In Connecticut’s northwest hills, summer blooms alongside the white-and-pink blossoms of its state flower, the mountain laurel. Cyclists in The Village Ride may just catch its faint fragrance as they churn along the country roads that slice through Litchfield County.
The three custom course routes vary by length to accommodate riders of any age and ability. No matter their route, cyclists wind past scenic towns and natural wonders such as lakes, rivers, and state forests. Elevation changes, which lie in wait at most every hill, offer an added heart-friendly challenge. The 25K route nears 700 feet, and the 100K route peaks at about 1,700 feet. After crossing the finish line at Ski Sundown, participants grab a catered lunch (available 11:30 a.m.–2 p.m.) or some brews from event sponsor Thomas Hooker Brewing Company while soaking in live entertainment.
Ride proceeds benefit The Village for Families & Children, a child-safety and family-resource organization. In 1809, The Village began its mission “to build a community of strong, healthy families who protect and nurture children.” Now, more than 200 years later and helping some 7,000 children each year, the organization maintains that goal through foster services, academic and socialization care, parental-skills programs, and family-crisis prevention and management services.
The Hershey Theatre, conceived in 1933 by noted philanthropist and chocolatier Milton S. Hershey, stands as an opulent tribute to the performing arts. Taking architectural cues from Saint Mark’s Basilica in Venice, the foyer’s towering arches gleam with golden paint and crystal chandeliers. The blue-and-gold mosaic that leads to the main seating area is the masterwork of two German artists who spent two years on its construction. Once inside the theater, audiences might think they’ve stepped onto the streets of Venice thanks to the atmospheric ceiling, stonework facades, and gondoliers paddling them to their seats. ####Bethel Woods Center for the Arts Music has permeated the 800 manicured acres where the Bethel Woods Center for the Arts has stood since 1969, when farmer Max Yasgur agreed to let love, peace, and harmony grow wild at the very first Woodstock festival. These days, the renowned outdoor venue and cultural center continues to attract the biggest acts in music to its pavilion stage. The open-air design ensures ample ventilation on the natural sloping lawn, and a roof protects up to 15,000 fans from inclement weather and the prying eyes of Cessna pilots.
Certified by the Professional Dance Vision International Dance Association, Van Dance’s graceful groove gurus walk pupils of all experience levels through ballroom and Latin dance sessions. Under the tutelage of competitive dancers Nicole and John van Koetsveld, students of South American shimmying can learn to unleash passionate tangos, jubilant cha-chas, and seductive sambas, and aspiring waltzers can study how to count to three. For those lacing up their dancing shoes for the first time, Van Dance recommends sampling the American-style of smooth and rhythm dancing, since it utilizes many of the most fundamental moves and comes in handy at common social dance events and tense test rooms for the Connecticut Bar exam. Most classes take place on evenings from Tuesday through Friday (check out the schedules for February and March.
The mood is lively and laid-back within Cuvée's sleek dining rooms, where guests lounge on cushy red armchairs at intimate candlelit tables. They raise thin flutes of champagne and glasses of specialty martinis over small plates of citrusy seafood ceviche, plump Italian meatballs, and fresh sushi rolls. Others linger over last bites of strawberry cheesecake, a dessert that reporters from NECN lauded as “simple, light and creamy.”
The Russian Lady's two locations, one in Hartford and one in New Haven, straddle the line between tradition and modernity. In the midst of Victorian wall sconces, orthodox church windows, heavy wooden doors, and neoclassical gilded gratings, guests dance to live music under the glow of neon lights. At both locations, a stone sculpture of Catherine the Great watches over the entrance and checks IDs as revelers peruse an extensive menu of red wines, single-malt scotches, and dozens of variations on a Russian staple: vodka. At the New Haven outpost, small plates from an internationally inspired tapas menu are paired with 40 draft beers, including eight local Connecticut brews.
For almost 40 years, Center Framing and Art has readied treasured keepsakes for indefinite stays on house walls. Owners Glenn Lazinsk and Lori Chozick preserve pieces with each customer's unique aesthetic in mind, maintaining an attention to detail that earned Center Framing & Art the title of Best Picture Framing Shop in 2008, 2009, and 2010, from Hartford magazine. Staffers complete all services onsite, surrounding prints, portraits, and diplomas with acid-free materials that guard against the damage of time. They also accept challenging assignments such as shadowboxes or 2-D aquariums for lazy goldfish.
Glenn and Lori advocate for the dissemination of fine art, displaying upward of 90 original paintings from both local and international artists inside the store. Their Saturday artist events permit up-and-coming painters, glassblowers, and sculptors to speak about and demonstrate their craft.
Center Framing & Art also emanates caring, neighborly vibes by amassing countless donations of sundries from guests, which Lori distributes to charitable organizations and those in need. Her dedication to the community merited the title of Greatest Person of the Day from the Huffington Post and a feature in the West Hartford Patch.