or just walk together. Prizes will be awarded for best costume. Enjoy entry to the zoo until 12pm, as well as face painting, balloon animals, music, and food. It’s fun for the whole family. Registration opens at 9am and the parade starts at 11am. Admission is FREE.

Barnumpalooza Saturday, June 25, 2016 at Seaside Park in Bridgeport, Conn.

June 24 promises to be a “Barnumpalooza” of family fun from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. at Seaside Park! The Barnumpalooza is an all-day festival with food trucks, live music, and carnival rides for kids. Bring the whole family for a day of fun celebrating the city of Bridgeport and its surrounding communities. Admission is free. The Bridgeport Symphony will perform at 9 p.m. and there will also be fireworks at 9 pm. that is sure to impress the whole family.

The Barnum Festival concludes with the “Great Street Parade” that begins at 12 noon. Firetrucks, bands, floats, clowns, and more will travel from the corner of Brooklawn and North Ave all the way to the corner of Lincoln Blvd and Capitol St. in Bridgeport.
For more information visit the website. http://barnumfestival.com

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Nature of Love Guided Walking Tour with Bonnie Tremante @ Weir Farm

Weir Farm National Historic Site is offering a free, one-hour Nature of Love Walk on Sunday June 11, 2017 from 10:00 to 11:00 am with local scholar, poet, and volunteer Bonnie Tremante.

Enjoy a walk through the lush, summer landscape of Weir Farm National Historic Site as you learn about the connection between art, love, and landscape that fundamentally affected Weir’s appreciation of his Branchville farm. Bonnie will discuss love letters exchanged between artist Julian Alden Weir and his then fiancée Anna Dwight Baker during the summer of 1882. In the letters, Julian and Anna express their deep affection for each other, their observations of nature, and nature’s role in fostering the bond between them.

Bonnie Tremante graduated with a B.A. in English from Pennsylvania State University, an M.A. in Reading and Language Arts from Montclair University, and earned a Humanities and Writing Certificate of Advanced Study from Wesleyan University. She taught for 14 years in the Wilton Public School system in the English Department. Bonnie continues to explore her love of literature and art by volunteering at Weir Farm National Historic Site, where she enjoys transcribing historic letters, staffing the historic studios as a Studio Docent, and presenting special interpretive programs.

There is no fee to participate, but registration is required and space is limited. To register or for more information about the Nature of Love Walk, please call 203-834-1896 ext. 28.

Wine Tasting @ the historic Merwinsville Hotel June 3

The historic Merwinsville Hotel located on 1 Browns Forge Rd in the quaint village of Gaylordsville is hosting an annual wine tasting on June 3 from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Event goers will enjoy tasting an array of wines from all over the world. The tasting trip includes wines from California, continuing on to Europe with stops in Italy and Portugal with other samplings along the way before returning to the United States to check out some local Connecticut wineries. A free wine glass is included with your admission. J. P. Gifford Market & Catering Co. of Kent, Connecticut, will be supplying light fare to help cleanse the palate between tastings.

Tickets in advance are $25 and $30 at the door. If you would like to pre-order your tickets, please visit www.merwinsvillehotel.org or stop in at either NeJaimes Wine & Spirits at 164 Danbury Road or New Milford Spirit Shoppe at 16 Prospect Hill Road (Rt 67), both located in New Milford. A portion of all sales from this event go towards the continued restoration of this historic 1843 building.

The Merwinsville Hotel is located at 1 Browns Forge Road in Gaylordsville, CT conveniently located 15 minutes from Kent, Sherman, New Milford and the Harlem Valley/Wingdale Railroad Station (the northwest corner of New Milford).

To sign up for a free monthly newsletter on Litchfield Hills or Fairfield County on things to do and see and special deals visit www.litchfieldhills.com

Annual Pottery Sale this weekend @ Cornwall Bridge Pottery

Once again this year Cornwall Bridge Pottery has announced the annual Memorial Day LAMP SALE! In 1976 Todd Piker, master potter began making lamps for Bloomingdale’s as they hosted an American Craft Celebration in honor of the nation’s 200th Anniversary. Forty-one years later Cornwall Bridge Pottery has become world renown for their artistic and elegant one of a kind designs; they are a steady feature in the Shaker Workshops catalog. Cornwall Bridge Pottery has customers lighting their homes with their lamps from the Caribbean, throughout Europe and all across the United States. When you buy one of their lamps you will brighten that dark corner of the room, illuminate an heirloom treasure, or, gently read that favorite book.

Celebrate this Memorial Day Weekend with this year’s selection of high quality lamps. In their continued commitment to function, quality, and price some lamps will be discounted as much as 75%. Arrive early for the best selection of lamps for you to add to your collection, or, to give as a gift to a loved one!

Also, new this year, is an invitation to visit our new website http://www.CBPOTS.COM. They have kept the same URL—http://www.cbpots.com—but now have a new server with added opportunities for social media and streamlined communication with those of you that would like to stay more connected. The new site is mobile friendly and promises to become a much more direct way of letting you know the latest developments taking place at Cornwall Bridge Pottery–new workshop, new pots, wood firing dates, internship opportunities, lectures, demonstrations and the boldest effort of all–Cornwall Bridge IDEAS-a new setting to advance and support the work of Pots, Potters and Potteries in the 21st century.

Objectivity @ Washington Art Association

The Washington Art Association & Gallery located on 4 Byron Plaza in Washington Depot is presenting “Objectivity,” an exhibition of sculpture and photographs through June 3. This exhibition explores how five artists working in different media deal with the quality of being objective – through the lens of a camera or the touch of the hand. Gallery Hours are Tues. – Sat., 10 am – 5 pm.

Mary Adams is a sculptor concerned with figural representation. Her clay and bronze figures are able to capture movement, expression and mood in three dimensions. Her sense of touch is so attuned that her sculptures give the viewer not only the keen sense of a figure but also of place and time.

Dan Murray studied with esteemed master sculptor, Paul Suttman. Employing the lost wax casting method, the hawks and mountain lions around his rural studio in Kent have inspired him. The animals’ connections to nature grounds Murray and gives him insight into our greater world. His stylized forms give the animals authority and grace.

Jon Riedeman’s reliefs and sculptures also focus on wildlife. His work is realistic and evokes touch of whimsy that the natural world tends to cleverly possess.

William de la Mare’s photographs are interested in the interconnectedness of environmental systems. He concentrates on photographing water in its various forms. As profoundly important as water may be in that direct and measurable context there is another contemplative benefit that water provides – water depicts simplicity, and yet its complexity challenges us to find patterns in apparent chaos.

Catherine Noren’s lure of photography as a gateway to Truth has been intense. Yet, curiosity about people and events has become less intense than the metaphors that illuminate them: light, color, shadow, shape, juxtaposition, scale with out-of-the-way relationships and geographies. Noren works to make the familiar strange to the viewer.

For more information, please contact the Washington Art Association & Gallery by telephone at 860.868.2878 or by email at washingtonart@snet.net.

To sign up for a monthly newsletter on things to do and see, special events and travel tips in Litchfield Hills and Fairfield County visit www.litchfieldhills.com

ANNUAL “FARM DAY CELEBRATION” AT FLANDERS NATURE CENTER

Capture the sights, sounds and experience of a real New England farm when Flanders Nature Center & Land Trust holds its annual “Farm Day” on Saturday, May 20th at the Van Vleck Farm and Nature Sanctuary, 5 Church Hill Road in Woodbury. This family fun event is taking place from 10AM to 4PM this fun filled celebration will be packed with farm based activities that will build memories for families and kids alike.

Families can visit with live farm animals like sheep, rabbits, horses, cows and chickens as well as the newest Flanders’ spring arrivals including a set of triplet brother goats and a miniature horse born last month named “April Surprise”! There will be great food, music and lots of family-friendly entertainment that will take place on the grounds, throughout the day. Farm Day” visitors can hop on to a wagon to go for a hay ride, touch a wide collection of vintage tractors, take a pony ride, watch wood carving demonstrations, buy unique items from local artisans, enjoy delicious homemade food and treats and more.

Livingston Ripley Waterfowl Conservation will be on hand to talk about some of their rescued birds and Dianne Parmelee, author and Flanders educator will be available for a meet & greet and book signings of her new release, “Spot A Lot Dot”.

In addition, the trails at Flanders Nature Center & Land Trust will be open from dawn to dusk for hiking, at no charge so families are encouraged to make a full day of it while celebrating the great outdoors and getting a taste of the farming life!
The cost for “Farm Day” is $7 per person and free for children aged two or under. All proceeds from the day go toward Flanders’ environmental education programming. For more information visit Flanders website at www.flandersnaturecenter.org

To sign up for a monthly newsletter on things to do and see, special events and travel tips in Litchfield Hills and Fairfield County visit www.litchfieldhills.com