Norwalk Oyster Festival cancelled due to COVID-19 concerns

Due to ongoing COVID-19 concerns, the Norwalk Seaport Association (NSA) is canceling the 43rd annual Norwalk Oyster Festival, previously scheduled for September 11-13, 2020. Prioritizing the health and safety of everyone involved, the decision comes after careful deliberation between the NSA Board of Trustees, and Festival Exhibitors.

“We are disappointed that we’re unable to hold this highly anticipated event,” said NSA President Mike Reilly. “But, based on the information we have today, we know it’s the right decision to make.” With that said, Reilly continued, “The Norwalk Oyster Festival raises more than $100,000 that contributes to the maintenance and restoration of the historic Sheffield Island Lighthouse and to support our educational programs. Without this festival taking place in 2020, we will be facing a challenging year. We are hoping for the continued support of all the friends of the Seaport and the Norwalk Oyster Festival to help us continue with our mission.”

“From Seaport leadership and regional partners like the long time event sponsor, First County Bank, to the artists, performers, vendors, and volunteers who work so tirelessly to stage the Norwalk Oyster Festival each year,” Mike continued, “We thank everyone for standing with us in making this difficult call. We are counting the days to restaging the festival and celebrating our maritime heritage together again in 2021.

The NSA team is exploring options to coordinate an online experience or a smaller event to showcase this historic, beloved event – one of the most popular in Connecticut and the Northeast. In the interim, we urge everyone to follow federal, state, and local COVID-19 mitigation advice.

To keep updated on our planned activities, please follow our Facebook page, subscribe to our newsletter at, or email us at

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo to Reopens June 1

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo will reopen June 1, 2020. They are implementing a new online ticketing system to welcome everyone back safely and efficiently. The Zoo will be splitting the day into two sessions allowing for up to 500 guests per session. They will open the Zoo at 9am and will close at noon for cleaning. We will then re-open at 1pm and close at 4pm.  They will also be requiring all guests to wear a mask. And the more creative the better!

They have created a one-way loop around the Zoo so guests can explore while social distancing. All buildings will be closed to the public; however, guests will be able to pre-order food online from the café and pick it up from our take-out window. Also, the gift shop will be open for online purchases which will be made available for pick up at gift shop kiosk.  

Ticket prices will be reduced from $16 to $15 for an adult and from $13 to $10 for a child and a senior and as always children under 3 are free.  They will not be able to accept coupons or allow for any partner discount at this time. We also will not be able to rent wheelchairs or strollers.

As they welcome visitors back under these new circumstances, they will appreciate your patience as they look to be able to provide you the best Zoo experience in the safest manner possible.

Please continue to check their website and their Facebook page for the most up-to-date information. 

Derby Historical Society Presents Video on A History of Weapons

The Derby Historical Society is sharing a video documentary on Tuesday, May 19 at 10 a.m. with Primitive Technologist, Jim Dina.

The documentary will highlight a History of Weapons from the Stone Age to the American Colonies. This is part of a video series that is taking place each Tuesday at 10 am through July 7, 2020.

Virtual guests can tune in for a brief presentation on a wide variety of local history topics, from sneak-peeks of rooms inside the David Humphreys House to artifacts in the extensive collection of the DHS, we will keep YOU connected to the history of the Lower Naugatuck Valley! To tune in click here

Visit a Working Forest in Litchfield Hills

The Great Mountain Forest (GMF) encompasses more than 6,000 acres of contiguous forestland in the towns of Norfolk and Canaan, Connecticut. GMF is owned and managed by The Great Mountain Forest Corporation, a not-for-profit 501 © 3 private operating foundation. They strive to promote the working forest as a renewable resource, a habitat for wildlife, and an outdoor classroom for education.

Photo Credit- GMF

As a working forest scientists carry out tomographic scans on trees, specifically the American beech, sugar maple, and yellow birch to measure the rate of decay. An Experiment Station has also been set up that surveys invasive insects and evaluates their impact. A Chestnut orchard has been established and has established a backcross breeding program in order to breed an American Chestnut that is highly resistant to the chestnut blight and is native to Connecticut. Being a unique old-growth coniferous forest, one of the few in the state, birds are also monitored for productivity and survivorship. The University of Connecticut has also set up a program to monitor bears and moose.

Photo Credit GMF

The forest trails at Great Mountain Forest are currently open to the public during daylight hours. They ask that hikers follow the CDC guidelines by keeping at least six feet of distance between people on the trails. For a map of the trails and roads, please click here.. The forest supports an abundance of diverse wildlife from resident whitetail deer to moose, black bears, and turkeys, waterfowl, and many birds. All visitors must sign in and out at one of the visitor registers by the gated trails located on Windrow Road in Norfolk and on Canaan Mountain Road in Cannan. Pedestrian use is limited to main woods roads and designated trails. Bicycle use is limited specially designated bicycle trails. Leashed dogs are permitted on trails but horses are strictly prohibited.

Spring Gifts from Cricket Hill Garden for Mother’s Day

Cricket Hill Garden in Thomaston on 670 Walnut Hill Road is expecting to be in full peony bloom soon. Founded in 1989 by Kasha and David Furman with a focus on Chinese Tree Peonies they were one of the first nurseries in the United States to sell true-to-name varieties of these rare and beautiful plants. Like all of nature’s creations, peony blossoms come in a variety of shapes with interesting names from Lotus that is a semi-double bloom to hundred proliferate that is a double bloom and thousand petals crown just to name a few types of blooms.

This year Cricket Hill Garden is open for curbside pick-up on Tuesdays – Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. To choose your plant, be sure to browse their selection of potted peonies and potted fruit trees and berry bushes before you arrive. It is easy to place your order online and to pick the plants up. The plants will be in the pickup area with your last name and order number clearly marked.

If you are in the market for a Mother’s Day gift, Cricket Hill Garden will be happy to ship the peonies of your choice with the added bonus of 15% off to commemorate Mother’s Day. Peonies available for shipping include the magnificent imperial reign, rose scattered with gold, multi colored butterfly, capital red, Hubei blue, cinnamon pink, ancient red, paeonia anomala and paeonia japonica.

How to Keep Kids Busy and Learning in May Inside with IAIS (Institute for American Indian Studies) Online Videos 2 p.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday Videos

Many states including Connecticut are on pause and parents are faced with the challenge of keeping their children occupied. Most experts suggest that setting up a routine is important because it makes children feel safe. Staying active and finding activities that educate and entertain at the same time is an important step in the right direction.

With that in mind, the Institute for American Indian Studies in Washington, Connecticut has created “Inside with IAIS,” a series of online video programs that will make the most of quarantine for adults and children alike. Thanks to technology, spending time with the Institute and its’ educators is something that you and your family can do through May on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays at 2 p.m. on Facebook from the comfort of your home.

Museum educators have been hard at work shooting new online videos that show everything from survival skills using Native American techniques to gardening, and traditional storytelling. Programs on survival skills will show what tools Native Americans made and used to survive in the Eastern Woodlands, with many of these methods still used today. Viewers will also learn about the origin and importance of the three sisters garden that is grown every year on the grounds of the museum. There will be tips on how to start your own three sisters’ garden right in your own backyard!

And then there is storytime, perfect for the whole family. Native American stories have been handed down generation to generation for centuries to preserve their culture. Darlene Kascak, a traditional Native American storyteller, who is a member of the Schaghticoke Tribal Nation explains the cultural importance of these stories and why they have inspired her and countless others. Traditional Native American stories present essential ideas and values in simple and entertaining ways that show both the positive and the negative. These stories always, teach an important life lesson about things like love, leadership, honor, our connection to the earth, and our relationship with animals that are often depicted through storytelling.

Not to be missed are the programs with an archeological flavor. There will be several fascinating programs on the importance of different artifacts in the museum’s collection and how they relate to and connect cultures all across North and South America. In another presentation, viewers will dig into the past as they learn about Templeton archeological site, Connecticut’s oldest Paleo-Indian site, located minutes from the museum. An additional program on the process of archeological excavations and a virtual scavenger hunt that is sure to intrigue and entertain are also on the schedule.

About The Institute for American Indian Studies
Located on 15 acres of woodland acres the Institute For American Indian Studies preserves and educates through archeology, research, exhibitions, and programs. They have the 16th c. Algonquian Village, Award-Winning Wigwam Escape, and a museum with temporary and permanent displays of authentic artifacts from prehistory to the present that allows visitors to foster a new understanding of the world and the history and culture of Native Americans. The Institute for American Indian Studies is located on 38 Curtis Road, Washington, CT.

List of Inside with IAIS Videos

How to Use an Atatl

Foraging – Cattails
Tales from the Rabbit Bag – the Unfinished Creatures

A Walk in the Woods

Archeology – Rocks on the Move

How the Chipmunk Got its’ stripes

Inside Community –

Nature Journaling for Kids

Difference between natural rocks and artifacts

Outdoor Survival Shelter Building –

Native American Story About Frogs –