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Rural Intelligence

Four Brothers Drive-In Updates the Classic

By Jamie Larson

The drive-in movie theater experience is back in a whole new way in Amenia, NY. With a style that’s classic nostalgia crossed with rustic modern, community events in the daylight, a progressive slate of movies beyond the blockbuster and a full restaurant menu, two sons of the Four Brothers Pizza Inn dynasty are redefining what a drive-in can and should be.

“We wanted to build a drive-in that’s classic Americana but with some modern elements,” says John Stephanopoulos, who runs the Four Brothers Drive In with brother Paul, both sons of William and nephews of the other three founding Brothers. “People can relate to it no matter what their age. We wanted to make it a place you could come and hang out with your family or on a date.”

Paul and John Stephanopoulos, (Images courtesy of John Stephanopoulos)

Though the idea of a drive-in may be old, the two brothers’ execution at their year-old drive-in is keenly in tune with a modern regional aesthetic. There’s unapologetic kitsch and whimsical elements that let you know you’re in movie land, but by using a lot of rustic materials and reclaimed vintage signage and decor, the design comes across as intentional, knowing and sophisticatedly irreverent.

John is primarily responsible for creating the flashy yet unified design elements that make up the look of the place and the drive-in’s attractive web and social media presence. With a master’s degree in accounting, his impressive execution of the drive-in’s branding is a testament to his personal love of art and the style elements he’s seen while traveling. Once you learn he has an affinity for Miami, the vibrant Art Deco lines and colors at the drive-in begin to wink out at you.

“We tried to make it subtle,” John says. “We want to bring you to a place in time. We find that a lot of people come here early and end up hanging out for a long time.”

On weekend days, the drive-in hosts community events. They offer live music, a farmers’ market and kids’ activities including pony rides, magicians and clowns. John says people sometimes show up in the afternoon and stay until the end of the last showing. They even hosted a wedding once, and after the sun went down on the reception — catered by the restaurant — the party watched a scary movie.

The one-screen theater is on a lot right beside the true family business, the Armenia Four Brother’s Restaurant. One of the most distinguishing aspects of the drive-in is that, along with expected fare from the snack bar, the theater encourages visitors to get any item from the entire Four Brothers menu — and it’s served by a car hop. “If you want, you can get an all-organic fruit smoothie from the concession stand and a chicken parm from the restaurant brought right to your car,” John says.

Did we mention they show movies? They’re doing that their own way, too. The Stephanopoulos family is in a uniquely independent position when it comes to showing movies. Because the drive-in was conceived to bring people to the restaurant, rather than having its success tied heavily to ticket sales alone, they can do things other drive-ins can’t, like show two top-billed movies on their opening weekend in a double feature. They also do special screenings of independent movies and host a hugely successful “Throwback Thursday” night where they show older movies.

John and Paul’s patriarchs, the four Stephanopoulos brothers, often told their children that one of the first things they did when they came to America in the 1970s was go to the drive-in. They had a dream in the back of their minds that someday they would open their own.

Now, the next generation of the successful family has made that dream a reality, honoring the past and looking to the future with style.

Four Brothers Drive-In
4957 Route 22, Amenia, NY
Mon - Thu: 11:30 a.m. - 12:00 a.m.
Fri - Sun: 11:30 a.m. - 1:00 a.m.

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Posted by Jamie Larson on 06/29/15 at 12:03 PM • Permalink

Kent Sculptor Goes Wild In Sculpturedale

By Lauren Curran

Kent, Connecticut is probably the last place you’d expect to go on a pseudo safari. Which would explain why drivers taking the picturesque Route 7 near Kent Falls State Park might do a double (or triple) take when they spot a fairly wild kingdom out of the corner of their eye. Okay, the animals aren’t real. But they’re imaginative and compelling enough to make you want to stop and explore the life-size, rusted sculptures on the hill.

The figures are the work of sculptor Denis Curtiss, who meticulously sketches and welds from his nearby workshop using a band saw, fumes extractor, welders and his own handmade tools. He and his wife, Barbara, welcome visitors to their property — a neatly manicured, four-acre swath of beautiful countryside — to roam and take in the views of the life-size or larger creatures. They call it Sculpturedale.

Curtiss refers to the property, which also showcases Barbara’s gardening skills, as a “working gallery.” The animals are strategically placed: a pig and bear are spotted in the distance on a grassy hill; elephants lurk nearby when you first enter the driveway. You can’t miss his best-selling sculpture — a baby elephant sitting on his backside. Take a walk and meet a chipmunk, a blue heron and possibly the form of another species: a dancer. The works are fashioned out of bronze and steel, which he buys from a supplier in Torrington.

Curtiss, who grew up in Cornwall and graduated from Oliver Wolcott Technical High School in Torrington, served in the Peace Corps and taught overseas before returning to the area. He first began creating large sculptures with what he calls “the dancers,” eight-foot wooden and metal figures stretched into a variety of positions.

Then came the animals, of which he’s sold hundreds to people from all over the world, including 20 to the late singer Andy Williams for his own yard and for his Moon River Theatre in Branson, Missouri. Prices range from $75 to $12,000, which was what someone paid for a Texas Longhorn he sculpted.

All of the pieces at Sculpturedale are for sale, and Curtiss takes commissions. His work has been displayed at countless sculpture exhibitions, and, locally, you can visit some of the Curtiss menagerie at the Interlaken Inn in Lakeville. For customers who don’t have estates (or — for you city folk — any backyard at all), he’s created a line of “Basics,” smaller-scale, more house-friendly pets.

“I love talking with people,” says Curtiss, who quickly came out when I arrived for a visit. He jokingly refers to himself as a “cheap New Englander,” and says no advertising is needed: 85 percent of his customers come right off Route 7, attracted by the simple Sculpturedale sign and the animals lurking up top. It doesn’t hurt that Sculpturedale was mentioned in a New York Times story on Kent, or that Curtiss was included in HGTV’s Off Beat America or that the garden was named one of the places to visit in Yankee magazine’s annual travel issue.

Customer Lisa Vaeth of North Canton says she’s enjoyed the artist’s work since the 1990s, when she commissioned Curtiss to do a dog sculpture for her husband. “There’s something so magical about his sculptures,” she says. “I’m always astounded by the life they bring to the garden.”

Of course, the fact that Curtiss works in steel, and the sculptures are exposed to the elements, means that a certain patina forms on the sculptures after time outside in damp conditions. But that doesn’t seem to be a problem for Curtiss or his customers.

“The people I sell to want rust,” he says.

Sculpturedale, works of Denis Curtiss
3 Carter Road, Kent, CT
Visitors are welcome most afternoons and weekends.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 06/08/15 at 08:54 PM • Permalink

Artisans Breathe New Life Into Historic Winsted Mill

Don Wass. Photos by David Archambault.

By Lauren Curran

Here in the Rural Intelligence region, we are blessedly removed from the land of strip malls. We like our commercial areas to be as artistic as the people and contents inside. And we’re fortunate that New England’s history of mills and factories has left its legacy in buildings begging to be repurposed into centers like the one we’ve just discovered. Whiting Mills, which sits at the end of a nondescript street in Winsted, one of Connecticut’s old mill towns, is a mighty, brick giant whose dusty, historic innards are being transformed into a small business and arts mecca.

The four-story, light-filled former factory, known in the 1800s as Winsted Hosiery, is being revitalized into studio space for a wide variety of artisans, small business and retail shops. Paintings, yoga, handmade soaps, model railroad supplies, carpentry, farrier-related products, basket weaving, sculpture, photography, video production and a silversmith’s wares are among the activities breathing new life in the building’s 52 large, airy, studios and shops.

“It’s becoming a success story,” says photographer David Archambault, who also rents a studio there. “My goal here is to have no vacant studios.”

The studios have been a long time coming. Winsted was one of the first mill towns in Connecticut, and Winsted Hosiery was a small manufacturer of men’s hosiery, later becoming the largest hosiery manufacturer in the state after expanding its product line. Whiting Mills LLC was established in June 2004 when Jean Paul and Eva Blachere of France bought the aging 135,000-square-foot complex and later renovated it.

Now the goal is to become a destination spot, Archambault says. One way of doing this is hosting Open Studios, an event when all the artisans and businesses are open, sharing their studios and services with the public.

“It really is recognizing that there’s a major art community here in Winsted,” Archambault says. “That’s what Open Studios is all about.”

Whiting Mills Open Studios will be held on Saturday and Sunday, June 6 and 7 (with a block party on Sunday), and again during the holidays. Last December, more than 1,500 visitors walked through the mill in two days, says Archambault. He continues working diligently to attract visitors from Connecticut and New York, citing Route 8 as a major thoroughfare.

Several artists from New York City rent studios at the mill, citing the reasonable cost and ease of getting there. It will also be the future home of a mural described as “the largest indoor collaborative artwork in the world,” an endeavor of The American Mural Project, which will include the creative work of kids from across the country and be a tribute to working Americans.

It’s not difficult to imagine the mill as a bustling center of commerce during New England’s Industrial Age. Artifacts remain: a black, narrow wooden ladder extending from floor to window, wide fire doors once used to contain factory dust fires, and a center courtyard overgrown with weeds hearken back to the mill’s glory days.

Debra Lill.

Artist/animator Don Wass was one of the first artists to claim a studio at the mill. Surrounded by a medley of canvases, paint jars and brushes, he contently works on a piece destined for an art gallery in Denver. “It’s really exciting when we see so many new artists coming in,” he says.

Many of the artists renting studios in the former factory have works exhibited outside Connecticut’s borders. James Gagnon of James Gagnon Design is a contemporary craftsperson and sculptor working with pewter, silver and gold. A piece of his resides in the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C. Debra Lill, a book cover and mixed media artist as well as a fine art photographer, has had her work appear on books authored by John Grisham and Mary Higgins Clark, among others.

But Archambault refuses to rest on the mill’s laurels to date.

“We’re not finished growing yet,” he says.

Open Studios and Block Party at Whiting Mills, with live music, food,
farmers’ market, studio demonstrations and more.
Saturday June 6, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Sunday, June 7, 11 a.m. - 6 p.m.
100 Whiting Street, Winsted, CT
(860) 738-2240

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Posted by Lisa Green on 05/30/15 at 09:56 AM • Permalink

A Day Trip To Daffyness

By Lisa Green

Photos courtesy of Allison Stafford.

A spring tradition in Litchfield County has been delayed and the blame rests solely on Mother Nature, but even she can’t shut down the happy-making spread of daffodils at Laurel Ridge Narcissus Plantings on Wigwam Road in Northfield. First planted in 1941 by farmers Remy and Virginia Morosani, the small daffodil collection — put there because the rocky part of their property wasn’t suitable for a hay field — grew from the initial 10,000 daffodils on two acres to the now 15 acres of dafs spread out over verdant paths, a scenic overlook and a pond.

When the plantings began to attract visitors, the owners created the private Laurel Ridge Foundation, now managed and supported by their son, John Morosani. He owns the adjoining Laurel Ridge Farm, which raises cows for grass fed beef.

“The show is really spectacular,” says Allison Stafford of Naugatuck, CT, who has visited the gardens every year since 1994, and was even inspired to create a Facebook page dedicated to the site. “Besides the beauty of the daffodils, there’s a nice walk down to the water, which always has ducks or a swan or two.” (In past years she’s spied a flock of Canadian geese nested there.) The pond even has an island filled, of course, with more narcissus.

Typically, the daffodil pageant runs from early April through the middle of May, but so far there’s only about 10 percent in bloom, Morosani says. “We expect the full yellow daffodils to be out by the first week of May. “

Which gives those yearning for a spring outing time to plan a visit.

“It’s a great photo opp for families,” attests Stafford. Artists go there to work en plein air, others navigate the hill or take the stone staircase to the pond. A busy Sunday during the height of the season might bring up to 500 people staggered throughout the day, Morosani says. Picnicking is not allowed, but visitors are encouraged to take photos and submit their images to the website.

“It’s just fun to park along the roadside, stroll the beautiful path and look at the cows on the upper field,” says Stafford. “And it’s a great photo opp for families.”

As long as you keep the kids off the dafs, please.

Laurel Ridge Narcissus Plantings
164 Wigwam Road, Northfield, CT
info@LitchfieldDaffodils.org
Open from sunrise to sunset during the daffodil season.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 04/26/15 at 12:21 PM • Permalink

Jumpfest: From The Sublime To The Silly In Salisbury

Photos by Mark Niedhammer.

By Lisa Green

Very soon, there will be things going on in Salisbury you aren’t likely to find anywhere else: a human dog sled race, a leaf blower air hockey tournament, a curling demonstration. And most especially, the annual Jumpfest Winter Festival, with the 89th Salisbury Invitational Championships at the Satre Hill Ski Jumps as its centerpiece February 6-8.

Sponsored by the Salisbury Winter Sports Association (SWSA), a volunteer-driven organization, Jumpfest (including the Winter Festival in the week preceding) is the organization’s main fundraiser.

“A lot of people don’t realize we’re a nonprofit,” says Willie Hallihan, an SWSA board member and one of the volunteer organizers. “Our mission is to teach children how to ski, both downhill and cross country. We provide the equipment for jumping, travel money and scholarships.”

The effort pays off. Three of the four ski jumpers on the Olympics team last year competed here. It’s a sure bet that some of the young competitors will end up in the next Winter Games. Jumpfest culminates with the Eastern US Jumping Championships.

Last year, the three-day festival started a week early with art show openings, restaurant specials, a cocktail party and other events. “It turned into more of a winter festival, with ski jumping as its core, but it allowed other local businesses to benefit, too,” Hallihan says. This year, there’s a “Slackers Triathlon” kickoff party at Sharon Valley Tavern, and throughout the week retailers and restaurants will be offering specials and sales. Also on the schedule: gallery receptions, tastings and a host of other mingling events.

Jumpfest events start on Friday evening with a chili cook-off prior to the target jumping, followed by the ever-popular human dogsled races. The weekend will feature spectacular ice carving demonstrations, and leaf blower air hockey, which is not done anywhere else in the contiguous United States, says Hallihan. Participants wear backpack or handheld leaf blowers and blow a ball into a goal. “We don’t think it will require a lot of human prowess. Saturday night’s the Snow Ball Dance, and throughout the weekend there will be activities for the kids including sledding and hot chocolate, and a ski jump simulator that lets little ones get a taste of what being airborne feels like.

But it’s the ski jumping that really brings out the crowds. In 2014 about 5,000 people attended (the weather was perfect, says Hallihan). If Mother Nature doesn’t provide any snow this year, they’ll make it.

“If you have not seen ski jumping live, hearing the skis slapping down, people ringing cowbells, people cheering, you haven’t seen the sport,” Hallihan says. “Once you have, you’ll probably come back.”


Jumpfest, A Winter Festival
In and around Salisbury, CT
January 30 – February 8
Click here for a calendar of events and ticket information.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 01/17/15 at 11:20 AM • Permalink

Let It Snow! Spots for Snowshoeing & Cross-Country Skiing

A skier enjoys Notchview in Windsor, MA.

Whether cross-country skiing, snowshoeing or merely sledding, now is the time and this is the place. Guardians of some of the region’s largest, most scenic properties—from country clubs to art parks to historic estates to resorts like Cranwell in Lenox—are throwing open their gates and welcoming snow-sports enthusiasts. Always call first or check websites to make sure snow and weather conditions are favorable.
 
 
Berkshire County

Canterbury Farm Ski Area
1986 Fred Snow Road, Becket
413-623-0100

Open every day, Canterbury Farm is a mini winter resort with 22 kilometers of groomed trails in an idyllic setting. You can rent skis, snowshoes and skates, and lessons are available as well.

Cranwell Resort, Spa & Golf Course
55 Lee Road, Lenox
413-637-1364

You don’t have to be an overnight guest to enjoy the pleasures of this landmark resort hotel. You can rent skates and state-of-the-art skis to explore the ten kilometers of groomed trails.

Hilltop Orchards
508 Canaan Rd / Rt 295, Richmond
800-833-6274

What could be more picturesque than skiing on a groomed trail through an apple orchard with mountain views? Perhaps a moonlight snowshoe trek and bonfire on Saturday, January 31. The guided tour leaves promptly at 6:30 p.m., weather permitting.  Afterward, warm up by the bonfire or inside by the fireplace. Wine will be for sale at the orchard that is also home to Furnace Brook Winery. $10 per person (snowshoe rentals available on-site for an additional fee). Reservations: 800-833-6274

Kennedy Park & The Arcadian Shop
91 Pittsfield Road, Lenox
413-637-3010

Do you ever wonder why the parking lot at this wonderful outdoor gear shop is always so crowded when the snow is deep? With direct access to the trails of Kennedy Park and ski rentals ($20 a day), this is an easy way to explore nature in the heart of Berkshire County.

Notchview
Route 9, Windsor
413-684-0148

If you’ve never before visited Notchview, it’s always a good time. Open daily, the Budd Visitor Center features a masonry heater, a perfect place to take a break with hot drinks and food. In addition to the intermediate and expert trails there are also seven beginner trails, so it’s very friendly to those new to the sport.

Columbia County

Clermont State Historic Site
One Clermont Avenue, Germantown
518-537-4240

You can always ski for free at this magnificent property. Families can spend the afternoon skiing and sledding while taking in magnificent Hudson River and Catskill Mountain views.

Olana State Historic Site
5720 Route 9G, Hudson
518-828-0135

Besides offering timeless, painterly views while you ski on the 250 acre property from 8 a.m. to sunset daily, Olana has a guided snoeshoe walk Saturday, January 18 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Snowshoes are limited, please register.
 
Dutchess County

Burger Hill and Poets’ Walk
Rhinebeck
845-473-4440

These two properties protected by Scenic Hudson offer wide opens spaces with spectacular vistas for skiiing or snowshoeing.

The Harlem Valley Rail Trail
Route 44, Millerton
518-789-9591

While you can hop on the Rail Trail in several spots, downtown Millerton is choice because you can warm up after skiing at the Harney Tea Room, Oakhurst Diner, or the family-friendly Taro’s pizzeria.
 
Staatsburgh State Historic Site and Margaret Lewis Norrie State Park
Old Post Road, Staatsburgh
845-889-8851

Great estates such as the Mills Mansion set on 192 acres in the heart of the Hudson Valley are one of the reasons New York is known as the Empire State. You can cross country ski there daily in the shadows of the Catskill Mountains and at the adjacent Margaret Lewis Norrie State Park.
 
Litchfield County

American Legion and People’s State Forest
East River Road, Barkhamsted
860-424-3200

There are several tranquil trails here, but be prepared to see snowmobilers in this park, too.

Great Mountain Forest
201 Windrow Road, Norfolk
860-542-5422

Skiers must sign in and sign out at one of the visitor registers located at the gated entrances in Norfolk (Windrow Road) or Canaan (Canaan Mountain Road).

Topsmead State Forest
Buell Road, Litchfield
860-424-3200

Like so many of our cherished state parks, Topsmead was once a private estate, the summer home of Miss Edith Morton Chase. It becomes a winter wonderland when covered in snow.

White Memorial Conservation Center
80 Whitehall Road, Litchfield
860-567-0857

With more than 35 miles of hiking trails on 4,000 acres, White Memorial—former home of Alain White and his sister, May, that has been a not-for-profit educational center since 1964—has many pathways for skiing and snowshoeing.

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Posted by Rachel Louchen on 01/01/15 at 09:14 PM • Permalink

Kitchens For A Cause: The 12th Annual NWCT Kitchen Tour

If you’re looking for pie-in-the-sky kitchen design ideas, you can read scores of shelter magazines, watch endless HGTV programs, and tour pristine kitchen showrooms. But the best way to accumulate ideas for redoing your own kitchen is snooping around other people’s houses to see where they’ve hidden the recycling bins and where they’ve put the sinks (yes, no self-respecting kitchen has just one sink anymore). Whether you’re thinking about resale value or just your own needs for cooking and entertaining with ease, the 12th annual Kitchen Tour of Northwest Connecticut offers five private kitchens to visit on Saturday, November 1. The tour raises funds for the Housatonic Musical Theatre Society, which provides the backing so that students at Housatonic Valley Regional High School can produce a full-fledged musical (The Boy Friend, March 19 - 21, 2015), because unlike the fictional high school on the TV show Glee, there’s not enough money in the public school budget to support musical theater as an extra-curricular activity.

The five kitchens on the tour — which covers Sharon and Lakeville — each displays a uniquely inspiring approach to the “heart of the home.” They include: new construction that incorporates genuine period pieces and details; artist Ellen Griesedieck’s vibrant interpretation that includes a bonus tour of her art studio; a Victorian home with a light-filled kitchen and a spectacular view; a 1929 farmhouse with hand-painted custom-built cabinets, marble countertops and vintage lighting; and a Colonial set on 32 acres, with a modern kitchen that includes a center island, plentiful prep areas, and an informal eating area. Local caterers and restaurants will be offering “nibbles” at each kitchen on the tour, local florists will create unique bouquets for each house, and a number of raffle prizes from area shops will be up for grabs.

Lori Belter, founder of the Housatonic Musical Theatre Society, says the fundraiser isn’t simply supporting a play, but an invaluable program that instills self-confidence in the students who participate in it. Athletes perform side by side with drama students, and, she says, “Students with very different interests come together and they form a bond.”

Housatonic Musical Theatre Society Kitchen Tour
Saturday, November 1; 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Tickets $40 (available online and at the Sharon Pharmacy, Salisbury General Store & Pharmacy, and Kent Apothecary)

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 10/20/14 at 12:11 PM • Permalink

It’s Baaaaack: The New York State Sheep & Wool Festival

October 18 & 19 in Rhinebeck
Rural Intelligence Road TripsA few years ago, a friend of mine bought a 200-year-old manor house near the Hudson River with an impenetrable, overgrown meadow, and he decided that keeping goats might be the most efficient, ecological and economical way to clear and maintain the land.  He knew nothing about goats so he persuaded me to accompany him to the New York State Sheep and Wool Festival at the Dutchess County Fairgrounds, which was as entertaining as it was educational. We toured the livestock area and met dozens of people who raise goats, and they were all full of tips about fencing, shearing and milking. So were the sheep owners and breeders who were justifiably proud of their beautiful animals that often had exotic pedigrees. “Are you looking for a fiber animal?” the exhibitors would say, making me aware of the distinction between animals raised only for their wool and those raised for food.

Rural Intelligence Road TripsIf you’ve been mulling the idea of getting some sheep to maintain your lawn and up your rural cred, the Sheep and Wool Festival is a must. You can find lots of folks who’ll advise you on what type of fences and outbuildings you’ll need and how to keep the animals’ water troughs from freezing during the winter. At the festival, my friend learned that he’d also have to get two gigantic Great Pyrenees to guard the Shetland sheep he was coveting. Apparently, coyotes like to dine on lamb.
 
 
Rural Intelligence Road TripsEven if you have no interest in keeping livestock, the festival makes for a wonderful outing; it’s part petting zoo and part holiday bazaar. If you knit, you can find skeins of every imaginable type of wool from suppliers like Red Hook’s Hudson Valley Sheep and Wool, and you can attend workshops in spinning and felt-making. And if you’re planning ahead for the holidays, you can buy handmade scarves, blankets, ponchos and mittens from dozens of vendors. And if you’re bringing children, the organizers suggest that the sheep dog trials, leaping lama contest, and canine Frisbee Demonstration will equally amuse the kids and adults. — Dan Shaw

New York State Sheep and Wool Festival
Dutchess County Fairgrounds
Rhinebeck, NY; 845.756.2323
October 18, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m.
October 19, 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Admission: $12 (Two-day pass: $17)
Children under 12: Free

Free parking; no pets allowed.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 10/10/14 at 03:43 PM • Permalink

A Fall Foliage Drive: Millerton to Hudson, NY (or Vice Versa)

Not all scenic drives are created equal, and this bucolic 30-mile jaunt delivers enough smiles per mile to justify the gasoline you’ll use. The route, which connects Millerton and Hudson, is not only an insider’s shortcut between the two towns, but also a reminder that local agriculture is the key to preserving the rural landscape.

Rural Intelligence Road Trips



Though we started our drive in Millerton and ended at Olana, you can just as easily do this trip in reverse, concluding at the Harney & Sons Tea Lounge. The route is a rural cliche in the best sense, as along the way you can buy pumpkins and gourds, pick apples, shop for baked goods, and procure the last tomatoes and peaches of the season. You can even pick fall raspberries which, for some reason, are so much tastier than the ones you get in early summer. Best of all, you can revel in the vistas and fall foliage, and marvel that we reside in such an unspoiled land.






Begin at the intersection of Route 44 and Route 22 in Millerton. Head north on 22 and make your first left onto Route 60 (a.k.a. Winchell Mountain Road). When you reach the peak of the hill, there will be a cemetery on your left; make a right on Pulver Road, passing farmland and views of the Catskill Mountains in the distance.  Make a left at the fork onto County Route 60, which brings you into Ancramdale. If you need coffee and an egg sandwhich, stop at The Farmer’s Wife. Continue straight ahead on 82, which becomes Route 23 when you cross Route 9, continuing on until you reach Route 9G. Turn left onto 9G just before the Rip Van Winkle Bridge.


Millerhurst Gardens
This farm offers more than just the perfect background for family photos. The pumpkins and gourds here are in pristine condition and they are exceedingly well-priced, with extra large pumpkins you can barely lift at just $10 each.
3201 Rte. 82, Ancram; 518.329.2280




Rural Intelligence Road Trips

Thompson Finch Farm
Thompson-Finch is not hard to find; it’s the second right, Wiltsie Bridge Road, after you pass through Ancram. As of September 27, you could still pick organic raspberries on Wednesdays and Saturdays, but call first to double check availability or check their website for daily updates.
750 Wiltsie Bridge Rd., Ancram; 518.329.7578



Rural Intelligence Road TripsThe West Taghkanic Diner
Whether it’s early or late in the day, this vintage 1953 diner is always convenient (and affordable) for comfort food like grilled cheese and french fries. It’s not hyperbole to say this is as all-American as it gets and feels like an appropriate stop when on a long country drive.
1016 State Rte. 82, Ancram; 518.851.7117




Taconic Orchards
If your impulse is to bypass any place that looks like it was designed to appeal to tourists, you’ll drive right by the yellow barn that resembles a set director’s conception of a country store that you’d come upon on a Sunday drive in Columbia County. It’s exactly what you’d suspect, and Taconic Orchards has the aw-shucks feel of an old-time general store, with over 20 different varieties of apples, locally made cider, pies, apple fritters, fudge and a large variety of produce.
591 Rte. 82 Hudson; 518.851.7477


Fix Brothers Fruit Farm
Heading towards Olana, you will see a sign for “Fix Bros. Pick Your Own Apples.” Follow the arrows and you’ll pass acres and acres of orchards. This fourth-generation family farm has a wide variety of apples, including Macintosh, Cortland, Honey Crisp, Empire, Macoun and Jonagold. A corn maze and hay ride will keep the kids happy. And they’re open every day. 215 White Birch Rd., Hudson; 518.828.7560




Olana
If you want to tour the inside of the fantastical 19th-century Persian-style house, you have to call in advance and make a reservation. The owner and creator of Olana, the revered artist Frederic Church, created a landscape that makes the most of its hilltop setting, and the view down the Hudson looks like one of his famous paintings. It’s a magnificent vista any time of day, but never more so than just before sunset. 5720 Rte. 9G, Hudson; 518.828.0135

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Posted by Rachel Louchen on 10/03/14 at 02:04 PM • Permalink

Autumn Outings: Harvest Festivals Across the Region

By Rachel Louchen

Oh summer, we hardly knew ye. After our never-ending winter, it felt like things finally were getting warm again. But if there’s one positive that comes with the return of cooler temps, it’s the abundance of harvest festivals and autumn activities in our region. Whether you want to go the traditional route with hay rides and apple pressing, or mix it up with some garlic ice cream, you have the best of three states to chose from.


Berkshire County

Hancock Shaker Village County Fair, Pittsfield
September 27 – 28, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
A bountiful festival featuring a farmers’ market, local and regional arts and crafts, horse-drawn wagon rides and agricultural demonstrations set against the perfect backdrop of the grounds at Hancock Shaker Village.

Lenox Apple Squeeze
September 27 – 28, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
The two-day festival celebrates autumn in the Berkshires with a memorable street fair featuring food, rides, music and shopping, plus there will be crafts, artists and vendors all down Main Street.

Northern Berkshire Fall Foliage Parade, North Adams
October 3 – 5, parade begins at 1 p.m.
A full weekend of events, culminating with the sizable Fall Foliage Parade. This year’s theme, “100th Anniversary of the Mohawk Trail,” celebrates the adventures people have experienced while hiking the trail over the last century, and pays homage to the culture it brings to our region. Other events over the weekend include a 5K race, children and dog parades and an all-you-can-eat breakfast.

Berkshire Botanical Harvest Fest, Stockbridge
October 11 – 12, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Celebrate the bounty at this annual festival that usually draws a huge turnout (up to 10,000) and offers events for all ages. Showcasing local arts and crafters and artisan food producers, the festival also brings in food trucks, runs a silent auction, entertainment, tag sale, country bazaar, used book sale, jewelry boutique, plant and bulb sale and farmers’ market. All proceeds support the educational programs at the Garden.

Berkshire Coaching Festival, Stockbridge and Lenox
October 11 – 13, times vary
This festival takes advantage of the beautiful foliage scenes in the Berkshires via horse-drawn carriages that pass through Stockbridge and Lenox. Departure locations are Shakespeare & Company on Saturday, October 11; the Norman Rockwell Museum on Sunday, October 12; and The Mount on Monday, October 13. The Gilded Age experience is further heightened by formal attire; men are encouraged to wear suits, and women can take the opportunity to try on the era in dresses and long skirts.



Columbia County

Chatham Farm and Art Tour
September 27, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
The Chatham Agricultural Partnership offers a glimpse into the life of a farmer with a full (free) day of local farm tours. The sixth annual event will have products available for purchase from farm stands; horses, alpacas, sheep and cattle will be present for children to enjoy; and some farms will offer special activities. New this year, the featured farms will exhibit artwork inspired by the beauty and vitality of farming life in Chatham. Farm locations vary.

FarmOn! Friends of the Farmer Hudson Valley Food Lovers Festival 2014, Copake
September 27, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
The unique, experimental event (which also features a live performance from a Disney music artist) introduces attendees to food businesses from throughout the Hudson Valley. Celebrate local farms and food producers and take advantage of the best seasonal fruits and vegetables available. Eat, drink, enjoy a picnic, pet farm animals, try free samples and sign up for CSAs.

The Sylvia Center’s Fall Harvest Day And Community Potluck, Kinderhook
September 27, 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Activities include pressing fresh cider, helping with garden projects, visiting with animals and horsing around on hay rides. Bring a dish for the potluck lunch or participate in the 11 a.m. cooking class and help the chefs prepare the meal on the farm using a wood-fired oven.

Hawthorne Valley Fall Festival, Ghent
October 12, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Celebrating its 20th year, the festival features events that are synonymous with the season: hay mazes and rides, apple cider pressing, pie baking, scarecrow making, pumpkin carving. There will also be a large selection of local foods, live music and an open house at Hawthorne Valley Waldorf School.

Autumn in Austerlitz
October 12, 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
The day serves as a living history museum depicting the town of Austerlitz as it would’ve been in the 1830s. The 18th annual event features volunteers dressed in early 19th-century costumes, as well as antiques, live music, food, activities for children and craft vendors.



Litchfield County

Salisbury Fall Festival
October 10 – 12, Salisbury and Lakeville; times vary
In the twin villages of Salisbury and Lakeville, churches, local businesses and merchants participate in this harvest festival, which includes rummage sales, book sales, bread-making classes, a scarecrow contest, live music and hay rides for the kids. A highlight of the busy weekend is the pancake breakfast on Sunday morning at Salisbury Volunteer Ambulance Service.

Connecticut Garlic & Harvest Festival, Bethlehem
October 11 – 12, 10 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Bethlehem Fairgrounds will hold this event that features garlic-centric cooking demonstrations, garlic-growing lectures, free samples and produce stands. The food court will have a huge variety of garlic dips, spreads, cheeses, oils, sausage, sandwiches – even deep-fried garlic and garlic ice cream.

Harvest Bounty Wine & Brew Fest, Litchfield
October 18, 2 p.m. – 6 p.m.
Attendees can sample local and domestic craft beer and wine from more than a dozen vendors. There will also be food, indoor and outdoor settings with firepits, raffles, two live bands and free tasting glasses to the first 300 people.

Kent Pumpkin Run
October 26, 12 p.m.
The spectator-friendly five-mile race starts and finishes at the Kent Green and has offers music, refreshments, face painting and Halloween-themed fun. Everyone is invited to attend the post-race party along with the runners.

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Posted by Rachel Louchen on 09/19/14 at 12:08 PM • Permalink