Frolic at French Farm in Greenwich

French Farm courtesy Greenwich Historical Society
French Farm courtesy Greenwich Historical Society

French Farm on 516 Lake Ave. in Greenwich was the first property in the town to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1975; and just recently it was designated as a Local Historic Property that will preserve it for future generations.

Originally, the house was designed by H. VanBuren Magonigle and was built in 1911-1915 for Mary Billings French. Today, this four-acre, 100 year old property has beautifully restored farm buildings and a rare plant collection that creates a series of distinctive gardens designed by late owner, David Wierdsma making this landscape a living work of art. Wierdsma inherited the property in 1972 and endeavored to preserve the original structures on the property and to create beautiful and whimsical gardens.

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The farm is not always open to the public, however on Sunday, September 15, on behalf of the Greenwich Historical Society, the entire family is invited to visit French Farm for an afternoon of art and nature from 1:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m., rain or shine.

This is the perfect place to celebrate the final days of summer and explore this unique private landscape that is part gentleman’s farm and part living work of art. Kids will have the opportunity to get up close and personal with the farm’s animal occupants, enjoy a scavenger hunt, press cider, climb the “pterodactyl nest” tower, explore the fossil garden and enjoy nature crafts and activities on the lawn.

Adults have the option of two tours–one led by Florence Boogaerts, focusing on the horticultural aspects of the property; the other by farm manager Jacek Nidzgorski who will talk about the property’s cultural landscape, its collections and its origins and development. Artists are invited to set up their easels during the event, and photographers will be free to snap.

Buffet refreshments, served on the main lawn, will include an artisanal cheese board, seasonal bites and sweet and savory pastries, all created by celebrity chef John Barricelli of Sono Baking Company and Martha Stewart Everyday Cooking fame. Advanced reservations are required no later than September 11 and made be made online at http://www.hstg.org/adult.php#frenchfarm or calling 203-869-6899 for additional information.

Admission to this event is $35 for adults, Children 4 to 12: $10. No charge for children 3 and under.

For area information www.visitfairfieldcountyct.com

Don’t miss the 36th annual Oyster Festival in Norwalk

Don’t miss the 36th annual Norwalk Oyster Festival that promises to be the biggest and bester ever!
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Fun for families and friends from nine to ninety, the 36th annual Norwalk Seaport Association Oyster Festival will be held this year from Friday, September 6 through Sunday, September 8. This year’s entertainment highlights include music from nationally known-bands on all three days. Festival goers will enjoy a wide variety of rides, cooking competitions, arts and crafts and a diverse assortment of attractions and entertainment that promise unforgettable fun.

New this year the festival will feature the action packed Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show that will feature world champion lumberjacks demonstrating their log rolling, axe throwing, chopping, sawing, tree climbing and dragster chainsaw skills. This show will take place on all three days: Friday at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., Saturday at 7 p.m., 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. and Sunday at 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.

The New England Fishing Village with demonstrations, samples and displays as well as the International Food Court offering a diverse selection of dining choices add to the fun.

For the Kids

The festival’s Pirates Coast Adventure will wow children of all ages. 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. This interactive pirate encampment gives kids a taste of what seafaring was like during the golden age of piracy from 1650-1750. 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. The perk of family day on Sunday is that one child under 12 gets in free with each adult paid admission and for a mere $15 can ride all the amusement rides free from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. To round out the family fun there will be live shows for kids on the festival’s main stage.

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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. A multitude of fine artists and crafters display whimsical as well as practical items that appeal to all tastes, budgets and ages. For on the water fun, head to the festival docks to tour historic vessels and to cruise the scenic and historic Norwalk Harbor.

For the Foodies

Food demonstrations and competitions, including the always-popular chowder and chili cook-offs will take place throughout the festival. A highlight of the Festival is the wide variety of great food from around the world that 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.

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 $5. Children under 5 and U.S. military personnel on active duty are free. Sunday is Family Day with special pricing on that day only — 1 child (age 5-12) free with each paid adult admission. Tickets can be purchased at http://www.seaport.org. Free Parking and Free Shuttle Bus service is provided from four (4) local parking lots, just follow the signs to Oyster Festival Parking.

Save on Metro-North Railroad/Norwalk Oyster Festival Tickets

Festival goers can save on admission and rail fare when they purchase the Metro-North Railroad/Norwalk Seaport Association Oyster Festival discount package. Packages are available at all ticket offices and ticket machines (except South Norwalk Station). On sale starting July 15. Package price from GCT/Harlem-125th Street: Adults, $26.25; Seniors, persons with disabilities and individuals receiving Medicare, $20.50; Children 12, $21.25; Children 5-11, $4.50; Children under 5, free. – See more at: http://www.mta.info/mnr/html/getaways/outbound_oyster_fest.htm#sthash.O3xJx0M4.dpuf

Packages also run from other stations.

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 www.seaport.org or call (203) 838-9444.

For more information www.visitfairfieldcountyct.com

Weekend at the Zoo!

I decided to take my niece Ella to the Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport this past Saturday – and we had a wonderful time! One of the best things about the Beardsley Zoo is how child friendly it is. The zoo has loads of interactive activities for young and old alike. Best of all, the Beardsley Zoo is just big enough without being overwhelming.Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo exhibits hundreds of animals, primarily from North and South America. Many of the animals are endangered or threatened species, which means there aren’t many of them left in the world.

A big hit with Ella, was the prairie dog exhibit with “pop-up” viewing areas. We also enjoyed a stroll through the New England Farmyard with goats, cows, pigs, sheep and other barnyard critters. Next, we took a walk along the hoofstock trail that featured bison, pronghorn, and deer.

High on our list too see was the Bald Eagle exhibit. A Zoo volunteer was on hand to tell us about two of the eagles, Temp and Kada that came to the Zoo from the Alaska Raptor Center. We learned that Bald Eagles use their talons to catch fish, and therefore tend to live near water sources such as lakes and rivers. We learned that they will scavenge carrion, steal other animals’ kills and catch small mammals. Bald Eagles, who have an average life span of 28 years, are believed to mate for life and build enormous nests for the pair of eggs they will lay each year.

Next we peeked in at the Brazilian ocelot kitten born January 22 and her mother, Kuma. Both cats were napping in a beautiful rainforest environment. We enjoyed looking through the foliage for a glimpse of the two rare ocelot kittens, Red & Maned. Next we were enchanted by the antics of the Golden Lion Tamarins…whose energy seemed boundless…just like Ella’s!

Our last stop was a walk through the “Alligator Alley” exhibit, home to five new alligators. The new deck gave us a terrific view of these reptiles as they went about their daily activities and feedings.

We learned from a volunteer on site that Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo’s alligators are between the ages of four and five and are still small, the largest weighing approximately 55 lbs, while the smallest averages 30 lbs. They range from four to five feet long. Known to grow continuously throughout their lives, these creatures are known to reach lengths of thirteen to twenty feet and weights from 400 to 2,000 pounds! They can bite down with 2,000 pounds of pressure with a mouth that contains 65 teeth. Formerly an endangered species, more than one million adult alligators live in the wild today, representing a conservation success story!

On our way to the Carrousel for a spin we stopped to admire two beautiful Amur (Siberian) tigers and the Andean (spectacled) bears.

About Beardsley Zoo

Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is closer than you think and is open daily from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm. Adult admission (ages 12 & older) is $12.00, children (ages 3 -11) and senior admission (62 and older) is just $10.00, and children under 3 years old are free. Zoo members are also admitted free. Parking at the Zoo is free of charge. For information, call: (203) 394-6565. Connecticut’s Beardsley Zoo is located at 1875 Noble Avenue, Bridgeport, Connecticut. For more information, visit http://www.BeardsleyZoo.org

Free Family Halloween Event Features a Hay Maze Oct. 29 and Oct. 30 At Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens

The Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens at 151 Brookdale Road in Stamford becomes home to a huge hay maze, fun activities for kids and other Halloween happenings on Saturday, October 29, 2011 and Sunday October 30, 2011 from 12 p.m.- 4 p.m.

The event, AMAZEing Halloween, also features free admission to The Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens and its new Outdoor Explore Classroom, as well as the “Monster Mash” costume parade at 1pm and 3pm, face-painting, magicians, pumpkin carving, and many other kid-friendly activities.

“We wanted to showcase our grounds at a free Halloween event to let people see how wonderful the property looks in the fall” said Peter Saverine, Bartlett Arboretum’s Executive Director of Operations. “We’re excited about the hay maze and we’ll have lots to do for kids and their families.

With the recent opening of our new Silver Educational Center and its outdoor complement, the new Nature Explore Classroom, we are sure the Bartlett Arboretum will become a must-visit location for families to learn about nature together.”

The event is FREE and open to the public. It is being held in partnership with Stamford Recreation Services and supports the Food Bank of Lower Fairfield County. Families are encouraged to bring any non-perishable items they would like to donate to help others in our community.

Register at http://stamfordhalloween.eventbrite.com for your child or children to receive a free Halloween goody bag on the day of the event.

About The Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens:

The Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens is located at 151 Brookdale Road in Stamford, CT and is a natural preserve like no other in this region. The property features 91 acres of irreplaceable open space highlighting the best of what Connecticut’s

Native landscape has to offer: magnificent award-winning Champion trees, charming gardens, wildflower meadows, red maple wetlands and boardwalks, woodland walking trails, varied wildlife and native habitats. A wonderful getaway from the hustle and bustle of daily life, it serves as a leading recreational and educational resource for area residents and visitors of all ages. For weekend gardeners to budding young botanists, the Bartlett offers a place to relax, learn and play. The mission of the Bartlett Arboretum & Gardens is to inspire the community to explore, examine, understand and appreciate the natural history of the botanical world and its place in our lives. It is open to the public 365 days a year. Children under 12 are always free, adult entry is $6. Individual, family, and senior memberships are available for free access year round and discounts to programs, special events and local merchants. Visit www.bartlettarboretum.org or call 203-322-6971 for more information.

Photo Credit: P. Pogo

Fairfield CT – Fairfield Museum and History Center Plans Interactive Graveyard Tour

Fairfield Museum and History Center will hold an interactive graveyard tour at Fairfield’s East Cemetery, located at the end of the Old Post Road in Fairfield, Conn. from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, May 14th. According to Museum genealogist Roderick MacKenzie, this tour is particularly important, because 2011 marks the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the Civil War and there are 14 Fairfield Civil War veterans buried in the East Cemetery.

“We have been particularly careful to create detailed histories of our various subjects and are involving volunteer actors who really will bring their spirits to life,” MacKenzie said.

The tour will include authentic portrayals of Fairfield individuals like Major John Morehouse, lst Cavalry in the Civil War, Christopher Wells, Sr., lst rural mail carrier and Civil War veteran, Charles W. Thorpe, in John Morehouse’s regiment in Civil War, Captain Hanford Nichols – Civil War veteran, Amelia Sturges, who married J. Pierpont Morgan; John Bunker who lived in the Sun Tavern during the middle 1800s and a War of 1812 veteran; and Revolutionary War veterans, Abel and Aron Turney, whose family lived in the area of the East cemetery. One served on The Fence, a Revolutionary War ship; And the other on the Alliance, another war ship.

The cemetery is also the resting place for Edwin Randolph, a slave who lived to be about 100 and worked for the Jennings family in Fairfield and enjoyed going to Long Island Sound for clamming.

Tour participants will also learn about the history of the cemetery and about the symbols on the gravestones.

The Rain Date for the Cemetery Tour is Saturday, May 21 at 2 p.m. The cost of the tour is $7, non-members, $5 members and registration is preferred. For more information, please contact the Museum visitors center at 203-259-1598 or visit the website at http://www.fairfieldhs.org.

ABOUT THE FAIRFIELD MUSEUM AND HISTORY CENTER

The Fairfield Museum is located at 370 Beach Road in Fairfield, CT. Hours are Monday-Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. and weekends from Noon to 4 p.m. Admission is free for members, $5 for adults, $3 for students and free for children age 5 and under. For more information on exhibits and upcoming programs, visit http://www.fairfieldhs.org or call the Fairfield Museum at 203-259-1598. The Museum annually hosts more than 18,000 visitors.

DIRECTIONS-TO-GO MAKE EXPLORING EASY IN CONNECTICUT’S FAIRFIELD COUNTY

Connecticut’s Fairfield County is filled with autumn color and unexpected discoveries—if you know where to look.  New virtual tours on the region’s web site make sure that visitors know exactly where to go and how to find the best routes.  To make it even easier, three scenic routes with exact directions to each tour stop now can be e-mailed or down-loaded directly from the web site to computers or to an I-phone, I-pod or Blackberry, ready to take along on the road.

The recommended routes cover something for every interest–history, scenery, drives, and hikes, gardens and shopping. They can fill a full day or be divided into shorter segments. A sampling of the pleasures in store include:

Route One: Audubon, Architecture and Art

The towns and leafy residential back roads of Greenwich and Stamford are the destinations.  In Greenwich, stops vary from browsing the shops on Greenwich Avenue, known as Connecticut’s Rodeo Drive, to strolling the 285 wooded acres of the Audubon Greenwich.  The art and natural history exhibits at the Bruce Museum vie with the history of 17th century Putnam Cottage and the Bush Holley House, circa 1728.  Stamford offers the chance for cruises on Long Island Sound, prize antiquing, the modernistic architecture and stained glass of the famous “Fish Church,” the Stamford Museum and Nature Center with its picture-perfect Hecksher Farm and 80 acres of wooded nature trails, and the adjoining Bartlett Arboretum with another 91 acres to explore.  More scenery waits in a final back roads drive from Stamford to New Canaan and its nature center.

Route Two: Beaches, Birds And Beauty

Westport, Fairfield and Easton have many attractive stops.  Westport travels include a drive beside the Saugatuck River and stops at beaches on Long Island Sound, along with the Westport Arts Center, Historical Society and the formal and herb gardens at Gilbertie’s Herb Gardens.  Among the sights in historic Fairfield are the town green and its beautiful Colonials, the town museum and history center, the 18th century Ogden House, Walsh Art Gallery at Fairfield University, and the Connecticut Audubon and Birdcraft Museum, with a six- acre bird sanctuary.  Rural Easton leads to more historic homes, a school dating back to 1795 and drives along Route 59, a designated scenic road passing the sparkling Aspetuck Reservoir.  A portion of the Aspetuck Trail in Easton is open for hiking.

Route Three: Lighthouses, Oysters And Landscapes

Nautical Norwalk and Rowayton and wooded Weston and Wilton make up this tour. Norwalk, once known for its oysters, has newer lures such as the Stepping Stones Museum for Children, the Maritime Aquarium, cruises to Sheffield Island with its historic lighthouse for picnics and walks, the shops of SoNo (South Norwalk) and the buildings of the Mill Hill Historic District.  The riverside village of Rowayton with the look of a typical New England coastal town offers atmosphere, historic houses and an art center. Devil’s Den in Weston is Fairfield County’s largest nature preserve providing 21 miles of hiking trails through diverse habitats and the Great Ledge with spectacular views.  Weir Farm in Wilton, the summer home of the late impressionist painter J.Alden Weir is the only US National Park devoted to American painting, with a setting worthy of a painting.

For detailed routes and further information about the many attractions of Fairfield County, see www.visitwesternct.com.  For a free brochure contact the Western Connecticut Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, (860) 567-4506.