Lauterborn Blog Search

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Candle Making Workshop Pays Tribute to Library Founder

Candle Making Workshop Pays Tribute to Library Founder:
Children mark Pequot Benefactress Virginia Monroe’s 174th Birthday
(Posted to 5/7)
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – It was a workshop and a birthday party all rolled into one. Crafts and cake you might say, to honor one of Southport’s greatest contributors.

Late Friday afternoon, about two dozen children and a few parents gathered at Pequot Library, 720 Pequot Avenue, to participate in a candle making workshop in honor of Virginia Monroe Marquand’s 174th birthday. Marquand was the founder and benefactress of the Pequot Library.

Virginia was born on April 29, 1837 and adopted by Frederick Marquand. She grew up in a Greek Revival house on the current-day library property. When Frederick passed and left her the estate, Virginia began building the pink stone building behind the mansion, to honor him. She gifted the library to the village of Southport in 1892, razed the estate and moved with her husband Elbert to Tarrytown, NY. 

“We do something every year to celebrate her birthday and I tell the kids Virginia’s story,” said Susan Ei, Children’s Librarian and the lead on the workshop program. “In the past we’ve done soapmaking, fly fishing and paper flowers. We always have a birthday cake. It comes around the time of Mother’s Day, so this year the candles will make great gifts for mom.”

Ei explained the parameters of the candle making session. “Each child will make two candles – one in a fancy teacup, the other in a paper cup filled with seashells. The seashells will become embedded and we’ll peel away the paper to reveal the formed candles with the shells visible inside,” she said.

The process, which Ei learned on the fly, involves melting the wax, adding color and scent, preparing and inserting a wick and filling the containers. The session also involved the creation of gift bags in which to present the candles.

The children sat at workstations at several tables that had been set up and busily inserted wicks in their cups then filled the paper ones with shells. As Sydney Woo, 6, of Fairfield, filled hers, she held up a shell to her ear and said, “I can hear the ocean in this snail shell.” She added, “I like the shape of the shells. This will make a pretty candle for my mom.”

The children then switched gears to gather on a mat on the library floor on which a pile of stampers and buckets of crayons had been placed, with which to design the paper gift bags. As they worked, library helpers came around with pitchers of melted wax and filled the various cups.

Looking over the shoulders of her two boys at their completed gift bags and candles, parent Leslie Geary said, “Susan is one of the best librarians ever. Her programs are always original and unique. We knew it would be a treat to be here today. I have a feeling I might see these on Mother’s Day.”

Dogwood Fest a Blooming Good Time

Dogwood Fest a Blooming Good Time:
Annual Greenfield Hill event runs 
through May 8
(posted to 5/7)
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – The skies were bright, the tents were staked, the blossoms were blossoming and hot dogs grilling. An annual tradition had returned to Fairfield, and was anticipated to draw thousands throughout its weekend run.

Centered around the Greenfield Hill Congregational Church at 1045 Old Academy Road, the 76th Annual Dogwood Festival was in full swing opening day Friday afternoon, offering a wide array of exhibits, entertainment, kids activities and more.

Event co-chair Debby Cooke, manning an information table in front of the church, provided a detailed Fest overview. “We have 51 juried crafts vendors onsite – a mix of jewelers, furniture, portrait makers, photographers, clothing, wearable accessories and lawn items,” she said. “Inside the church, we have a plant tent, children’s games and musical performances. Just outside, we have a large food tent run by the church selling baked goods, hot dogs and hamburgers. Alongside that, the Senior Pilgrim Fellowship is selling food, to raise money to send church youth to Appalachia to help build homes for the needy. We’re also offering a walking tour of the church and grounds.”

Cooke said another popular attraction is Kate’s Corner, which is essentially an upscale tag sale/boutique, offering both clothing items and antiques. Other weekend highlights include the Dogwood Dash Saturday morning and a “Raise the Roof” party Saturday evening.

“We get several thousand visitors who come to see the dogwoods in bloom, experience musical performances and just enjoy time with friends and family,” said Cooke. “The majority of all funds raised goes to over 30 charities as well as organizations in India, where the church maintains a school.”

With regard to the dogwoods, and the weather, Cooke said, “The dogwoods are in bloom and looking fine. The weather’s supposed to be beautiful over the weekend, with just a passing shower Saturday, otherwise in the 70s.”

One of the vendors onsite, Carol Lebeaux, a silhouettist, said she had been exhibiting at the Fest for over 20 years. “It’s a wonderful show,” she said. “Visitors are great. Many people come back to me year after year with their children, making silhouettes a family tradition.”

Another vendor, Som Clark, a name bracelet maker, was returning for her sixth year. “My bracelets are very popular with a lot of kids,” she said. “Visitors are very friendly and enthusiastic. It’s a nice show, especially when the weather’s good.”

Dina Baker, of “To the Queen’s Tastes”, was serving up British specialty desserts. “This is my third or fourth year here,” she said. “I love coming here. People love our fresh ingredients and the fact that we sell day of, nothing day old.”

Looking over several trays of impatiens in the plant sale area, visitor Carol Goddard, of Fairfield, said she had been coming to the event since moving to the area in 1978. “They didn’t used to have a craft show initially,” she recalled. “The event was much more modest, with mostly the plants, church events and dogwoods. It has really grown since then. It’s a great way to spend an afternoon, especially with beautiful weather like we’re having this afternoon.”

Strolling the grounds with her boys Grant and Evan, ages 2 and 4 respectively, Sara Snyder of Fairfield said, “We’ve been coming for the past three years. Evan did the Dogwood Mini Dash last year and will do it again tomorrow. There are so many things to enjoy here and we love looking at the plants and Kate’s Corner stuff.”

Anne Mele, of Fairfield, who was toting a large bag of popcorn and a pastry for her kids, said she grew up in town and has been coming to the Fest for the past 15 years. “The best thing about it is they are so committed to their charitable causes and meet immediately after the weekend ends to disburse the funds,” she said. “Giving back is what it’s really all about. Of course, there are the beautiful dogwoods to see. The event hits two key things in one.”

A master gardener quite familiar with the dogwood tree’s profile, Mele added, “Legend has it that the petals symbolize the cross, a stain on the leaves represents Jesus’ blood as he was nailed to the crucifix, and the upraised center represents his thorny crown. It’s a nice native tree, that birds love, and has seasonal interest throughout the year.”

Dogwood Festival Hours:
Friday, May 6, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Saturday, May 7, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Sunday, May 8, Noon to 5 p.m.