November 24, 2014

Buy Gift Books at Chester’s Holiday Book Sale – Dec. 4 -7

The Friends of Chester Library are hosting a Holiday Book Sale, with gift-quality, new, and like-new books in a wide variety of genres at reasonable prices. Some Chester authors will also have books for sale.

The sale opens Thursday, Dec. 4, from 4 to 8 p.m. at the Chester Public Library, located at 21 West Main St. (Rte. 148), Chester. Free gift wrapping will be offered at that time by the Friends. The sale will continueon Friday and Saturday during library hours and ends at the Holiday Market in Chester Center on Sunday, Dec. 7, between 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. Questions? Call the library at 860-526-0018.

Recreation of Vincent van Gogh’s “The Starry Night” in Free Drawing at Maple and Main Gallery

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“The Starry Night”, Vincent van Gogh’s 1889 masterpiece has been recreated by Maple and Main artist Donna Favreau and is being given away in a free drawing at the gallery.

Van Gogh’s inspiration was the very early morning view from his asylum window in France, but Favreau’s was the upcoming “Starry, Starry Night” theme of Chester’s annual Holiday evening Friday, Dec. 5. All the galleries, shops and restaurants will have special offerings and be open until 9 p.m. that night. There will be a town tree lighting and carol singing outside the gallery and inside we will have wine and refreshments.

The drawing begins Friday, Nov. 21, continues through the gallery gala Holiday Exhibit opening Saturday, Nov. 22 from 5 to 8 p.m. and concludes at 9 p.m. on Dec. 5 when the fortunate winner’s name will be drawn.

Maple and Main is open Wednesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Please visit website, mapleandmaingallery.com. Click on “Events” to see a selection of the art in the Holiday Exhibit.

Chester Celebrates the Holidays at a Starry Night Festival – Dec. 5

Saint Lucia Girls are a holiday tradition in Chester

Saint Lucia Girls are a holiday tradition in Chester

Festive holiday spirit and treats will abound on Friday, Dec. 5, under the Starry, Starry Night at the annual Chester Holiday Festival, which begins at 5 p.m. Main Street, in the historic and picturesque Chester Center, will be lined with luminaries and Saint Lucia Girls will stroll around with treats. The art and photography galleries of Chester will host new exhibits and the shops will be festively decorated and full of holiday gift ideas, while offering beverages and light refreshments while you browse. At 6 p.m., carolers will stroll through Chester Center and gather around the town tree for the town’s annual tree-lighting and community sing-along.  Free parking is available at the Water Street and the Maple Street parking lots, both a short walk to the center. Up the hill at the Chester Meeting House will be the 5th Annual Holiday Shopping Extravaganza, where you can meet artisans selling their handcrafted gifts.

Join in the Community Carol Sing-along at 6 p.m. around the town Christmas tree

Join in the Community Carol Sing-along at 6 p.m. around the town Christmas tree

More information can be found at Facebook.com/visitchesterct.

Al Malpa Photography Gallery (4 Spring St.) welcomes you to see Al’s photography while enjoying light refreshments and a glass of wine. Check out the table of Chester books, ornaments, and hats from various Chester nonprofits – they make great holiday gifts!

Bell’Oliva (14 Main St.) will be giving out handmade origami stars with little holiday wishes inside. Search for the items in the store with stars on them – they’re on sale!  Starry music will be playing and stars will be hanging.  A telescope will be outside on the porch for stargazing, weather permitting.

Brown-eyed Girl and Vintage Glory (4 Water St.) will be offering libations and luxury. All star-studded merchandise will be 20% off this evening only.

C&G Unparalleled Apparel (1 North Main St.) will give away star earrings with any purchase of $50 or more. Also, C&G will be featuring its new, just completed, perpetual calendar. Tucked inside its canister are twelve long, literate, time-themed months designed for recording birthdays, anniversaries, and for remembering a tribute, a trip, a triumph! Hanging on your wall, it will become an artful timepiece celebrating all the special times in your life.

Ceramica (36 Main St.) will take email addresses from visitors each week till Christmas, and will draw a name for a different item on Sundays at 5:00 (you don’t have to be present to win).

Chester Gallery (76 Main St.) presents its annual Postcard Show where all work is 4 by 6 inches or smaller.  Come and sip champagne by the fire while viewing art you can take home in your pocket on a Starry, Starry Night in Chester.

Connecticut River Artisans (4 Water St.): Artists will be on hand to greet the strollers and offer homemade goodies and wine. Special decorations outside.

Cupcakery (1 Main St.) will feature a great selection of holiday favorite cupcake flavors – Starry Night, Christmas Morning and Gingerbread, to name a few.

At Dina Varano (27 Main St.), stars will be shining throughout the store. Dina will be featuring her signature sterling silver pendants along with lots of special gifts to celebrate Chester’s Starry Night.

At ELLE Design (1 Main St.), light up your starry night with one of ELLE’s custom light fixtures! This night only, all lighting will be on sale. The percentage off will be identified by star-shaped hang tags. Come early for the best selection!

At Gallery Americana (45 Main St.), owner Bill Vollers will be exhibiting his most recent works as well as new additions to his collection of Americana antiques and primitives. Please visit for a glass of wine and other treats.

Lark (4 Water St.) says, “Our customers are stars and they deserve to twinkle!”  Therefore, they will have starry starry night giveaways and glow-in-the-dark stars for each customer.  There will be photo opportunities for customers who will get their very own star on Lark’s window of fame. Experience thousands of twinkle lights and stars throughout the store and take advantage of the special promotional pricing on all Linnea’s Lights and Skeem candles, fragranced with only essential oil fragrances.

Leif Nilsson Spring Street Gallery (1 Spring St.) will be open to visitors and Leif will be featuring an oil painting from this summer’s crop of new work, “The Studio with Eyebrow Dormer.”

Lori Warner Gallery (21 Main St.) will be decked out for the holidays. New work will be unveiled that evening. Be the first to see small-scale artwork by Lori Warner, new jewelry by Ann Lightfoot and a few other surprises. The gallery will serve its traditional specialty drink to toast the season.

Maple and Main Gallery (1 Maple St.), located across from the town Christmas tree, will be serving wine, appetizers and chocolate delights. The holiday exhibit with all new art by 37 Connecticut artists will be on display as will a one-woman show in the Stone Gallery by Madison artist Janine Robertson. The gallery will have a free drawing at the end of the evening for a beautiful copy of the painting, “Starry, Starry Night.” The original by Vincent Van Gogh is being duplicated by Westbrook artist Donna Favreau.

Red Pepper Gallery (14 Main St.) has great gift items in addition to fabulous clothing from small designers. Enter the drawing for a $25 gift certificate and take home a small surprise in a starry pouch with every purchase for the evening’s festivities.

River Tavern (23 Main St.) will have warm cider and a soup/chowder outside the restaurant during the evening, so stop by to warm up with a hot drink or bite to eat.

Shandell’s, formerly The Joy of Lighting (5 West Main St.), offers handmade lampshades, custom lighting, vintage and one-of-a-kind fixtures and finials, rewiring, repair, and lighting design. The shop will  also be featuring handmade ornaments from Jayne Whittle, proprietor of Chalk Mercantile in Old Saybrook.

Willow Tree (4 Water St.): Angels, fairies and mermaids! All that shimmers and sparkles! Beautiful vintage jewelry, colorful scarves, and homemade star-shaped birdseed ornaments. Stop by and take a look!

Ring in the Season in Chester on Nov. 30

On Sunday, Nov. 30 at Lori Warner Gallery, Mandy Carroll-Leiva will present a small collection of new rings for this one-day event. Gorgeous, large cocktail rings will be unveiled. The gallery will also have a beautiful grouping of Mandy’s popular, natural diamond and other unique, unheated, stone rings. Mandy Carroll-Leiva will be present and available to discuss custom rings and earrings created in time for the holidays.

On Sunday, Nov. 30 at Lori Warner Gallery, Mandy Carroll-Leiva will present a small collection of new rings for this one-day event. Gorgeous, large cocktail rings will be unveiled. The gallery will also have a beautiful grouping of Mandy’s popular, natural diamond and other unique, unheated, stone rings. Mandy Carroll-Leiva will be present and available to discuss custom rings and earrings created in time for the holidays.

Once again Chester Center will welcome the holidays with its annual Holiday Market on four Sundays, Nov. 30 through Dec. 21, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Stroll through the picturesque historic Chester village while shopping the market of local growers and producers of artisan baked goods, jams and jellies,  fall vegetables, fresh seafood, poultry and meats.

To add to the holiday spirit, Chester shops, restaurants and galleries will be dressed up in their holiday finery and offering special holiday happenings. On Sunday, Nov. 30, the Holiday Market theme is “Ring in the Season,” so you’ll find Bell-inis at River Tavern, unique bells for sale in the shops at 4 Water Street, ding-a-ling discounts in some shops, and town criers ringing out the news of what’s happening in town.

At the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Studio, from 11 a.m. to noon, explore music with Munchkin Music’s Ms. Rose; Face Arts Music will offer hands-on music exploration for children of all ages.    From noon to 1 p.m., take a fun musical journey around the globe with Face Arts Music instructors Frank Natter Jr. and Hillyn Natter.  This interactive children’s music show will be fun for the whole family.  Come to sing along, get up and move.

At Maple and Main Art Gallery, between noon and 2 p.m., artist Pam Carlson will do a painting of cows in acrylics on canvas while you watch. She’ll discuss her methods, share her techniques and answer your questions.

A schedule of each week’s happenings will be at Facebook.com/ChesterSundayMarket and Facebook.com/VisitChesterCT and will also be available at the market.

Local Historic Properties Open for Area Families After Thanksgiving

Bring your Thanksgiving visitors to the Pratt House in Essex, built in 1701, on Friday, Nov. 28 and Saturday, Nov. 29.

Bring your Thanksgiving visitors to the Pratt House in Essex, built in 1701, on Friday, Nov. 28 and Saturday, Nov. 29.

After you have celebrated the Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends, step outside and celebrate the rich history of the towns of Chester, Deep River and Essex. The historic houses and museums owned by the historical societies in the three towns will be open to the public for free, providing a welcome alternative to dealing with crowds at the malls.

The historic Pratt House, located at 19 West Avenue in Essex, will be open to visitors Friday, Nov. 28, and Saturday, Nov. 29, from 12 to 3 p.m. The house, which was built in 1701, continues to interpret 18th-century farm life and the nine generations of Pratt smithies, many of whom lived there. Its barn, traditional herb garden, and lovely meadow complete the pastoral setting of a New England farmhouse. Take a tour of the house with one of Essex Historical Society’s knowledgeable docents and be transported to a bygone era.  For more information, visit www.essexhistory.org.

At the Chester Museum at The Mill is the 1880s high-wheeled Columbia “ordinary” from the CT Historical Society.

At the Chester Museum at The Mill is the 1880s high-wheeled Columbia “ordinary” from the CT Historical Society.

The Chester Museum at The Mill, at 9 West Main Street in Chester, will also be open on Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Skip Hubbard, president of Chester Historical Society, says, “It’s become a tradition. Although our museum season is over, we have been pleased to welcome 40-60 area family members and visitors for the two days following Thanksgiving every year since we opened. People of all ages find the museum a great way to renew or learn local history.  Now is also the last time to see our popular transportation exhibit, ‘Over the River and Through the Woods,’ which features train, trolley, steamboat and ferry travel.  The 1880s high-wheeled Ordinary bicycle is alone worth a visit!” For more information, visit www.chesterhistoricalsociety.org.

See “The Gems of the Society” at Deep River’s Stone House.

See “The Gems of the Society” at Deep River’s Stone House.

The Deep River Historical Society showcases their “Gems of the Society” in the Stone House, built by Deacon Ezra Southworth in 1840. The home is furnished in the late Victorian period with oil paintings done by regional artists, and also features collections of Deep River businesses and products including Niland cut glass and ivory products of Pratt, Read & Co. A World War I exhibit, “It’s a Long Way to Tipperary,” showcases the men of Deep River who served in the Great War. The Stone House, at 245 Main Street in Deep River, will be open on Friday, Nov. 28, from 1 to 4 p.m.

For more information, visit www.deepriverhistoricalsociety.org.

Chester Library Hosts Spring Book Discussions

“Views from the South:  Looking Forward, Looking Backward”  will be the subject of this spring’s Mark Johnson Book Discussion Series at Chester Public Library, once again led by Charlotte Rea. Dates for the discussions are Wednesdays, April 30 and May 7, from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Former Head of School at the Williams School, Rea’s academic background is in English and theater. She explains her choice of these books for this year’s discussion series. “Thomas Wolfe, writing in the 1920s, Eudora Welty, writing in the ‘40s, and Flannery O’Connor, writing in the ‘50s, all portray a vision of life in rural, small-town South as seen from the inside—inside the family, the friendships, and the community.  Strong nets of family and friends and expectations surround the characters with comfort, love, suspicion, jealousy and exclusivity—as well as a sense of superiority for the civility and civilization that is consciously cultivated in the South.” 

How does this strong sense of connectedness interact with Southern warmth and pride to create a world in which outsiders are viewed with suspicion?  Within this tight world, the characters in these stories yearn for the wider world, for more learning, for greater adventures.  The abundant work ethic and risk-taking behaviors shape the characters’ worlds just as their orthodox views of human behavior control their actions.  How does this tension between yearning for stability and comfort war with the drive to experience the outside world?  What role does the strong sense of the past play as characters shape their own and the region’s futures? 

The rhythmic, rich language of the three authors becomes a way of life and brings great rewards for the reader.

On Wednesday, April 30, discussion will center on Thomas Wolfe’s Look Homeward Angel, in which the protagonist seeks to shape his identity in contrast to and in harmony with his family and Southern community.

On Wednesday, May 7, the group will look at the view from two famous women novelists, Flannery O’Connor and Eudora Welty, who in their short stories, “Good Country People” and “Why I Live at the P.O.,” imagine the inner world and outer actions of bright, adventuresome, misfit women living circumscribed lives.

Books on paper and on CD are available at the library. EBook versions of both titles can be downloaded from Overdrive. Please call the library at 860-528-0018 to register. Registration is required for these free discussion programs, which are sponsored by the Friends of Chester Public Library.

 

New Chester Historical Society Unearthed Challenge…

What might you create with these rusted Es for the Chester Historical Society’s Unearthed Challenge on March 22?   (Photo courtesy of Skip Hubbard).

What might you create with these rusted Es for the Chester Historical Society’s Unearthed Challenge on March 22? (Photo courtesy of Skip Hubbard).

The Chester Historical Society has come up with another fun challenge linking Chester history and art.  This spring, those accepting the 2014 Unearthed Challenge issued by the Historical Society will be working with flat, rusted iron pieces found buried in an early Chester Center property – one of the oldest houses in Chester.

These rusty pieces measure 1 ¼ by 2 inches and look like the capital letter E. We do not know their origin, but they’re a great example of what one might find by digging in their own backyard!

As with the Bishop and Watrous Bone Art Challenge and the Bates Square Roots Challenge offered by the Chester Historical Society in past years, the Unearthed Challenge is for area artists, sculptors, photographers, engineers, jewelry designers, and all others with a creative mind.

Anyone who wants to take the challenge can stop in at the Chester Gallery on Main Street in the center of Chester to pick up their rusty pieces and pay their entrance fee of $30, which includes two tickets to the event. The finished works will be exhibited and sold by silent auction at the Historical Society’s Unearthed Challenge Reception on Saturday, March 22 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Chester Meeting House.

For more information, call Sosse Baker at Chester Gallery at 860-526-9822.

Chester Historical Society Presents Program on Chester’s Cooks, Food Sales and Kitchens

Chester Center had a good many food stores, including the A&P and Checkers Store, as well as several meat markets and even a fish market.

Chester Center had a good many food stores, including the A&P and Checkers Store, as well as several meat markets and even a fish market.

Chester is famed for its plentiful restaurants. From pizza and vegan to Italian and French, there’s no shortage of food being professionally prepared and savored in Chester today.

There was no shortage of food in the old days either – but it certainly was different!

Squirrel and rabbits. Polenta. Ravioli. Eels and river shad. Home-grown vegetables. Weekly Sunday dinner for the entire family at Grandmother’s. Friday night food sales in front of the bank, and side-by-side supermarkets and meat markets “downstreet.”

Hunting filled an important need for food, especially during the Depression. Shown here are four Chester men who were known for their hunting skills:  Fred Walden, Layton Kelsey, Curt Bishop and Eddie Carlson.

Hunting filled an important need for food, especially during the Depression. Shown here are four Chester men who were known for their hunting skills: Fred Walden, Layton Kelsey, Curt Bishop and Eddie Carlson.

The Chester Historical Society invites you to “Stories from Chester’s Kitchens,” a program featuring tales of Chester’s cooks, food sales and kitchens shared by longtime Chester residents. The program will be Sunday, March 2 at 4:00 p.m. in the Chester Meeting House.

Food sales and townwide banquets hold special memories for many old Chester residents. We’ll be sharing stories at the Historical Society’s Crackerbarrel Program on Sunday, March 2.

Food sales and townwide banquets hold special memories for many old Chester residents. We’ll be sharing stories at the Historical Society’s Crackerbarrel Program on Sunday, March 2.

The program will revolve around the popular crackerbarrel format that has been successful for so many Historical Society programs. Audience participation is encouraged – we want to hear everyone’s memories of Chester’s cooks and kitchens. We’re also planning to show historical photos to whet your appetite for storytelling. This will be a great program for all ages, so children are invited too.

The program is free. Refreshments will feature some tastes of Chester’s past. More information at Facebook.com/chestercthistoricalsociety.

New Chester Pewter Ornament for 2013

Chester Ornament 2013Chester has a new pewter ornament for 2013. It was created by Peter Good, of Cummings & Good in Chester, and features his tractor seat design from the 2013 Chester Carnivale. The ornaments are being sold at stores throughout Chester Center for $15 each. Profits will benefit Chester Merchants activities such as the 2014 Chester Carnivale.

Chester Historical Society Reprints Classic Children’s Book, Ferryboat

Ferryboat Cover photo

Front cover of the book Ferryboat, reprinted by Chester Historical Society

This spring, as the State of Connecticut debated raising the fares for the historic Chester-Hadlyme Ferry, the Chester Historical Society focused on the history of the ferry as it opened its new transportation exhibit, “Over the River and Through the Woods.” After all, the ferry has been an integral part of Chester history since it began in the 1700s.

And now the Historical Society has reprinted the children’s book, Ferryboat, written about that historic ferry by Betsy Maestro and illustrated by Giulio Maestro and originally published by HarperCollins in 1986.

Ferryboat went out of print several years ago, but the Maestros have permitted the Chester Historical Society to reprint 1000 copies of the book.

“We couldn’t be happier to be bringing this wonderful and colorful book to a whole new generation of readers and their families,” said Society president Skip Hubbard.  “Over the years we have had some requests, so I expect there will be plenty of interest. It’s a pleasure to read it with a child and it makes a great gift.’’

Ferryboat inside photo

The Maestros, who lived for many years in Old Lyme, where they raised their son and daughter, said, “We created the book because we loved the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry and enjoyed riding on it with our children when they were small. The children in the book are loosely based on our own son and daughter. Over the years, it was fun to share the book with other children at schools all over the United States as an example of something unique and scenic near our home in Connecticut.”

The Maestros now live in Arizona, “not far from the red rocks of Sedona,” where they continue to write and illustrate children’s books.

Ferryboat, chosen by Yankee Magazine in 2000 for its list of Classic New England Children’s Books, has also been referenced in Southwest Airlines’ Travel Guide, where the Chester-Hadlyme Ferry is described as “a popular means of crossing the river during the summer months. It’s more than a tourist attraction – it’s an educational outing for children and adults into the workings of a modern-day ferry.” (Connecticut DOT, take note!)

Publishers Weekly wrote about Ferryboat, “Their words and pictures are so completely involving that it’s almost like being on the real thing. The author carefully explains the workings of the ferry and takes readers from shore to shore, lovingly describing the sights and sounds of the ride….The double-page spreads, with a deep blue river and lush tree-lined shores, are colorful and appealing.”  School Library Journal called the book “a charming treat,” adding,” How the ferry operates (it never needs to turn around since the front is the same as the back!) is sure to fascinate young armchair mariners.”

The book is available for purchase at the Chester Museum at the Mill in Chester, open weekends 10-4, and also at Century 21 Heritage Real Estate office in Chester. Ferryboat can also be found at the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme; Gillette Castle in East Haddam; and the Connecticut River Museum and the Valley Railroad in Essex. It is priced around $12.

New Chester Brochure to be Available this Fall

The Chester Brochure  is being updated and printed this summer by the Chester Merchants.

The Chester Brochure is being updated and printed this summer by the Chester Merchants.

Since 2005, the Chester Merchants have published the Chester Brochure, a guide to the storefront and home-based businesses and artisans of Chester. The 4×8-inch, full-color, 32-page brochure also includes maps, directions, municipal information, and a calendar of annual Chester events.

Fifty-thousand copies of the brochure are printed and distributed in tourist outlets throughout the state, area hotels and inns, and local shops and town hall. This summer the Merchants are compiling their third edition, which will be designed by Cummings & Good and printed and distributed in the fall.

Michele Procko, of Ceramica, says, “The Chester Brochure has attracted a great deal of attention from merchants and chambers of commerce in other towns and states. They comment on its quality of the design and useful content, noting that they’d like to produce something like it themselves.”

Procko continues, “I always have the Chester Brochure in the store and people constantly pick it up as they explore the rest of the town. It helps them find what’s just around the corner or down the road.”

Leslie Strauss, of Century 21 Heritage Company, says, “Very often newcomers to the area are in need of a quick guide for professional services like doctors, lawyers, engineers and accountants. We always send the Chester Brochure out with our relocation packets.”

Sosse Baker, of Chester Gallery, adds, “I use my own copy as a Chester directory – it’s my go-to resource for information of phone numbers and hours for all the other businesses.”

Ads in the brochure cost $200 or $400, depending on size. The deadline for ad submission and payment is July 15. For more information, email chestermerchants@gmail.com or call Leslie Strauss at 860-526-1200.

Local Library Directors Celebrate World Book Night at the Adams Shopping Center

world book night

Susan Rooney (right), the new Deep River Library Director, and Linda Fox, the Chester Library Director, represented their respective libraries at the Adams Shopping Center on April 23 as part of World Book Night. They gave away free copies of The Girl With the Pearl Earring by Tracy Chevalier.

World Book Night is an annual celebration dedicated to spreading the love of reading, person to person.Each year on April 23, tens of thousands of people go out into their communities and give half a million free World Book Night paperbacks to light readers and non-readers. Not only is World Book Night about giving books. It’s also about people, communities and connections, about reaching out to others and touching lives in the simplest of ways—through the sharing of stories.

Veterans Annual Corned Beef Dinner – Mar. 10

Veterans and members of Essex Veterans Memorial Hall in Centerbrook are holding their annual Corned Beef Dinner on Sunday, March 10.

From noon to 6 p.m. , a corned beef dinner complete with potatoes, cabbage, carrots, Irish soda bread and dessert will be served. Adults pay $10 at the door; children pay $5. Anyone who prefers take-out, may request it.

Proceeds from the dinner support our veterans and those currently serving our country. Recently, Ivoryton resident Hunter Sanford was deployed, so the members of the Veterans Memorial Hall will be sending him packages from home.

If more information is needed, call 860-767-8892.

Bag of Bones – Chester Historical Society Invitation to Artists

What might you create from this “bag of bones” for the Chester Historical Society’s Bone Art Challenge this winter? Dating back to the Bishop and Watrous Novelty Works in Chester in the 1930s and ‘40s, these “bones” were intended to be handles for flatware and crochet hooks (photo courtesy of Skip Hubbard)

What might you create from this “bag of bones” for the Chester Historical Society’s Bone Art Challenge this winter? Dating back to the Bishop and Watrous Novelty Works in Chester in the 1930s and ‘40s, these “bones” were intended to be handles for flatware and crochet hooks (photo courtesy of Skip Hubbard)

The Chester Historical Society has come up with another fun challenge linking Chester history and art.  This spring, those accepting the 2013 Bone Art Challenge issued by the Historical Society will be working with a “bag of bones” from the Bishop and Watrous Novelty Works. The “bones” were likely to have been handles for flatware or crochet hooks made in the 1930s and ‘40s at the Bishop and Watrous factory on Maple Street in Chester.

As with the Brooks for Hooks Challenge and the Bates Square Roots Challenge offered by the Chester Historical Society in past years, the Bishop and Watrous Bone Art Challenge is for area artists, sculptors, photographers, engineers, jewelry designers, and all others with a creative mind.

Anyone who wants to take the challenge can stop in at the Chester Gallery on Main Street in the center of Chester to fill a bag with up to 25 bones to create a piece of “Bone Art” for an entrance fee of $25, which includes a ticket to the event. The finished works will be exhibited and sold by silent auction at the Historical Society’s Bone Arts Champagne Reception on Saturday, March 23 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at the Chester Meetinghouse.

For more information, call Sosse Baker at Chester Gallery at 860-526-9822.

Collomore Opera Concert in Chester Featuring Timothy McDevitt Oct 7

Baritone Timothy McDevitt will perform at Chester Meetinghouse on Oct 7

The 39th season of the Collomore Music Series in the historic Chester Meetinghouse opens on Sunday, Oct. 7 with baritone Timothy McDevitt, who has recently gained recognition winning the Metropolitan Opera’s New York District Competition and as a finalist in the Paris Opera’s Atelier Lyrique Competition.

With a 2011 master’s degree from the Juilliard School, McDevitt’s Chester concert is this year’s Barbara and Edmund Delaney Young Artist Concert. His active recital schedule also includes recent New York appearances at Alice Tully Hall and Carnegie (Weill) Recital Hall.

Tickets for the 5:00 p.m. concert are $21. For students from elementary through graduate school, a ticket is $5. If you’re interested in attending all four concerts of the 39th Collomore season, a subscription is just $63 or $15 for students (that’s four concerts for the price of three). All ticket-holders are invited to stay for a reception after the concert to meet McDevitt. Ticket info: (860) 526-5162 or www.collomoreconcerts.org. The Chester Meetinghouse is located on Goose Hill Road in Chester. Check the website for information on all four concerts in the 39th season.

Chester Library Book Discussion Group Popular with Students

On two evenings in August, several dozen Valley Regional students gathered at the Chester Library to discuss one of the books on their school’s required summer reading list with Chester resident Sally Murray. Shown above are a few of the attendees, left to right, David Ramage, Megan Winslow, Morgan Winslow, Kenna Campbell and Ben Bourez.

A pizza supper followed the book discussion at the library for Valley Regional students. Shown here is Anastasia Cusack-Mercedes of Chester

By attending the discussion, students received a certificate from the library to turn in to the school.

Sally Murray led the high school book discussion evenings at the library

Chester Museum at The Mill Views the Civil War from the Home Front

Hannah Watkins, a college student and poet from Chester, recorded three letters written in 1862 by Nancie Ayers, her 20-year-old great-great-great-great-aunt, to her brother, a Civil War soldier. The letters can be heard on SoundSticks at the new exhibit at the Chester Museum at The Mill. (Photo courtesy of Keith Dauer).

After spending the 2011 season viewing the Civil War through correspondence primarily from soldiers at the front to their families and friends back home, the Chester Historical Society is now balancing what was happening at the front with what was happening at home.

Through correspondence, town records, church records and artifacts, a picture of Chester in 1862 emerges in the Chester Museum at The Mill’s new seasonal exhibit, “Beyond the Battlefield.” Featured in the exhibit are letters between a brother and sister, correspondence from a Union surgeon to his wife advising her on gardening necessities at home, records of the local Congregational Church (now the United Church), and the tools and implements used in Chester’s homes and shops. The result is a picture of life at the home front while the Civil War raged in other areas of the country.

The exhibit was chaired by Keith Dauer and Sandra Senior-Dauer. The Dauers, retired history teachers and Chester residents, say that their interest in the Civil War has been growing since they were in college. Keith went to college in Virginia, where he was taught about the “War of Northern Aggression” by a professor who called President Lincoln a “hairy baboon.”

One of the most poignant aspects of the exhibit,  the Dauers say, are the letters between Willis and Nancie Ayers, a brother who saw action in Northern Virginia and was captured by Confederate forces at Chancellorsville in 1863 and his sister who was living in Chester. Portions of her letters have been recorded for the exhibit by Hannah Watkins, the great-great-great-grandniece of Nancie Ayers. Nancie’s words come to life on SoundSticks in the exhibit.

The exhibit also contains Silliman inkwells, which were produced in Chester and carried by hundreds of Union soldiers, so they could write home to their families. Also of interest at the Museum this year is a new Chester history treasure hunt for children and their families.

The exhibit is open to the public for the 2012 season along with the award-winning permanent exhibit, “Streams of Change: Life & Industry along the Pattaconk.” Regular weekend hours are Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. through October. Admission is free. The museum is located at 9 West Main Street (Rte. 148) in Chester (exit 6 off Rte. 9).

Chester Historical Society is partnering with five other societies (Middletown, Haddam, East Haddam, Deep River and Old Saybrook) in a two-year joint promotion of the six museums and historical homes titled “Get Lost in Heritage.” Visitors to the sites can enter a drawing for overnight stays at two area inns and receive free “Get Lost” wrist bracelets. Info: www.ctriverheritage.org or 860-526-5765.

Iva Bittova, Vocalist, Violinist, Avant-garde Performer at Chester Meetinghouse April 22


Moravian-born Iva Bittova, vocalist, violinist, avant-garde performer, will be the featured musician at the third concert of the 38th season of the Robbie Collomore Concert Series at the Chester Meetinghouse on Sunday, April 22 at 5 p.m.

Iva Bittova is renowned for giving unique performances that draw upon her training in drama, classical violin and singing. Influenced by jazz, rock, Czechoslovakian folk music and classical violin training, Bittova creates vocal and violin sounds than have always been described as thrilling and impossible to categorize. As expected from an actress featured in a Czech film nominated for an Academy Award in 2004, her performances have a dramatic cohesion that is spellbinding. She will be accompanied by George Mraz, jazz bassist and alto saxophonist.

The Collomore Concert Series bring high-caliber, visiting musicians to Chester four times a year. Each performance is followed by a simple reception to mingle with and meet other music lovers and the performer. Tickets are $21 for adults and $5 for students. For information and tickets, call 860-526-5162 or visit www.collomoreconcerts.org. Iva Bittova’s performance is sponsored by First Niagara Bank.

Greek Tragedies will Come Alive at Chester Library

With so many new books being published every day, why would anyone want to read books written in Greece almost 2500 years ago?

Just ask Charlotte Rea, who will be leading a series of three evening discussions on three Greek tragedies in April at the Chester Public Library. Rea, the former Head of School at the Williams School in New London, has an academic background in English and theater, including Greek drama.

“They are a good read,” she says firmly. “They are great stories that capture human purpose, drive, action, guilt and knowledge at its most elemental, intense, and ennobling.”

Rea draws a parallel between life in Greece 2500 years ago and our American society today. “The tragedies were written during a time of Athenian prosperity and stability, during the best periods of a working democracy (as they defined it – adult free males only).  In the background, though, was the memory of recent wars and the mounting tensions with neighboring city-states, such as Sparta. Prosperity and stability in a time of tension, doubt, worry and cultural divides – sound familiar?”

The three plays, by Sophocles and Euripedes, are “Oedipus Rex,” “Antigone,” and “The Trojan Women.” In “Oedipus,” the Greeks asked how we find the truth and what choices do we make in our journey to see and to understand. “Antigone” raises the question of the individual’s right to act on a personal belief system when respect for civic stability requires cooperation. “The Trojan Women” makes clear the timeless, seemingly inevitable consequences of war for the survivors. The discussions will begin Wednesday, April 11, with “Oedipus Rex”; move on to “Antigone” on April 18; and end on April 25, with “The Trojan Women.”

“The plays have lasted as ‘classics’ for almost 2500 years – why?” Rea asks. “What do they teach us about the human condition and quest for meaning? In a period of quick changes and rapid alterations in communication, landscape, and attitudes, which human values have endured through the centuries? Which have not?”

Rea notes that the plays are easy to read and short, requiring an hour or so to read (though the former schoolteacher admits to encouraging a second reading).

Registration is required for these programs, which are brought to you by the Friends of Chester Public Library. Call the library at 860-526-0018, or visit the library website at www.chesterct.org/library.php to register. All discussions will be at Chester Public Library from 7:30 to 9 p.m.

Books will be available for loan at Chester Library. Those interested in ebooks may want to check out the texts available through Project Gutenberg.

Chester Historical Society Presents Free Program about Chester “Characters”

Shirley Miceli started working in Collins Pharmacy on Main Street (which she later bought and renamed Chester Pharmacy) during her college summers. She remembers the early years of being a pharmacist when many prescriptions (capsules, ointments, suppositories, liquids) were compounded - made by hand, right there in the store. She ran the pharmacy just short of 40 years, closing it in 1989. This photo is from the 1960s. Shirley still remembers when she was held up at knifepoint inside the pharmacy, but the robber got away. Later a TV crew reenacted the burglary on a crime show to see if the man could be identified by any eyewitnesses. (Photo courtesy of Rob Miceli)

What makes Chester the town it is? Many residents would say it’s the people who live or have lived and worked there.

On Sunday afternoon, Feb. 26, at the Chester Meeting House, the Chester Historical Society will present another in its series of programs about the colorful “characters” who have called Chester home for their family and their business.

As Historical Society president Skip Hubbard says, “As much as we often think of buildings and artifacts as history, it’s really about people – what they did, what they experienced, how they adapted and how they succeeded. That’s why we like to offer the ‘Chester Characters’ programs, as an opportunity to hear the stories of the people.”

Robbie's was a Chester Village institution for many years. From the Kate Silliman Scrapbook: "Robbie Collomore, born in Chester and a graduate of Chester High School,

A couple of “characters” who are still living will share how their Chester businesses got started along with interesting stories that happened to them.  Other “characters” will be described by family members or in some cases by their close friends or employees. This winter’s “Characters of Chester” will feature: Harry Archambault, the founder of Archambault Insurance Agency; Shirley Miceli, the pharmacist and owner of Chester Pharmacy; Robbie Collomore, the owner of Robbie’s store; John Dengler, owner of Dengler’s Service Station; Jim Grote, Chester Hose Co. chief and fire marshal; and John Zanardi, the original proprietor of John Zanardi Oil Co., Inc.

Come learn the history of what made Chester such a special place to live and work. As with all Chester Historical Society programs, audience participation is encouraged. We welcome your own stories of these Chester “characters.”

The program will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. It is free and open to the public. Light refreshments will be served.

 

 

 

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