Tag Archives: Westport Farmer’s Market

Roundup: Motorcycle Ride, Political Signs, Finding Westport …

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The CT United Ride is a great event. The largest motorcycle ride in Connecticut travels through 9 towns — including Westport — paying tribute to the victims and first responders of 9/11.

But it also has a huge impact on traffic.

Tomorrow’s event starts at Sherwood Island State Park at 11:30 a.m. Riders take I-95 to Exit 17. They head up Saugatuck Avenue and Riverside Avenue, then follow straight on Wilton Road, into Wilton. T

The route is closed and continuous. With the assistance of a police escort, motorcyclists drive through traffic lights and do not stop at stop signs.

There will be long traffic delays along the route — 45 minutes or longer. Roads will be impassable, until the entire procession clears.

It’s an inconvenience, sure. But in comparison to what happened 20 years ago tomorrow, we all ought to be able to cope.

 

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As Election Day looms, lawns and traffic islands will be filled with political signs. And the Westport Police Department will field complaints about the removal of them.

The WPD says:

“Residents and visitors are advised against taking it upon themselves to remove signs that do not belong to them, from either public or private property.

“The enforcement of the town’s rules is the responsibility of the town of Westport, not that of private citizens. The removal of signs from public or private property by someone not authorized to do so by the town, or by the owner of the sign, may constitute theft.  Entering onto private property to remove signs may also constitute trespassing. Both of these acts can ultimately result in an arrest.

Town property includes traffic islands and road rights of way. It is not advisable to place signs on State of Connecticut property (including rights of way and islands along Routes 1, 136, 57, 33, and the Sherwood Island Connector, or on the exit or entrance ramps of I-95 or the Merritt Parkway) as the state may remove them.

In addition, signs may not be placed on school property without permission of the superintendent’s office, nor may they be put inside Compo Beach or Longshore, Town Hall, or on trees or utility poles. Signs my not interfere with traffic visiblity.

Signs on private property cannot extend beyond the property line or into the town right-of-way. They should be removed within 2 days after the election.

The political sign scene in 2012.

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Sure, wearing masks indoors — again — seems like a step backward.

But Molly Alger noticed an even more ominous sign yesterday at Stop & Shop.

Once again, the toilet paper aisle was bare.

(Photo/Molly Alger)

Is it a supply chain issue? Are we expecting a huge weather event? Or just an (excuse the pun) run on the product?

And — most importantly — where else in Westport can we stock up on TP?

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Every month, Jillian Elder directs 10% of sales from her “Finding Westport” online shop to a deserving local non-profit.

From now through October 10, it’s the Westport Farmers’ Market.

Click here to see all the tees, totes, mugs, stickers and buttons that can help support the market, and all the farmers who supply it.

A Finding Westport farmers’ tee.

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The 3rd annual Weston Flea is Saturday, September 18 (9 a.m. to 2 p.m., Weston High School). Over 60 vendors will sell tag sale items, furniture, crafts old and new, antiques and more.

Calise’s Market, Christophe’s Crepes and Skip’s Good Humor Ice Cream truck will be there too.

The event benefits the Weston Senior Activities Center. There’s a suggested donation of — can you handle it? — $1 per person.

Not the Weston Flea Market. But you get the idea.

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Hummingbirds are notoriously hard to photograph.

But JC Martin captured this one beautifully, for our “Westport … Naturally” feature.

Note: By way of comparison: The feeder is only 11 inches high.

(Photo/JC Martin)

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And finally … today is the 76th birthday of one of America’s most cherished musicians — and Weston’s own — Jose Feliciano.

Feliz cumpleaños!

 

 

Roundup: Food Rescue, Harvest Fest, Shred It! …

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Last month, Allyson Stollenwerck and her 12-year-old son Walker attended Wakeman Town Farms’ “Attainable Sustainable” panel.

They heard about Food Rescue US. The nonprofit’s app enables volunteers to pick up unused food from local restaurants and markets, and bring it to social service agencies.

Allyson and Walker signed up. Their first assignment was to bring leftover donuts and pastries from Coffee An’ to the Westport Housing Authority on Canal Street.

“It was super simple,” they report. “Food Rescue emailed great instructions, and it was a quick trip. We hope others give it a try.”

I have no idea why Coffee An’ does not sell out every day. But if they — and any other food establishment in town — don’t, it’s great to know that Food Rescue can help. (Click here for more information on Food Rescue US).

Walker Stollenwerck, rescuing food from Coffee An’.

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Alan Nevas has had a very full life.

The longtime Westport lawyer is a former Connecticut state representative, US Attorney for the District of Connecticut, District Court judge, and — following retirement in his 80s — a special counsel attorney.

Now he’s got another accomplishment. At 93, was the oldest runner among nearly 1,200 in the traditional Chilmark Road Race on Martha’s Vineyard. He completed the hilly 3.1-mile course, in hot weather, in 1:08.37.6.

Congratulations, Judge Nevas! (Hat tip: Susan Filan)

Alan Nevas

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Everyone’s got documents to shred. And who doesn’t want to support cancer research?

Both come together on Saturday, September 18 (9 a.m. to noon, William Raveis Real Estate, 47 Riverside Avenue).

Raveis is sponsoring “Shred it for Cancer Research.” Your stuff will be shredded as you watch. You don’t even have to leave your car.

There’s a suggested donation of $5 per shopping bag, $10 per box, $20 for a large garbage bag (cash or check).

100% of every donation benefits the William Raveis Charitable Fund, Damon Runyon Cancer Research Foundation and Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

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How’s this for a delicious combination: The Westport Farmers’ Market, and MoCA Westport.

An opening reception for “Between the Ground and the Sky” — a collaboarative exhibition — is set for August 27 (6 to 8 p.m., MoCA).

Guests can meet featured artists, enjoy custom cocktails from Bar MoCA, and check out the great new garden.

“Between the Ground and the Sky” features more than 50 stunning large-scale photographs by Anne Burmeister and Ashley Skatoff from the Who Grows Your Food initiative — a photographic journey celebrating the farms and farmers associated with the Farmers’ Market.

The exhibition also includes two site-specific installations by Kristyna and Marek Milde and the naturalistic works of Donna Forma. Click here for more information.

From “Between the Ground and the Sky.”

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Speaking of food:

Wakeman Town Farm’s biggest fundraiser of the year features seasonal fare by local farmers and chefs — plus libations, live music and more. Auctions include culinary, garden and travel experiences.

“Harvest Fest” — held outside, under a tent — is set for September 11 (6 p.m.).

Funds support youth education programs and outreach, such as free camperships to youngsters from Horizons Bridgeport, and families with limited income. Click here for more information, and tickets.

Scenes from Wakeman Town Farm’s Harvest Fest.

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Lisa, Alan and Ellie Doran write:

“Yesterday was the 3-year anniversary of the day we lost Rachel. [The 2015 Staples High School graduate — a rising senior at Cornell University, National Merit Commended Scholar, talented Players costume designer, and founder of “Rachel’s Rags,” a company that makes intricate cotton and fleece pajama tops and bottoms — died following a rare reaction to common medications.]

“In our ongoing mission to support families with critically ill children, we are holding an outdoor, family-friendly event (October 2, 4 p.m., Compo Beach).

“Rachel’s grandfather “Pa” pledged to walk 1,000 miles in his 80th year to honor Rachel, and raise money for Rach’s Hope. Please join us October 2 to Walk the Extra Mile with Pa and Team Rach’s Hope (or just cheer us on).

“At the end of the 1-mile walk, we will gather to celebrate Pa’s feat — and all your love and dedication to our charity — with a pizza truck, live music by Ellis Island, and beverages. PJs are optional, but encouraged!”

Click here for more information, and to register or donate.

Rachel Doran’s grandfather gets ready to walk. You can too!

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Run, don’t walk:

The Great American Relay starts in Boston, and ends in Santa Monica, California. There are 415 stages through 18 states, over 38 days.

It starts on 9/11 — the 20th anniversary of that fateful day, and raises funds to support the military and first responders. Runners can dedicate their stage to a first responder or veteran they care about.

Last year, Westonite Jeffrey Wollman was a support runner, from Fairfield to Westport. An avid racer — he’s run 8 marathons since 2015 — he is also the Fleet Feet Westport training group coordinator, and one of their coaches.

He’s participating again this year, as the lead runner from Westport fire headquarters to the Darien Fire Department. He’ll start his 8.3-mile stage on September 13, just before noon.

Eight spots are still available. For more information, or to join or donate, click here.

Dave Wright (Fleet Feet Westport owner, left) and Jeffrey Wollman.

 

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The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum is in Ridgefield. But there’s a strong Westport presence.

Board chair Diana Bowes is a longtime Westporter. Betty Stolpen Weiner is the new director of development. Claudia Lonkin — the visitor experience manager — is also a substitute teacher at Staples. And executive director Cybele Maylone is the granddaughter-in-law of former Board of Education chair Joan Schine.

All are exited about the Aldrich’s Artists at the Table (October 1). The “farm-to-museum” dinner in the Sculpture Garden features a locally sourced 3-course dinner prepared by Hayfields Market Catering. Guests and artists share a meal, engage in conversation, and celebrate local flavors and contemporary art.

Click here for more information, and tickets.

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Jill Amadio has quite a resume.

The Westporter has been a reporter in Europe, Asia and the Americas; a communications director with NASCAR and the US Olympic ski program; a ghostwriter of 14 memoirs for clients like Rudy Vallee’s wife, a US ambassador, a nuclear physicist, oil baron and more; and a mystery series writer.

Her new novel, “In Terror’s Deadly Clasp,” is based on a true story. It provides a rare, chilling glimpse of terrorists’ daily lives in America as they enjoyed strip clubs, fast food, fat bank accounts and freedom from their religious rules while planning the 9/11 attacks.

For more information, click here.

Jill Amadio

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Tricia Freeman describes today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo:

“This bullfrog hangs out a foot from my dock on Nash’s Pond. He doesn’t flinch when people walk by (hence my ability to get a closeup). I guess he been here longer than we have, because he’s not budging!”

(Photo/Tricia Freeman)

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And finally … on this day in 1868, French astronomer Pierre Janssen discovered helium.

 

Roundup: Bill Clinton, LobsterFest, Rugby …

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Last month, the Milwaukee Bucks won the NBA championship.

This weekend, the trophy came to Westport.

Billionaire owner Marc Lasry — he also dabbles in hedge funds — hosted a party at his Greens Farms home.

Former Fox News, NBC Sports and CNN TV personality — a fellow Westporter — was there.

From right: Dave Briggs, Marc Lasry and Briggs’ son Will pose with the NBA trophy.

So was a non-Westporter, from just over the New York border in Chappaqua.

Former President Bill Clinton is a longtime friend of Lasry’s. And — presumably — the Milwaukee Bucks.

Former President Bill Clinton and Dave Briggs, at Marc Lasry’s Westport home.

PS: Other big names in attendance: NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, players Bobby Portis and Pat Connaughton, head coach Mike Budenholzer, and CNBC’s Scott Wapner.

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Westport civic organizations sponsor many good fundraisers. A lot of them are fun.

But for money raised and good times, it’s hard to beat Westport Rotary‘s LobsterFest.

The early fall feast-and-more returns to Compo Beach for its 10th year on Saturday, September 18 (3 p.m. to 7 p.m.), following last year’s COVID cancellation.

LobsterFest is a townwide event. Food and entertainment from the Hot Rubber Monkey Band bring old friends together. It’s a great chance to meet (and welcome) newcomers too.

Children’s activities include a magician, glitter tattoos and face painting.

In past years, LobsterFest volunteers served 2,400 lobsters, 300 steaks and 1,600 ears of corn, and countless raw oysters.

In addition to the usual waterside dining option, there’s a new drive-through option for anyone wishing to eat their delicious Maine lobsters (and/or large steaks) at home, or at a less crowded part of the beach.

Funds support dozens of Rotary grants to local non-profits like Mercy Learning and Child Guidance of Mid-Fairfield County, plus humanitarian projects worldwide.

It’s a great value: $70 per person for 2 large lobsters or a 14-ounce New York strip steak — and corn, cole slaw, bread and butter, potato salad, Peppermint Patties, and all the beer or wine you can drink.

Tickets are available only in advance, online at www.westportrotary.org and directly from Westport Rotary Club members.

In 2016, not much remained of the 3,000 lobsters.

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For one day yesterday, Westport was the center of the rugby universe.

A special pre-draft event drew Major League Rugby scouts, coaches and star players, including Ben Foden to Staples High School’s Paul Lane Field. 

There was physical testing, professional coaching, laser timing and live scrimmaging. It was just like the NFL Combine, without the NFL Network cameras.

It was broadcast on the Rugby Network, however. And TV personality/ Westporter Dave Briggs was there. (It was not the biggest event of his weekend, though. See story above.)

He reports: “I was blown away by the strength (29 reps x 225 pounds), speed and toughness of these dudes. If I wasn’t so damn old and broken, I’d love to try.”

Click below for his interview with international star Ben Foden, and more.

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Everyone loves the Westport Farmers’ Market.

Here’s your chance to put your (well, someone else’s) money where your (well-satisfied) mouth is.

The WFM has made it to the final round of the American Farmland Trust’s 13th annual contest, ranking the best farmers’ markets in the country. The winner gets $2,500; 2nd and 3rd prizes are $1,500 and $1,000.

Click here to vote. The deadline is September 19.

And don’t forget to visit the Westport Farmers’ Market, every Thursday (10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Imperial Avenue parking lot) through November.

The Westport Farmers’ Market appeals to all ages. Let’s make it #1 in the country! (Photo/Margaret Kraus)

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From rugby to rockin’ the Levitt. Chicago native Isaiah Sharkey brought his gospel, jazz, R&B, blues, rock and funk music to the riverside pavilion last night.

A Grammy winner, he’s recorded and toured with John Mayer, Patti LaBelle, Paul Simon, Keith Urban, Boyz II Men, the Winans and many others.

Isaiah Sharkey

It did not take long for the crowd to dance.

(Photos/JC Martin)

This week’s Levitt lineup:

  • Tonight (Sunday, August 8): Mimi & the Podd Brothers
  • Tuesday, August 10: Tony Trischka, Banjo Master
  • Wednesday, August 11: Elena Moon Park & Friends
  • Thursday, August 12: The Sweet Remains
  • Friday, August 13: Baskin & Batteau, and Jesse Terry
  • Saturday, August 14: The Simple Radicals
  • Sunday, August 15: Dan Levinson’s Palomar Jazz Band

Click here for times and (free) tickets.

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From tomorrow (Monday, August 9) through Sunday, August 15, the Westport Domestic Violence Task Force is collecting back-to-school supplies. They’ll go to residents of the 2 Domestic Violence Crisis Center safe houses in the area.

Items needed include new and unused backpacks and lunch boxes, notebooks, pens, pencils, highlighters, crayons, graphing calculators, and diapers.

Donations can be left in the collection bin in the lobby of the Westport Police station, 50 Jesup Road.

For information on Westport Domestic Violence Task Force initiatives, click here.

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Work continues on what is rumored to be an Amazon Go store. That’s the new grab-and-go technology. There are no checkout lines; you pay via an app.

The old Barnes & Noble — and Marshalls shoe store next door — has been gutted.

Meanwhile, the adjacent former Mobil Self-Serve has finally been leveled.

(Photos/Dan Woog)

On Wednesday, the Board of Selectmen were slated to vote on a temporary exit from the construction site, onto Morningside Drive South. Neighbors objected, citing safety issues with nearby Greens Farms Elementary School. The item has been withdrawn from the agenda.

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Local to Market continues to offer fresh, locally grown produce on Saturdays, on its patio at the former Talbots by the Main Street entrance to Parker Harding Plaza.

Shoppers enjoyed these selections yesterday:

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Time again for “Westport … Naturally” to feature a deer.

Hey — we’ve got plenty of deer. Not to mention, deer photos.

(Photo/Karen Weingarten)

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And finally … today is August 8. You know: 8/8. So of course this is our song of the day.

PS: It’s one of many that have been called “the first rock ‘n’ roll record ever.” I’m not going to wade into that swamp.

Roundup: Dogs, Deer, Teenagers …

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Yesterday’s rally against antisemitism drew Westporters of all faiths and ages.

Bedford Middle School 8th grader was there too. He took this compelling photo, capturing some of the sentiment at the scene.

(Photo/Preston Siroka)

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Staples Tuition Grants’ annual awards ceremony is one of the high school’s premier events.

Last year’s was particularly impressive. The organization — founded in 1943, with a $100 grant from the PTA — awarded $350,000 in need-based scholarships, to 129 students. Nearly half are seniors who graduate this month; the rest are Staples grads, currently in college.

The grants — ranging from $500 to $5,000 — will help them attend a total of 77 institutions, in 24 states.

Guest speakers included longtime STG donor Dick Fincher, and past recipient/current educator, EMT and Westport Local Press publisher Jaime Bairaktaris.

But — as always — the “stars” were the students. To learn more about Staples Tuition Grants, and donate, click here.

Staples Tuition Grants honorees. (Photo/Pamela Einarsen)

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As your dog enjoys the great outdoors, remember: June is dog license renewal month.

All dogs over 6 months old must be licensed. Fees are $8 for neutered male or spayed female, $19 for others. Additional fees apply for online applications.

A $75 infraction will be issued for any non-licensed dog, and any dog not wearing a current dog tag.

Click here for everything you need to know about dog licenses.

Can I see your dog’s license?

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Kami Evans is all about connections.

Usually she connects Westport shoppers and merchants, and businesses with businesses. Now she’s working with teenagers, through a Teen Job Fair.

ConneCTalent owners Jasmine Silver and Runa Knapp will talk about interviewing and follow-up skills, and conduct mock interviews.

It’s set for June 13 (10 to 11:30 a.m., MoCA Westport, 19 Newtown Turnpike).  Click here to register. The Teacher Marketplace is sponsoring the event.

How can teenagers get jobs? The Teen Job Fair can help.

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Speaking of teenagers: Westport Farmers’ Market‘s 5th annual Young Shoots Photography Contest opens soon. And you can be even younger than 13 to enter.

There are 3 age categories: 8-10 years old, 11-14 and 15-18. Any photo taken at one of the Thursday Farmers’ Markets is eligible. Judging is by a panel of local artists, and the public.

The contest runs from a week from today (June 10) through July 18. Winners — who earn cash prizes, special swag and membership to local art organizations — will be celebrated at Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center, with catering by Sugar & Olives. Click here to submit photos.

“Starstem” by Calista Finkelstein placed 1st in the 2016 contest, in the 8-10 category.

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What does it mean to be Asian American? That’s the title of a conversation next Thursday (June 10, 7 p.m.) Presented by the Westport Library, TEAM Westport and AAPI Westport, there’s limited seating at the library. But everyone around the world can tune in virtually.

Professors Erika Lee and Jason Chang are the guests. The discussion will be moderated by Westporter Heather Lee. They’ll explore Asian American life through a wide historic lens, as well as the current wave of anti-Asian discrimination and physical attacks, and AAPI communities uniting with others to create an inclusive and equitable society.

To register for in-person seating at the Westport Library, click here. To register for the Zoom link, click here.

A scene from Westport’s Asian-American rally, outside the Library.

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An event last night at Mancini Salon honored owner Carla Morales. The staff surprised her with a party, thanking her for all she did to get them through the pandemic year. She kept all her employees on, under difficult circumstances — and kept them and their patrons safe. The salon reopened exactly a year ago.

Congratulations, Carla. Here’s wishing you and Mancini a great summer! (Hat tip: Patti Brill)

Cheers at Mancini Salon.

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Sustainable Westport’s Zero Food Waste Challenge matching grant has a month left to meet its $7,500 goal. The deadline is July 2.

The aim is to double our town’s food scrap recycling participation in the next 6 months. Funds raised will educate and inspire residents about the project. Click here to donate.

Food scrap recycling – it’s easy!

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Tired of bears? For today’s “Westport … Naturally” photo, let’s go back to our old favorites: deer. Lauri Weiser spotted this cute one (in between nibbles) at her Lansdowne condo complex.

(Photo/Lauri Weiser)

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Speaking of deer: At least one baby was born yesterday, at Willowbrook Cemetery. May it rest — and romp — in peace.

(Photo/Danny Amoruccio)

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Westport Country Playhouse’s popular Script in Hand play reading series continues with “The Savannah Disputation.” The comedy — filmed on the Playhouse stage — will be broadcast virtually. It premieres June 14 at 7 p.m., and streams on demand from June 15 through 20.

In “Savannah Disputation,” Mary and Margaret are feisty Catholic sisters living in Georgia, who forget about Southern hospitality when a young Pentecostal missionary knocks at their front door to shake up their beliefs. The women call in their local priest for backup, in this entertaining examination of what it means to truly believe.

Click here for tickets and more information.

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And finally … in honor of Kami Evans’ initiative to prepare teenagers for the job market:

Roundup: Farmers’ Market Totes, Library Videos, Live Music …

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Westport Farmers’ Market shoppers are environmentally conscious. Most bring their own bags.

But why tote a ratty old Stop & Shop bag when you can carry your produce, honey, dog treats and more in style?

The Market just unveiled their 2021 Friend of the Market bag. It costs $40. But many vendors offer discounts to shoppers who show the current season’s bag.

Proceeds support community programs run by WFM, including:

We Care: support for marketgoers who are battling illnesses.

Farmer To School To Community: a partnership between Staples High School, the Gillespie Center and local farmers. Students learn about local ingredients, while helping neighbors in need.

Farmer To Kids To Community teaches Bridgeport elementary school students how to use local and seasonal ingredients in delicious, healthy meals.

Get Growing: weekly events and contests designed for younger visitors.

Young Shoots: in collaboration with the Artists Collective, a youth photography contest.

Recipe Program: helps customers create easy, healthy, delicious meals using fresh local products.

Bridgeport Rescue Mission: a weekly partnership rewards residents in BRM’s rehabilitation program for good behavior with an outing to WFM, where they collect food from farmers and vendors.

Farmer-In-Need: a fund to help vendors who fall on hard times.

Chef At The Market showcases top chefs who support local farms.

Farms To Veterans To Community helps veterans affiliated learn to prepare farm-fresh food, thanks to WFM’s vast chef network.

Click here for more information on FOM bags, and WFM programming. The market runs every Thursday at the Imperial Avenue parking lot.

Westport Farmers’ Market 2021 bag.

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Speaking of sustainability: Over 500 families are participating in Westport’s food scrap recycling program. Almost 10 tons are being diverted from the incinerator each month.

But Sustainable Westport hopes to do more — much more. Their goal is to double our town’s food scrap recycling participation in the next 6 months.

They’re spurred by a matching grant of $7,500 from Sustainable CT. Funds raised will educate and inspire residents about the project. Click here to donate.

The Paparo family was the first to use the transfer station drop-off food scrap recycling site, when it opened in July.

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The Westport Library’s website is filled with interesting and entertaining videos and podcasts.

Finding them, however, was not always easy.

The page — formerly the Library’s YouTube channel — has been redesigned. Searching is much more user-friendly and intuitive.

Click here now, for hundreds of programs, music recordings and podcasts.

In the future, just click “Resources” on the Library website menu bar.

Screenshot of the Westport Library’s video and podcast gallery page.

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“The Rocky Horror Picture Show” is usually associated with Halloween.

But there’s never a bad time for it. So — just in time for Memorial Day weekend — the Remarkable Theater has scheduled a showing of the cult classic.

It’s Saturday, May 29. The gate opens at 7:30 p.m. The show begins at 8:30. Click here for tickets.

Let’s do the time warp again!

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Speaking of movies: Staples graduate Justin Paul will be in the limelight again on September 24.

That’s the release date for the movie version of “Dear Evan Hansen.” Tony-winning star Ben Platt leads the cast. The score — by Paul and his musical partner Benj Pasek — won a Tony too.

The Broadway version — suspended due to COVID — returns on December 11.

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WABC-TV Eyewitness News featured 2 locations in last night’s report on the restaurant industry, as the pandemic eases: the Upper West Side, and Westport.

Local interviewees included Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce director Matthew Mandell, Manna Toast’s Jason Wiener, and diner Sharon Maddern. Click here for the segment.

Matthew Mandell is interviewed by WABC Eyewitness News on Church Lane.

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Tomorrow (Thursday, May 20) is Asian Gold Ribbon Day. Gold ribbons — symbolizing opposition to anti-Asian violence — will be available for pickup tomorrow at the Westport Farmers’ Market (Imperial Avenue parking lot), and today and tomorrow at Arogya (131 Post Road East).

 

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Live music continues for outdoor dining on Church Lane this Friday.

From 6 to 9 p.m., a band called Picnic on the 4th of July provides entertainment.

Members include Westporters Louis Fuertes and Pat Blaufuss. The string band specializes in traditional American roots and bluegrass music, with plenty of rock, folk, jazz and blues tossed in.

Westporters may know them from the Westport Downtown Association’s Holiday Stroll. This event too is sponsored by the WDA.

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Speaking of entertainment: Westport Country Playhouse Radio Theater — a free broadcast series — presents its first audio play, “The Return,” on Saturday, May 29, (noon; rebroadcast on Sunday, May 30, 4 p.m.). It’s on all WSHU stations, and www.wshu.org.

“The Return” is a haunting tale, based on a Thai folk legend. It takes place after World War II, when a young soldier returns to his village to reunite with his wife and new baby. He is finally home — yet he feels completely alone.

Run time is 35 minutes. A brief discussion with the director follows. Click here for more details.

After broadcast on WSHU, the show will be accessible on the Playhouse website from May 31 through June 20.

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A recent “06880” photo of the lake that forms on the Compo Beach entrance road every time it rains — or drizzles — drew plenty of comments. But the photo I ran to illustrate it was just meh.

JC Martin has a much better one. He shot it a couple of years ago. But it’s a great way to illustrate the story — and to welcome another summer of sopping-wet fun.

(Photo/JC Martin)

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These signs appear every so often in Parker Harding Plaza.

(Photo/Dan Woog)

A reader wants to know: What is “Open Parking”? It’s always been free. Does it mean “no time limits”? If so, why not say it?

Whatever the answer: Enjoy!

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Speaking of signs: This one on a fence near North Avenue is a little hard to figure out at first — it’s “Stop Noise Pollution / Ban Leaf Blowers” rather than “Stop Noise Pollution Ban” — but it reflects the sentiment of a segment of Westporters.

(Photo/Carl Addison Swanson)

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And finally … today is the birthday of 2 of the music world’s rockingest rockers.

Pete Townshend — the Who’s co-founder, guitarist and songwriter — turns 76. Joey Ramone was born 70 years ago; he died a month before his 50th birthday, of lymphoma.

These songs — among both bands’ many others — epitomized their eras.

And here they are … together.

Unsung Hero #189

Once again, the Westport Farmers’ Market has transitioned from its winter indoor season to the 6-month outdoor one. Executive director Lori Cochran-Dougall celebrates by nominating a stalwart support as “06880”’s Unsung Hero of the Week. She writes:

Becoming a legend takes devotion.

When I embarked on my early days at the Farmers’ Market, I kept hearing about a legendary farmer. I heard about Sal Gilbertie’s books, his knowledge of organics, his family business in Westport, his devotion to his church, and his community involvement in Easton and Westport with agriculture.

Each time his name was mentioned, it came with a compliment and admiration.

Sal Gilbertie, in the field.

When I met Sal, we formed a friendship that has lasted over a decade. He always has a quick, warm smile and a hug for people dear to him.

Though I want to say ours is a special friendship, the reality is that Sal makes everyone feel as if they are special to him.

For me, he has supported my desire to help local farmers and small mom-and-pop businesses. When I was new and didn’t know anyone — and I wasn’t a farmer myself — he took time to introduce me to other farmers. He put his seal of approval on my efforts.

After my successful first summer at the Westport Farmers’ Market, I had an idea. One weekend that fall, Sal and I went to an agricultural event. I saw his beautiful old truck with the Gilbertie’s Herb Garden logo.

I asked, “What would you think about the Farmers’ Market renting a greenhouse at Gilbertie’s and opening a winter market?” Without hesitation he said, “Sure!”

One thing I love about farmers in general: Their word is their bond. Sal is a great example of this type of honor. His willingness to help people, to believe in them, and his desire to support his community gave us a home for the past 10 years. It is a winter event haven for many Westporters.

Speaking of Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center on Sylvan Lane: It turns 100 years old in 2022!

Year after year, this family-owned business continues to grow. They’ve watched farmland turn to houses and businesses come and go, yet they have survived (and thrived) in the same location.

Sal Gilbertie

With Sal at the helm, they reinvented their business as demands have changed. It is exciting to think about celebrating this family, this man and this business as a community.

Sal now spends most of his time in Easton. He continues to farm organically, and recently embarked on a micro-greens business at the state-of-the-art facility he created there.

I am jealous of his energy, which comes from love. He loves what he does. He loves the land. He loves his family and the business they created. With that kind of love, energy is boundless.

Sal is devoted to his faith. If you attend his church on Easter or most holidays, you’ll find the altar covered in flowers. Sal is the reason it brims with greenery. He carries truckloads of plants inside, and places each one himself.

Each morning as I head to work or get the kids to school, I see Sal’s car in the parking lot for morning Mass.

There are many more stories I could share about this man who has been such a great friend to me and the Westport Farmers’ Market. With the type of devotion Sal has, he is truly a legend – and in this case, an Unsung Hero.

One more shot of our Unsung Hero.

(To nominate an Unsung Hero, email dwoog@optonline.net)

Roundup: Farmers’ Market, Outdoor Dining, Charlie Capalbo …

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One of the surest signs of spring is the return of the Westport Farmers’ Market.

Mark your calendars for Thursday, May 13. The Market will run every Thursday, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., through mid-November, at the Imperial Avenue parking lot. Cross Culture Kombucha will offer a special toast, to celebrate WFM’s perseverance through the pandemic.

The Market’s shopping experience and programming (including Get Growing, Music @ the Market, Artist Alley, Chef @ the Market, Friend of the Market and Young Shoots) will operate much like before COVID — while honoring all state and local health guidelines.

Over 50 vendors will participate this season (click here for the full list), with over 30 on site each Thursday. New vendors include

  • Parlor
  • Stonington Kelp Farm
  • Edenesque (alternative dairy)
  • Tribus Brewery
  • Sprout Juice Bar
  • Stylish Spoon
  • And more.

For more information, click here or email   director@westportfarmersmarket.com.

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State and local officials wanted to support for outdoor dining. What better spot to do it than an actual restaurant.

Yesterday, the group gathered at Tarantino’s. They discussed a new state expansion of rules, and the possibility of making them permanent. Removing parking, adding seating on Railroad Place, and the use of town- and state-owned parking lots were among the concepts.

Dining and discussion at Tarantino’s (clockwise from left): 2nd Selectwoman Jen Tooker, Police Chief Foti Koskinas, 1st Selectman Jim Marpe, State Representative Jonathan Steinberg, Westport Weston Chamber of Commerce executive director Matthew Mandell, State Senator Tony Hwang, State Representative Stephanie Thomas.

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A few spots remain for tomorrow’s (Saturday, May 1) Fleet Feet 5K and kids’ fun runs. The youngsters start at 9:30 a.m., with the 5K following at 10. Click here to register.

Both kick off the 2nd annual Fitness & Health Expo. The event takes place all along Main Street (10 a.m. to 4 p.m.), but many more businesses and organizations are involved.

Westport’s leading studios and clubs — including JoyRide, Pure Barre, Row House, Elliptica, Intensity, Physique57, Club Pilates, Saugatuck Rowing Club, The Dance Collective, Stretch Lab, Kaia Yoga and the Westport Weston Family YMCA — will organize fun (and challenging) classes on main Street.

Walk-ups are not permitted for classes. To register, contact each studio directly. Observers are welcome, of course!

Other health and wellness folks will have a presence too: Franny’s Farmacy, RESTORE Cryo, Cparkly Soul, Wisdom and Youth MedSpa, Embrace Orthodontics, New England Hemp Farm, TAP Strength Lab and Organic Krush. It’s sponsored by the Westport Downtown Association.

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Jill Bodach is an adjunct professor at Fairfield University. Describing Charlie Capalbo — the Fairfield resident whose grandmother is Westport writer Ina Chadwick, and who has fiercely battled cancer twice — she says:

“Over the years, I have had the privilege of being allowed into some of my students’ most intimate moments: the grief of losing loved ones, the end of relationships, engagements and graduate school acceptances, but never has a student’s story impacted me as deeply as Charlie’s.

He was enrolled in my Creative Writing: Fiction 1 class this semester but before classes could really begin, I learned he wouldn’t complete the semester due to his treatment. I wanted to help. Maybe it was because I saw this handsome, curly-haired young man’s face on my class roster and thought, ‘Wow, the world can be so incredibly unfair sometimes. Maybe it was because I’m a parent myself. Maybe it was because my son Jack was very sick when he was born and my husband and I endured the mental and emotional rollercoaster of having a hospitalized child. Maybe it was because as we emerged from the dark isolation of the pandemic I felt the need to connect with others deeply and more fervently than ever before.

When Jill’s trainer challenged her to run 100 miles in May, she saw it as a way to help Charlie.

When he told Jill during a text that he uses Uber Eats regularly — and she thought about the important role food plays in our lives — she had an idea for a fundraiser.

“I will think of Charlie with every step I take,” she writes of her 100-mile goal. “I am in awe of his courage, bravery, resilience and grit …. Someday Charlie will be back on the ice, back on campus and back to enjoying his life, but in the meantime, I’m grateful to be able to help.”

All proceeds from “Fuel for the Fight” will purchase Uber Eats gift cards for the Capalbos. Their expenses have been enormous. Click here to contribute.

Charlie and his mother, Jennifer Wilde Capalbo — with food.

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Attention, middle schoolers looking for an in-person social justice theater camp:

Check out Camp WCP. That’s the newest offering from the Westport Country Playhouse. It runs July 6 through 30, weekdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the rehearsal studio.

Actin will be taught in the morning, playwriting/production in the afternoon. Young artists  will create original pieces focusing on “What does home mean to you?” Working with playwright and University of Michigan professor José Casas, they’ll weave their stories into a play.

On July 31, students will share their original creations at the Playhouse. with family and friends.

Registration begins Monday (May 3); click here.

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The Unitarian Church is nestled in the church off Lyons Plains Road. Nature is everywhere — including this photo by their director of social justice, David Vita.

“Dinner time,” he says simply.

(Photo/David Vita)

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And finally … Johnny Horton was born today, in 1925. If he hadn’t been killed in an automobile accident in 1960, there’s no telling how many other historical saga songs he could have recorded.

 

Roundup: Pizza, Pequot Library, Parkway …

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The Westport Farmers’ Market opens next month. But if you thought you were following them on Facebook, you might have missed the news.

During the winter, the WFM page was hacked. They lost over 8,000 followers — and the chance to inform them about news, vendors, special events and more.

They created a new Facebook page, and are rebuilding their following. But many people don’t realize they’re no longer “friends” with the WFM.

A generous supporter offered a “matching” Facebook challenge. If they reach 1,000 followers, the supporter will make donate $1,000 for WFM programs.

So, whether you think you follow the Farmers’ Market on Facebook or not, click here, then click the “Like” button. Then share that post with friends and family.

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Speaking of farms and food, here’s a way to keep ’em down on the farm: Pizza.

On Tuesdays starting May 4 (4 to 7 p.m.), “Tony Pizza Napolitano” will make 16-inch wood-fired cheese pizzas live at the Wakeman Town Farm oven.

Tony lives in Weston, and the pizzas he makes at The Grange are an 0688e legend. He uses “only top-quality local, organic ingredients — and love.” Click here for a rave review from Stephanie Webster’s CTBites.

Go to Facebook. Find “Tony Pizza Napolitano,” click “like” and follow the page. The weekly menu is posted every Monday morning. To order, send Tony a private message for a time slot. Once it’s confirmed, pick it up the next day at the Cross Highway farm..

It’s a perfect dinner — particularly if you’re already at Wakeman Field picking up the kids.

Tony Pizza Napolitano

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I don’t know whether the long-running Merritt Parkway project is done.

But — after a couple of years at least — all the construction equipment is gone from the Exit 41 parking lot.

It doesn’t look great. But it sure looks a lot better than it did.

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The Westport Library is seeking candidates for its Board of Trustees. Of particular interest: people with expertise in finance, fundraising and development for non-profits; knowledge and understanding of current trends in digital media and information technology, or a background in municipal government and/or not-for-profit law.

Trustees serve 4-yeare terms. Click here for more information.Interested candidates should email a resume and letter of interest to rpowell@westportlibrary.org. The deadline is April 23.

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Speaking of libraries: The Pequot’s great John James Audubon “Birds of America” exhibit is on display through May 2.

What’s the Westport hook (besides the fact that many “06880” residents love the historic Southport institution)?

The exhibit — and the many Pequot collections — are now safe for (hopefully) another 125 years.

A $1.5 million project to rehabilitate the endangered terra cotta roof was steered by 2 trustees, both from Westport.

Coke Anne Murchison Wilcox — member of a famed Texas family — majored in architecture at Princeton, then studied at Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture. She worked for several architects, including Philip Johnson. In the early 1990s Wilcox purchased The Maidstone Arms in East Hampton. She and her husband, Jarvis Wilcox, have 3 adult children.

Charlotte Rogan spent 25 years as a writer before her first novel was published in 2012. The Lifeboat was included on The Huffington Post’s 2015 list of “21 books from the last 5 years that every woman should read,” and has been translated into 26 languages. Her second novel, Now and Again, continued to explore issues of morality and justice. Rogan attended Greens Farms Academy when it was an all-girl’s school, studied architecture at Princeton University, and worked for a large construction firm before turning to writing.

The Pequot Library. with its famed roof.

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And finally … in honor of Tony Pizza Napolitano (above):

Roundup: Outdoor Dining, P&Z Records, Food Drive …

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Love outdoor dining? Think it’s too intrusive?

On Thursday, March 11, the Planning & Zoning Commission holds a public hearing. They’ll consider a text amendment that would continue outdoor dining for over 80 restaurants — which would otherwise expire March 31 — until further notice.

The text amendment would also be expanded to include certain retail businesses.

Click here for the full document. Click here for the retail portion

The March 11 meeting will be livestreamed at 6 p.m. on www.westportct.gov, Optimum channel 79 and Frontier channel 6020.

Comments can be emailed before the meeting to PandZ@westportct.gov, or during the meeting to PandZComments@westportct.gov. You can offer live testimony during the meeting if you request a link from maryyoung@westportct.gov by noon on March 11.

Romanacci’s Xpress was one of several Railroad Place restaurants with outdoor dining.

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Speaking of the P&Z: Did you know that Westport has digitized its back-office land use permit process?

Users can search for and view records — free! — by clicking here. It even comes with a handy how-to tutorial:

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The last Farmers’ Market of the winter is an important one.

On Thursday, March 11 (10 a.m. to 2 p.m.), the Market partners with Sustainable Westport to replenish 2 food pantries: Homes with Hope’s Gillespie Center, and  Christ & Holy Trinity Church. Both are running low.

Non-perishable items (canned goods, rice, beans, pasta, jams, sauces, etc.) can be dropped off at Farmers’ Market (Gilbertie’s Herbs & Garden Center, 7 Sylvan Road).

It’s rare to see canned food at the Westport Farmers’ Market. A week from tomorrow, it will be a very lovely sight.

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The other day, Positive Directions hosted Senator Chris Murphy, State Representative Jonathan Steinberg and 1st Selectman Jim Marpe.

They joined Westport Human Services, Kids in Crisis, Mid-Fairfield Child Guidance, NAMI and Fairfield Public Schools for a discussion on behavioral health needs during COVID and beyond.

Senator Murphy heard ideas he’ll bring to Washington. Other leaders shared best practices. Click here to learn more.

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Seth Van Beever is a proud son of Saugatuck.

Actually, a proud great-great-grandson. His great-great-grandfather, James Barnes Sr., was the first tender for what is now called the William F. Cribari Bridge.

Seth has followed the debate over the 133-year-old bridge’s future closely. So when he saw a photo of an innovative solution — a road in the Netherlands goes under the water, so boats can sail above it — he thought of us.

(Photo courtesy of @alic3lik)

That’s thinking waaaaay outside the bridge — er, the box.

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We dodged a bullet Monday.

High winds throughout Connecticut led to 18,000 power outages statewide. As of last night, there were still 4,600 Eversource customers without power.

Here in Westport, we had outages in only 3 scattered, small locations. As of last night, the only folks still without power here wee on Pheasant Lane, off Meeker Road.

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Nancy Vener took this photo from Saugatuck Shores. Stony Point is on the left; Longshore, on the right.

But what’s that blue light? She said it showed up on several photos, at different heights. If you know, click “Comments” below.

(Photo/Nancy Vener)

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Juanita Watson — a 30-year Westport Public Schools employee — died last Thursday. She most recently worked in Pupil Services.

Juanita Watson

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And finally … on this day in 1931, President Hoover signed a congressional act making “The Star Spangled Banner” our official national anthem.

For decades, it was sung the same way. During the 1968 World Series, our Weston neighbor Jose Feliciano broke tradition with this version.

The national anthem has never been the same.

 

Roundup: Farmers’ Market, 40 Under 40, Much Much More

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Westporters know our Farmers’ Market is the best.

Now it’s official.

American Farmland Trust has recognized WFM as #1 in Connecticut. It’s also #10 in the Northeast — and #26 in the nation.

It’s been a tough year for an organization that prides itself of close interactions between farmers and shoppers. But, notes executive director Lori Cochran-Dougall, “For the first time in our history, we operated 12 months in a row to tackle to challenges presented by the pandemic. We set up a strict, COVID-safe, pre-ordering system that served as a model for others.

“It wasn’t easy, but we felt a duty to our farmers, knew that farmers’ markets would be more critical than ever, and we met the challenge.”

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Connecticut Magazine’s has just named their annual “40 Under 40” (40 people under 40 years old, doing great things). Three — a full 7.5% of the list — are Westporters.

Congratulations to State Senator Will Haskell (age 24; Staples High School Class of 2014), fashion designer Christian Siriano (35), and sports financier Jordan Kessler (30, Staples ’09).

Click here for writeups on our 3 (and of course the 37 others). (Hat tip: Michael Catarevas)

State Senator Will Haskell

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The other day, Westport comic/Star 99.9 host Courtney Davis joined 4 top New York City comedians, in a virtual fundraiser. The group raised nearly $2,500 for empowerHER, the non-profit that supports and connects girls and young women who have lost their mothers.

Courtney Davis

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The Westport Country Playhouse is still closed. Until it reopens, all we’ve had are memories of our favorite shows.

Starting tomorrow though, there’s more.

The theater launches “From Concept to Curtain,” a virtual documentary series of 30-minute films. They offer free, behind-the-scenes looks at the creative process of putting together a Playhouse production.

The first episode is “In the Heights: Beyond el Barrio” (Thursday, February 4, 12 noon, at the Playhouse’s website and YouTube channel.

Host Marcos Santana — director and choreographer of the Playhouse’s 2019 production of “In the Heights” — performed on Broadway in the Tony Award-winning show.

The set, costume and lighting designers, and the music director, discuss their inspirations, challenges, what they would have done differently, and favorite moments from the show.

More videos will be announced soon.

“In the Heights,” at the Westport Country Playhouse.

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High school students interested in learning more about the art portfolio submission process for college are invited to a workshop this Sunday (February 7, 12 to 3 p.m.) at MoCA Westport.

The session includes lectures, slide presentations, Q-and-A and individual portfolio reviews (up to 5 samples). The cost is $75. Click here to register. For more information, email liz@mocawestport.org.

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The Y’s Women and 597 Westport Avenue Apartments (just over the Norwalk line) have teamed up to contribute food to Mercy Learning Center.

Jane Ferreira — president and CEO of the Center, the wonderful literacy and life skills training center for women in Bridgeport — returns the favor, as Y’s Women’s virtual guest speaker this Monday (February 8, 11:30 a.m.). She’ll talk about MLC’s educational and support services — and how they change the lives of not only their clients and families, but also volunteers and supporters.

Anyone can log on to www.YsWomen.org to view past speakers. And any woman in Fairfield County can join for just $45 a year. Email president Barb Stephen (dynamicr@icloud.com) to learn more.

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The Unitarian Church has 2 important — and timely — programs this weekend.

On Saturday (February 6, 10 a.m.), they’re sponsoring a virtual program on how to recognize domestic violence in today’s pandemic world,  and what to do about it. The program is open to the public, via Zoom meeting ID 875 7140 7113 (passcode 739121). Questions? Contact events@uuwestport.org or click here.

Meanwhile, the women of the church are launching a series of programs about the history of Black lives in America, and its effects on our country today. “Revealing History: How We Got Here, Why It Matters” begins Sunday (February 7, 10:40 a.m.) with a multi-media event called “Racial Injustice: From Slavery to Mass Incarceration.”

The program includes a speaker from the Equal Justice Initiative, founded by Bryan Stevenson; a musical work with voiceover from Desmond Tutu, and other notable artists and artwork. Click here for the Zoom link (the program begins after the regular Sunday service).

Questions? Email events@uuwestport.org.

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And finally … today in 1959, “the music died.” That’s Don McLean’s “American Pie” reference to the Iowa plane crash that took the lives of Buddy Holly, Ritchie Valens and J. P. “The Big Bopper” Richardson.