BETHLEHEM (CT) OFFERS A FESTIVE START TO THE HOLIDAY SEASON

They call this little town in the Litchfield Hills of Connecticut “Christmas Town” with good reason. Bethlehem’s Christmas Town Festival scheduled for December 6 and 7, celebrates its 39th birthday this year as one of New England’s favorite ways to kick off the season. Wherever you turn, special treats are waiting, from the town green to the post office to the Abbey of Regina Laudis and the 1754 Bellamy-Ferriday House. Some of the unique attractions continue when the festival is over. This year the opening ceremony will feature Honorary Emcee WFSB Ch, 3 news personalities, Irene O’Connor.

Vendors and More On the Green

The quaint town green, centered with a giant tree, is home to over 70 vendors with unique gift items, wreaths and delicious foods for sale. Strolling carolers and musicians help keep things lively, Santa will be waiting at the firehouse to pose for pictures with young friends, and everyone is invited to climb aboard for hayrides offered in front of First Church. Collectors can garner this year’s unique limited edition Christmas Town pewter ornament, sold only during the Festival.

On Saturday there is a 5K, Santa Made Me Do It road race, 2-mile walk and ¼ mile kids fun run at the festival. The five mile race and two-mile walk begin at 10 a.m. and registration is at Town Hall beginning at 8:30 a.m. The free kids ¼ kids Fun Run starts at 9:30 a.m.

Bethlehem’s beautiful eighteenth-century Bellamy-Ferriday House & Garden will be festively decorated and open for tours and holiday cheer during festival hours. Guides will offer house tours and there will be hot cider and a scavenger hunt for children. The home is located at 9 Main Street North, information can be found at http://www.ctlandmarks.org

Hours for the Christmas Town Festival are Friday, December 6 from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. and Saturday, December 7, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, see www.christmastownfestival.com or phone 203-266-7510, ext. 300.
Christmas Town Mailings at the Post Office

The Bethlehem post office is busy in December serving the many who come every year to mail holiday cards with their unique postmarks. Visitors can select favorites among the “Christmas Cachet” designs, hand-stamp and mail these unique greetings to friends and family. The idea of the special stamps dates to 1938, when a local Postmaster, the late Earl Johnson, designed a “cachet,” a special rubber stamp featuring a tree and lettering that said “From the Little Town of Bethlehem, Christmas Greetings.” New cachets have been added almost every year since. Over 83 designs are now available and nearly 200,000 cards are mailed each year from this small post office. Located at 34 East Street, the post office will have extended hours during the festival, Friday, December 6 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., and Saturday from 8:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Precious Crèches at the Abbey

One of Bethlehem’s not-to-be-missed jewels is open all month for visitors. The museum-quality eighteenth-century Neapolitan crèche on view in a vintage barn at the Abbey of Regina Laudis includes hundreds of beautiful hand-carved figures. Made of wood, terra cotta, and porcelain, the figures portray the Holy Family, angels, the Three Kings, merchants and peddlers, children, peasants and farm animals. This fabulous gift from artist and philanthropist Loretta Hines Howard is similar to the one Howard donated to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, where it is prominently displayed every Christmas.

A second Crèche, The Lauren Ford Crèche, created by a favorite Connecticut artist, is displayed in a farm shed near the Lower Abbey Chapel. This charming rustic Nativity scene displays figures of Jesus, Mary and Joseph dressed in typical New England garb.

The Monastic Art Shop on the property offers crafts, cheeses, jams, herbal teas, flavored vinegar, herbs and honey, and all created on-site by Abbey’s residents.

The Abbey of Regina Laudis, located at 249 Flanders Road, is open to visitors daily from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. For more information, visit www.abbeyofreginalaudis.org

Historic House Tour in Kent

A special November tour is taking place in the charming town of Kent that is hosted by the Kent Historical Society on November 9 from 12 noon to 4:30 p.m. Houses on the Kent Historical Society’s House tour will feature the architecture of Sherwood Mills and Smith AIA. Tickets are $50 in advance and $60 on the day of the tour. For your tickets click here.

This tour features six of Kent’s architectural gems that have been preserved with great care. This house tour will give residents and visitors an inside look at homes and structures built in the first decade of the 18th century through a modernist mid-century and help them understand how people lived and are living in this bucolic community.

There is an interesting variety of home on the tour. Some were grand dwellings in their day, others were much more modest. The highlight is that the variety of homes offer a number of curiosities and beauty that tour-goers will appreciate on this journey into the past.

The tour starts at Seven Hearths Museum on 4 Studio Hill Road in Kent, which is on the National Register of Historic Places. Ticket holders will get a map and a description of the houses and are free to go on a self-guided tour of the homes. Tickets may also be purchased that day at the Seven Hearths from 11 a.m. through the afternoon. It promises to be a fun event — who doesn’t like peering back in time in old houses?

Spooktacular Witch’s Dungeon!

This will be the 55th season for the annual Witch’s Dungeon Halloween Classic Movies Museum in Bristol, the longest-running exhibition of its kind started in 1966. This wax style museum is a tribute to the actors and make-up artists that gave audiences classic movie monsters. A highlight of the event is the guest appearance of Argyle Goolsby (musician Steve Matthews) plus the screening of the Mel Brooks classic movie, Young Frankenstein on real film at 7 p.m. on Friday, October 25.

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 will be shown in the auditorium on “real” film until 10 p.m.

While waiting for each wax museum tour, you can view actual film props, actor’s life casts and movie posters, or step into our film room, to view classic silent horror movies, shown on film, not video. Featuring far more life-size figures & original movie props than we have ever had on display before! Figures based on the classic films of Vincent Price, Boris Karloff, Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi and more.

The location for Witches Dungeon is 98 Summer Street in Bristol at the Bristol Historical Society. The hours are weekends in October, Friday through Sunday evenings, from 7:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m., Oct. 25-27 and Oct. 31- Nov. 3. The Museum is not recommended for children under age 7. A $6 donation is suggested. For additional information visit http://www.preservehollywood.org.

A Bronx Tale @ Palace Theatre Oct. 22-24

The Palace Theatre in Waterbury in partnership with NETworks Presentations announces the 2019–2020 North American Tour of A BRONX TALE will launch at the Palace Theater in Waterbury with performances from October 22 through 24, starring 2015 American Idol winner Nick Fradiani in the role of Lorenzo. Tickets may be purchased at the Box office by calling 203.346.2000, online at www.palacetheaterct.org or in-person at100 East Main Street, Waterbury.

Based on the one-man show that inspired the now-classic film, this streetwise musical takes audiences to the stoops of the Bronx in the 1960s—where a young man is caught between the father he loves and the mob boss he’d love to be. Featuring an original doo-wop score, this is a tale about respect, loyalty, love, and above all else: family.

The new musical featuring a book by Academy Award nominee Chazz Palminteri, music by Oscar, Grammy and Tony Award winner Alan Menken, and lyrics by Grammy Award winner and Oscar and Tony Award nominee Glenn Slater recently announced principal casting. In addition to CT native Fradiani, Jeff Brooks will appear as Sonny, Alec Nevin as Calogero, Kayla Jenerson as Jane, Stefanie Londino as Rosina and George Vickers V as Tyrone.

A BRONX TALE, based on the original direction by two-time Oscar winner Robert De Niro and four-time Tony Award winner Jerry Zaks, will feature tour direction by Stephen Edlund with choreography by Tony Award winner Sergio Trujillo. The creative team also includes: Beowulf Boritt, Scenic Design; William Ivey Long, Costume Design; Howell Binkley, Lighting Design; Gareth Owen, Sound Design; Paul Huntley, Hair & Wig Design; Anne Ford-Coates, Makeup Design; Stewart/Whitley, Casting; and Robert Westley, Fight Coordinator. Music Supervision and Arrangements are by Ron Melrose and Orchestrations are by Doug Besterman.

Wine and Cheese Market @ Hopkins Vineyard

Hopkins Vineyard overlooking beautiful Lake Waramaug is a perfect spot to visit this autumn. If you are foodies that love wine and cheese, don’t miss the Wine and Cheese Market on October 19 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Hopkins Vineyard has teamed up with Jones Winery, Land of Nod Winery, Spring Hill Vineyards and Sunset Meadow Vineyards to host a wine and cheese tasting and market. This event will feature wine from each of the vineyards as well as cheese and food samples from a host of local vendors. Another highlight of this event are the handmade gift items from talented local craftspeople and artisans that will be for sale. If you want a bit more than cheese samples, not to worry, food for purchase will be available from the Clambaking Company. This company specializes in fresh seafood and BBQ, so there will be something to delight every palate.

Hopkins Vineyard is located on 25 Hopkins Road in Warren Connecticut. The tickets for this event are $25 per person and $12 for a designated driver. For tickets click here.

If you miss this event, keep in mind that the picnic area at Hopkins Vineyard is open daily this October. You can either bring your own picnic lunch and pick up a bottle of Hopkins wine from the shop or purchase one of the cheese platters stocked with Arethusa and other gourmet cheeses at the shop.

Native American Ceremony and Dancers Celebrate the New Algonquian Village @ Institute for Native American Studies

The Institute for American Indian Studies on 38 Curtis Road in Washington has good reason to celebrate and you are invited to join the fun at the Algonquian Village Renewal Ceremony on October 12 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.

This is your chance to be one of the first people to visit the new revitalized Village consisting of wigwams and a longhouse and, to be part of a special Native American Smudging Ceremony by Darlene Kascak, Schaghticoke. This fascinating ceremony will cleanse the new longhouse and chase away evil spirits in the village. The Thunderbird Dancers, the oldest Native American Dance Company in New York that have performed all over the world will be on hand to perform dances of celebration in the village. This amazing dance troupe keeps alive the traditions, songs, and dances they have learned that would otherwise be lost. For those interested in how the village was actually constructed, Kalin Griffin, IAIS Educator and, primitive technologist will be on hand to talk about the techniques used to reconstruct the village using only stone tools.

Since the 1980s the replicated 16th century outdoor Native American Village at the Institute has been a favorite of visitors, students, teachers, and staff. Walking on a winding forest path leading to the village that was constructed to resemble the way a Native American community in Connecticut would have looked centuries ago is one of the most memorable aspects of a visit to the Institute. Entering the village, visitors feel transported back in time as they explore the longhouse, a cluster of wigwams, shelters, and gardens. One of the most intriguing aspects of the village is that it is made using only trees and bark and other things found in the natural environment using traditional tools and techniques. Today’s visitors to the Institute and those that plan to visit in the future will continue to enjoy this beautiful village and learn about the fascinating culture of the Eastern Woodland Indians.

About The Institute for American Indian Studies

Located on 15 acres of woodland acres the IAIS preserves and educates through archeology, research, exhibitions, and programs. We have a 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.