A three-day lineup stocked with jazz legends and emerging talents blasts through more time signatures than a clock’s checkbook to usher in the 16th incarnation of the Litchfield Jazz Festival. The Springs Center stage kicks off Friday with genre luminaries The Clayton Brothers, whose silky sounds light a fire under the crowd that fellow Grammy nominees Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue stoke with brassy flares. Saturday hosts a veritable who’s-who of mind-blowing musicians with NEA Jazz Master grant winner Roy Haynes Fountain of Youth Band blasting buttery sounds after a Ray Charles tribute featuring Davell Crawford belts harmonies more memorable than “Happy Birthday” sung in Klingon. A collection of performers worthy of a Gatsbyan soiree closes out the festival on Sunday, with a hip-swinging finale from Jimmy Heath.
Manny Miranda learned the art of winemaking from his father and grandfather, who hand-pressed their grapes in the courtyard of his childhood home in Portugal. Fifty years later, with the help of his wife Maria, Manny finally opened his own winery, Miranda Vineyard, and began fermenting delicately balanced vintages. In the past few years, wine-competition judges have taken notice: Miranda’s seyval blanc earned a 2010 Gran Harvester Award silver medal for its fruity taste, as light and crisp as a helium-filled apple. In addition, the Vinho Fino collected a 2010 Amenti del Vino International Wine Competition gold medal. The sprawling grounds of the winery play host to soft picnic blankets topped with lunching visitors, live concerts, Shakespearean performances, and tour groups of parched raisins.
Thunder Crest Performance Horses instructor Kait takes a relaxed and positive approach to instruction. She's honed this technique over an equestrian career that started when she was just 8 years old, when she was riding and jumping on competitive circuits and most other kids were only climbing aboard horses as a way to pass roller coaster height requirements. Her work as an instructor, coupled with experience at a local thoroughbred breeding farm have taught her one of the most important skills any equestrian can have: the ability to foster a partnership with the horse. She tries to pass on this ability to her students, encouraging them to participate in all aspects of horsemanship during hands-on lessons, from tacking before the lesson to grooming, untacking, and watching game tape with the horse after the lesson ends.
Behind the exhibits at KidsPlay Children's Museum is a simple philosophy: children learn best through hands-on activities. There’s plenty of that at KidsPlay, from enclosing yourself in a giant bubble to designing glowing, 3-D shapes on a magnetic light table. Children can grace the museum’s stage in costumes and with props, imagine doing donuts in a racecar, or dash to pretend fires in a fire truck. Those are stored in the museum’s firehouse, part of a small-town play area complete with a grocery.
Since opening in 1975, Haight-Brown Vineyard has churned out 2,000 cases of grape-based libations each year from its nearly 10-acre vineyard and welcomed visitors into its rustic, cottage-like wine house. Emphasizing vinifera and French hybrid grapes, the state’s first-established winery creates a selection of wines that include the Big Red, a bold syrah; the Morning Harvest, a rich malbec; and Honey Nut Apple, a traditional apple wine that incorporates local honey and cinnamon. Vintners share their time-tested expertise during regular classes that teach aspiring oenophiles about a variety of vintages and techniques for cheese and chocolate pairing. Amid the tasting room’s wood accents and crackling stone fireplace, customers sample vintages and attempt to describe taste sensations with adjectives such as “silky” or “very different from milk.”