Author Archives: MaryEllen Fillo

Need A Daycation? Action Wildlife In Goshen

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wild2A day trip to Action Wildlife in Goshen could be a way for everyone, ‘kiddos’ and parents, to unplug and actually talk to each other a bit!

And along the way, a picnic, a petting zoo and a meander through 116-acres of wildlife!

 

The story is here!

Infinity Music Hall & Bistro Cuts The Ribbon In Hartford

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infin1Not since, well, since who knows when,  has there been such an anticipated happening in Hartford as there was Thursday when the long awaited Infinity Music Hall & Bistro held it official ribbon cutting.
Considered the crown jewel of the Front Street development project, it was one happy crowd that turned lunchtime into a happy hour at the impressive theater and restaurant,  all anxious to get a sneak peek of the place  and celebrate the opening of what is expected to be one the city’s biggest draws.
“I’m thankful and excited and it’s another win for Hartford,” said a beaming Hartfordinfin3 Mayor Pedro Segarra as he worked a room full of business leaders, politicians including Gov. Dan Malloy and U.S. Congressman John Larson, theater officials including CEO and owner Dan Hincks and Front Street neighbors including Matt Fleury from the CT Science Center and Riverfront Recapture CEO/president Joe Marfuggi.
For Helen Nitkin, who with her late husband Brad and their Greenwich-based  HB Nitkin Group, launched the Front Street entertainment and restaurant district, Thursday’s ceremonies were bittersweet.
infini8“I just wish he were here to see this,” said Nitkin, sporting a special ring and watch, gifts her late husband gave her and piece she only wears when she comes to Front Street.  “He would be so happy to see how this all came together.”
If pride could be measured, Hincks would surely be the winner as he graciously gave guests a tour of the impressive 500-seat theater that 90-seat bistro, did television interviews and juggled hundreds of handshakes and congratulations from well-wishers .
“I have two daughters and this feels like my third,” grinned Hincks, who opened his first Infinity Hall in Norfolk several years ago.
Acknowledging that  many feel it will be up to the theater to attract the crowds to Front Street, Hincks said his plan is to simply do the best job her can. “We want to succeed and I think Hartford is ready for it,” Hincks said. “We’ll draw the people with good quality talent and performances and our neighbors will benefit.”
Featured entertainer at the ribbon cutting ceremonies was Jonathan Edwards, best known for his 1972 hit, “Sunshine.” A regular headliner at the Norfolk location, Edwards said he was thrilled to be at the Hartford party. “I’d cheat on Norfolk and perform here too,” he grinned. “It’s a beautiful theater.”

 

 

 

Another Precious Summer Weekend Hartford, Make It Count!

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Darn it, the summer is almost gone and as kids get ready to head back to school and adults get readycalendar_clip_art-1.29213820_std[1] for the annual goodbye to kicking back a bit, we have only  a few summer weekends to savor.

Begin the weekend Thursday, Aug. 21 with Creative Cocktails at Real Art Ways.

The monthly Happy Hour this month includes dance lessons, art, food, beverages and Ice Cream Dream and Little Gem Cantine food trucks. The Creative Cocktail Hour goes from 6 to 10 p.m. For more information go here.

Did we mention the kids are going back to school soon? Depending on your personal feelings, it could be a time of celebration. Connecticut Science Center has it  covered with its the 4th annual Back 2 School Bash on Saturday and Sunday, August 23 and 24.

Back2SchoolBash_Slider[1]Meet and greet Mr. Potato Head and have fun with Radio Disneyfor Pirate and Princess: The Power of Doing Good, as well as Jake the Pirate and Sofia the Princess themed music, activities and prizes. There will be arts & crafts, face painting, live science and tons of kids’ entertainment.There will also a Wild About Balloons Magic Show and a special appearance by Dora the Explorer. For more information go here.

It’s Hot Air Balloon Festival time again  in Plainville this weekend. The festival, sponsored by theballs Plainville Fire Company, opens Friday at Norton Park with an arts and crafts fair, food booths, entertainment and of course a  balloon night glow followed by a fireworks show at dusk. Get up early and head over to the park at 5:30 a.m. on Saturday, Aug. 23  and Sunday, Aug. 24  for the early morning balloon take-offs and the rest of the festival events. For more information go here.

Katharine-Hepburn-Cultural-Arts-Center[1]Hard to believe but it has been five years since the Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center opened in Old Saybrook. On Saturday, Aug. 23, the center will celebrate with its annual Summer Gala beginning at  5:30 p.m. The gala will include live entertainment, outdoor cocktails, dinner catered by Max Catering, dancing  and auctions. For more information go here.

And fair time is up and running all over the state and this weekend you can head to Terryville, Chester or Brooklyn to enjoy the best a good old fashioned fair has to offer. For more information go here. cow

For foodies, the Greater Manchester Chamber of Commerce is showing off the area’s best cooking talent at its second annual  Chef’s Challenge on Aug. 24

The competition, which will be held at Cheney Hall, features six chefs from local restaurants and businesses. They include Shawn Bittman of A Villa Louisa, Dotti Cannon of Brown Sugar Catering, Tony Sousa of Hartford Road Caf?, Tim Sheffield of Waterview Cafe at Manchester Country Club, Llord Tilley of The Main Pub and defending champion Corey Wry of CW’s Chops ‘N’ Catch. For more information  go here.

And speaking of food, eat out and help a good cause on Sunday, Aug. 24 from 5 to 10 p.m. Dine at Sorella, Salute or Vito’s By the Park that evening and the restaurants will donate 10 percent of the proceeds to the Bushnell Park Foundation  and its efforts to restore the Spanish American War Memorial there. For more information go here.

 

 

 

 

 

Byrnes Gone From FOX CT

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logan_byrnes_optFOX CT’s Emmy Award winning morning anchor Logan Byrnes is gone, citing contract renewal differences as the reason.

Byrnes, who anchors the FOX CT Morning News from 4 to 10 a.m. weekdays, left the station effective Friday.

“As much as I would have loved to have continued to deliver the morning news, and as happy as I was with my current contract terms, unfortunately  renewal negotiations were unsuccessful,” he wrote in a prepared statement . “I take great pride in having helped launch the FoxCT Morning News seven years ago when it began as a two-hour weekday newscast from 6 to 8 a.m.”

“The viewership and continued growth in the ratings of the morning  show gave me great joy and satisfaction knowing I made a positive impact in many people’s lives as they invited us into their homes each morning,” he wrote in his statement. “Because of the outpouring of support from viewers around the state and the increased ratings, the show expanded to four hours and then to six hours from 4 to 10 a.m.”

Byrnes, a former trial attorney in Los Angeles, joined FOX CT in 2008, after working as a  correspondent for the nationally syndicated news program “Inside Edition.” Byrnes had also contributed as an anchor on NBC’s “Early Today” and MSNBC’s “First Look” as well as providing various reports for CNBC’s “High Net Worth.” He also was a former anchor at NBC Connecticut.

Byrnes is the son of actor Edd “Kookie” Byrnes, best known for his roles in the tv show “77 Sunset Strip” and the movie “Grease.”

Logan Byrnes, a runner and regular participant in area triathlons, co-anchored the morning show with Erika Arias. He anchored live coverage of a variety of major Hartford area events including the Manchester Road Race, Hartford Marathon and St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Byrnes, also a justice of the peace, officiated at the station’s “televised “Dream Weddings.”

“I want to thank my fellow anchors, reporters, employees and loyal viewers for making my experience at FoxCT enjoyable and memorable,” Byrnes said.

Neither FOX CT news director Coleen Marren nor vice president/general manager Chris Geiger could be reached for comment on Byrnes departure or replacement.

This post has been changed from an earlier version.

 

Nixs Hartford Throws A VIP Party

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nix2Talk about taking directions to heart! Nixs tag line, “Play Nice”  “Have Fun” was the mantra at its new restaurant on Front Street in Hartford Tuesday as the by-invitation-only crowd got its first look at city’s newest eatery in the emerging entertainment/dining district.

“This is so exciting,” said Riverfront Recapture CEO/president Joe Marfuggi, the guy who has helped nurse the Front Street vibe to reality over the years. “Now people can really see all this area is going to be.”

The district has bloomed in the past couple of years with the Spotlight Theatres, restaurants includingnix4 Capital Grille and Ted’s Montana Grill and the soon-to-open Infinity Music Hall & Bistro.

“Look at it, what’s not to be excited about,” said Hartford’s Dept. of Development Services, EDD director Wayne Benjamin as he surveyed the handsome place, best known for its seafood and its Boston roots. “This is great for Hartford.”

nix4Classic movies played on big screen televisions as guests arrived for red carpet photos, a tantalizing seafood display, and appetizer and cocktail samplings that showed off the best of the restaurant that officially opens Saturday, Aug. 16. Among those welcoming the crowd was Nixs managing partner Abner  Kurtin.

“We could not have been more welcome here in Hartford,” said Kurtin about choosing Hartford as one of its locations. Anxious to form a bond with the other new restaurants in the district, Kurtin and the other restaurateurs are already working on an October block party for the area, one aimed at cooperation rather than competition.

“We are all so  different and we can all succeed,” he said.nix1

A familiar face that was part of the welcoming committee was former Treva general manager Yaz Sheriff, who has taken over the same job at Nixs.

nix3“I wanted a change, it is an exciting concept and an exciting area of the city to be part of,” said Sheriff.

Marfuggi, with longtime honey Sherry Brown, didn’t miss a trick when it came to taking advantage of the happy crowd to further promote his dear riverfront and its benefit to the city.

“The Big’Mo is Sept. 13,” said Marfuggi, referring to the very popular annual party that celebrates the river and the development around it. “It’s at 777 Main Street this year and it will be a great party.”

CT’s Piro, Schoenberger Share Spotlight

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piroYou might want to tune into NBC and MSNBC today and tomorrow. NBC Connecticut’s Todd Piro will be doing some of the heavy lifting on those stations.

Piro notes on his Facebook page he can be seen on “Early Today” at 4 a.m. on NBC and “First Look” at 5a.m. EST on MSNBC.

And speaking of media-types:

susanIt doesn’t note she is a Connecticut celeb but well-known West Hartford writer, editor and author Susan Schoenberger and her book “The Virtues of Oxygen” got a shout-out in the August issue of Woman’s Day magazine.

Her novel is the topic in the WD Book Club “Readers’ Circle” feature in the monthly magazine. The Bergen Book Buddies of Bergen County , NJ book club read it and gave it a big “thumbs up.”

“This novel struck a chord like no other,” writes club founding member Barbara Barley in the magazine piece. “We definitely urge other clubs to read this page turner.”

CT’s Oldest Inn On “Hotel Hell”

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Gordon_Ramsay[1]Lots of Connecticut people on reality tv these days and soon, a place will be center stage and under the microscope for your viewing pleasure.

Food/hotel know-it-all, celebrity chef and hospitality guru Gordon Ramsay paid one of his “Hotel Hell” visits to the Curtis House Restaurant & Inn in Woodbury over the summer and what he found and fixed will be featured on the Sept. 1 episode of the Fox Network makeover reality show.

Built in 1736 and considered the state’s oldest inn, the Curtis curtis (2)House is owned by the Hardisty family, with siblings TJ Brennan and Chris Hardisty in charge. According to an advance from the show, the brother and sister’s “constant bickering and disrespect for one another is not only tearing their relationship apart, but is bringing the inn down with them.”

The advance notes that “with little upkeep, it is no surprise to Ramsay that he is the only guest at the inn. Find out if Ramsay can patch up their relationship and save this historic establishment.”

Chris Hardisty said he couldn’t talk about what happened during the transformation but its Facebook page (Curtis House Restaurant & Inn) not only boasts pictures of updated rooms and  freshened up common areas, but a revived restaurant as well.

Showtime is 9 p.m.

AGT’s Tom Cotter Coming To Bridge Street

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America's Got Talent - Season 7You might best remember him as the guy who lost to a pack of dogs, the Olate Dogs, on Season 7 of “America’s Got Talent.” But the appearances and becoming the first comedian to make it to the finals on the reality talent show gave Tom Cotter just the exposure he needed to move on big time with his career.  The Providence, Rhode Island native who now lives in New York is bringing his rapid fire humor, not once but twice, Friday to Bridge Street Live in Collinsville.  He will be performing two shows with his special guests, his wife and comedienne Kerri Louise and Will Thomas. He promised there will not be a dog to be found at the show as he “Spilled the Beans” with Java.

Q: Okay, tell me a joke!

A: Two peanuts were walking down the street, one was assaulted. (get it..assaulted…a salted !)

Q: How would you describe the kind of comedy you perform?

A: I describe it as pathetic and a cry for help but most people describe it as rapid fire misdirection. My claim to fame is I can cram two hours worth of material into a one hour show. I provide a lot of left turns and throw some curveballs when I do my act.

Q:  Bridge Street Live is a great venue here in Connecticut. What do you know about it?

A: I have played there before and the challenge is I am not the tallest guy in the world. I make cookies in a hollow tree. Lighting is always a problem for me wherever I play because I am so short. But I am comfortable at Bridge Street because the stage is great and the lighting good. Low ceilings hold that laughter in and a lot of room for seating and that makes the laughing contagious and infectious. I love that place and who knew, Collinsville.

Q: When did you know that comedy was the path you wanted to pursue, I mean I know you dabbled for a while in some hard duty as a cop on Nantucket and your dad was a very well neurosurgeon. Seems like comedy was an interesting choice, no?

A: I thought I wanted to be a lawyer but loved comedy and thought I would take some time off to get it out of my system and just never looked back. I was making a living at it but after being on AGT, it took off way beyond where I thought it could go. I felt like I stepped in unicorn poop. I have a great wife, three healthy kids and am pleased where I am, although the friends of mine who became lawyers now have the BMWs and big houses. Would I like to be tapped to host “The Tonight Show,” yes but am good where I am.

Q: I understand you were very strategic when it came to auditioning for AGT. Explain.

A: I had been on a reality show with my wife and we ended up being eliminated. The judges were mean and the whole thing left a bad taste in my mouth and I decided reality tv wasn’t for me. AGT came along and said my act was perfect and it would be easier because on the other show I had to do a two minute routine and on AGT it was only 90 seconds. And that behooves a guy like me who is a rapid fire one –liner guy. But I kept watching Piers Morgan and noticed he hated comics and would not advance any of them. But then Howard Stern replaced him and I figured that if I was going to do it, it was the time. Of course the dogs ended up with the million dollars, and honestly, I worked with them for four months after the show on a tour we all do and they did the least amount of work.

Q: You know, we have a Connecticut comic on the show, Darik Santos. (note: Santos was eventually voted off the show)

A: Don’t tell me anything. I had to Tivo the show because I was working in the Bahamas doing a show for a pharmaceutical conference and don’t want to know who gets eliminated before I watch it!

Q: Anyway, do you have any favorites on the show this season?

A: With no disrespect to Mr. Santos, I do know two comics in the competition, Joe Matarese and Wendy Liebman. I think Wendy will move on. She is so polished and funny.

Q: I would imagine husband and wife comics married to each other makes for a pretty happy household with no arguments and a lot of jokes. Does that all provide fuel for your routine?

A: We get approached a lot to perform together because there are not many comedy couples who are willing to work together. We do Burns and Allen, Lucy and Desi bits. But we are like any married couple. We have arguments, we fight a lot about the little things but there is lots of levity and the biggest laughs come from the kids. They are funnier than any comedian I’ve ever seen.

Q: It is intriguing to me that given what seems to be a “no bounds” attitude when it comes to language and topics in comedy routines, yours is very “PG” rated and you are very successful with that tac. What’s the secret?

A: There are venues I have not worked with because they think my material is not “edgy” enough, not “blue” or “dirty.” When I started out my routine was much dirtier but that really limits you. I do a lot of college comedy and corporate work. They pay well and even at colleges, the bastions of free speech, they are still kids. I don’t want people offended by what I am saying but I do want them to leave the show with their sides hurting because they laughed so hard. I do dance around adult topics and use the double entendre but that’s it.  I was once advised that ‘the cleaner you work the more work you will have.’ It’s true.

Q: Is laughter the best medicine?

A: I have always said it is and that I am available without a prescription. Of course if a woman were in the throes of labor and you held out my CD in one hand the epidural needle in the other, she would probably choose the epidural. My dad is a doctor and he agrees, laughing releases endorphins and that makes you feel better and tightens your abs at the same time. If you put stand-up comedy in hospitals, people would be healthy.

Q: What’s next for you?

A: I shot a tv pilot, a children’s show that is on life support right now. It’s about pranks and practical jokes, kind of a cross between “America’s Funniest Home Videos” and Art Linkletter’s “Kids Say The Darndest Things.” We’ll see.

Tom Cotter will perform at  7 p.m. and 10 p.m. Tickets start at $25. Information: 860-693-9762 or 41bridgestreet.com

 

It’s Weekend Time Hartford

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Ahhh, there is nothing like the Connecticut River, especially in summer. calendar_clip_art-1.29213820_std[1]

And that, dear Hartford, is where the action is this weekend.

The annual Riverfront Dragon Boat and Asian Festival will be held Saturday, Aug. 16  and Sunday, Aug. 17  and along with the action on the river, there will be an Asian Beer Garden, food, children’s acitivites and more along the Mortenson Riverfront Plaza.

asianAdmission is free with boat races from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday and plaza activities both days from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information go here.

Did we mention that Theaterworks has opened its production of “Woody Sez” featuring the songs and story of the famed Woody Guthrie?

Well, they are upping the fun by adding “hootenannies,” those sing-along session, on Sundayswoody beginning Aug. 17. Everyone (even if you don’t go the show) is invited to meet with the cast after the afternoon matinee (around 4:45 p.m.)   and encouraged to bring along their instruments to the post-show get-together. For information go here.

But hey, get in the spirit of the weekend and the election season a little early  by heading over to the Mark Twain House on Thursday, Aug. 14.

 Outspoken consumer advocate, lawyer and author Ralph Nader wand  Bill Curry, two-time Democratic nominee for governor of Connecticut and a White House advisor in the Bill Clinton will be featured.

Tickets are $30 / $25 for members. $65 includes pre-reception with Ralph Nader starting at 5:30 p.m. For more information go here.

zombieFor those who like competitive entertainment with a twist, head over to Rentschler Field  on Saturday, Aug. 16,  for the annual Zombie Run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Human runners take on Zombies in the sports event that features strategy and endurance.There is a charge for participants but you can watch for free. For more information go here.

And like it or not, summer is on the wane but fair season has arrived. The Wolcott Country Fair at thecow Wolcott Fairgrounds on Wolcott Road runs this Friday to Sunday. The annual fair includes  farm exhibits, animal shows, petting zoo, pony rides, carnival rides, racing pigs, arts and crafts, live entertainment, fireworks display each night, and much more. Admission: After 4 p.m., Fri.-Sun. $8. Before 4 p.m., Sat. & Sun. $6. Seniors $6, children (10 and under) free. For more information go here.

Don’t forget the Caribbean Carnival and Parade in Middletown and fairs in Somers, Lyme and the Shoreline Wine Festival in Guilford over the weekend. For more information go here.

The Connecticut Historical Society will host a free outdoor screening of the Katherine Hepburn classic, “The Philadelphia Story” on the grounds at 1 Elizabeth St. in Hartford on Thursday, Aug. 14 beginning at 8 p.m. Those planning to attend can also get a free peek at the society’s “Katherine Hepburn: Dressed for Stage and Screen” exhibit before the show  from 7 to 8 p.m.

And finally, what’s the weekend without a Happy Hour?martini

At the New Britain Museum of American Art on Thursday, Aug. 14,there  will be an evening of art and a presentation by James Schantz, director of Schantz Gallery in Massachusetts. Happy hour  is from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.

Or you can also head over there on Friday night, Aug. 15, for its Museum After Dark Party and silent auction beginning at 8 p.m. For information go here.

At Butler-McCook House & Garden and Main Street History Center in Hartford it will be cocktails and art galore on Thursday, Aug. 14 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.  Featured will be the latest exhibition from artist Lindaluz Carillo with  live music by Dave Mack. For information go here.

 

 

Tolland Couple On Flea Market Flip

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fleamarketNow if you need an immediate reality show fix featuring Connecticut people, tune in to the Great American Channel Sunday, Aug. 17, for “Flea Market Flip.”

More than a year ago, Merry and Albert Garrett who own Thrifty Treasures Estate and Auctions Services in Vernon and live in Tolland, were one of the two teams featured in an episode filmed at one of the show’s most popular venues, Elephant’s Trunk Flea Market in New Milford.

And while they had all but given up hope of seeing themselves on television, the new season featuring host, creator and executive producer Lara Spencer, finally premiered Aug. 3 on the Great American Channel. The episode with the Garretts is scheduled to air on Aug. 17.

If you are not familiar with the show which had previously aired on HGTV, teams are given $500 to buy “finds” they then turn into “treasures” that meet the criteria on the “Flip List.” After the restoration, teams must sell their rejuvenated projects and whoever makes the most money wins a $5,000 prize.

Java happened to be at the Elephant’s Trunk when the Garretts were being filmed and they were masters of the bargain and the “flip.” The two managed to sway a dealer into selling them a dated Lane bedroom set for practically nothing. And as far as the refurbishment that occurred in a warehouse in Stamford and what happens next? Well just tune into the show and see!

The couple plans a premiere/birthday party at their home to celebrate their appearance on the show and Merry Garrett’s birthday.

It will not, however, be her first time on tv.

“I was a dancer on MTV in the 80s, she admitted. “I was a B list actress who worked on “Club MTV” but I couldn’t afford to stay on it because I got paid $25 per show and it didn’t even cover the train fare to New York for the taping,” she said smiling. She also worked on a couple of tv shows including “The Cosby Show.”