Native American Green Corn Festival August 3 @ Institute for American Indian Studies

The Green Corn Ceremony is one of the most important celebrations in Native American life because corn is an integral part of religious and ceremonial life that brings communities together. The Institute of American Indian Studies located on 38 Curtis Road in Washington, Connecticut is holding their 15th annual Green Corn Festival on August 3 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. to observe this time treasured tradition.

Join Museum Staff, Members, and Friends as they welcome the first corn of the season with music, drumming, dancing, children’s activities, stories by a professional Native American Storyteller, and much more! Wander the trails to our 16th century replicated village, tour our museum to learn about Native Cultures, check out the crafts in our gift shop, and try your hands at corn-centric crafts. A special treat is the powwow styled food such as frybread that is not to be missed.

A special highlight planned for this year’s event is a performance of the Native Nations Dance Troupe led by Erin Lamb Meeches, Schaghticoke Tribal Nation. These traditional dances evoke the beauty, honor, and tradition of Native People.

About Green Corn

The expression “Green Corn” refers to the first ripened sweet corn that you can eat. The Green Corn Ceremony is marked with dancing, feasting, fasting, and religious observations. In the Eastern Woodlands Native people depended on three staples – corn, beans, and squash. These food items were called “The Three Sisters.” The Three Sisters were mixed together to make a vegetable dish called succotash that is still popular today.

Admission for this event, held rain or shine is $10 for Adults; $8 seniors; and $6 for Children.

The Institute for American Indian Studies

Located on 15 woodland acres the IAIS preserves and educates through archeology, research, exhibitions, and programs. We have an outdoor replicated 16th c. Algonkian Village and 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 in Washington Connecticut.

Salisbury Jumpfest and Eastern U.S. Ski Jumping Championships Feb. 8 -10

Despite last week’s rain and 50 degree temperatures, there will be no shortage of snow at Satre Hill this weekend when the Salisbury Winter Sports Association (SWSA) hosts ski jumping for the 87th year during Jumpfest Weekend in Salisbury, CT, drawing some of the best junior jumpers in the East- many with Olympic aspirations.

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SWSA president Ken Barker said “The night time temperatures dropped right after the warm spell and we’ve been making snow ever since.” Barker added “We have two snow guns that produce huge volumes of snow.”

With overnight temperatures remaining low this week SWSA directors will continue snowmaking to add extra cover to the landing hill.

photo credit Jonathan Doster
photo credit Jonathan Doster

“Our biggest problem,” Barker said “is that because there isn’t much snow on the ground out there, people may think that we don’t have any either. Right now, our ski jump facility looks like a big white patch in a otherwise brown world.”

The three-day Jumpfest will include Target-Jumping Under the Lights as well as the Human Dogsled Race, a crowd favorite where five humans pull one human on a sled around a .3 mile course. Teams get very creative with both their costumes and sleds.

photo credit: Jonathan Doster
photo credit: Jonathan Doster

Junior jumpers, many of whom have recently completed in the junior jump camp, will show off their new-found skills as they compete on the 20 and 30 meter hills.

Ice carving will return to the Scoville Memorial Library again this year, but with a new twist. In place of an actual competition, the event will feature multiple-block demonstration pieces by some the areas (and country’s) best carvers that will be sure to impress. To add to the fun, the areas best restaurants will compete in a chili cook-off. At night, Snow Ball revelers can dance to the rock and roll music of Common Folk and Treetop Blues featuring Joe Bouchard of Blue Oyster Cult fame.

Schedule of Events

Friday
Nite Lites

6:30 pm- Chili Cook-off
7 pm- Target-Jumping under the lights.
Following jumping- Human Dogsled Race

Saturday

9 am- Nordic Kids 20 and 30 meter competition
11am-noon- practice for Salisbury Invitational ski jumping competition
1pm-3pm- Salisbury Invitational Competition
11am-3pm- Ice Carving Demonstration featuring area’s best carvers, Scoville Memorial Library, free admission
8pm-midnight- Snow Ball, featuring opening band The Common Folk and treetop Blues with Joe Bouchard of Blue Oyster Cult fame, at the Lakeville Hose Co., admission: Adults $12, children 12 and under free.

Sunday

Pancake Breakfast at Salisbury Volunteer Ambulance building
11am- Practice 87th Annual Eastern Ski Jumping Championships
1pm- Competition including Junior Olympic hopefuls.

All jumping events held at Satre Hill in Salisbury.
Unless otherwise noted, admission for all events: $10 for adults and children 12 and under are free.

Proceeds from Jumpfest Weekend will fund SWSA’s children’s skiing programs.

For updates and program changes go to www.Jumpfest.org. For area information www.litchfieldhills.com

Winter happenings at The Institute for American Indian Studies

The Institute for American Indian Studies is offering a series of January events that will help families warm up to this chilly season of the year. On Tuesdays through February 12 from 10:30 a.m. through 11:30 a.m. for example pre-school children will enjoy the wonders and joy of traditional Native American stories. Why does Bear have a short tail? Who is Gluskabi and from where did his superpowers come? And why is Coyote known as a “trickster?” An added treat is that the stories are told in a beautifully replicated 16th century indoor Sachem’s house. The story hour is included free with regular museum admission of $5 Adults; $4.50 Seniors; $3 Kids; IAIS Members Free. www.iaismuseum.org

calendar

On Saturday January 19 and Sunday January 20 at 2 p.m. guests will enjoy a Winter Film Festival that features a documentary called Reel Injun. Native American peoples have long been a topic in Hollywood filmmaking, but the picture presented of them was not always flattering or accurate. Most westerns of Hollywood’s Golden Age presented “Indians” as either ruthless savages with no sense of honor or fools who were lost without the help of the white man. Adding insult to injury, they were usually played by white actors in make up. In the 1960s movies began to show a more positive and realistic portrayal of American Indians and Native American actors were given a greater opportunity to present their story in television and the movies. Director Neil Diamond (a member of Canada’s Cree community) offers a look at the past, present and future of Native People on the big screen in this documentary. The film is included free with regular museum admission of $5 Adults; $4.50 seniors; $3 Kids; IAIS Members Free. www.iaismuseum.org

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Also on January 26 from 12 noon to 2 p.m. it is time to put on your winter boots and go on a Winter Tracking Walk. Certified wildlife tracker Andy Dobosof Three Red Trees School of Natural Living will lead you through the winter woods to discover how the animals live in this stark time of year. He will also demonstrate some of the skills ancient people employed to survive during the winter months. Fee: $8 Adults; $6 IAIS Members; $4 Children. www.iaismuseum.org

About IAIS
Through discovery, research and education, the Institute for American Indian Studies enriches contemporary society by engaging the public and making more visible the history, cultural values, beliefs and living traditions of the indigenous peoples of the Western Hemisphere, especially those of the Northeast. With its museum, archaeology, research and unique collection, IAIS creates a focal point for the community by preserving the knowledge of the continuing stories of these indigenous peoples.

For area information www.litchfieldhills.com

New Canaan Nature Center Announces Annual Secret Gardens Tour

The Annual Secret Gardens Tour benefiting the New Canaan Nature Center will take place on Friday, June 8. The popular tour is a fund-raiser for the New Canaan Nature Center and an opportunity for homeowners, gardeners and anyone who appreciates the beauty of the outdoors to be inspired by several outstanding garden settings. The self-guided tour takes place between 10:00a.m. – 4:00p.m., allowing attendees to visit the gardens at their own pace and on their own schedule.
New Cannan Garden Tour

This year’s tour will feature a variety of spectacular New Canaan gardens representing the past, present and future of landscape design. Gardens will include historic estates with meandering garden “rooms,” newly-designed and transformed landscapes and grounds incorporating the latest sustainable practices and plantings. In addition to hundreds of varieties of annuals and perennials, attendees will see a wide variety of majestic specimen trees, unique water features, and delightful woodland gardens.

New Canaan Nature Center is pleased to welcome Elise Landscapes & Nursery and the Bank of New Canaan as the lead sponsors of the tour. Mark Hicks of Elise says “The Secret Gardens Tour is a New Canaan tradition that we are thrilled to support, and we see this as a terrific opportunity to reach out to those who are passionate about garden design and appreciate spectacular landscaping.”

Tour tickets are $75 including lunch or $50 for the tour only. The tour lunch will be available at the New Canaan Nature Center or to take and enjoy while touring the gardens. The lunch is sponsored by Hobbs, Inc., Austin, Patterson, Disston and Devore Associates. Tour tickets will be $60 on the day of the tour. Tickets can be purchased at the New Canaan Nature Center, by calling (203) 966-9577 x50, or online at www.NewCanaanNature.org starting May 1.

The Lights Are Back On — At Sheffield Island Lighthouse

It has been over one-hundred years since the lighthouse on Sheffield Island off the coast of Norwalk has cast it’s light across the waters of Long Island Sound. Tonight, that will all change thanks to NRG Energy Inc. A low-energy reflective light has been installed in the tower and will be turned on for the first time in over 100 years today. Activated in 1868, the Sheffield Island Lighthouse was in service for 34 years until its retirement in 1902. The lighthouse served as a navigational beacon before the Greens Ledge Lighthouse was built. Today, Greens Ledge Lighthouse is a beacon for pleasure and commercial boaters cruising Long Island Sound.

The Norwalk Seaport Association purchased the lighthouse in 1987 for $700,000 from Thorston O. Stabell, who bought the structure from the U.S. government years prior and used it as a summer residence. Today, the Sheffield Lighthouse is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is maintained by the Association. Visitors to the island can stroll along the shoreline of the island and explore the lighthouse museum and nature preserve that is home to a number of seabirds and other island wildlife.

The new light on the island will not be used for navigational purposes, rather its intermittent light, visible from the Norwalk side of Long Island Sound is a reminder of the history of this important maritime landmark and a beacon that will welcome visitors to Sheffield Island.

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