THE BEST FOLIAGE TOWN IN NEW ENGLAND? YANKEE MAGAZINE PICKS KENT, CONNECTICUT

Kent, Connecticut has many claims to fame—two state parks, a 250-foot waterfall, rural beauty combined with sophisticated shops, galleries and museums.  But this fall there is new reason to boast.  Yankee Magazine has named this charming village in the Litchfield Hills of Western Connecticut the peak spot for leaf-peeping in all of New England.

kent road and foliage

In one day in Kent, says Yankee, you can drive through rolling hills beside a twisting river, stop for thick hot chocolate and an pastry, hike the Appalachian trail, picnic with a panini by a waterfall, shop for Buddhas or modern art and bite into a crisp native Cortland apple, perhaps in the shade of a historic covered bridge.

This praise is no surprise to those who know Kent and its unique blend of attractions.  A newly published free color brochure with map will help newcomers find their way around.

Foliage watchers who like their leaves close-up on a hiking trail should head for Macedonia Brook State Park, where 2300 acres offer extensive leafy trails.  For views, the Blue Trail is hard to beat with its fantastic vistas of the Catskill and Taconic mountains.

In Kent Falls State Park you can admire the falls from the bottom or hike a quarter-mile up the hill and feel the mist on your face as the water cascades down 250 feet on its way to join the Housatonic River.

The Appalachian Trail runs through this area, and hikers who want scenery without stress will enjoy the Housatonic “river walk,” a peaceful stretch beside the river that is the longest essentially flat section along the entire trail.

bulls bridge kent ct

For more worldly diversions, take a walk along Route 7, Kent’s Main Street, lined for miles with irresistible stops.  Five antiques shops beckon, including Pauline’s Place and Koblenz & Co., known for their antique jewelry.  Among the many shops and galleries, Heron American Craft Gallery shows the best work of American craftsmen, Foreign Cargo offers unusual clothing, jewelry and art from Africa, Asia and the Pacific Islands and the Kent Art Association is just one of five fine art galleries in town.

Take out the camera for Bulls’ Bridge, one of three remaining covered bridges in Connecticut dating from the 19th century.  George Washington crossed the Housatonic River near the site of the present bridge in 1781.

Just north of town is the Sloane-Stanley Museum.  Eric Sloane (1905-1985) was a prolific artist, author and illustrator and an avid collector of Americana. The museum includes the artist’s studio, examples of his art and his extensive collection of early American handmade tools, beautiful objects of wood that are virtual works of art.  On the property are the remains of the Kent Iron Furnace and a diorama explaining the once-booming local iron industry.  Next-door is the Connecticut Antique Machinery Association Museum, a unique display of steam and gas tractors, a working narrow gauge railroad, an industrial hall with working steam engines and mining exhibit building.

Fall Foliage in Litchfield Hills CT  copy 2

When hunger pangs strike in Kent, the Panini Café is the place for a tasty picnic sandwich, and for a treat the Kent coffee and Chocolate Company offers the “best hot chocolate in Connecticut.”  For dinner, the Fife & Drum is a long time favorite for continental dinners with nightly music, Bull’s Bridge Inn has a choice of fine dining or pub fare, and Doc’s Trattoria serves excellent Italian fare and has a pleasant patio for fine fall days.

For a copy of the new free guide and map of Kent and a free copy of UNWIND, a 163-page color guide to lodging and dining and other regional attractions in all of the Litchfield Hills contact the Western Connecticut Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, (860) 567-4506, www.litchfieldhills.com.

Mattatuck Museum Presents Connecticut Art from the Depression Era Federal Art Project

Beatrice Cuming, Saturday Night New London

The Mattatuck Museum celebrates the opening September 13 of its exhibition Art for Everyone: The Federal Art Project in Connecticut. The exhibition, Art for Everyone, will be on display until February 5, 2013.

During the Great Depression, Franklin D. Roosevelt and his administration set up the Federal Arts Project to create jobs. As a result of this project, 173 Connecticut artists created over 5,000 works of art many of which disappeared. The Mattatuck Museum and the Connecticut State Library have been working together to collect and catalogue both known and unknown works.

George Earle, Bridgeport Parking Lot, courtesy of Southbury Training School

Art for Everyone examines art produced for the Federal Art Project in Connecticut. Ralph Boyer, Beatrice Cuming, James Daugherty, George Marinko, Spencer Baird Nichols, Joseph Schork and Cornelia Vetter are among the artists represented in this exhibit of more than 80 works.

This exhibition is the culmination of a multi-year, multi-part project that was instigated in 2007 by the work of Amy Trout, Connecticut River Museum, and draws upon the archives and data base of the Works Progress Administration artists at the Connecticut State Library. This exhibition places the art and artist in the broader context of American artists during the Depression Era.

Ralph Boyer, Westport WPA Art Committee

Visit www.MattatuckMuseum.org or call (203) 753-0381 for more information on all of the museum’s adult and children’s programs, events and exhibits. The Mattatuck Museum is a member of the Connecticut Art Trail, a group of sixteen world-class museums and historic sites (www.arttrail.org). Located at 144 West Main Street, Waterbury, the museum is open Tuesday through Saturday 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Sunday noon to 5 p.m. Free parking is located behind the building on Park Place.

For area information of where to stay, dine and shop visit www.litchfieldhills.com

A Taste of Litchfield Hills Aug. 25 – 27

From comfort food to gourmet dishes and live entertainment to an outdoor shopping bazaar, the 27th annual Taste of The Litchfield Hills will offer a menu of fine fare and fun at a new location.

New England’s oldest food and wine festival will be held Saturday & Sunday, Aug. 25-26, 2012, at its new location, Harwinton Fairgrounds, 150 Locust Road, Harwinton, Conn.

Since 1985, the festival has annually attracted thousands of guests for a sampling of the region’s food and wine, plus upscale shopping and live entertainment.

This year’s menu will feature such dishes as BBQ pulled pork, braised short ribs, chicken and black bean chili, fresh prosciutto Panini, lamb shawama pita wrap, lobster hush puppies, lobster mac and cheese, grilled pizza, New England clam chowder, seared sea scallops, sesame chicken and many other items. Sweet offerings will include apple cider cinnamon donuts, banana & toffee pie, fruit smoothies, old fashioned kettle corn, white chocolate apricot squares and many other delicious desserts. The 2012 Menu is available for download at www.LitchfieldFestivals.com.

Foodies will enjoy “grazing-sized” portions of house specialties prepared by chefs from regional restaurants, bistros and other purveyors of fine food with prices ranging from $4.00 to $8.00 per item. Table seating will be available in the festival’s Culinary Tent and outdoor picnic pavilions. Plus, guests are invited to picnic on the grounds with their own lawn chairs and blankets.

Participating culinary vendors will include @ The Corner (Litchfield), Backstage Restaurant (Torrington), Faddy’s Donuts & Ice Cream (Bloomfield), The Green Room Café (Winsted), Indochine Pavilion (New Haven), Infinity Bistro (Norfolk), Jake’s Wayback Burgers (Torrington), Kelly’s Kitchen (Winsted), KJ’ Grilled Pizza (Torrington), La Cupola Ristorante & Inn (Litchfield) and Noujaim’s Specialty Foods (Torrington).

An assortment of imported Italian wines from Don Tomasi Winery will be available for purchase by the glass. Samuel Adams Boston Lager beer, plus a variety of soft drinks also will be available for purchase.

Live entertainment will include country singer-songwriter Courtney Drummey (Saturday, 12-3 p.m.), jazz recording artists The Christine Spero Group (Saturday, 4-7 p.m.) and blues artists The Andy James Band (Sunday, 1-4 p.m.).

Guests will also enjoy an upscale shopping experience in the festivals outdoor bazaar featuring such unique gift items as artisan-crafted jewelry, gourmet food products, kitchenware and other products and services.

Hours for A Taste of the Litchfield Hills will be 12 to 8 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 25, 2012, and 12 to 5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 26, 2012.

Ticket prices are Adult (age 12-64): $10 On-Site or $8 Advance Purchase; Senior (age 65+): $8 On-Site or $6 Advance Purchase; and Child (Under 12): Free admission. Advance tickets and more information are available at www.LitchfieldFestivals.com. Admission does not include food and beverage, which are purchased separately.

Harwinton Fairgrounds is located off Route 4 on Locust Road in Harwinton, Conn., just a few minutes from the intersection of Routes 8 & 118 and is an easy day-trip from Albany, The Berkshires, Hartford, The Hudson Valley, Metro New York, New Haven and Springfield.

With its antique shops, art galleries, covered bridges and quaint villages, the Litchfield Hills is an ideal vacation destination for the three-day holiday weekend. Lodging options include dozens of bed and breakfasts, country inns, resorts, hotels and motels. Tourism information is available from the Western Conn. Convention & Visitors Bureau at 860-567-4506 or www.LitchfieldHills.com.

About A Taste of The Litchfield Hills

Since 1985, A Taste of The Litchfield Hills has annually attracted thousands of guests for a sampling of the region’s food and locally-produced wine, plus live entertainment and upscale shopping. More Info: http://www.LitchfieldFestivals.com

Halloween Spooktacular Cooking Class at The Silo Cooking School New Milford CT

For years, The Silo Cooking School has provided chefs of all ages with great learning experiences – combined with fun. The tradition continues on Saturday, October 29 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. with a Halloween Spooktacular Class – “It Came From the Kitchen” taught by Silo Cooking School Assistant Director Nancy Stuart Ploch. The class is geared for children ages five to eleven.

Little monsters will go batty conjuring ghoulish delights such as Vampire Blood (Tomato) Soup, Chopped Fingers, Monster Eyeballs, Warlock’s Brew and more! This hands-on full participation class teaches valuable skills in reading, math, and teamwork.

The class fee is $50 per child. For more information and to register visit www.hunthillfarmtrust.org, or call (860) 355-0300. Registration is also available at The Silo during regular business hours. The Silo Gallery and store are open Wednesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from noon to 5 p.m. The Silo Cooking School at Hunt Hill Farm, 44 Upland Rd, New Milford, CT. 860.355.0300; www.hunthillfarmtrust.org

The Silo Cooking School at Hunt Hill Farm offers recreational demonstration and hands-on culinary classes taught by local and celebrity chefs for students ages five to 85 in a unique country setting. Upcoming classes include October 23’s Autumn in France with Chef Mary Kravec and a two-part demonstration series featuring Celebrity Chef Sara Moulton on Friday and Saturday November 4th and 5th.

Although not a cooking class, The Silo is hosting a fascinating event– “The Silo and the Supernatural” on October 30 from 4pm to 6 pm. Participants will enter the realm of the paranormal with The Northwest Ct Paranormal Society’s professional investigator John Zontok and Bob Mills, a professional photographer who helps the team differentiate true paranormal pictures from forged images. Tools of the trade, the history of paranormal photography, and audio of ghostly voices and videos of what could be a revolutionary soldier will be shared and experienced. Local hauntings, including a Barkhamsted barn investigation featured on the Animal Planet’s “The Haunted” series and “My Ghost Story are highlights of this macabre evening of paranormal fun. Due to the nature of this program, ages 12 and up please. (860-355-0300). www.hunthillfarmtrust.org

About The Silo Cooking School and Hunt Hill Farm Trust

The Cooking School is part of the Smithsonian Institution affiliated Hunt Hill Farm Trust, a non-profit organization. Hunt Hill Farm Trust is a vibrant and unique regional resource, offering the public the opportunity to explore music, art, cuisine, crafts and literature in a setting of historic farm buildings and permanently protected open space.

Hunt Hill Farm also includes The Silo Gallery, The Skitch Henderson Museum, and The Silo Store, which sells giftware, tabletop, foods and kitchen items.

Drawing on the creative legacy of Skitch and Ruth Henderson, the Henderson Cultural Center at Hunt Hill Farm, a Smithsonian Institution affiliate, is a vibrant and unique regional resource, offering the public opportunities to explore music, art, cuisine, and permanently protected historic open space.

Halloween Starts This Weekend in Litchfield Hills!

Dracula, Frankenstein and other heroes of the horrors will be on hand, while spooks and spiders, ghouls and goblins will abound in haunted graveyards. The Litchfield Hills of Northwestern Connecticut will be filled with unique ways to celebrate Halloween throughout the month of October. Families can choose from fearsome to friendly, with many chances for younger children to don their costumes and parade in happy small town celebrations.

Scary Scenarios

For chills, make haste to the Haunted Graveyard at Lake Compounce Family Theme Park in Bristol, which has been called “The granddaddy of the horrifically good time.” An unholy order of monks keep watch over the graves in the dark caverns of the Catacombs here and a dark and misty fog envelops the graveyard where zombies and night stalkers have wakened from the dead. Some are real; others are amazing animatronic creations made by The Haunted Graveyard’s crazed staff. Recommended for adults, teens and very brave children, the park opens at dusk weekends from September 30 to October 31, and runs to midnight on Fridays and Saturdays, to 10 p.m. on Sundays. The Haunted Graveyard will not be open October 2 and rides will not be open on October 31st. Lake Compounce will also be operating 17 thrill rides including Boulder Dash, Wildcat, Down Time, and Zoomerang. Proceeds will benefit the American Diabetes Associations. www.lakecompounce.com

This will be the 45th year for the annual Witches Dungeon Halloween Classic Movies Museum in Bristol. The Graveyard Of Classic Ghouls sets the atmosphere as you enter the dungeon where accurate life-size figures of Boris Karloff, Vincent Price, Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi, and others are featured in 13 scenes or dioramas based on the vintage movie chillers. Many of the figures are made from the actual life casts of the actor’s faces, plus some original costumes or props, in a wax museum style setting with special voice tracks by Vincent Price, Mark Hamill, and John Agar. Many Hollywood props are on display and vintage films may be shown outdoors, weather permitting. A special highlight this year is the display of the classic 1966 “Batmobile” for the opening weekend of Sept. 30 to October 2. Hours are Friday through Sunday evenings, 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., September 30 to October 31. The Museum is not recommended for children under age 7. A $2.00 donation is suggested for all ages! www.preservehollywood.com

For more Halloween suggestions visit www.litchfieldhills.com

Amazing Mazes Beckon Autumn Visitors to Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills and Fairfield County

The mazes are amazing. Imagine acres of tall corn cut into twisting paths in whimsical shapes from crossword puzzles to bumblebees. Finding your way amidst these mazes of maize is a fun-filled adventure for all ages at four beautiful family farms in western Connecticut. Located in Litchfield and Fairfield Counties, the farms also offer hayrides, animals for petting, and apples and pumpkins ripe for picking to make for a perfect fall weekend outing.

Ellsworth Hill Farm in Sharon may take the prize for originality this season with a crossword puzzle maze covering four acres. Pick-your-own apples is another favorite activity at this berry farm and orchard. On hayrides at Ellsworth Hill “Farmer Mike” shows off the glowing foliage-covered hills of northwestern Connecticut and tells about the fruit varieties he grows on the farm.

One of the most elaborate maze designs is the bumblebee at Plaskos Farm in Trumbull. Plaskos is known for the imaginative designs cut each year through four acres of ten-foot-high corn. Crazy Cows, Spider Webs, and Lady Liberty are among the past creations. The twisty mazes provide some 15 miles of trails, but frequent escape hatches mean everyone can choose their own distance. Once again, hayrides are a scenic way to the fields.

Littlest guests will find a new treat this year at March Farm in Bethlehem, where a new Sunflower Maze designed for children is ready for action along with the traditional five-acre corn maze. This year’s main maze theme is designed to teach the value of composting. Along with the chance to pick your own apples, treats at this family-friendly farm include hayrides, and an animal farm where pygmy goats, lambs and llamas can be visited. An expanded Hayloft Playscape invites youngsters to enjoy a mini-hay loft, school and farmhouse, slides, a climbing wall and a tractor-themed sand play area.

Families also enjoy the six-acre corn maze in a unique triangle shape and the four-acre pumpkin patch awaiting visitors to Castle Hill Farm in Newtown. As an added treat, hayrides at Castle Hill bring visitors through a stream to the corn and pumpkin fields. Farm animals for petting and pony rides provide more treats for youngsters.

All of the mazes are open weekends through October, some into November. For exact hours and admission fees, check with each farm listed below or contact the Western Connecticut Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, (860) 567-4506, http://www.visitwesternct.com.

Information:
Castle Hill Farm 40 Sugar Lane, Newtown, 203-426-5487, http://www.castlehillfarm.biz
Ellsworth Hill Farm, 461 Cornwall Bridge Road (Route 4), Sharon, http://www.ellsworthfarm.com
March Farm, 160 Munger Lane, Bethlehem, 203-266-7721, http://www.marchfarms.com
Plaskos Farm, 670 Daniels Farm Road, Trumbull, 203-268-2716, http://www.plaskosfarm.com

Hills, Fall Foliage, and Family Fun in Litchfield Hills Connecticut