Litchfield, CT --
Contact: Janet L. Serra
For Immediate Release
When the 4th of July weekend arrives in Ridgefield, Connecticut, they will be celebrating more than Independence Day. Known for its mansions and stately Main Street, this town in the southern Litchfield Hills region was founded in 1708, sixty-eight years before the Declaration of Independence. Ridgefield is marking its 300th birthday this year with a series of festive events, highlighted by this gala holiday weekend. Everyone is invited to join the fun.
Fireworks on the night of July 4 at Ridgefield High School will be followed by a 300th Anniversary Celebration parade of marching bands and floats along Main Street starting at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 5. The afternoon will feature a Country Fair on the field behind the town's old high school (now the Richard E. Venus Building), and the 300th Anniversary Celebration Old Time Baseball Game at Veterans Park Field, where teams will be dressed in authentic old-time uniforms. A concert by the American Belles and Air Force Band starting at 6 p.m. at Veterans Park Field will cap a full day of festivities.
The Heritage Discovery Trail signs posted around town for this anniversary year will point out some of the highlights of Ridgefield's eventful history. Ongoing exhibitions and photographs at the Town Hall, Scott House/Historical Society, the Ridgefield Library, and the Parks and Recreation headquarters also bring to life the town's colorful past. Other special anniversary events and exhibits will continue through September 28. A complete list is below.
A TOWN WORTH DISCOVERING
Those who come for the celebration events will discover a beautiful town of nearly 25,000 that wears its history well. The village founded 300 years ago by 24 proprietors and a minister prospered, but because Ridgefield was located off the main travel routes, it might have faded after the Civil War. It was saved from obscurity when prominent New Yorkers began to arrive to summer in the healthy country air. By 1870 a new railroad spur began bringing these summer visitors to the town's fashionable inns, and the newcomers soon began to build mansion-sized vacation homes on South Main Street. Very little has changed along this handsome mile-long avenue and in 1984 it was declared a National Historic District.
Two of the town's historic buildings are found on Main Street. One of the earliest entrepreneurs, Timothy Keeler, converted his home to a tavern in 1772. Keeler Tavern remains as a museum where guides in Colonial garb show off collections of furniture, art, decorative objects costumes, and tools and the British cannonball that remains imbedded in the corner post as the souvenir of a heated Revolutionary War battle in 1777. The King and Dole store established in 1783 by Lt. Joshua King in a small Colonial home has grown into the Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, which has expanded into a regional showcase for cutting-edge art by emerging artists.
Ridgefield boasts another unusual National Historic Site at Weir Farm in the hills in the Branchville section of town. One of only two Historic Sites devoted to art. It preserves the landscape of gentle rolling hills, rocky pastures and ponds that was inspiring subject matter for an important American Impressionist painter, J. Alden Weir, as well as many of his visiting artist friends, who included Childe Hassam and John Twachtman. Painters can usually be found at work on the grounds. Park Service guides offer tours of Weir's studio with a ceiling painted blue with gold starfish, and his easels and equipment almost as he might have left them.
Ridgefield's considerable pleasures also include two highly rated restaurants housed in historic inns, Bernards Inn at Ridgefield and The Elms Inn.
For more information about Ridgefield and other area activities and a free copy of UNWIND, a 112-page color guide to lodging, dining and all the attractions in the Litchfield Hills of Northwest Connecticut, contact the Northwest CT Convention and Visitors Bureau, PO Box 968, Litchfield, CT 06759, (860) 567-4506, or check the Internet at www.litchfieldhills.com.
Ridgefield, CT 300th Anniversary Events; Information at or www.ridgefield300.org. or 203-431-3001
Friday, July 4 Family Fourth Fireworks, Ridgefield High School. Gates open at 6 p.m. Saturday, July 5, 300th Anniversary Celebration Parade. Main Street, 10 a.m. Saturday, July 5, 300th Anniversary Celebration Vintage Base Ball Game, Veterans Park field, 3 p.m. Saturday, July 5, 300th Anniversary Celebration Country Fair, behind Richard E. Venus Building, 6 p.m. Saturday, July 5, American Belles and Air Force Band Concert, Veteran?s Park Field, from 6 p.m. Saturday, July 19, Ridgefield Chamber of Commerce Saleabration on Main Street, 203-438-5992, including Dancing Through The Ages Saturday, July 26, Family and Children's Aid Life is Good Festival in Ballard Park, 203-205-2633 July 29-September 7, Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, "The Bird Collector" Exhibit celebrating Edward J. Couch, Saturday, August 2, Swim Party and Picnic at Martins Park/Great Pond, 11 a.m. -5 p.m. Food, games and a band Saturday, August 9, Nutmeg Festival at St. Stephen's Church, 203-438-3789 Saturday, August 16, Art Walk in the Evening on Main Street Saturday, September 20, Keeler Tavern House Tour, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m., 203-438-5485 Saturday, September 20, 300th Anniversary Celebration Stage Review, Ridgefield High School, 8 p.m. Sunday, September 28, 300th Anniversary Celebration Anniversary Party, 1896 Lounsbury House Community Center, 1 - 4 p.m.