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Art In The Elements: Turn Park Art Space Opens

By Amy Krzanik

It goes without saying that you visit a sculpture park in order to view its sculptures. But, if that were the only reason, why would collectors go through the trouble of purchasing land and building a park, when they could house these artworks in a building – a venue people could frequent all year round? The truth is people love parks, and a well-designed sculpture park not only serves as a showcase for its acquisitions but as an enjoyable outdoor experience in and of itself.

The architects behind Turn Park Art Space (TPAS) in West Stockbridge, Mass. – Alexander Konstantinov and Grigori Fateyev – know this and factored it into their design of the new 16-acre space meant to serve both a cultural and a recreational purpose. Turn Park, whose goal is to highlight contemporary architecture and sculpture, is located smack in the center of town, on the site of a former quarry. The architects made use of the property’s natural features – its hills, meadows, steep cliffs and a quarry lake – as well as its stone. One large stone outcropping, resembling a giant’s toes, was kept, and the gatehouse (comprised of a gift shop and a gallery) was built atop it. The cool, shady spot will host a children’s animation festival this summer. Other large stones were moved to help create pathways, and some were repurposed as smooth gray tile for the gift shop’s bathroom.

The Gatehouse, the building that greets you upon arrival, is stunning. It’s bright white, and both sharp and rolling, mimicking its setting. The pathway leading to it from the lower parking lot acts as a mirror of the sky above. The rocks are round and evenly spaced, resembling clouds on land. Even the parking lot grass has been planted with a designer’s eye for detail, some long, some short. A meadow up above (the Piazza del Campo) has had the same treatment – its groundcover a custom-made seed mix chosen by local garden expert Naomi Blumenthal. The grasses resemble short, tousled hair and invite visitors to sit and linger.

Around back, large glass doors on one side of the gift shop slide open for access to a patio, called Brussels Square. From there, you can take the Loop path, which is wheelchair-accessible. Swing by the quarry (you’ll want to snap a photo) and view TPAS’s 8 current sculptures, most the work of Turn Park founders Igor Gomberg and Katya Brezgunova’s favorite Russian artists, and one piece by current Plainfield, Mass. resident Gene Montez Flores.

A small stone amphitheater, also on the upper level of the park, will be the site of future outdoor performances. Far-range plans include upper and lower playgrounds, a second gallery and a Precipice House built on a cliff. Workers already have begun rehabbing a home on the property, which will be used to house visiting artists.

Be sure to end your jaunt on the roof of the Gatehouse for a bird’s-eye view of the town.

More than just a setting to house their collection, Turn Park was created by Gomberg and Brezgunova to be community space, a gathering spot for people to meet and share ideas, and the scene of creative collaboration not only now, but for generations to come. A lofty goal, perhaps, but one that comes into focus more clearly when you visit the site.

According to the project’s executive director, Grigori Fateyev, and its assistant director, Sarah Cooke, this vision is one that the town of West Stockbridge has endorsed. “The town is excited,” says Cooke, “and it has embraced the fact that we’re here.” In this spirit, the Park offers annual memberships to encourage locals to use the grounds as often as they’d like, and to make Turn Park an integral part of their lives. West Stockbridge residents enjoy free admission on weekends. The cost for non-members is $15 per visit, and children under 12 are free. Quarterly “community days” for residents of the Berkshires and Columbia, Dutchess and other surrounding counties are in the works.

Meet the owners and the architects, and enjoy a live performance at Turn Park’s Opening Event on Sunday, May 14. A ceremony kicks things off at 11 a.m., followed by an immersive four-hour music and theater experience by Floating Tower, in collaboration with director and stage designer Doug Fitch.

Turn Park Art Space Grand Opening Event
Sunday, May 14 from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
2 Moscow Rd., West Stockbridge, MA
(518) 755-7968

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 05/08/17 at 07:21 PM • Permalink

The RuraList: Where To Savor Maple Syrup Season

Thank goodness for maple sugaring season. Its sweetness helps bridge the gap between winter and spring, giving us places to visit and reasons to get out when the weather feels raw and uninviting. Maple Weekend, an official celebration of all things from the sweet sap, is March 18-19 with an additional weekend, March 25-26, in New York State. Here are a few of the many opportunities where you can join the festivities around the region.

And because: maple bacon muffins.

Dutchess County
Crown Maple, Dover Plains, NY
Think of a fine winery, with the tastings, elegant store and café, and a beautiful estate to explore. That’s Crown Maple, where the vineyard is a farm and the wine is organic maple syrup. To celebrate New York State’s Maple Weekends, Crown Maple will be featuring complimentary tastings, a maple-inspired lunch, tree tapping demonstrations, open hiking trails and a firepit for roasting marshmallows. There will be maple cotton candy and maple popcorn, and Crown Maple cocktails for the adults.

Maple Weekends: Saturday, March 18-19 and March 25-26 from 10 a.m – 5 p.m.
47 McCourt Road, Dover Plains, NY
(845) 877-0640
To find other places to visit in New York State, check the NYS Maple Weekend website.

Berkshire County
Ioka Valley Farm, Hancock, MA
There’s always a lot happening at this spread. Weekend sugarhouse tours and tastings are going on now through April 9. With more than 10,000 taps and 2 modern boilers, the operation is impressive, but the big draw is “Pancake Season” at Ioka’s own joint, the “Calf-A” (which has to be one of the cleverest names ever), serving homemade pancake, waffle and French toast meals accompanied by, of course, pure maple syrup. Sides of bacon and sausage — and desserts — are available, too.

3475 Hancock Rd./Rt. 43, Hancock, MA
(413) 738-5915
For other maple activities in the state, visit the Massachusetts Maple Producers Association website, the organizer of Maple Weekend in Massachusetts, happening March 18-19.

Columbia County
Maple Leaf Sugaring, Ghent, NY
Run by Ben and Veronica Madey, the farm offers tour of the sugaring process from tree to bottle. “The weather this year has been tricky,” Ben says, echoing the sentiments of other maple harvesters. “It warmed up too soon and accelerated the season, but hopefully the recent cold spells will have helped.”

During the maple weekends, the farm will be open and you can sample the maple cotton candy, maple cream and other goodies. Ben suggests you call or email before you come to see if the sugarhouse is boiling — it’s still an informative, fun and tasty tour either way.

93 Dupier Road, Ghent, NY
(518) 929-0484

Litchfield County
Sharon Audubon Center — MapleFest 2017, Sharon, CT
Sharon Audubon’s annual MapleFest may be one of the oldest maple celebrations, according to Sean Grace, the center’s director. The popular event offers guided tours through its sugaring operation, including the sugarhouse and a re-creation of Native American and early Colonial sugaring methods. Last year was the first time they held a bake sale, with goodies made by board members and other supporters using Sharon Audubon’s own maple syrup. It sold out, so you might want to get there early before all the baked goods go. Last year’s maple bacon muffins were “to die for,” says Grace.

Rescheduled for Saturday, March 25, noon-4 p.m.
325 Cornwall Bridge Road, Sharon, CT
(860) 364-0520
Admission: $6 adults; $4 children (2 and under free)
For other maple sugaring festivities in Connecticut, check the Maple Syrup Producers Association of Connecticut website.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 03/06/17 at 03:07 PM • Permalink

It’s A Zoo At Millbrook School (And We Don’t Mean The Kids)

Red panda cub with Millbrook School student Zooies. Photos courtesy Millbrook School.

By Merida Welles

Coati and Kinkajou, Kea and Rhea.

Foreign dishes? Exotic holiday spots? Hardly!

These extraordinary creatures are just a few of the 180 exotic and indigenous animals housed at Trevor Zoo, Millbrook School’s six-acre animal sanctuary, conservation education center and veterinary clinic. The only zoo located at a high school (and one of 230 in the country accredited by the Association of Zoos and Aquariums), the Trevor Zoo in Millbrook, New York is a local gem, offering a bucolic woodland escape against the backdrop of a glimmering pond and waterfall.

Despite being a school’s in-house zoo, Trevor attracts some 35,000 visitors annually, predominantly in summer. But the zoo is open daily all year, thanks in large part not only to its staff but to its students. About a quarter of Millbrook’s 310 high school students volunteer at the zoo daily, preparing and delivering food, building perches, cleaning habitats and observing vets at work. Classes in environmental science are part of the academics and the Zoo Squad is a student alternative to participation in a sport.

North American river otters.

But to start at the beginning: how did a college-prep boarding school become home to these exotic species?

The story sounds like something out of an old Disney film. In 1936, animal lover and aspiring biologist Frank Trevor drove up to the school in a car loaded with crates of his own pet animals. He offered his services and was hired on the spot as the school’s first biology teacher. With his backseat animal collection serving as the foundation of the zoo, Mr. Trevor, the stern taskmaster for whom the zoo was named, remained to inspire generations of students to pursue animal bioscience and conservation. 

Other transformative Millbrook School alumni in the zoo’s history include world-renowned conservation biologist Dr. Tom Lovejoy and 42-year Zoo Director Jono Meigs who, with his wife Jane, modernized the zoo and paved the way for today’s conservation efforts. The current director is endocrinologist Dr. Alan Tousignant, who joined the zoo in 1994 after earning his doctorate at the University of Texas.

Dr. T, as he is known by his students, is proud that Trevor Zoo is a member of the 230-strong Association of Zoos and Aquariums, “a kind of Seal of Good Housekeeping,” as he puts it. To qualify, zoos must meet four criteria: be open to the public and offer educational programs, conservation in the wild, and scientific research. Being a member allows for advantageous collaboration with fellow AZA institutions across the country.

Top: Golden Lion Tamarin. Bottom: Ring-tailed lemur.

There are benefits to being affiliated with a demanding school, too: Many students select the Millbrook School expressly because of the opportunities the zoo affords them to work with animals as part of its academic curriculum and community service program. Some of the most serious “zooies” pursue independent research projects for full credit, and many continue their love of wildlife and conservation in careers as vets and biologists. Hannah Petri, a former student, has become Docent and Interpretation Coordinator at the St. Louis Zoo.

This veteran Dutchess County resident thoroughly enjoyed visiting even on an icy February day. There was Luna, the handsome red wolf, bounding up to greet me before loping gracefully around her enclosure; a furry black and white ruffed lemur named Bombo screeching “love songs” and displaying his outstretched form before a reluctant mate; dashing silver-coated “Foxy” emerging sleepily from his hut to paw for prey in the snow; and Ghandi the eclectus parrot showing off wolf-whistles.

Emus, white-naped cranes, wild turkeys, owls and other species were also on clear display outside on this blustery day, while a boa constrictor, Kaiser’s spotted newts, poison dart frogs and leopard geckos appeared to doze, snug in their shelters inside. If animals aren’t visible during a visit, live video cameras allow fans to track some animals’ – red pandas, waterfowl and great blue herons – daily movements via the internet.

In addition to educating students and visitors, Trevor Zoo is also committed to protecting nine endangered species, including the popular red panda, the red wolf and the black-and-white ruffed lemur. As part of its breeding program, it coordinates with other AZA-accredited zoos to mate selected endangered species. “It’s a giant dating game, a kind of for animals,” says Dr. T. describing how he and his colleagues use modern technology to further their program.

This April, a historic grist mill overlooking the zoo’s waterfall will be christened as the new Welcome Center and Gift Shop. The gracefully renovated 150-year-old mill takes the zoo one step further along an 80-year trek from its humble beginnings. 

Trevor Zoo
282 Millbrook School Rd., Millbrook, NY
(845) 677-3704
Open 9 a.m - 5 p.m. every day of the year including holidays.
Adults $6; Children and Seniors $4; Groups $3.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 02/20/17 at 10:47 AM • Permalink

The RuraList: Ways To Sweeten Your Valentine’s Day

You don’t have to be part of a traditional twosome to take advantage of these special Valentine’s Day meals, deals and ideas. Treat your best friend to a swanky dinner and a show, or invite your mom to a wine and chocolate tasting or a love-inspired lecture. Since Feb. 14 falls on a Tuesday this year, the holiday will be celebrated in our region all weekend long.

Lenox is for Lovers
Wine, dine and recline all in one place by taking advantage of The Kemble Inn’s Valentine’s Day & Weekend packages. From Feb. 10-12 (as well as on the 14th), enjoy dinner at the in-house restaurant, Table Six, which is offering a prix fixe menu for the occasion. A special room rate is also available, or go all-in with a package deal that includes the reduced room rate, a $134 food and beverage allowance at Table Six, in-room Pol Roger Champagne and a $250 allowance towards a treatment in the spa room. Swing by The Lion’s Den (attached to The Red Lion Inn) in Stockbridge or The Gateways Inn in Lenox for late-night music. Or, if you’re in the mood for something a little different on Sunday, there are two 2 p.m. talks from which to choose. The Mount will host author Jennifer Wright to discuss her book, It Ended Badly: 13 of the Worst Breakups in History, or a short drive to Bartholomew’s Cobble in Sheffield can get you schooled on The Secret Sex Life of Plants. 
Make the love last: Purchase tickets for one of this summer’s Tanglewood concerts.

A Feast For The Senses
Stimulate your ears on Saturday afternoon when the Hudson Opera House welcomes The Orchestra Now for a concert inspired by Voltaire‘s Candide. Stop by the HOH at any time from 12-5 p.m. to listen while you browse the current art exhibit. But don’t stop there – your mouth ought to be in on this, too. On Saturday and Sunday from 12-5 p.m. the Hudson-Chatham Winery in Ghent invites you to sample a selection of homemade chocolate “barks.” And, since you just happen to be at a winery, pick up a few bottles to take home to continue the celebration.
Make the love last: Take a cooking class together at HGS Home Chef in Hillsdale.

The Choice Is Yours
Make reservations now at one of these two romantic dining spots on Tues., Feb. 14. Gigi Trattoria in Rhinebeck will offer an ‘Amore‘ Specials menu, which will include two “Love Laced Cocktails” – My Honey Bee (Bulleit bourbon, Barenjaeger honey, dark cherry garnish) and Modern Love (White Godiva liqueur, Nonino Amaro, rimmed with dark chocolate drizzle) – as well as a Sicilian love cake for dessert. Shadows on the Hudson in Poughkeepsie will feature its Valentine’s Day menu on the 14th, as well as on pre-V-day weekend from Feb. 10-12. Its Sweetheart Dinner Dance, however, will only be available on Feb. 10. All diners are entitled to free dance lessons courtesy of the Fred Astaire Dance Studio. Show what you learned beginning at 8 p.m. Those looking for something more low-key will appreciate the Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Tasting at The Cunneen-Hackett Arts Center in Poughkeepsie on Saturday from 2-4 p.m., held in their intimate Victorian grand parlor. If at any time from Feb. 10 on, you need some inspiration, Tivoli Artists Gallery is mounting its Annual Erotica Show, featuring tantalizing work from more than 30 artists. Things kick off with an opening reception and fundraising party on Feb. 11 from 7-9 p.m. with live music and entertainment, erotic edibles and lively cabaret entertainment.
Make the love last: Tickets are on sale now for spring performances and SummerScape events at Bard’s Fisher Center

For Music Lovers
The bistro at Infinity Hall in Norfolk offers dinner and a live music serenade by Glenn Roth while you eat on Saturday evening from 4:30-9 p.m. Litchfield Jazz has put together a fun evening at Litchfield Distillery. “The Spirits of Love” offers dinner, drinks, sweets from Fascia’s Chocolates and live jazz music by the Albert Rivera Ensemble. You can do your gift giving on the spot at the silent auction, and each guest will receive a rose.
Make the love last: Write a personal Valentine’s message and have it engraved in chocolate by Noteworthy Chocolates.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 02/07/17 at 09:39 AM • Permalink

Make Connections: Travel The High Road Through Berkshire County

All photos courtesy of BNRC.

By Amy Krzanik

As walkers, hikers, cross-country skiers and snowshoers know, the Berkshires is one of the best places to work up a sweat while you “bathe in nature.” Unfortunately, you’ll have to carry your own cold water or hot drink and snack with you, because you’ll be far away from any amenities. And you’ll have to have a car to drive to the trailheads. There’s planning that needs to go into even a casual outing. But those inconveniences might not exist for long if Berkshire Natural Resources Council (BNRC) has anything to say about it.

Just this month, BNRC launched The High Road capital campaign to the public with the hope of raising the $5 million needed to create a system of linked trails that covers the entirety of Berkshire County and lets users hop on and off in more places. Two hundred miles of trails will traverse the ridge line (“the high road”), but will also dip into towns, where hikers can grab a coffee, meet up with friends for dinner and even stay overnight at one of the area’s inns or B&Bs.

Excited donors already have committed $4.25 million to the campaign during its “quiet phase,” says BNRC President Tad Ames. He says that being able to walk from one town to the next has captured people’s imagination. “This is a vision for all of Berkshire County,” he says. “Anyone who’s lived here for a while knows that things tend to be divided into north, central and south parts of the county, but our organization covers all of the Berkshires, from Florida Mountain to Mount Washington.”

The BNRC, for those who are not familiar, conserves and keeps land open for public use and enjoyment, with a special focus on public access to land. They also protect wildlife habit, farmland, and land that has scenic value.

“Wherever appropriate, we encourage people to get out and use the land,” says Ames. “We want conservation to be part of people’s daily lives.” To that end, the organization runs about 50 free, guided hikes a year. Sometimes the purpose will be to track wildlife in the snow, says Ames, or to bird-watch, but mostly the purpose is to introduce people to new places.

The High Road funding, which the organization hopes to have completed by its 50th birthday in September of 2017, will go to help the BNRC fill in the gaps or “missing pieces” between the 10,000-plus acres it owns and the 11,000 it preserves through easements. This will create a fully connected trail system that can provide lunchtime walks of 30 minutes or a 30-day vacation excursion through every town.

By building The High Road, with its paths through both wilderness and town centers, the BNRC hopes to connect the natural, social, cultural and economic lives of Berkshire County’s residents.  And the organization isn’t content to simply protect what it already has, but wants to add to the area’s reputation as a first-class destination for both natural beauty and cultural experiences.

Ames hopes the project will encourage locals and tourists alike to visit parts of the county they may not have explored before. “Berkshire County is one place and one people,” he says. “Having our bigger towns do well is good for all of the Berkshires.” And soon it’ll be easier to start there and explore even more of them.

Donate to The High Road campaign.
Take A Hike with BNRC.

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 10/25/16 at 10:49 AM • Permalink

Along The Clay Way In Northern Conn. and Nearby N.Y. State

Alison Palmer in her studio.

By CB Wismar

For the three days that comprise Columbus Day Weekend, from Saturday, Oct. 8 through Monday, Oct. 10, 18 area clay artists will present an inaugural studio tour – Clay Way. Visitors are encouraged to tour as many of the western Connecticut and nearby New York State studios as they can.

Clay Way is the inspiration of potter and tile maker Linda Boston, who saw the popular pottery weekends held by studios in Massachusetts, Michigan, Wisconsin and Minnesota and thought “Why not in Connecticut?”

And, why not, indeed. A quick survey of the artists who live and work in the hollows and valleys from Woodbury to Cornwall Bridge, and from Bantam to Wingdale brought an immediate, jubilant response. Fifteen studios will be open for weekend, attended by 18 artists who will all have works on display and ready for sale.

Vessels by Kathy Wismar.

The range of work is stunning. Linda Boston specializes in tiles that reflect her international travel and study while Todd Piker’s wood-fired tableware is classic, gaining inspiration from the traditions of great English and Japanese potters. Joy Brown’s clay figures are wonderfully accessible and serve as maquettes for the much-larger-than-life bronzes she has been commissioned to create in China. Alison Palmer’s imaginative pieces are shaped with reverence for the animal kingdom. Will Talbot creates elegant tableware and Kathy Wismar creates both functional and decorative pieces.

Clay Way is scheduled to run during American Craft Week, the national celebration of every form of craft and craft-as-art. By joining with organizations and affiliations across the country, the tour enjoys a wider reach that can bring avid fans of clay work to Southern New England to enjoy autumn.

Figure by Joy Brown. Tile by Linda Boston.

The 15 studios on the tour will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. during each of the three days. In many of the studios, the artisans will be on hand to answer questions, participate in demonstrations and invite guests to understand “the ways of clay.”

A full listing of the 18 artisans, a useful map that shows where each of the studios is located, and photos of the potters’ work are all available on the Clay Way website.

Clay Way Ceramic Studios Tour
Western Connecticut and nearby New York State
Saturday, Oct. 8 – Monday, Oct. 10 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. each day

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 10/03/16 at 09:22 AM • Permalink

RI-Region Bike Trails: Explore The Beauty On Two Wheels

Ashuwillticook Rail Trail

By Amy Krzanik

You’ve driven through miles and miles of stunning RI countryside, and have taken the train into our area along the picturesque Hudson River, but there’s a way to get even closer to the view and get your heart rate up, too. Tune up your bicycle (or rent one — links are included below) and don’t forget to bring a camera to capture the colors, as well as the bunnies, toads, turtles, deer and other animals you’ll meet on your ride. Although this article is focused on biking, most of these trails allow walking (including the walking of dogs), running, cross-country skiing, inline skating and even fishing. Check individual websites for parking and wheelchair accessibility information.

Berkshire County

Hard to pronounce, but easy to love, the 11-mile paved Ashuwillticook Rail Trail extends from downtown Adams to the Berkshire Mall in Lanesborough. Taking its name from the Native American word meaning “at the in-between pleasant river,” the trail passes by the Cheshire Reservoir and through its surrounding wetlands.

For mountain bikers, the area’s many state forests offer a plethora of options. These include Beartown in Monterey, October Mountain in Lee, Tolland State Forest in Otis, Savoy Mountain, Mt. Washington, Pittsfield State Forest, Windsor State Forest and Mt. Greylock State Reservation. 

This Sunday, Sept. 25, join a group for a leisurely 19-mile Housatonic Heritage ride through Tyringham.

Rent A Bike:
Village Bike Rentals in Adams
Berkshire Outfitters in Adams
Plaine’s in Pittsfield
Berkshire Bike & Board in Pittsfield & Great Barrington
Arcadian Shop in Lenox

Harlem Valley Rail Trail photo by Caitlin O’Brien

Columbia County

You can catch the Harlem Valley Rail Trail in Hillsdale, Millerton or Wassaic and choose how much of its 15-plus miles to tackle. Still a work in progress, the trail, when completed, will span a total of 46 miles and end in Chatham.

Check out more Columbia County road bike routes or take a ride in Lake Taghkanic State Park in Ancram.

Rent A Bike:
Steiner’s Sports in Hudson
Bash Bish Bicycle in Copake Falls

Dutchess County Rail Trail photo by Fred Schaeffer

Dutchess County

Visit Walkway Over The Hudson in Poughkeepsie and hop on the Dutchess Rail Trail, a paved 13-mile ride running through mostly green space, that connects to the Hudson Valley Rail Trail

Forest lovers will find 20 miles of wooded trails in the 909-acre Taconic-Hereford Multiple Use Area located in Pleasant Valley.

Rent A Bike:
Leisure Ride Bike Rental in Poughkeepsie

Litchfield County

Although short in length, clocking it at just 1.7 miles, the Railroad Ramble is long on beauty, passing through woodlands and wetlands on its way through Salisbury and Lakeville.

Railroad Ramble photo from Trail Link

A slightly longer trail, just shy of 3 miles, the Sue Grossman Still River Greenway is a paved trail that runs through Torrington and Winchester.

The Billings Trail, which runs through Canaan and Norfolk, is slightly over 3 miles and unpaved. You can choose to follow the length of it or use it to link up to the forest trails in Barbour Woods.

The Housatonic Covered Bridge Trail (Houbike Trail) links the Berkshires (Ashley Falls, Mass.) to Connecticut (New Milford) along the Housatonic River. Unlike the rail trails, the 45-mile Houbike runs along existing roads and is not recommended for beginning bikers.

Rent A Bike:
The Bicycle Tour Company in Kent

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Posted by Amy Krzanik on 09/20/16 at 12:27 PM • Permalink

Walk & Roll: Rhinebeck Jams Out At Porchfest

Some of the porches on the festival lineup.

By Andrea Pyros

If you’ve ever wanted to get up close and personal with Rhinebeck’s lovely historic homes, the first inaugural Rhinebeck Porchfest music festival on Saturday, September 17 is your chance to walk right up to the front steps. The rocking chairs may be removed for the day, but they’ll be replaced by bands of all kinds. Organized by Rhinebeck resident Elizabeth Mazzarella with the goal of creating “a wonderful day of celebration” for our area, Porchfest will feature over 45 musical acts, performing free on 18 different porches located on Platt, Livingston and Chestnut, from Route 9 to Mulberry Street.

Mazzarella visited her daughter, then a first year student at Ithaca College, on the same weekend as Ithaca’s Porchfest. Seeing how fun the free outdoor music festival was inspired her. “It was an amazing community event, with all ages strolling the streets and listening to music, and everyone was just so happy,” says Mazzarella. Afterwards, she decided that Rhinebeck’s walkable village with “all these historic homes with gorgeous porches” would be the perfect community to export Porchfest.

Setting out to create the Hudson Valley’s own version, she worked with Rhinebeck’s village board, police and fire departments, local-area vendors, and her own neighbors to make the day happen. “I went door to door and asked [residents] if they’d be willing to donate their porches for the day and people were really excited. It’s been amazing,” she says.

Assorted approvals set, not-for-profit status secured, Mazzarella and a team of Porchfest committee members (including Mazzarella’s music-loving husband,  Allen Decotiis) then brainstormed musical acts, reaching out to local artists and bands. Genres range wildly, so whether you like jazz or rock or classical or a crazy mash-up of all three, Mazzarella assures us that there will be performances for you, including eagerly anticipated sets from Gilda Lyons & Ruth Cunningham (folk/neo-baroque), the jazz combo of Ann Osmond and Dennis Yerry, and a kids’ group (as in, kids performing) called Chalk. All the musicians are donating their time to the day.

Making it even easier and more pleasurable to roam the neighborhood freely for the afternoon, the streets will be blocked off, the Dutchess County Fairgrounds will offer free parking, and in addition to the music, local food vendors, including Frites of NY, Carol’s Hot Dogs, Spacey Tracy’s Gourmet Pickles and The Cup Takes the Cake will sell food. With the event ending at 5 p.m., the hope is that people will then stroll into the village and visit Rhinebeck’s shops and restaurants afterwards. 

Planning Porchfest has been a ton of work, Mazzarella admits, but the organizer says planning the day has been fantastic and a great way to meet new people (“Isn’t that what this is all about?” she enthuses). “We’re hoping for a great day, and for people to have fun, and for this to become an annual event around Rhinebeck.”

Rhinebeck Porchfest
Saturday, September 17, 11 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Check the website for map and music lineup.
Free music all day long, food available for purchase at select locations.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 09/09/16 at 03:20 PM • Permalink

Weekend Of Wheels At Lime Rock (And A Parade, Too)

Photos courtesy Lime Rock Park.

By CB Wismar

For some, they are exquisite rolling sculptures – the finest representation of the designer’s art. For others, they’re nothing more than a necessity, like electricity and cable TV. Then there’s the group that just finds them a nuisance — members of the “it was better in the horse and buggy days” school of thought.

Whatever your particular perspective, from September 1-5, in and around Lime Rock Park in Lakeville, Conn., this is the weekend when incredible automobiles comes to visit.

The Lime Rock Park Historic Festival 34 starts on Thursday, as it should, with a parade. Through the valleys of the Salmon Kill and the Housatonic River, through Salisbury and the loop around Noble Horizons (tough to get a seat, there) then down to Falls Village for a street fair and a concert with the incomparable Wanda Houston filling the village green with song.

That’s just Thursday.

Friday is practice day at Lime Rock Park, and the vintage race cars will be out in force. Don’t know the difference between a 1953 Nash Healey Le Mans and a 1929 Bentley Blower 4.5? This is the weekend to find out.

The drivers of these miraculous machines don’t just come from a few miles away to show off their beautifully restored machines. They come from places like Diablo, Calif. Essex, England. Duffy’s Forest, New South Wales, Australia. Bogota, Columbia. And “On a Boat in the Caribbean,” all to drive in the 34th Historic Weekend at Lime Rock Park.

Sure, Lou Timolat will be there from Falls Village, and Art Herbert will make the short drive from Monterey, Mass. Frank Filangeri will be there, as well, from Lake Ronkonkoma, NY. (We know that Lake Ronkonkoma isn’t all that far away from Lime Rock Park; it’s just fun to say out loud.)

Racing is on Saturday and Monday. There are different classes of racing so that Peter Ross’s 1932 MG J2 doesn’t have to try and keep up with Robert Mirabile’s 1963 Shelby Cobra. In all, 263 cars will be ready to race for cups and trophies and ribbons and the delight of the fans scattered on the hillside.

On Sunday, the Lime Rock track is quiet. It’s a good thing, because there would be no room to race. This is Sunday in the Park … the “Concours” of historic automobiles and great marques parks on every straightaway and hairpin turn of the track. 

Sunday is the day when hundreds of rolling sculptures stand still long enough for everyone to stroll around the track, meet Honored Guests racecar driver John Morton (who will be racing on Saturday and Monday) and designer, author, photographer and former racecar driver Peter Brock. You can get close enough to both see and appreciate these amazing automobiles.

The 34th Historic Festival has invited TV star (the host of Chasing Classic Cars on the Velocity Channel) Wayne Carini to bring some of his very private collection of carefully restored automobiles and motorcycles to be on display. 

This is a rare moment. Carini doesn’t show his cars in public, much. But this Festival is different. “I am pretty private when it comes to my collection,” admitted Carini. “But it feels right to bring some of my favorites to Lime Rock.” 

Part of this weekend will be rich with memories for Carini [left]. “It was in the early 1960s. I had just turned 10, and my birthday present was a trip to see the races at Lime Rock.” That trip was not in the Carini family station wagon. “We went up in my Dad’s 1928 Lincoln Touring Car.” The history lives on.

Festival Chairman Murray Smith, himself an internationally respected automobile aficionado, and Sunday Concours organizer Kent Bain invited Carini to be this year’s “Honored Collector,” a designation endorsed by Skip Barber, Lime Rock Park president, who also welcomed the Presenting Sponsors of this year’s Festival, The Prestige Family of Fine Cars.

“This is a wonderful weekend,” affirmed Barber. “Since 1983, Lime Rock Park has held this annual celebration. It’s an event unique to North America in that the racing and the concours are all on one property during one major vintage and historic event.”

And, if you’re still looking for something special to watch on this celebration weekend, we noticed that Simon Kirkby, the Director of the Lime Rock Driver’s Club, is bringing one of his cars to race. It’s a 1963 Hillman Imp. Who can’t root for a car called an “Imp?”

Lime Rock Park Historic Festival 34
Sunday in the Park, Concours, and Gathering of the Marques
Sept. 1-5, 2016
Lakeville, CT

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Posted by Lisa Green on 08/29/16 at 10:30 AM • Permalink

There Are Options To Packing A Picnic At Tanglewood

Yes, we know that the picnic culture at Tanglewood is one of the great joys of the season, something many of us wait and plan for all year. But if on occasion schlepping all that stuff through the parking lot to the lawn feels like too much, you should know that there are tasty and convenient alternatives to the bring-your-own food fest.

In fact, there are more this year than ever before. Enough that Tanglewood has a name for its lineup of restaurants, beverage and ice cream purveyors: Taste of the Berkshires. These local favorites join the Tanglewood Café and concessions stands that have been mainstays of the campus.

The Taste of the Berkshires at the Tanglewood Grille, located just inside the Main Gate next to the Glass House 1 (gift shop), offers items from the Meat Market (all natural grass-fed burgers and hot dogs), Mad Jack’s (ribs, pulled pork sandwiches and various side dishes), Rubiner’s (cheese boards and grilled cheese sandwiches) and Firefly (fresh salads and soups). You can sit at tables outside the Grille, or have everything packed to transfer over to your chosen space on the lawn.

Back again this summer is No. Six Depot, with its cold brew cart, and there’s ice cream from The Scoop and Blondie’s dotting the grounds. Craft beer drinkers can choose from Wandering Star Craft Brewery, Big Elm Brewing and Berkshire Brewing Company. Berkshire Mountain Distillers is on site offering its gin and vodka. Local vendors supplying ingredients include Cricket Creek Farm, Hilltop Orchards, Farm Girl Farm, Mill River Farm, Taft Farms, Pittsfield Rye, Equinox Farms and BerkShore Fish.

The vendors are doing a great business, and for good reason: It’s the Rural Intelligence trifecta. “Taste of the Berkshires is successful because it allows Tanglewood patrons the opportunity to experience a music festival and the local food and beverage scene simultaneously,” says Kyle Ronayne, the director of event administration.

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Posted by Lisa Green on 07/18/16 at 02:52 PM • Permalink