Tag Archives: Westport Downtown Merchants Association

Trimming The Angela Trucks Tree

Scores of Westporters turned out yesterday to honor a wonderful Westporter.

And they did it in a very fitting Westport way.

Angela Trucks — who died last month at 69 — was co-chair of the town’s Beautification Committee. She dedicated her local life to making Westport look good. She was particularly involved in the Re-Greening of the Post Road.

So what better place to light a fir tree — symbolizing beauty, warmth and freshness — than on the Post Road?

The tree sits in front of Jesup Hall — Westport’s original Town Hall. It was donated and decorated by Terrain.

The patio was filled with people of all ages. There was music, mulled wine from Rothbard’s, and s’mores courtesy of Amis.

The Westport Downtown Merchants Association contributed ornaments and tags. People wrote loving thoughts of Angela, or other loved ones.

(Photos/Ted Horowitz)

Thanks to all, for this special way to honor Angela’s Re-Greening of the Post Road.

Tree Lighting Honors Angela Trucks

When Angela Trucks died last month at 69, she left a legacy of beauty.

Angela Trucks

As co-chair of the town’s Beautification Committee for well over a decade, she championed the Re-Greening of the Post Road. The project encouraged business owners to take pride in their property, with the most outstanding “streetscapes” recognized at an annual awards ceremony.

Today, great streetscapes include Terrain and Jesup Hall. So it’s fitting that both are collaborating on a memorial tree lighting that celebrates Angela’s life.

The event is this Saturday (December 7, 5:30 p.m.), on the Jesup Hall patio. Attendees are asked to bring coats and/or clothing, to benefit Homes with Hope.

Terrain donated and decorated the tree. The Westport Downtown Merchants Association is contributing ornaments and tree tags, so people can write warm thoughts of Angela or a loved one they’d like to remember.

The tree lighting is part of a “Holiday Jam” (4 to 6 p.m.). It includes live music, and free warm drinks for kids and adults. Rothbard’s will provide complimentary mulled wine, while Amis will have a s’mores table.

But the tree lighting in Angela’s memory is the centerpiece. “Hang messages from its branches, to sparkle in the light,” her friends and colleagues urge.

And then enjoy the beauty — literal and figurative — of downtown Westport.

Angela’s friend from Terrain, Page Englehart, adds this tribute:

Angela lived in Westport for a quarter century. Seven years ago, having gardened every allowable nook in town (legally or otherwise), she signed up to help transform our Cadillac dealership into Terrain.

Angela was an original Mother Earth. She bemoaned homes that did not have a hose, shovel or garden tool of any kind. She loved sharing her knowledge of plants and design with her clients — those who wanted “just pink flowers,” those who had budgets, and those who did not. She was a master at inspiring people who had seen it all before, and those who confessed to knowing “absolutely nothing.”

Angela Trucks, hanging a basket on Main Street.

Angela was a team player. The physical work she led us to do was at times hard, but she was always the hardest worker among us. And although she’d send newbies to string outdoor lights on the waterfront side of properties in December, she was always there to help, encourage and indulge a good natter on whatever ailed you, anytime of day (particularly over a sandwich).

Her husband Bill made her iconic sandwiches (peanut butter and apple, turkey and homemade horseradish).  She’d tear off a section of the sandwich to share with you before loading her red Toyota Tercel with bags, brooms, branches, moss, plants, lights, wires and tools.

Angela never struggled with the small stuff.  She understood the ebbs of nature and its beauty in any season, how the woods blended, how each plant worked with the other. She understood the same of people.

When Angela fell ill, and when she was no longer popping over to clients’ homes despite her cancer, our Terrain folk thought of ways we could lift her spirits — when she came home, when she got better …. a Christmas tree in her honor, perhaps.

When she died, many clients came together to celebrate her imprint on our community: Terrain, the DMA, Jesup Hall and Amis. All felt the best way to memorialize her was with a seasonal tree decorated with natural ingredients — vines, cones, branches and metal tree tags, to sparkle in the light and ring in the darkness.

The tree tags also gave us the opportunity to make Angela’s tree the town’s tree, by encouraging everyone to inscribe a thought or wish before hanging them on the branches. Whether they knew her or not, these tags allow us all to connect with Angela’a good spirit, with her love of the natural world, with a wink.

When the tree comes down at the end of the season, we hope to collect the tags and give them to the Trucks family.

Halloween Parade Moves To Town Hall

Bad weather has moved the Children’s Halloween Parade scheduled for today  indoors.

Boo!

Instead, all festivities will take place at Town Hall, starting at 3:30 p.m.

Kids and parents can parade through offices. Entertainment and refreshments will take place in the auditorium, at 4 p.m.

Yay!

The event is sponsored by the Parks and Recreation Department, Downtown Merchants Association and Westport PAL.

Willkommen, Westoberfest!

If you’ve ever been to a German Oktoberfest — a real one — you know the drill.

Volks enjoy beer from steins the size of kegs, and sausages larger than pigs. They dance in lederhosen to oompah bands. It is quite a party, no?

Westport is not Munich. But if you want great fun without a passport, Westoberfest is the place to be.

The 2nd annual event — set for this Saturday (October 19, 1 to 5 p.m., Elm Street) — builds on the success of last year’s inaugural event.

A slew of restaurants, businesses and non-profits joins together for this fun afternoon in the heart of downtown.

A scene from last year’s Westoberfest.

It’s family-friendly, but let’s start with beer. Beginning at 2 p.m., over 30 New England craft breweries will offer more than 50 pours, for unlimited tasting.

But man does not live by beer alone. Rothbard Ale + Larder (of course!) and Kawa Ni (surprise!) provide traditional brats and pretzels, and untraditional spicy miso ramen, tofu pockets and sesame noodles.

Live music comes from StompBoxTrio. Nearby, there’s a classic car rally.

Meanwhile, kids enjoy pumpkin decorating, face painting, apples and a live animal exhibit.

Westoberfest is sponsored by the Westport Downtown Merchants Association, with support from The Grapevine, Westport Farmers’ Market, Air-cooled Car Company, Earthplace, Westport Museum of History & Culture, Artists Collective of Westport, One River, Gault, Princeton Review, Southern Tide, Lux Bond & Green and the Goddard School.

Prost!

(Advance ticket prices are $40 for 1, $70 for a pair, $320 for a party pack of 10. Click here to purchase. Single tickets are available for $45 at the gate.)

If Main Street Looks Messy …

Alert “06880” reader Sharon Fiarman has noticed a slew of empty storefronts — and a ton of construction — on Main Street.

She wondered what was going on. It’s a great question.

I asked Westport Downtown Merchants Association president Randy Herbertson. He says:

Major flood-proofing is going on in these spaces, which is why they are so ripped up.

It is a significant expense (which the old Chico’s space already went through), but necessary in these times of climate change.

(Photo/Sharon Fiarman)

We have some great new stores going in — a profile that makes sense for downtown Westport (versus the new Norwalk mall.)

Lululemon is expanding into the old Nike space, which will now include more experiential activities.

Johnny Waas, a clothing store, is going into the old Allen Edmonds, while Sundance (Robert Redford’s brand; only 16 stores nationwide) will be in the old Ann Taylor.

Also, at the far end (the old Talbots Kids) will be a new breakfast/lunch restaurant, with a beautiful outdoor patio facing the river.

And further up, Belden Place (the old Nappa space), which is almost done, has signed a specialty exercise tenant for their front space.

More to come soon!

Fine Arts Festival: Calling All Kids (And Adults)!

Westport’s Fine Arts Festival draws painters, photographers, sculptors — and art lovers — from around the country.

Plenty of residents browse stroll the stalls on Main Street.

But for a town that prides itself on its arts heritage, the number of local artists showing is limited.

This weekend (July 20 and 21, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), we’ll get our fill.

Following last year’s successful pilot, the Artists Collective of Westport hosts 2 activity tents for kids and parents. Set up at at Brooks Corner, they’re a spot for kids to show off their creatives sides. Drawing, rock painting, origami — you name it, it’s there for children to do.

Action in last year’s Fine Arts Festival children’s tent.

New this year, the Collective will set up a giant Art Experience tent on Taylor Place, near Tiffany.

Over 20 Collective artists have volunteered. There will be several at a time, leading interactive projects and demonstrating techniques and media. Among them: clam shells, eggs, ceramics, murals, wire, camera-less photos, Band-Aids, folded paper, paint and more. Susan Fehlinger is the Collectivist in chair.

Westport Artists Collective co-founder Miggs Burroughs remembers when he was a boy. His father Bernie was president of the Westport Artists Club. Miggs, his brother Trace, and many other local kids grew up surrounded by art. Illustrators, cartoonists and painters seemed to be everywhere — always giving back to the community.

“I have a great sense of pride carrying out his legacy, in some small part, by helping the Collective keep the visual arts alive and lively for generations to come.”

Some of this art may be featured in the Experience Tent.

Miggs will be in the tent, at the 46th annual Fine Arts Festival. He and many others will be working with youngsters at  Brooks Corner too.

Odds are good they’ll inspire at least one young artist. In 2083 — at Westport’s 109th Festival — he or she may be giving back to the next generation, just like Miggs and his very talented colleagues will do this weekend.

(The Fine Arts Festival — and the Westport Artists’ Collective participation in it — is a partnership with the Westport Downtown Merchants Association. For more information on the Festival, click here.) 

Sidewalk Sale Opens. Sidewalk Closed.

Shoppers flocked to Main Street, the Post Road and Playhouse Square today, for the Westport Downtown Merchants’ Association’s annual sidewalk sale.

Meanwhile, pedestrians had a mini-nightmare on Elm Street:

No worries. There are plenty of bargains to be had on the many open sidewalks throughout downtown.

And next year — when the Elm Street sidewalk is finished, and the new retail building is filled — there will be one more addition to the sale.

Fine Arts Festival Focuses On Future

It’s not easy getting into the Westport Fine Arts Festival.

Every year, organizers pick 175 artists from around the country. Every mid-July they fill Main Street with their painting, photography, sculpture, fiber, printmaking, mixed media, glass, ceramics, jewelry, wood and graphics.

Making the cut is tough. So is the juried competition that follows.

But the festival sponsor — the Westport Downtown Merchants Association — recognizes its responsibility to nurture up-and-coming artists too.

So this year — on July 20 and 21 — the 46th annual event will embrace artists you may not yet have heard about.

But with the Fine Arts Festival’s help, you certainly will.

Plenty of art — and art lovers — at Westport’s Fine Arts Festival.

The WDMA is partnering with the Drew Friedman Foundation and Silvermine Arts Center to highlight 3 young artists.

The Foundation — part of the bequest of the late downtown landlord, restaurateur and arts lover — will award one $3,000 prize, and two more of $1,000 each. Applicants are artists currently enrolled in MFA programs, or recent graduates of one.

The first prize winner in the Emerging Artists Program — chosen by a professional jury — will also be exhibited at Silvermine. The 97-year-old New Canaan organization encompasses an art school, educational programs, artists’ guild, permanent collection and 5 galleries.

This year’s Fine Arts Festival outreach also includes the Westport Library.

In recent years, the Festival coincided with the annual book sale on Jesup Green. Recognizing that the audiences for art and books often overlaps — and that the downtown venues are complementary too — both institutions have strengthened their ties.

Now — with the Library’s transformation project complete — the Fine Arts Festival will set up a tent on the riverwalk. The young artists’ work will be exhibited there on Friday night. There’s a reception in the library’s new café.

They’re invited too to the established artists’ Saturday night reception. Also honored there: several high school student artists, who will receive $5,000 Drew Friedman Foundation scholarships.

WDMA president Randy Herbertson and Silvermine board vice chair Robin Jaffee Frank are excited about the chance to encourage — and showcase — emerging artists.

Check out their work next month. In a few years, you can say “I knew them when.”

(For more information on the Fine Arts Festival, click here.)

Eva Amurri — And More — At Fashionably Westport

It’s taken a few years.

But now the stars have aligned. And today the Downtown Merchants Association announces its next new community event: Fashionably Westport.

On Thursday, May 16 downtown and Playhouse Square merchants will sponsor a great runway show in Christ & Holy Trinity Church’s Branson Hall. Entertainment includes DJ/Joyride spin instructor Mo Prestor, and comedian Leah Bonnema.

All models are local, including 2nd Selectman Jennifer Tooker, 3rd Selectman Melissa Kane, TV host/author/realtor Mar Jennings, and several kids.

The next day — Friday, May 17 — is filled with storewide happenings and promotions, including pop-ups, trunk shows and giveaways.

Over 30 downtown retailers and salons have signed on so far.

So has Eva Amurri Martino. The very popular lifetstyle influencer (and “Happily Eva After” blogger) hosts and emcees the fashion show.

Eva Amurri Martino

She’s an inspired choice. She, her husband Kyle Martino and their 2 young kids have just moved downtown. Part of the reason they bought where they did was the chance to renovate a beautiful, historic home.

Eva epitomizes the WDMA’s mission: finding ways to enhance and stimulate downtown.

She says, “As a mom raising my kids in downtown Westport — and a blogger who loves all things fashion AND party — I am thrilled to be participating in Fashionably Westport to support WDMA, the local merchants, and Project Return. I hope everyone comes out to party with us!”

“We’ve wanted an event like this for a while — something downtown that’s focused on and produced with the support of our merchants, that enhances the community and draws people in,” adds WDMA marketing and membershiip director Colleen Wiedmann.

The non-profit has sponsored several well-attended events already, like the Fine Arts Festival and Westoberfest.

Which is why a business like The Grapevine — the new liquor store in the old Crossroads Ace Hardware space — asked to be part of Fashionably Westport even before they opened officially earlier this month.

And it’s why Garelick & Herbs — neither of whose 2 Westport locations are downtown — is donating catering services.

Speaking of donating: The Downtown Merchants Association is giving part of their proceeds — including a raffle — to Project Return, the Homes with Hope program serving young homeless women.

It’s become fashionable lately to knock downtown Westport. Next month, Fashionably Westport will strut its very cool stuff.

(Click here for tickets to the May 16 fashion show, and for more information on   all of Fashionably Westport — including participating merchants.)

 

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A Very Savvy Outdoor Market

Annette Norton loves downtown.

Annette Norton

As the owner of Savvy + Grace — that cool, funky, crammed-to-the-gills-gift-and-more shop tucked underneath Tavern on Main — she is proud to be on the same Main Street she used to visit as a girl.

She has gotten to know many fellow merchants. Like her, they believe in Main Street. They feel supported by their landlords.

So it pains Annette that on busy weekends, her store and the sidewalks are filled with non-Westporters.

People come from throughout Fairfield County, New York and as far as New Jersey to shop here, Annette says.

But they don’t come from around the corner.

Annette wants Westporters to rediscover downtown. So on Sunday, April 28, she’s organizing an Outdoor Market.

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the private parking lot behind Savvy + Grace will be filled with local artisans. Nearly 2 dozen vendors will offer jewelry, terrariums, hand-designed greeting cards and more. Each has something special.

A few of the many items featured at the Outdoor Market.

One woman makes headbands for kids. Another paints faces on dolls. A non-profit will teach youngsters how to play instruments. Jane Green’s Remarkable Bookcycle will be there too (a few feet from its inspiration, the old Remarkable Book Shop).

There’s live music. Food. And plenty of fun.

Annette wants to show off the downtown she loves to a town that she thinks has turned sour on it. She wants people to mingle, browse, actually touch merchandise before buying instead of clicking a button online. She envisions a Westport version of a New York street market — with a special downtown touch.

She had no idea how much work it would be — finding vendors, getting permits, spreading the word — but it’s a labor of love. Once she gets Westporters downtown, she says, they’ll realize there’s a lot going on there.

The April 28 Outdoor Market will be held in the parking lot behind Savvy + Grace.

Annette’s landlord — Phillip Teuscher — has been very helpful. So has 2nd Selectman Jen Tooker, the liaison with the town. The Downtown Merchants Association is on board too.

“The Westport community is special,” she says. “After the flash floods, lots of people checked in to see if I was okay.” Now she wants those special people to come downtown not for a disaster, but to celebrate.

Annette is doing all she can to give back to downtown.

And if there’s any money left over when the Outdoor Market is done, she’ll keep giving back. A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Westport Moms’ downtown playground initiative.