G UI D E
E ASTE RN
The Other Connecticut
E X P L O R E
The Last Green Valley - Photo by Jim Wheeler
CO N N E CTI CUT ISSUE 6
w w w. c o n n e c t i c u t e a s t . c o m
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Connecticut East is published by Global Design & Publishing, LLC, a local agency operating in Connecticut for over twenty years. Owned by husband/wife team, Jim and Kelly Tourtellotte, life-long residents of northeastern Connecticut, Global Design is Connecticut-grown!
CONNECTICUTEAST – featuring all things east of the Connecticut River. We are ‘the other Connecticut.’
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Recent state funding cuts have slashed Connecticut’s tourism/marketing budget therefore, fewer publications are being produced at the state level. The good news is that Global Design does not rely on state funding, we are private and we are local. We enjoy traveling throughout New England and find that Eastern Connecticut is easily overlooked for a day trip or overnight. Eastern Connecticut has more to offer than first meets the eye, and we intend to tell our readers all about it. We want our audience to explore the region’s natural resources, awaken senses with arts & culture, savor outstanding culinary experiences, and treasure new favorite places. Connecticut East covers Windham, Tolland, Mystic and New London counties, plus attractions close enough for a day trip or overnight. Connecticut East is designed to serve adventurous consumers interested in local attractions, exceptional dining–from pub-fare to upscale–comfy accommodations, exciting entertainment, unique business and personal services, art events, seasonal happenings, outdoor adventures, Connecticut grown and a whole lot more! Connecticut East is published twice a year with a Winter issue and a Summer issue. 12,000 copies are distributed free to businesses throughout eastern Connecticut and beyond. We want to personally thank the businesses who support Connecticut East and remind our readers to shop local! We hope you enjoy, Jim & Kelly Tourtellotte
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Featured in this Issue: 4-7 Priam Vineyards, Colchester CT 8-9 An RV Way to Stay, Eastern CT 10-13 Foxwoods Resort Casino, Mashantucket CT 14-15 Woodstock Building Associates, Northeastern CT 16-19 The Last Green Valley, Eastern CT & South Central MA 20-22 The Norwich Revival is Happening, Norwich CT
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Copyright ©2019, Global Design & Publishing, LLC. Any reproduction without our written permission is prohibited. All text & images have been carefully compiled - however - we can not guarantee the accuracy of the content. Design: Jim Tourtellotte • Advertising and Media Contact: Kelly Tourtellotte, 860-963-0414. Writers: Cris Cadiz, Caroline Sloat, Nancy P. Weiss and Kathy Naumann, CONNECT IC UT E A S T 3 all local residents of northeastern Connecticut. Printing provided by 101 Business Solutions, Brooklyn, CT, 860-774-6904
Experience Priam Vineyards On a bright spring morning, Priam Vineyards was so green it dazzled the eye. Once you step on to the property off Shailor Hill Road in Colchester, it’s magical, like you’re stepping into another time and place. BY NANC Y P. WEISS
Photo by JAGstudios
erhaps a French country home or a family vineyard in Italy? Not really, but as close as one might come on a New England farm that reflects decades of intense attention to detail and a love of people, the land and, of course, good wine. Wine and weddings have a history of going hand-in-hand. The picturesque view of Connecticut’s rolling hills and the natural beauty of Priam’s sustainable vineyards and solar powered winery make it a perfect setting for weddings, celebrations, events and other memorable occasions. “Priam Vineyards is a blank canvas supported by the beauty of Mother Nature. It’s truly a place where you can create an entire look that’s all your own,” said the owner and managing partner Gloria Priam. The vineyard setting gives couples more options than other venues to bring meaningful parts of their lives into their wedding plans. “We’ve had a New Orleans-inspired wedding, a Hindu-Indian influence with rich, beautiful colors and garb, and a couple that used theater props as doorways to create a cathedral look in the vineyard with a beautiful structure of florals where the ceremony took place. The carnival wedding blew it out of the 4
water by draping the tent in red and white tulle, and bringing in actual carnival games for the reception,” said Priam. One couple had their first date at a Priam wine tasting, got engaged on a picnic outing at the vineyard (with Priam staff helping to hide ecstatic family members who
were there to congratulate the couple), and was one of the first to hold their wedding at Priam Vineyards. “They fell in love with our Westchester Red,” Gloria Priam recalled. “Then they fell in love with each other and kept coming back to buy that wine by the case. Now they’ve brought their babies to see the vineyards and meet us.”
The quality of Priam’s wine and treating people like family is the bedrock of the vineyard’s reputation for excellence. “If you are going to have your wedding at a vineyard, you should have nothing but World Class wines to share with your guests,” Priam advised. “And we will go the extra mile to make the day special. One father had us custom-make several Imperial bottles of wine (the equivalent of 8 regular bottles) which the wedding guests signed, and the couple later opened on their first anniversary.” Priam Vineyards has its roots deep in the soil of the Salmon River Valley, a remarkably pristine and productive swath of land that was a pasture for 300 years on top of incredible mineral deposits that are the result of geologic shifts from glacial times. The special nature of the “terroir” provides an excellent environment for producing distinctive, international award-winning wines and serves as a palette for Priam, who operates the business in sync with her beliefs about nature, sustainability, and responsibility. Four years ago, Jim Melillo joined the business as co-owner and advisor. He added his own flair for creating fine wines and applied his background in business to move Priam Vineyards forward.
Melillo is a strong proponent of “Agritourism” as a way to help Connecticut farms remain viable, and has become a spokesperson for vineyards by testifying at the Connecticut General Assembly on issues related to the occupation he has come to embrace with a passion. With a remarkable team of people, Priam Vineyards has set off in a number of creative directions. It uses sustainable agricultural practices such as encouraging birds, native insects, and wildflowers to flourish instead of using pesticides and fertilizers. In 2010, it became solar-powered, perhaps the first winery in New England to do so. In 2016, with the arrival of vintner Ruaan Viljoen, a native of South Africa, the winery began and later completed the rigorous process of becoming Vegan certified. In 2019, Priam Vineyards was certified by BevVeg International as the first vegan-friendly winery in the state, one of 14 in the country. The process included thorough reviews of production practices as well as verification that processing and bottling the wine was done without animal products or by-products. Chosen multiple years as Connecticut Winery of the Year by several International wine competitions, Priam Vineyards enjoys a growing reputation for its wines. They’ve won more than 110 International wine competition medals to date, but the accolades don’t stop there. Priam’s Riesling won against wines from Germany and France at an overseas competition in Berlin, Germany. The International Women’s Wine Competition brought Priam gold and silver winners in every category they entered. Their world-renowned Riesling was awarded double gold and best of class out of more than 1,500 wines. With eight single varietal wines and eight blends, Priam swept east and west coast competitions by earning 10 medals so far this year. Wine critics rated the wines at 90-94 points, right at the top of American levels in their system. How does a vineyard rocket to the top? Jim Melillo first credits the team responsible for the vineyards and winemaking – Ruaan Viljoen (winemaker and viticulturist), Gustavo Rodriguez Oliva (estate manager), Gloria Priam and himself. “It helps that we all have high standards and have worked hard at training our palates. We taste and discuss the wines for hours to come to a consensus on what is best,” Melillo said.
Photo by Laura Dee Photography
Gloria Priam began the business in 1998 as one of the earliest vineyards in Connecticut. Deep in her own veins was a historic connection to grape growing through her grandfather, who owned a vineyard in Budapest, Hungary, which was taken from him in the Russian Revolution. She established Priam Vineyards, and spent 21 years refining and defining the wines and managing the direction of the facility. Her natural good taste and flair are evident throughout the property, which is also where she makes her home.
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Photo by JAGstudios
Providing memories that people treasure is the other factor that has helped Priam Vineyards’ rise to the top. Weddings, family celebrations, corporate events and elegant fundraisers for area non-profits build excitement… and everything at Priam is done with a twist. “Our package is designed for busy couples that want the best on their special day, as well as a unique experience for their guests. We make their day effortless, magical and the ultimate of life experiences,” said Gloria Priam. The vineyard’s tented hilltop event center holds 75 to 500 guests and is sur-
rounded by the natural beauty of the vineyard. Regardless of the weather, the guests are covered. Priam’s complete, turnkey packages take care of every detail to offer true peace of mind. “Everything from the incredible gourmet food and bar catered by our partner Gourmet Galley, to tents, tables, chairs, luxury restrooms, and all that is needed for a beautiful outdoor event, is taken care of by us,” said Priam. “You just need to select your photographer, florist, music and arrive the day of your event to enjoy with all of those that you love. This is a place where you can truly unplug from everyday life to
focus on and enjoy the people in your life that are invaluable.” The clear-sided, enclosed tent has a 6,500 square-foot main room, 2,000 square-foot commercial kitchen and 1,500 square-foot dance floor. The “luxury loo” is a custom-made portable restroom, which is both heated and air conditioned for the comfort of the guests. In the vineyards’ bluebird pasture, a soft breeze begins in the late afternoon and provides a comfortable setting for the ceremony. The double tree swing on the vineyard’s hilltop has been the spot of so many proposals and wedding photos, Priam staff named it the Love Swing. And a few daring brides even added a lively “distress the dress” portion to their celebration, jumping into wooden vats filled with grapes and crushing them with their bare feet in a memorable salute to the future. WeddingWire named Priam the “Venue of the Year” for two years in a row. It was the only outdoor site to win the distinction. In 2018, Priam was the “Couples Choice Award” winner, scoring 4.9 out of 5.0 stars from 30 reviews.
Corporations visit the vineyard to celebrate with employees and clients. They may participate in a wine-to-vine demonstration and use a 25-acre area to set up games and activities. At the end of the day they can step into the tent for a gourmet meal and dancing. Priam does large and small corporate events, providing the same extensive attention to detail as it does for weddings.
Charities often expend a great deal of effort on fund-raising events that may not be profitable. Jim Melillo wants to change that by offering a new approach. One where the charity has no up-front obligation and no liability. Priam creates a fun experience with wine and food trucks and can accommodate 400 people seated and 500 people for a cocktail style event. The goal is to make the event effortless for the charities. The Tasting Room Manager Toussaint Stackhouse has created a number of experiences in the large, open rooms at the winery. On weekends, live music brightens the evenings. Often, special tastings entice guests to try something new such as wine and art, wine and Pilates, wine and cheese, chocolate or cookie dough. Priam Vineyards works with several local businesses and artisan farms to cross-promote their products or services. The Priam Wine Club delivers wine selections four times a year, includes a monthly complimentary wine tasting for two, and free tickets to Priam’s Summer unWINEd Concert series, among other benefits for being a brand ambassador. Priam Vineyards is an expression of all that forms its foundation: from the glacial
soils, to Gloria Priam’s creative marketing background and family links to winemaking, to the business savvy of Jim Melillo, Ruaan Viljoen’s high standards and skill in winemaking and viticulture, and Toussaint Stackhouse’s flair for wine-related event planning. The blend of property, wine, events, and atmosphere speak to a unique and lively place that values the bedrock that informs its vines to the relationships that
enliven every wedding, every celebration, every summer evening watching the sunset. Contact Priam Vineyards at: Priam Vineyards 11 Shailor Hill Road, Colchester, CT. 06415 (860) 267-4860 email@example.com PriamVineyards.com
Photo by Prestige Barkley Photography
Weddings at Priam Vineyards Share your Dream of a Perfect Wedding. We’ll make it happen. We offer complete packages, including all that you need for a spectacular event. Breathtaking views. World-class wines. Gourmet catering. Our tented hilltop event center holds up to 500 guests and is surrounded by the natural beauty of the vineyard. Our turnkey package takes care of every detail, to offer you complete peace of mind. Learn more at PriamWeddings.com or call (860) 267-4860 to talk with our wedding experts. Then come visit us, and fall in love all over again…with Priam Vineyards - Colchester, CT
Photo by Stephanie Kapra
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An RV Way to Stay Mystic and the Norwich area in Connecticut, are often described as quintessentially New England; places rich in history and with plentiful opportunities for hands-on learning. There are, also, many options to choose from when deciding to stay over and visit these beautiful areas, such as hotels, B&Bs, Country Inns or even large resorts offering full amenities, like the nearby casinos. But the fastest growing Way to Stay in many areas across the Country, is with an RV at a local, amenity filled campground, and the Mystic and Norwich areas, are no exception. BY K ATHY NAUM ANN
n RV road trip offers an amazingly unique experiential way to visit somewhere. Of course, there are the obvious benefits to RVing like cost and having your own pillows and snacks at the ready, but there are so many other unique advantages to vacationing in an RV that even the most inexperienced campers can enjoy their trip. And if you don’t own an RV, it’s not a problem at all as you can rent one on-line through multiple organizations like campanda.com or at places in Connecticut like Lee’s Auto & RV Ranch in Ellington. Once you familiarize yourself with RV jargon terms and what they mean, you will be more than ready to book your stays at your chosen campground. A crash course in RV talk includes being able to distinguish between the different classes of RVs (A, B or C) and full knowledge of the terms Full Hookup (a campsite with all the fixings including hookups to water, electricity and sewage), Pull-Through (a camp site with easy access and departure that will allow you 8
to set up and leave without ever having to back up!), Gray Water Tank (this is where used water from sinks and showers is stored), Black Water Tank (this is where your waste water is held) and Cockpit (where the driver sits in a motor home). Having been a novice
camper and driver of a 41’ foot, Class C RV, I can confirm that the Cockpit is the most fun RVing term to learn, but the Gray Water vs Black Water vs Fresh Water Tank distinction is the most IMPORTANT term to learn. Camping in an RV is like taking only the absolute very best parts of the camping experience: the fresh air, the rustic and scenic views, the crackle and camaraderie of the campfire, the space and the great and convenient food, combining these with, deluxe resort amenities: comfortable beds, swimming pools, and numerous playgrounds for the kids, resulting in a vacation experience like no other. And since RVing is growing in popularity, there are deluxe RV resort campgrounds springing up everywhere, with views and amenities to rival the grandest of resorts. Mystic and Norwich have much to offer as a vacation destination. Norwich boasts a classic mix of quaint New England towns with golf courses, restaurants, shops and farms, mixed with the exciting action of casino nightlife and star-studded entertainment. Foxwoods Resorts Casino and Mohegan Sun have been offering residents and visitors a convenient place to celebrate in and enjoy for several decades. There are world-class restaurants to dine in, as well as world-class performances to experience. Mystic, on the other hand, is filled with history and charm for people of all ages. Olde Mistick Village, boasting a 1720-style Colonial village layout, offers a unique collection of specialty shops and restaurants. Mystic Seaport, a living museum, is full of rich, maritime town history and ample opportunities for both kids and adults to engage in hands-on learning experiences. Nearby the Seaport is Mystic Aquarium, offering New England’s only Beluga Whale exhibit. The town of Mystic also does
Photo courtesy of Sun RV Resorts
a great job with their town events, which are not only fun, but also, family friendly. Most of these events begin when the weather is warm, making them a great reason to come during the summer months. Some of the more popular events include “Mother’s Day in Mystic” celebration, “The River Jam Festival” and the “Mystic Half Marathon and 10K”. Since these culturally rich, yet easy-going New England towns have so much to offer, then visiting in an RV becomes an
Mystic KOA Holiday is another great RV resort option in the area. This year-round resort, located at 118 Pendleton Hill Road in North Stonington, is located on a 250-year-old site of one of Connecticut’s first farms. The campground is “set amidst century-old maples, quaint stone walls, and reproduction colonial architecture. This family resort provides the best Connecticut camping has to offer where the prevailing breeze is fresh, and the westerly views are of
Photo courtesy of Sun RV Resorts
absolute joy! Seaport RV Resort and Campground, located at 45 Camp Ground Road in Old Mystic, is a place for all ages to enjoy. Located on the lush, coastal shores of Connecticut and only minutes from Downtown Mystic, Seaport RV Resort and Campground offers a variety of on-site amenities and activities which include basketball, horseshoes, miniature golf, bocce ball, pickleball, volleyball and a heated, outdoor pool. Of course, there are also WiFi services throughout the vast property. Seaport’s RV sites “provide the perfect combination of comfort and convenience” so that every stay is truly enjoyable. Seaport RV Resort and Campground is part of the Sun RV Resorts family, which specializes in the world of RVing. Sun RV Resorts also offer unique group RV friendly amenities like clubhouse rentals which have commercial kitchens, meeting rooms and outdoor spaces. RV sites range in offerings from 20-amp/30-amp/50amp, dirt or gravel sites, pull-through or back-in and those with amenities like picnic tables and grills. Rates vary and longterm stays are also offered in the seasonal campground open from April 15th through October 15th. www.sunrvresorts.com
rolling wooded hills and magnificent sunsets. With modern facilities, the campground is beautifully situated on a hill among maple and apple trees.” Amenities at Mystic KOA include a pool, cable TV, mini golf, fishing, an outdoor cinema, hay wagon rides, bike rentals, playgrounds and WiFi. Mystic KOA has received the President’s Award, awarded to KOAs that meet exceptional quality standards and recognized by their guests for outstanding services. RV sites for rent include full hook-ups, patios and pull-throughs. www.koa.com
The iconic, yellow-signed KOA, Kampgrounds of America, began in 1962, when founder, Dave Drum “noticed an abundance of station wagons and early-model RVs overnighting on the side of the road or in a church and retail parking lots. The Great American Road Trip was thriving, but campgrounds were nowhere to be found.” (koa.com). Now, there are more than 500 KOA modern campgrounds across America offering modern day campers more than just a place to stay “on their way to an experience”, but rather, a continued part of the overall experience. KOA campgrounds, like many others across the nation, have found a way to modernize and adapt by preserving traditions and adding amenities. Today, RVs come in all shapes and sizes, offering from the bare minimum to total luxury, in amenities. But the notion of getting behind the wheel and driving somewhere to see something new, is as old, so to speak, as our beautiful country. A vacation is designed so that you can discover or experience something new. A vacation in an RV allows you to not only discover somePLACE new, but also, to discover someONE new. Imagine the excitement of being able to experience something completely new and then, having the opportunity to talk about that new experience with those you love, while relaxing in a comfy chair, next to a crackling fire, under the light from only the stars above without the distraction or the noise from a blaring TV or video game. Today, the world is a complicated place, filled with many options for entertainment, but visiting a serene and historic place like Mystic & Norwich, in an RV, offers a chance for us to reconnect with not only our past, but also, with one another.
Rendezvous with friends in 2019. 825 Colonel Ledyard Highway (On CT Route 117) • Ledyard, CT 06339 860.464.2987 • www.mauglesierravineyards.com
LIVE MUSIC FRI 6-9 AND SUNDAY 3-6 CONNECT IC UT E A S T
Foxwoods Resort Casino
Gaming, yes, and so many more reasons to visit! Mashantucket–a city that never sleeps. This is Foxwoods Resort Casino, the city that rises high above the forest. Its two distinctive linked towers surrounded by eastern Connecticut woodland are on reservation land of the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, which owns and operates Foxwoods. A federally recognized American Indian tribe in the state of Connecticut, its members are descended from the Pequot people, an Algonquian-language tribe that once dominated the southern New England coastal areas. This rich history is presented in the expansive multimedia exhibits and interpretation of the Pequot Museum on the site. BY CAROLINE SLOAT
Photos courtesy of Foxwoods Resort Casino
e focus on the resort experience,” said Adam Jalbert, director of public relations, as he welcomed me in the lobby of Foxwoods Resort Casino’s Fox Tower. “While we are gaming-centric and have been since our founding in 1992, we have a lot to appeal to families and non-gamers alike.” Gaming is not the only reason to visit. Indeed, it might be a small part of a reason to visit—or even not a draw at all. “We are a family-friendly resort, so there are many reasons for a visitor to come.” Visitors come from around the world seeking this destination and the region’s residents must seek no farther than Mashantucket for the entertainment possibilities found there. The complex is abundantly equipped for gaming with its seven distinct casinos. Areas are devoted to slot machines, table games, poker games, high-stakes bingo, Keno, and the Ultimate Race Book. Every day—and not just Kentucky Derby day-players in this room are linked to ninety horse, greyhound, and jai-alai venues. Thanks to technology, guests are right in the middle of all the action to watch live races and place bets. All wagers are commingled with each track’s betting pools and pay “full track odds.” Four hotels on site offer guests a mix of rooms and suites—and views of the surrounding countryside. Resort packages (Mondays through Thursdays) are designed to maximize guests’ comfort and enjoyment of all the facility has to offer. Foxwoods has meeting space and dining venues that can be
reserved for a convention or business meeting, a wedding or, indeed, any celebration. Hard pressed to choose the best time to visit? The roster of live entertainment booked to play at Foxwoods is a dazzling selection drawn from many genres. Planning might begin by checking the acts booked at the two luxurious theaters, the 4,000 seat Grand Theater and the 1,400 seat Fox Theater. We slipped into the Fox Theater, where
stagehands were loading a touring Broadway show into the state-of-the-art stage facility for a weekend run. The complete listing of 2019 attractions is found www.foxwoods. com/shows. The theaters book headline acts, and music is on tap at Atrium Bar and Lounge, under its banner Live @ series six nights a week. Wednesdays are reserved for local bands. Each day Atrium Bar opens at 11:00 a.m., with Happy Hour specials from 4:00-7:00 p.m. Mondays through Thursdays. The Atrium is one of a half-dozen themed bars found across the complex.
Observing that “it’s very important to the tribe and the Foxwoods enterprise to do business with in-state vendors,” Adam introduced me to the Stony Creek Brewery that operates a brew-pub experience adjacent to the Fox Theater. Stony Creak Brewery (adjacent to the Fox Theater,) features a warm brew pub with award-winning beers and a food truck-style menu. Small batch, limited release beers brewed onsite—the signature Foxwoods IPA is one--are poured alongside draft beers brewed in Branford and a selection of canned beers from other Connecticut breweries. Stony Creek beer is available by the pint or choose a flight sampling a personal choice of four 5.5 oz. beers. (Growler fills--64 oz--are available on most tap beers until 10 p.m., Monday through Saturday, and until 6 p.m. on Sunday.) Not a beer drinker? This pub has you covered with its selection of wines and sodas. The second floor Roof Top features draft brews, a variety of craft beer cocktails, wine, and soda and a food menu that includes sharable plates. The ground floor has a laid-back New England feel, while the second floor has more of a
Southern California vibe with menu options designed for both! What bar is complete without a happy hour? All day Monday, and on Tuesday through Thursday from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m., the pub offers a “flight and a pint” special. And Trivia Night? Yes, that’s on Wednesday evenings, starting at 7 p.m. And pub games? Those, too: corn hole and ping pong. Dining choices abound throughout the property, from the gourmet, to the casual,
to something quick to gee whiz--the fanciful treats at the Sugar Factory Café. Snacks, delis, pizza, burgers, seafood and steak; Italian, Mexican, and Asian; breakfast; ice cream; pub and night club venues. With some thirty-five distinctive settings, you have choices aplenty! In the “what’s new” category, take your appetite to the new Rainmaker Buffet. It opened in Rainmaker Square on Memorial Day weekend, completely renovated with a
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new design and new dining concepts beginning with. Foxwoods chefs are at your service to toss your salad, ladle fresh Asian noodle soups, slice roasted meats (turkey, prime rib, slab bacon and rotisserie chicken), and serve pizza from the oven. The fresh seafood bar offers endless crab, oysters, mussels, and seafood salad. Also sample cuisine from other Foxwoods dining destinations. But do leave
the suite’s ice bar (yes, a frosty chill along the bar). Cocktails inspired by 1920s-style speakeasy drinks or local craft beers are poured for sipping at the ice bar or in lounge seating. The menu is unique to the suite with a gourmet nod to the usual sports-event selection: decadent thin-crust pizzas and wings are prepared in an open kitchen with a dedicated brick oven.
room for dessert, for hand-dipped ice cream showered at the flowing chocolate fountain. A full-service bar prepares cocktails, as well as beers, and wines. Hungry is not an option at this resort. New indoor attractions such as the Fox Tower TopGolf Swing Suite combine simulator technology with golf and baseball in a 21-plus lounge environment. Throwback arcade games, a DJ booth, and entertainment options that include slot machines built into
Elsewhere, Heritage International e-Racing offers full motion VR simulators with “choice” of vehicles and locales. Cutting edge D-Box full-motion technology comes close to the real thing. Compete against the clock or strap in to race your friends in Formula 1, Indy, NASCAR, or a selection of sports cars using software that simulates racing circuits from across the globe. This is the same technology that professional drivers use for practice!
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A new outdoor entertainment category is extreme adventure sports taking advantage of the distinctive architecture of the Fox Tower Hotel. The High Flyer Zip Line is a three-quarter mile “ride”— a word that’s too sedate to describes the thrill of reaching the top speed of 60 m.p.h. Starting thirty-three stories up, at the top of the Fox Tower, riders speed across to the Pequot Museum, affording splendid views of the extensive reservation lands. Jalbert, who had the zip line experience during its inaugural year, describes it as “exhilarating and adrenaline pumping.” The Zip Line is seasonal, opening in mid-April and running through the foliage season. Timed reservations are suggested for weekends and anytime when the fall colors are at their peak. Also taking advantage of the height of the Fox Tower are the Sky Drop, a (controlled) free-fall experience, akin to the Tower of Terror at Disney, and the Sky Launch with a sling-shot action. Golf at the Lake of Isles facility is artfully designed to fit seamlessly within the natural landscape, some 900 acres of scenic woodland and a 90-acre lake. Two outdoor golf courses both about 7,300 yards are sited within this area. The North Course, a Rees Jones design is open to the public. Each hole offers five sets of tees to give golfers of all skill levels a chance to score. Tee times can be reserved up to thirty days in advance. Overnight golf packages offer 18 holes of golf, access to the driving range, a golf cart, and use of the club house and shop. Golf Magazine listed Lake of Isles among 2017’s “Top 100 Courses You Can Play.” Monza World Class Karting could be described as “a go-kart track in Mashantucket, Connecticut,” but it’s more than that. Way more. This modest description completely obscures the excitement of this fast and challenging 1,600-foot track designed and built in Italy and reconstructed here in Connecti-
cut. With its fourteen turns, seven elevation changes and more than 1G of cornering, the track is designed for a true motorsports experience. Gas-powered karts are available for adults (ages 16 and up) and juniors (ages 10-15) on one of the most dramatic and exhilarating indoor tracks in the world.. A typical track session (i.e., heat) is approximately eight minutes. During that time drivers attempt to complete as many laps as they can in what is called “best lap” mode (ranking is based on each driver’s fastest lap in that heat. All-inclusive pricing provides all the necessary safety equipment as well as a safety briefing to drive the gas-powered nine-horsepower karts. We shared the elevator with a couple so eager to get suited up to drive, it was clear that this was a highly anticipated return to this European-style indoor karting center. Viewing platforms and a lounge are among the amenities for aficionados of this high-energy sport.
booked for the theaters, especially during Kids Week, offered during the April and December vacation weeks. Indoor and outdoor pools are available to hotel guests, with some restrictions. The Mashantucket Pequot Museum & Research Center is a complete change of pace, an authentic presentation of the natural environment and its settlement through time. The museum’s mission is to further knowledge and understanding of the richness and diversity of the indigenous cultures and societies of the United States and Canada. The extensive exhibition areas use innovative display and interpretation techniques to tell the story of the land and its peoples, both native and settler, bringing the tribe’s story up to 1980s when the tribe was formally recognized. This story remains current through programs and changing exhibits that promote interaction between indigenous people, the general public, and the scholarly
The Mashantucket Pequot Museum
Putnam Science Academy
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Monza World Class Karting
And then there’s the shopping. From souvenirs to deluxe jewelry and clothing, with a stop at Native Nations, a shop that features Native American handcrafts and culture. The two towers are connected by the Tanger Outlets at Foxwoods with eighty shops on two floors. So many outlets, so many categories, that it’s no wonder that this calls for more than a shopping trip. This is a shopping destination. Don’t forget to download the app and check the website for special savings at selected stores. The resort doesn’t forget about the children in the family. Kid-friendly shows are
community. The Pequot Museum is designed to appeal to all ages, especially families. It is open from late April through November each year. Foxwoods is described as a resort with “many amazing things to enjoy….as well as a gaming property.” Since it was established in 1992, Foxwoods has found even more ways to enhance visitors’ experiences. www.foxwoods.com Foxwoods Resort Casino, GPS Address: 39 Norwich-Westerly Road, Ledyard CT 06339
Come be a part of a growing, new and exciting school! We offer rolling admission, for both the fall and spring semesters.
APPLY TODAY! Interested in applying? Please email the Director of Admissions Kelly J. Alves at email@example.com or call 860-928-5010 EXT. 122 18 Maple Street, Putnam, CT 06260 www.putnamsicence.academy CONNECTIC UT E A S T
Photos courtesy of WBA - The Hitchcock home
Builders for Life
One of the greatest compliments paid in any industry is repeat business. Woodstock Building Associates has had enough of that in over 40 years of successful operation to claim the label “builders for life.” Many of their clients ask for their services again and again, even across generations.
oodstock Building Associates (WBA) is an award-winning leader in custom home building and remodeling based in Woodstock, CT, and Franklin, MA. Today, WBA’s team of seventeen experienced professionals serves northeastern Connecticut and South Central Massachusetts with well-planned and expertly executed projects of all sizes. “Builder for life means that when a client has a new project at their house, they automatically call us to do the work,” says Managing Partner Doug Porter, who founded WBA in 1978. “It is great that clients respect the work that we have done for them in the past and that they have continued confidence in us to do the next project,” adds Porter. Architect Steven Keene expands the moniker. “I would consider ourselves ‘Designers and Builders for Life.’ Our professional team manages all aspects of a project – from start to finish. It means following through with clients. It means being honest,
BY CRIS CADIZ
trustworthy, educated, and experienced. When you build a team like this we are able to build confidence, which ultimately leads
to lifelong partnerships with generations of families.” Bryan Hitchcock and his wife Caitlin hired WBA after Bryan’s parents used them to build a house in Woodstock in 2002. Even after more than 15 years, WBA continues to help maintain Bryan’s parents’ home. According to Caitlin, her in-laws experience was so positive, it’s the reason she and Bryan chose WBA for a basement remodel on their condo in 2012. The Hitchcock’s (second generation) went on to hire WBA to build a new home and then a large addition on that. “We love all the projects they did, but we love the new addition on our current home the most,” says Caitlin. “Steve helped bring my ideas to life and still helped us get what we wanted within our budget. Our large family room and outdoor covered deck are our favorite to date. We have so much space for our family and friends to visit and entertain, we are really looking forward to being outside more once the weather breaks.” The Hitchcocks appreciated WBA’s professionalism and how close to the timeline the project developed. “Everything was done for us,” Bryan says. “We didn’t have to hire anyone; they brought in all their own people. They laid it all out: this is what will happen and when it will happen. And it did.” Porter explains that as a design-build company, WBA has systems in place to move a project from the idea stage to completion while maintaining an agreed upon budget and time schedule. “We have the professionals to help make the process go smoothly from start to finish, including architect/ designers, estimators, project administrators and tradesmen.”
When the Hitchcocks needed more space for their growing family, they bought the last piece of property owned by WBA in a neighborhood that was developed and built by them. Caitlin says Doug Porter has relatives living there too and he sometimes stops by to say hello and check in. “It’s a company that cares,” she says. “We know the crew by name. If anything is broken or not working properly, they send someone right over. They are reliable and stand by their work. We have an outstanding relationship with them and we wouldn’t have done it any differently if we had to do it over again.” Richard Place, VP of Putnam Ford is another satisfied client who made working with WBA a family affair. He chose WBA to build his garage because he knew Doug Porter as a friend in the business community and from Rotary. Place also received many positive references for WBA from people he respects. “We were very satisfied. The price was reasonable and the workmanship excellent.” Place then referred WBA to his sister Patti for her home renovation. “This was a
discussed and the final date for completion was in time as expected. The workmanship and concern with all employees is second to none.” The WBA team seems to recognizes that the building process can be a difficult and stressful one because home is one of the most important elements in our lives. “We want our clients to feel comfort,” Keene says. “We want them to feel as if their partnership with WBA has help them achieve a life-long goal of renovating an old space or building a new space. We want them to feel as though their money was well spent and the completed project has added value to their lives.” Keene experiences great satisfaction in the process. “At the first preliminary design and budget meeting, we exchange the habitual hand shake. The client decides if WBA if the right company for them. Fast forward to the project completion. There is a sense of accomplishment in everyone’s eyes. Handshakes have become hugs. We are often invited back for summer BBQs. We even receive Christmas cards with the family sitting in front of the fireplace that we built. A sense of pride comes over the WBA team knowing that we helped create their home.
It shows that we have done our job and done it well. I like seeing that with our projects, families can grow, and when our clients’ families grow, WBA’s team can grow.” Visit wbahomes.com for more information or call 860-928-0897.
The Leader In Design-Build
From design to completion Woodstock Building Associates works together to ensure consistently superior craftsmanship. Building costs are tailored to fit your budget without compromising quality. If you are looking for an experienced, organized, cost conscious builder, call Woodstock Building Associates today. major undertaking and done while she was in California,” he says. “This created some communication issues, but the job was completed to her satisfaction and that is not an easy task. The end result was terrific and she is very happy!” “Doug Porter was always up front with me when problems arose and gave me alternatives to make an informed decision on how to proceed,” Place says. “The pricing was fair even when we had upgrades and changes to the original plans. The timeline was always
HOME BUILDERS ASSOCIATION OF CONNECTICUT, INC.
Woodstock Building Associates, LLC Woodstock, CT • Franklin, MA 860.928.0897 • wbahomes.com
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Photos contributed by The Last Green Valley
The Last Green Valley: Celebrating 25 Years as a National Heritage Corridor Have you ever noticed those brown signs on I-395 that read “Blackstone Valley National Heritage Corridor” or “Quinebaug Shetucket Heritage Corridor” and wondered what they signify? Big brown sign = something important. These are signs for regions promoted by the National Park Service. The regions they designate are not parks, however; they are much, much more. They are a treasure for all–travelers and residents alike. BY CRIS CADIZ
uch of northeastern Connecticut (and some of south central Massachusetts) is part of the Quinebaug and Shetucket Rivers Valley National Heritage Corridor--now called, more lyrically, The Last Green Valley. They legally changed the name in part because the original (describing a watershed of two rivers) was a clumsy mouthful, but mostly because this region is literally the last contiguous, largely undeveloped place on the northeast coast of our country. If you were to fly on a plane from Washington, D.C. to Boston during the day, you would see a swath of dark green transected by streams and rivers, punctuated with fields and occasional towns and villages. At night, you would see a dark notch among the bright lights of development. It is a special place.
The Last Green Valley was designated by Congress as a national heritage corridor in 1994. It was the fourth such designation in our country, which now number 55 and growing. NHCs signify an area where landscape and people connect to create a sense of place like nowhere else in our country. The
National Park Service defines them as “places where historic, cultural, and natural resources combine to form cohesive, nationally important landscapes.” Unlike national parks, these are “lived-in landscapes”—the people, as well as their economy, culture, heritage and history, are as significant as the hills, valleys, forests and waterways they populate. Like national parks, NHCs are federally funded. Unlike parks, they are managed on a completely grass-roots level. The community gets to decide what’s important. Partnerships with local organizations and lots of volunteers are essential. Funding provided and funds raised stay in the community to support recreation, economic development, historical preservation, and conservation and stewardship of natural resources. This year, the Last Green Valley celebrates its 25th year as a NHC. Although it creates management plans every ten years, designed by diverse participants from the community, its federal funding must be approved every year. Why should you care? Do you enjoy peace and quiet? Drinking milk or eating vegetables, fruit and cheese from local farms? Hiking deep among the oaks and white pine or paddling on a pristine river or lake? Driving down country roads, appreciating the open fields, forests, historic architecture, stone walls and town greens? Patronizing locally owned shops or dining at restaurants that serve farm-fresh meals? Knowing why our old mill buildings exist and who used to work there back in the day? Learning that some of the most important historical figures of our country lived right here? Looking up at the night sky and seeing a raft of brilliant stars? All these things are The Last Green Valley. Our NHC helps ensure all these things are celebrated and will continue to exist in the future.
You can think of The Last Green Valley as a giant sheltering tree. It has many strong branches. Each serves to preserve, protect and share all the things that make our region special: woods, water, history, recreation, agriculture. Executive Director Lois Bruinooge explains in the simplest way she can the many things TLGV does: “We help people care for, enjoy, and pass on to future generations everything that makes this national heritage corridor special.” Bruinooge came to lead TLGV from an environmental background, working as an enforcement attorney for Massachusetts DEP. “The idea of trying to effect change in a positive way was really appealing to me, rather than taking enforcement actions against people who had done something wrong.” She knows how important one, slightly more esoteric aspect of TLGV is, the water quality of our many rivers and streams. “TLGV has created a robust water quality monitoring program that’s in its 13th year. We have over 100 volunteers that monitor 100 sites, assessing the health of our small waterways and headwater streams who run into large bodies of water.” TLGV assures that we don’t take our clean water for granted. “We are really good at taking a regional perspective but looking beyond our own borders,” says Bruinooge. “TLGV created the first publicly-accessible map of the entire Thames River Watershed. It’s the third largest emptying into Long Island Sound, an estuary of national significance.” Even federal and state agencies had maps that ended at the borders with blank space for anything in the other states. Obviously, rivers don’t stop at a state line. So TLGV created a map of the entire watershed, that covers CT, MA and RI. TLGV also funds the Thames River Watershed Partnership and is currently working on a land conservation project that is much larger than our region. TLGV is a lead partner in the Southern New England Heritage Forest, one of nineteen partners in a $12M project. Much of the money will go directly to landowners for easements to protect their forest lands and to create management plans. They will also work with land trusts to help preserve even more land. Together, this project will protect a contiguous block of land from the coast all the way to Canadian border—a huge wildlife corridor. Assistant Director Fran Kefalas was a journalist for the Norwich Bulletin who wrote the story when TLGV hired Charlene Cutler as the first executive director in 1997. As a
transplant from New York City, it was easy for Kefalas to see why this region is extraordinary. “People who live here sometimes take it for granted,” she says. “I had never met a group of such committed volunteers as those early folks.” As a journalist and editor, she made sure TLGV received coverage because she realized they were doing important work.
Later, during a freelance period of her career, she was hired to write In Touch, TLGV’s member magazine. When she received a press release about a position working for TLGV, Fran applied. It was an opportunity to educate people about how special this region is.
“TLGV is about celebrating something important,” Kefalas says. “It takes federal funding and magnifies it.” Bruinooge adds, “A NHC is an idea that caught on because it’s an efficient way to use a small federal investment to leverage local funds and tell stories without the government owning land or having regulatory oversight. It means we are stronger together, working with numerous partners, businesses, members, who offer donations, hours, food products for our events. We have lots of volunteers.” Every national heritage area is unique. Some are tied to stories, like Civil War battlefields or the Erie Canal. “Our story is about the landscape. We are ringed by urban areas but have been able to retain the rural character important to people today,” says Bruinooge. Kefalas adds that our history features nationally significant stories and characters: Benedict Arnold, Israel Putnam, Samuel Huntington. “The Last Green Valley establishes a sense of regional identity, importance and
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pride. There’s a lot of things going on we need to celebrate.” One of TLGV’s most impactful and well known events, which tangibly celebrates all the wonderful things about the area, is called Walktober. It is a more than monthlong series of hundreds of free guided walks (and paddles, bike rides, historical tours, events, etc.) hosted by volunteers from farms, historical societies, and many other organizations. Walktober grew from an event launched in 1991 called Walking Weekend, created by volunteers as a means to earn national heritage corridor status.
why Congress has supported it for 25 years.” Very has witnessed the positive impact TLGV can have on a town’s welfare. Putnam has seen an amazing renaissance, driven by the town’s economic development efforts and a vibrant, creative business community. TLGV has supported this in various ways, such as a decade of grant funding for the town’s beautification day and assistance with Putnam’s mill redevelopment process. In addition, TLGV supports water monitoring of the Quinebaug River, which bisects the town. “This is extremely helpful to us, knowing how to best preserve our phenomenal natural asset,” says Very.
“Walktober started to help convince the federal government this place was worth becoming a NHC,” says Kefalas. “Last year, even with all the rain we had, nearly 80,000 people attended Walktober--and those are just the ones that were counted. That speaks to this event’s ability to attract people.” Delpha Very is Putnam’s Economic & Community Development Director. She recalls that she was a Woodstock resident and on the Board of Education when this volunteer group was gathering support for their effort to get federal approval. “There were no questions asked about jumping on board,” she said. “Should we do this? Yes, of course we should!” Today, she feels the TLGV’s greatest strength is education … “giving everyone, young and old, the opportunity to explore things they’ve never been part of---whether its trail systems or waterways or history. I think that’s their greatest mission and that’s
Promotion runs both directions with many of TLGV’s partners. TLGV has an information table every month at Putnam’s popular First Fridays street festival. “It’s always a presence for the thousands of people who come to First Fridays,” says Very. “It’s the perfect partnership.” Putnam offers the opportunity to showcase that TLGV is here, and TLGV is able to educate the thousands of people who come to the event about what it is. “Their breadth of outreach is huge,” Very says. “I don’t know how they get it all done! Each town can use TLGV as a resource for whatever they need.” Regan Miner, Executive Director of the Norwich Historical Society, also sees TLGV’s positive impact on her city. “Walktober is a huge economic driver in Norwich. Its impact is between $80,000 and $225,000 annually--a huge boost to Norwich’s heritage tourism efforts.” Miner says the Norwich
Historical Society has received grant money from TLGV in the past and participates in Walktober and Spring Outdoors, another recently established walking tour event. “The City of Norwich coordinates all of our Walktober walks and offers over 30 events and walks. It is one of our most successful events.” According to Bruinooge, an economic impact study done by the National Park Service two years ago showed that TLGV helps generate $303M a year in economic activity, $25M in tax revenue, and supports over 3,000 jobs in the corridor. The success of Walktober inspired another walking event called Spring Outdoors, which also invites people to discover The Last Green Valley on free, guided walks and other events. TLGV’s Explore Guide is a huge annual project and a great asset for tourism. It’s a comprehensive guide to all the fun things to do in TLGV, from trails for hiking and biking, to agribusiness and historical sites, to scenic drives and places to stay, events and more. Residents and visitors can pick them up at 150 locations, including tourism information racks and every town hall. They are also mailed to members, distributed outside the corridor, and available at the Big E plus 60 to 70 other events. Kefalas says that according to the state tourism concierge, the Walktober brochure is the second most popular brochure they distribute from Connecticut. “Tastes of the Valley” is TLGV’s major fundraising event held every August. “We match four top chefs with local products to create four courses of a sit-down meal,” Bruinooge explains. They also showcase other corridor farms and vendors for beverages, appetizers and dessert. This full evening of local foods has been held at the Publick House in Sturbridge, MA, the last few years and it sells out every year. The event also features an auction, raffle baskets, and so on. One interesting feature is that a local farmer, brewer or vintner is seated at each table, available to share their stories with attendees. “There are a lot of interesting characters,” says Bruinooge. Rick Hermonot is co-owner with his wife and daughters of Ekonk Hill Turkey Farm in Sterling, CT. They produce pasture-raised turkeys on a 360-acre farm and sell homemade ice cream, bakery items, farm-raised meats and poultry, and other local items in an on-site store. They also offer “agri-tourism” with a corn maze, hay rides, and farm tours. Rick served on the Board of Directors of TLGV for 12 years and his farm
has been a TLGV business partners for more than 15 years. They have hosted Walktober walks for many years and regularly participate in the Tastes of the Valley, donating meat and poultry. He and his daughter Katie have served as “farmer at the table” for the last three years. “TLGV has been an awesome source of promotion for our retail farm,” says Hermonot, whose business has gained valuable exposure in publications and the farm’s participation in events. “We are proud to be active participants in TLGV and their awesome programs and activities. Gross revenue of our business has grown 20 fold in the past 12 years. This is the result of our own hard work plus the support of local organizations that have contributed to our success over the years. I would place TLGV among the top on that list.” Hermonot’s farm draws visitors from NYC to Boston, bringing more people to TLGV to explore its other assets--a ripple effect of locally leveraged resources. “TLGV helps increase awareness of the economic, cultural, and natural resources of eastern CT and contributes to their long term sustainability. These resources contribute greatly to the quality of life for folks that live here. Without the promotion of organizations like TLGV, some (or even many) of these resources could go unappreciated and might fade from existence. This includes everything from hiking and canoeing sites at state parks, to the farms that help keep TLGV green, to local B&Bs, restaurants, and shops that enhance everyone’s experience.” “We have a hand in so many projects and places,” says Bruinooge, who says TLGV has funded over $3M in grants over the years. “From mill facades to the clock down
the block to trails to open space plans. Little and big restoration projects, historic structures and barns…many of the beloved landmarks still standing we had a hand in keeping them that way.” They also encourage communication among historic resources and hold different types of practical sessions, such as learning how to issue a press release. TLGV is currently working on a management plan for 2020 - 2030, a requirement for NHCs. The Board’s Community Engagement Committee has met with 20 groups, from healthcare organizations, churches, senior centers, libraries, chambers of commerce, as well as land trust, historical and environmental groups. Bruinooge explains what they found. “People do value our rural character–the landscape–but also peacefulness, security, those intangible qualities. They also want to improve youth engagement, how to better help youth learn a sense of place. Those conversations will be
the base of our next plan.” They hope to have a draft out next fall. There won’t be a major shift in emphasis, but TLGV sees chances to work with the healthcare community to make better links among health & wellness and recreation opportunities including the HealthQuest initiative called “When is Your 10?” walking campaign. TLGV is clearly a complex but effective organization with branches that shelter far and wide. The importance is that it shelters a special place. Delpha Very neatly sums up the significance of our National Heritage Corridor. “It’s profound but poignant at the same time. We all look at that light map with that little piece of New England carved out. That’s our last green valley. It’s about protection. They serve to protect and conserve and unify and educate people of the importance of this land among the largest cities in the US…which can easily be forgotten or disappear. It’s vital The Last Green Valley is here to protect us.” To learn more about The Last Green Valley, visit www.TLGV.org.
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T H E N O R W I C H R E V I VA L
THE ROSE CITY ARTS FESTIVAL is a Pep Rally for the Longer Game The return of the Rose City Arts Festival is a sure bet that Norwich civic pride is on the upswing. A growing roster of restaurants and bars, a recent preservation award, and the Rose Arts Festival on Saturday, June 29, 2019 are all positive signs. 2019 marks the third year since Kelly August was inspired to reinvent the city-wide festival after a hiatus of several years. If you can’t be in Norwich that day (and evening), keep in mind that the venues that stepped up to be included are year-round. Hotel Wauregan saved from demolition, Chestnut Street Theater art galleries, restaurants, even the augmented street lighting are ongoing enhancements. Norwich is well worth a visit. BY CAROLINE SLOAT
he idea of bringing back the festival began when Kelly saw a Facebook post about a reunion to mark the 50th anniversary of the Rose Arts Festival Race. A reunion planned by a group of former runners led her to wonder: “What does it say that they still want to get together?” Her next thought: “Where is the Festival?” She found another Facebook group called Bring Back the Rose Arts Festival, “but it wasn’t doing anything.” So, I said to myself, “fine, I’ll do it and I started talking to friends and approaching civic groups.” That was in January 2017,
Photo by Allie Dearie Photography
Photo by Allie Dearie Photography
and it came together. The festival returned that June and will be back for its third year in 2019. The collaborative model is the secret sauce. Not omitting that in her professional life, Kelly is a project manager. Chelsea Parade Park will be the festival’s daytime location, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., and then the activity moves downtown until 1 a.m. The opening events are the road races and the pancake breakfast, followed at 10 a.m. with a parade and all activities open. The food court opens at 11. Through the day, there will be music, art, and magic on the stages. Plus, competitions with prizes—festival royalty, floral arrangements, culinary, budding artists, even a best dressed pet award. In the evening, some twenty downtown destinations are serving art, music, food, and drinks. Expect to find “live music
anywhere they will allow,” says Kelly. More than a dozen local bands will perform in a variety of genres, among them rock, folk, indie, country, soul, blues, and swing. In all, there will be thirty-four acts—including Dumpstaphunk from New Orleans–fourteen hours of live music presented on ten stages. The evening festivities are dubbed “Downtown After Dark,” but dark it will not be. Sponsors are underwriting the illumination of a walking path that connects the venues. LED-lights wrapped around the street trees will remain to provide a sense of safety and visual interest linking downtown bars, restaurants, and galleries open at night. Other permanent elements will include murals, gardens, and art in unused storefront windows welcoming both visitors and citizens downtown.
The Rose Arts Race is remembered as a popular run through the boroughs of Norwich, but the police department now prefers a route without state roads. Kelly is grateful to the Department of Public Works and the Chief of Police for creating a new race route in 2017 The race director, a teacher and coach from Norwich Free Academy, initiated a plan to join with an existing fundraiser honoring a teenager whose death of sudden cardiac arrest showed the need for equipment and training to avoid a similar event. “With the support of his family, 50 percent of race proceeds will be going to the Larry Pontbriant Athletic Safety Fund for the purchase of defibrillators to take to events such as this.” Registration for the race includes a breakfast ticket. “The Rotary Club’s pancake breakfast was renowned.” Kelly recalls. “We’re happy that Rotary members will be back at the griddles.” After breakfast partake in the entertainment, visit 175 vendors, and work up an appetite. Kid Zone—sponsored by OB-GYN Services—offers crafts, inflatables, water features, vendors and its own stage to enjoy a magic show. The Creative Station offers free classes from 10 a.m. until 4:30 p.m. The adult art classes are to “spark creativity” while creating a piece of jewelry, a painting, or a painted object. Most of the art teachers who will volunteer their time are women business owners. The Creative Director owns Drinkable Arts, a franchise that offers parties and classes for painting wine glasses and more. The Budding Artist Display is sponsored by the Friends of Sara Davis to honor the birthday of a beloved teacher in Norwich Public Schools. This exhibition of student art—for which prizes are awarded – is a collaboration with area schools. Chestnut Street Playhouse and Norwich Free Academy Theater will present samplers on the Performing Arts Stage sponsored by The Day. Bands and solo performers are booked for the Live Music Stage sponsored by the Lord Foundation. Kelly is grateful to The Edward and Mary Lord Foundation, established to support the local arts and cultural community, for sponsoring the live music at the festival. While the festival’s focus is up-and-coming bands, they are pleased to be presenting Dumpstaphunk from New Orleans, a quintet that features Ivan Neville on keyboard and vocals and Ian Neville on guitar. Ivan performed with his father and two uncles as the Neville Brothers before establishing Dumpstaphunk in 2003.
Photo by Allie Dearie Photography
Broadway will be blocked off for the food court sponsored by Liberty Bank. Serving under a tent and from food trucks. Brick & Basil Pizza, Canggio Restaurant, Craftsman Cliff Roasters, Greekin’ Out, J &R’s Old-Fashioned Lemonade, Nora Cupcake Company, Ra Ra’s Ice Cream, Uncle D’s Blazin’ Barbecue, and Whey Station will be
among the food vendors. Some from food trucks. The proprietor of the Blazin’ Barbecue food truck is a member of the 2019 planning committee. Craftsman Cliff’s Roasters, a local coffee shop, coffee roaster, and chocolate maker, is a strong supporter of the Festival and Norwich revitalization. New this year is a contemporary version of the former Festival Pageant, open to all genders, ages 16-20. “It is not a talent or a beauty pageant--leadership is the one attribute that remains the same.” The requirements for entry are writing an original essay about building sustainable community pride and presenting a public speech. Formal wear is requested for this event—but this is an opportunity for diverse costuming and not just tuxes and prom dresses. The pageant takes place in an auditorium and winners will be awarded prizes. After 6 p.m.. “it’s open house downtown: the galleries, Chestnut Street Playhouse, restaurants … any business willing to participate.” Kelly reeled off seven restaurants with cuisines reflecting the diversity found locally and two craft breweries. Namoo Korean Eatery; Café Otis, Royal Punjabi, and Harp and Dragon plus La Stella Pizza and Mi Casa.; and Craftsman Cliff Roasters.
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hanks to sponsor support, the festival is now “free and accessible for everyone.” Old-timers might recall that the venue was fenced and there was an entry fee. No more. The only fences are around the Kid Zone (for children’s safety and parents’ peace of mind) and the beer tent (no under-21s admitted). The park will fill with activities that showcase cultural and economic diversity.
Epicure Brewing offers no food and customers can bring their own. These Guys Brewing complements its brews with a pub menu. “Live music will be offered everywhere possible, she adds.” Plus, the illuminated walking path, so people feel safe and understand where to find the activity. The streets are safe, but there are pockets awaiting restoration. We are in mid revitalization.” City Historian Dale Plummer met me to sketch out the history of the city, once a
House in Canterbury and Roseland Cottage in Woodstock, is a site on Trail to Freedom tours (www.connctionsgrouptours.com). Norwich had two centers of settlement. Norwichtown was established in the late seventeenth century and Chelsea Landing around the seaport. This community was incorporated as Norwich city in 1784 and includes the commercial landing—the downtown area. Subsequently the rivers became the power sources for manufactur-
Photo by Sasha Dale
thriving commercial and industrial hub, a picture than has been obscured by earlier efforts to manage urban blight through highway construction and the removal of unused buildings from the city’s heyday. Its three rivers, Yantic, Shetucket, and Thames, are memorialized in the name of the community college formed through a merger in 1992, but long before European settlement, a source of abundant supplies of fish. Then, its deep harbor formed the basis for a colonial economy that tied eastern Connecticut to the Caribbean. Barrel staves made locally were transported to the West Indies to return as casks filled with molasses, rum, and sugar. African migrants arrived on these voyages, a population, enslaved at first, and then a free community of color. One of Norwich’s notables is David Ruggles, who became a major figure in the Underground Railroad in New York State. He is remembered in the David Ruggles Freedom Courtyard beside City Hall. Norwich, along with the Prudence Crandall 22
ing that brought the Industrial Revolution to Norwich. The mill villages that grew up around the rivers have their own identity, but in many locations the mills are long gone, as is the commerce and trade that once filled the proud and bustling downtown. The buildings that survive are contributing to the revival of downtown and periphery. In Yantic, plans for the renovation of the 1865 Hale Mill that closed in the 1980s have been approved. The four-story stone mill is sited alongside the Yantic River. Meanwhile on the other side of town beside the Quinebaug River in Taftville, the first phase of a successful rehabilitation of an 1871 industrial complex empty since 2007. The Lofts at Ponemah Mills, is now renting its first 161 units (www.ponemahmills.com/the-loftsat-ponemah-mills-taftville-ct) with a total of 314 to come. This work was recognized by the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation with the presentation of a 2019 Merit Award.
The great age of steamboats and rail created a transportation network that brought wool and cotton to the factories and transported them to urban garment centers as finished fabrics. A recent success story is the preservation of the former Wauregan Hotel (1855), where Abraham Lincoln stayed on his 1860 campaign visit to Norwich. After many years of neglect, it was saved and has been adapted as affordable housing, a project that received extensive recognition when completed in 2008. Norwich’s former prosperity also left a history of philanthropy. The Otis Library, for example, was established in 1845. It has moved to more modern library quarters and it’s former building has recently reopened as Café Otis (www.cafeotis.com) offering seasonal menus and coffee. Norwich Free Academy was founded in 1854 by financial, political and social elite leaders to serve every high school student in the community. That mission continues evolving to serve today’s students on a campus that has grown and to resemble a small New England college (www.nfaschool.org). The Slater Memorial Art Museum, open to the public, is on the campus exhibiting international art and Norwich history. The Plaster Cast Collection is a surviving collection of 150 plaster casts, replicas of Egyptian, Greek, Roman and Italian Renaissance sculpture. African and Asian art is also part of the collection, along with twentieth century Connecticut artists, such as Ozias Dodge, Milton Bellin and Charlotte Fuller Eastman (www.slatermuseum.org). Self-guided walking tours include six trails have been developed to highlight the diversity of the people who have called Norwich home (www.walknorwich.org). Norwich today is filled with optimistic signs. That was evident in the enthusiasm that Dale Plummer and Kelly August share for their home city and the future they are part of. Once one of the wealthiest cities in the United States, it is time to “renew the energy so that Norwich will find its future.” We can see New London and Willimantic embracing it: “Now it’s our turn.”
WOODSTOCK , CT
Unique Clothing & Gifts
253 RT 171, SOUTH WOODSTOCK (next to the Woodstock Fairgrounds)
860-928-1514 • Open W - S, 10-5 and Sun 12-5
Voted Best Live Theater Norwich Bulletin Reader’s Choice Award 2018
Community Theater at it’s Best Offering community live theater, comedy shows, movies & concerts.
Theater of Northeastern Connecticut 30 Front Street • Putnam, CT 06260 (860) 928-7887 • www.bradleyplayhouse.org
Photo by Winter Caplanson