Trails of the Norwalk River Valley and Vicinity

The Norwalk River Watershed Association has launched “Trails of the Norwalk River Valley and Vicinity,” which includes hiking trail maps of the entire watershed region, including Norwalk, Wilton, Ridgefield, Weston and Redding.

Both the map and David Park’s “Kayaking In and Around the Norwalk Islands” book are available through the NRWA website at http://norwalkriver.org/. Proceeds from each purchase go toward funding NRWA efforts to protect the Norwalk River watershed.

The map is available in paper for $5 and in water-resistant outdoor quality for $8 (100% of proceeds support NRWA). The book is available for $10 (40% of proceeds go to NRWA).

The maps were produced by NRWA and printed with funds from a grant from Norwalk outdoor gear and apparel store Recreational Equipment Inc. (REI). The map charts existing and proposed trails from Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk north to Danbury throughout the watershed and surrounding vicinity.

Kayaking in and around the Norwalk Islands by NRWA board member and kayak enthusiast, David Park, is packed with superb information on kayaking the Norwalk area.

The Norwalk Islands, located one mile off shore, include islands open to the public for camping and exploring, a few being part of the Stewart McKinney Wildlife Refuge. The guidebook, complete with color photos, includes information on three local rivers, complete descriptions of all the islands including local wildlife, history, and points of interest such as the Historic Sheffield Island Lighthouse and other Norwalk lighthouses as well as other useful tidbits such as where to launch, coastal and off-shore paddling information, and safety guidelines.

For information on free programs, research, volunteer opportunities, and membership, contact http://www.norwalkriver.org.

About the Norwalk Watershed Association

The Norwalk River Watershed Association, incorporated in 1996, is a not-for-profit membership organization whose mission is to improve the water quality and aesthetic value of the 40,000-acre Norwalk River watershed; to encourage recreational use of the existing trails and open space; and to promote research, education, cooperation, and action on the part of the stakeholders in the seven watershed towns in CT (Ridgefield, Redding, Wilton, New Canaan, Weston, and Norwalk) and NY (Lewisboro).

34th Norwalk Seaport Association Oyster Festival Set for September 9-11

Fun for families and friends from nine to ninety, the 34th annual Norwalk Seaport Association Oyster Festival will be held this year from Friday, September 9 through Sunday, September 11.

Highlights include music from nationally known-bands such as Soul Asylum, Fuel, Silverado, Springsteen cover band, The Rising, as well as rides, cooking competitions, arts and crafts and a diverse assortment of attractions and entertainment that promise fun for festival goers.

The event is held at Veteran’s Park, adjacent to Norwalk Harbor on Seaview Avenue in Norwalk, CT. Admission for adults is $10 on Friday, $12 on Saturday and Sunday. Senior tickets are $10 all days. Children 5-12 year’s old are $3. Children under 5 and U.S. military personnel on active duty are free. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.seaport.org.

For the Kids
Children of all ages are wowed by Pirates Coast Adventure. Here, kids can meet real life pirates and look for booty in treasure hunts, hear storytelling and join in other fun-filled activities. The Kids’ Cove includes games, rides and entertainment. Another favorite activity is the work of a world-renowned sand sculptor that exhibit his talents with help from the kids! In addition, there will be an action-packed performance by Marvel Super Heroes. Sunday is Family Day with special family and children’s packages for entrance, rides and meals.

For the Whole Family
The festival offers a wide array of attractions the whole family will enjoy, including continuous entertainment by local musicians and national acts. The Go Greener Pavilion features hands-on demonstrations and displays with an environmental theme. Action sports and high energy combine in BMX and Motorcross Stunt Shows sponsored by f’real. A multitude of fine artists and crafters display whimsical as well as practical items that appeal to all tastes, budgets and ages.

For the Foodies
The BBQ Pit, endorsed by the New England Barbeque Society and the Kansas City Barbeque Society, offers finger-lickin’ good food, demonstrations and competitions, including the always-popular chowd
er and chili cook-offs. More great food from around the world is available at the International Food Court. This culinary fare is prepared by dozens of local nonprofit organizations allowing them to raise vital funds for their charitable causes. At the Oyster Pavilion, learn about Norwalk’s oystering history while watching slurping and shucking contests.

About the Norwalk Seaport Association
The Norwalk Seaport Association was founded in 1978 as a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, education and public awareness of Norwalk’s maritime environment and heritage. The Seaport Association and its volunteers are solely responsible for organizing and financing the Oyster Festival. In addition to the Oyster Festival, the Norwalk Seaport Association owns Sheffield Lighthouse and its volunteers maintain the lighthouse and grounds as a museum and nature preserve. For more information, visit http://www.seaport.org. or call (203) 838-9444.

Area Information:
For further information on Fairfield County and other area activities visit http://www.visitfairfieldcountyct.com or call 800-6631 for a free Fairfield County brochure.

Friends of the Norwalk Islands Cook-out Kayak Paddle Sunday August 21!

Experienced and novice kayakers are invited to join Friends of the Norwalk Islands for a day of exploration and a cook-out on Sunday, August 21. A guided Kayak Paddle to the Norwalk Islands will launch at 9:30 a.m. from The Small Boat Shop dock at 144 Water Street. Children (age 10 and above and weighing at least 100 pounds) are welcome to participate. Water safety and basic paddling techniques will be discussed before the tour to the Norwalk Islands begins.

“This is an opportunity to enjoy the natural beauty of the Norwalk Islands,” says Susan Snider, president, Friends of the Norwalk Islands. “After launching, we will head down the Norwalk River into Long Island Sound. Weather permitting we will stop for a cook-out on Shea Island followed by a visit to Chimon Island to learn about the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge and meet Elliot Sudal and Jason Wheeler, the island keepers who are living and working on Chimon this summer.”

The Small Boat Shop is sponsoring this kayak paddle to support Friends of the Norwalk Islands. The event fee of $105 includes a kayak, paddles and life jacket, plus a $25 donation to Friends of the Norwalk Islands. Reservations are required by calling Friends of the Norwalk Islands (203-849-8341) or The Small Boat Shop (203-854-5223) or visit http://www.TheSmallBoatShop.com/kayaktours2011.html .

Led by Snider, the Friends of the Norwalk Islands has partnered with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service to conserve, protect and enhance the environmental, recreational and cultural significance of the Norwalk Islands and to promote the National Wildlife Refuge System. The Norwalk Islands of Chimon, Peach, Goose and Sheffield are part of the Norwalk Islands unit of the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge. To learn more, visit the web site at http://www.FriendsoftheNorwalkIslands.org

Columbus Replica Ships Pinta And Nina To Land In Bridgeport CT Over Fourth Of July Weekend

On Friday July 1st, the ‘Pinta and the ‘Nina’, replicas of Columbus’ ships will open in Bridgeport. The ships will be docked at Captains Cove, 1 Bostwick Ave., until their departure early Tuesday morning July 5th.

The ‘Nina’ was built completely by hand and without the use of power tools. Archaeology magazine called the ship “the most historically correct Columbus replica ever built.” The “Pinta” was recently built in Brazil to accompany the Nina on all of her travels. She is a larger version of the archetypal caravel. Historians consider the caravel the Space Shuttle of the fifteenth century.

Both ships tour together as a new and enhanced ‘sailing museum’ for the purpose of educating the public and school children on the ‘caravel’, a Portuguese ship used by Columbus and many early explorers used to discover the world.

While in port, the general public is invited to visit the ships for a walk-aboard, self-guided tour. Admission charges are $8.00 for adults, $7.00 for seniors, and $6.00 for students 5 – 16. Children 4 and under are Free. The ships are open every day from 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. No reservations necessary.

Teachers or organizations wishing to schedule a 30 minute guided tour with a crewmember should call 1 787 672 2152. Minimum of 15. $4.00 per person. No Maximum.

Sheffield Island Opens for the Season

The Norwalk Seaport Association has kicked off its summer season with the opening of Sheffield Island that is home to the 142-year-old Sheffield Island lighthouse, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

From May through September, visitors can board the Seaport Association’s 45-foot C.J. Toth catamaran for a cruise to the island then tour the lighthouse, observe wildlife in their natural habitat in the Stewart B. McKinney National Wildlife Refuge, hunt for shells along the beach, dine on a picnic lunch, play on the lawns around the lighthouse or simply unwind and enjoy the natural beauty that surrounds them. A special treat when visiting the island is a climb to the lighthouse tower that affords magnificent views of Long Island Sound and, on a clear day, of the New York City skyline.

A special offering by the Seaport Association is the Wednesday Sunset Harbor Cruises from 6:30 p.m to 9:30 p.m. This relaxing sunset cruise on the Seaport’s new 45-foot ferry is a spectacular way to explore the beauty of Fairfield County’s “gold coast”, Norwalk Harbor and Long Island Sound. Advance reservations for the popular sunset cruise are strongly recommended.

A favorite of young and old alike is the Thursday Evening Clambake at Sheffield Island Lighthouse. Every summer, the Seaport Ferry in South Norwalk carries hundreds of hungry passengers to the historic 1868 Sheffield Island Lighthouse for this famous Thursday night outing. A true New England dining experience, the evening allows participants to dine in the festive tented pavilion on the lighthouse lawn, with tours of the lighthouse itself included in the cost. Roundtrip cruise and dinner is either $58 or $78 per person, depending on entree. Advance registration only. To dine in the shadow of the historic 1868 Sheffield Island Lighthouse and look out to the skyline of Manhatten is truly and unforgettable summer experience. The Clambake begins June 30, 2011 and runs through August 25, 2011.

The Seaport Association also offers a popular Bird Watching Cruise that leaves the dock at 7:30 am and returns at 10:30 am. Birding enthusiasts will join Larry Flynn, Master Wildlife Conservationist, Division of Wildlife, Connecticut Department of Environmental Protection, aboard the Seaport Association’s ferry, to learn about the birds that make Long Island Sound their home. The first tour for 2011 is Saturday, June 4 from 2 pm to 4 pm. This years dates for the special birding crusies are: Sunday, June 12 and 26; Sunday July 10, Tuesday July 12, Sunday July 24, Saturday July 30, Sunday August 7 and Wednesday August 10. For reservations call 203-838-9444.

The ferry service to Sheffield Island is Monday-Friday — 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. and on weekends and holidays the ferry runs at 11 a.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Round-trip ferry tickets: $22 adults $20 seniors/NSA members $12 ages 4-12; $5 ages 3 and younger. To buy tickets call 800-838-3006 (24/7) visit the website http://www.seaport.org or call 203-838-2898 on the day of the ferry ride.

The ferry leaves from the Sheffield Island Lighthouse dock located at the corner of North Water Street and Washington Street in Historic South Norwalk. Parking is available adjacent to the dock and the Norwalk Maritime Center Garage. The 2011 Season begins May 28, 2011 and ends September 25, 2011. It is advised to arrive at the dock 15 minutes before departure.

The Norwalk Seaport Association was established in 1978 and stewards the Sheffield Island lighthouse, which celebrates 142 years as the jewel in Long Island Sound.