One of the nicest indulgences from spring to fall was a trip to Hill-Stead Museum’s weekly Farmers Market. Not only for the obvious, a selection of fresh produce and such, but the chance to meander around the grounds overlooking the Farmington Valley and just enjoy the view and the ambience the well-known landmark museum. Citing a lack of previous funding, however, the market will not open this year.
This from the museum director, Susan Ballek.
“Dear Friends: I want to share the news with you that Hill-Stead will not host its Farmers Market this summer due to a lack of funding.
The Farmers Market, which has run for the past five years during the summer on the grounds of Hill-Stead, was established in 2009 with support from the CT Department of Economic and Community Development to honor the agricultural history of the estate. The Market was, in large part, funded by grant money, which covered staffing, planning, parking and security costs. Due to the lack of new grant funds to cover the cost of running the Market in 2014, the decision was made to suspend it this summer.
Hill-Stead is very proud of the ‘destination market’ that it created and the community has enjoyed. I am saddened that the lack of crucial grant funding makes it impossible for us to host this year, as it is an expensive program and one, as a non-profit institution, the Museum cannot sustain on its own. I am thankful to you, our Hill-Stead community, for making our Farmers Market such a wonderful experience for all.”
The buzz at Hill-Stead Museum’s annual ‘Dinner on the Hill’ fundraiser Sunday was that there would soon be a new director/CEO named.
It was good buzz!
The Farmington museum’s Board of Governors has named Susan Ballek as its new director and CEO.
Ballek, currently executive director at the Lyme Art Association, succeeds Susan Sturtevant who stepped down earlier this year.
Prior to joining Lyme Art Association, Ballek worked at the Lyman Allyn Art Museum and the Connecticut River Museum. She holds a B.A. in Fine Art from the University of Oregon and her art work has been exhibited in both Connecticut and Oregon. She is active in community organizations including High Hopes Therapeutic Riding, Lyme Land Conservation Trust and Old Lyme’s Midsummer Festival.
“Susan’s collaborative and results-oriented style, plus comprehensive development, customer, volunteer, and program experiences within the arts community make her an ideal leader for Hill-Stead,” said Tim Corbett, president of Hill-Stead’s Board of Governors. “Her energy and focus are infectious and have been demonstrated throughout her career by her professional and volunteer accomplishments.”
“I am honored to have been selected as the new leader of Hill-Stead Museum, and look forward to meeting the loyal members and friends in the coming months,” Ballek said. “Residents of the Greater Hartford area are so fortunate to have this breathtaking estate and art collection right in their backyard, and I can’t wait to re-engage the community with new excerpts from the life of Theodate Pope Riddle.”
If you have to say goodbye to summer there was no better way to do it then heading up to Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington Sunday for its annual “Dinner on the Hill.”
The annual al fresco fundraiser not only marked the near-end of summer, but also the start of the annual Farm-to-Chef statewide celebration of Connecticut grown ingredients.
“We could not have ordered a better day,” said Debra Pasquale, the museum’s interim director. “This is an occasion where we raise money for our Farmers market and its companion programs and we are thrilled to celebrate the fifth anniversary of our dinner.”
Long communal tables swathed in eggplant and gold colored linens, fresh flowers and cutting boards full of artisan breads welcomed the 125 guests who sipped on wine and sampled appetizers on the museum grounds overlooking the Farmington Valley.
Doing the heavy lifting, cooking wise, was Russell Pryzbek of Russell’s Creative Global Cuisine. His goal? A meal that would live up to the week, the location and a foodie’s passion.
“We have a great dinner tonight,” he said as he gave Java the “cooks tour” of what was going on in the cook tent. And impressive it was as he showed off pork dumplings, carpaccio of sword fish, curried roasted cauliflower bisque, beef stew with meat from Ox Hollow Farm, grilled eggplant steak and warm blueberry buckle.
“I am totally impressed,” said volunteer president Linda Ericson-Ebel as the crowd began to arrive. “I knew it was going to be great.”
It was just a matter of a girl’s gotta do what a girl’s gotta do, especially when she is trying to get the good interview.
So Java turned to the expert, famed Irish writer and broadcaster Frank Delaney for some tips on the right questions to ask visiting former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins Wednesday night in Farmington.
Collins was the featured guest at the final program of the Hill-Stead Museum’s 2013 Sunken Garden Poetry Festival, and Java, well, she just wanted to do it right.
“You are on your own,” joked the dapper and always delightful Delaney, who was there to conduct his own interview with Collins as part of the VIP dinner held before the poetry/music session in the garden began. “I am not giving away any trade secrets!”
Left to my own devices, Collins was patient with this not-so-savvy-poetry fan, explaining the genre has actually been on the upswing.
“I think poetry got a bit lost in the 70s and 80s but has become more popular in the past 20 years,” he said, explaining the ebb and flow of the art and a poet’s appeal to the public. “You can’t get rid of us.”
The festival closing event not only included the intimate dinner and the garden reading by Collins that attracted a sold-out crowd, but also a pat on the back for interim museum director Debra Pasquale, who has been overseeing operations while the board searches for a new director.
“This is a magical place,” said Pasquale about the hilltop museum located in the former estate of architect Theodate Pope Riddle.
The board is expected to name a new director in the fall.
And so we welcome this three-day holiday weekend, a time for picnics and parades and sunshine and a renewed spirit, a time to honor our nation’s veterans, take time for family and welcome the best that warm weather can offer.
Today the Salvation Army of Greater Hartford will hold its “Beyond the Bells” luncheon at the Hartford Marriott Downtown, where it will present the “Others Award” to an organization or individual exemplifying exceptional service to others. This year’s honoree will be Aetna. Its “Doing the Most Good” award will be presented to Henry Bahre at the luncheon that this year will features Bevin Brothers Mfg. President Matt Bevin. The East Hampton bell factory, that manufactured the Salvation Army’s trademark bells as well as other lines, was destroyed by fire last year and is rebuilding the business.
Proceeds from the luncheon that begins at 11:30 a.m. benefit Salvation Army programs. For information go to salvationarmy.org
Thurday evening, Hill-Stead Museum in Farmington will hold its “Monet in May” annual dinner auction. Dinner and auctions will be held under a tent on the museum’s West Lawn. Proceeds support the preservation of the National Historic Landmark, as well as it paintings, sculpture, decorative arts, architecture, landscape and gardens.
What’s a Memorial Day weekend without lobster?
Members of the Mystic Rotary Club will serve lobsters-in-the-rough from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day at the seaport’s waterfront open-air boat shed . More than 3,000 lobsters will be cooked for the festival that includes its annual “Decoration Day” ceremony on Monday.
A special combination tickets that includes museum admission and a single lobster dinner and dinner only tickets are available.Proceeds benefit the Mystic Rotary.
Also this weekend, one of New England’s largest arts festivals takes place in Northampton, Mass.
The 19th annual Paradise City Arts Festival opens Saturday at the Three County Fairgrounds and continues through Monday. The weekend includes exhibitions by 260 artists, including many from Connecticut, a gourmet dining, jazz by Giacomo Gates on Sunday and Charles Neville on Monday. Information: paradisecityarts.com
And what better way to welcome the arrival of summer than a trip to the drive-in. Yes, you can still do that here in CT beginning this weekend! Both the Mansfield Drive-In and the Pleasant Valley Drive-In on the New Hartford-Winsted line are open this holiday weekend. Information: mansfielddrivein.com and pleasantvalleydrivein.com
And finally, as the daughter, niece, widow and friend of men and women who served in the U.S. Armed Forces, take a moment Monday to remember those who gave their lives and acknowledge those who stepped up and served to protect our country.
On Thursday Hartford area lawyers will host its annual “Counsel Conquering Cancer” at On20, 400 Columbus Blvd. in Hartford .
Some of Hartford’s most well-known chefs will be preparing food for the feast with proceeds benefiting the Connecticut Children’s Medical Center. Among the participating chefs are Tyler Anderson, Billy Grant, Sean Farrell, Stephen Cavagnaro, James Wayman and Jeffrey Lizotte.
For ticket information go to here.
Also on Thursday, the Boys & Girls Clubs of Hartford will hold its “2013 Opening the Door Gala ” at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. The evening includes honoring its four Hall of Fame inductees. Trudi White, Gregory Davis, Thomas Burns and Dr. Morris Jackson. Martaluz Olang will be honored as its Youth of the Year. Information: bgchartford.org
On Friday, The Women’s Committee of the Wadsworth Atheneum will host its Farm-to-Table Dinner , one of several events that are part of its 32nd annual Fine Art & Flowers event. WNPR’s Faith Middleton is honorary chair, with featured guest, floral designer Sarah Ryhanen. The evening includes local beers and wines, a onsite floral demonstration and a five-course dinner. Other events that are part of the weekend include a Farmers Markets on Friday and Saturday. a Saturday luncheon with tv personality Mar Jennings, and highlights tours throughout the weekend. Information: 860-838-4100 or thewadsworth.org
On Saturday, the University of Connecticut Foundation will hold its fourth annual “White Coat Gala” at the Connecticut Convention Center in Hartford. Receiving the Carole and Ray Neag Medal of honor will be the Chase Family, Dr. Thomas Taylor with a posthumous award to Dr Richard A. Garibaldi. Information: foundaton.uconn.edu
The annual summer series on the museum grounds opens June 1.
Special guests will be former Connecticut poet laureate Marilyn Nelson and international best-selling author Frank Delaney.
Information: 860-677-4787, ext 134.
During her four-year tenure, Sturtevant is credited with the revival of the Sunken Garden Poetry Festival and expanding programming with events including the Winter Exhibit, Dinner on the Hill and the Farmers Market.
The Hill-Stead board of governors has appointed former Farmington town council member Debra K. Pasquale, now a Bloomfield resident, as interim executive director.
“We are fortunate to have engaged Debra for the interim position,” said board president M. Timothy Corbett. “Her integrity driven, results-oriented and customer-focused style combined with extensive professional and volunteer leadership roles during change, growth and tradition make her the right choice for Hill-Stead.”
Over at the Connecticut Historical Society, executive director Kate Steinway has announced her retirement next year.
“With the greatest sadness we reluctantly accept Kate’s decision to retire,” said board president Paul Beach. “Kate Steinway made the CHS into a vibrant, engaging, modern museum with board appeal without ever losing sight of the people whose generosity, dedication, interest and collections built this organization, and the history which has made CHS the venerable institution it is, ” added state historian and board member Walter Woodward.