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Thursday, November 3, 2011

Republicans Host Oktoberfest and Former Governor M. Jodi Rell

Republicans Host Oktoberfest and 
Former Governor M. Jodi Rell
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Westport News)

Westport, CT – Judging by the German beer being dispensed and the bratwurst in the hot trays, it seemed the only thing missing from the big hall was an oompah band. But the Oktoberfest theme playing out here was just an accent for a greater purpose.

On Saturday afternoon, the Westport Republican Town Committee (RTC) hosted its 5th Annual Oktoberfest Meet and Greet event, spotlighting the Westport Republican candidates running in the November elections for the Board of Finance, Board of Education and Planning & Zoning departments. The candidates, family members, friends, supporters and other special guests, including Former Governor of Connecticut M. Jodi Rell and 2012 U.S. Senate and U.S. Congress candidates, all met and mingled over German-themed delicacies. Rell was also honored with a special lifetime service award.

Standing in as event coordinators for RTC Chairman Bob Zappi, Vice Chair Karen Hess (with Tim Whetmore) said November was critical. “We have competitive elections in key departments, a fabulous slate of candidates and a great chance of gaining a majority,” she said. “We also have many 2012 Federal office candidates here, like Chris Shays and Linda McMahon for U.S. Senate and Steve Obsitnik for U.S. Congress.”

Nearby, Mike Rea, chair of the RTM finance committee for the past 12 years and a Board of Finance candidate, was beaming with excitement about the gathering. A Westport native who has raised a family here and held positions in Parks & Recreation and Bedford Middle School, Rea said, “I like to think I have broad popularity. With me, it’s always Westport first. People don’t need a wagging finger. They need a straight talker, a positive person with business acumen. Currently, the town does not have the proper financial controls and checks and balances in place. This will be a focus when we get in. The problem is that when one party controls every board and commission in town, there are no checks and balances in the financial areas the town needs. We’re a logical choice for people concerned.”

Another current town servant, Cathy Walsh, a Planning & Zoning board member since 2009 and P&Z candidate, shared both her accomplishments and forward vision. “With zoning issues, we’ve strived to encourage applicants to work out with neighbors any differences,” she said. “Opening up downtown for outdoor dining and music has also been key. Going forward, we want to continue growth from within and keep the character of the community.”

On the Board of Education front, candidate Jeannie Smith came right to the point about her stance: “Education has been my profession for the past 15 years. Rather, as my husband says, ‘my profession, purpose and passion.”

Fellow Board of Education candidate Jennifer Tooker was similarly terse, saying, “I’m thrilled to be running and contributing as a global thinker on education, budgets and parent/teacher and town issues.”

One voice the group was unanimously eager to hear was that of Rell’s, who claimed many friends and familiar faces at the event. As she mounted a low stage and was presented with her lifetime service award, she recognized and commended the candidates. “Without your service, we would all be falling so far behind. Best of luck to you all in the November elections,” she said. “We have great candidates putting themselves out there.”

As to her own current activities, Rell said, “No I’m not running for anything. I’ve been traveling and babysitting. I get to pick and choose things I enjoy and go with people I enjoy.”

View Finder: Greenfield Commons Farmers Market

View Finder: Greenfield 
Commons Farmers Market
Fresh local produce, pies, flowers and herbs
(column for
By Mike Lauterborn

Fairfield, CT – Tucked in the Greenfield Commons plaza at 75 Hillside Avenue, you’ll find a few farm folk set down at tables with the fruit of their labor displayed on tables before them. In several cases, the fruit is truly that – blueberries, peaches, pears, apples. In other cases, the fruit is fresh-baked pies, colorful perennials, flavorful herbs, ripe vegetables or free-range eggs.

Every Saturday, June through the last week in October, from 12:30 to 4 p.m., this crew -- from as close as Fairfield’s Lakeside Drive to as far as Oxford, CT – dutifully reports to the green to serve local needs and keep the tradition of local farming alive.

To be sure, there’s nothing like the snap and crunch of a French fillet bean, the whimsy of stubby homegrown carrots, the succulence of a local grown peach or the delight of a slice of fresh-baked semolina loaf topped with olive oil and rich green basil pesto.

Catch it while you can, for in a month’s time, the chill of the approaching winter months will curl around us, sending us New Englanders scurrying for other satisfying fare: hot cider, mulled wine, a mug of cocoa and cinnamon sticks.

Woodbridge Woman New Development Director at Westport Arts Center

Woodbridge Woman New Development 
Director at Westport Arts Center:
1986 Hamden High School grad to 
help grow outreach
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Woodbridge, CT -- Westport Arts Center, a leading regional hub for cutting-edge art, music, community and children’s programming, has a new Development Director… and Woodbridge/Hamden locals couldn’t be prouder.

Marni Smith Katz, of Woodbridge, officially took the reins August 1 and has been busy adjusting to her new position since. The spot had been vacant for the past three years and was “sorely needing someone” as Katz put it.

Her new position involves expanding community support for the Center and growing outreach through communications and programming. “I’ll be speaking to people, helping raise awareness of our offerings and solidifying patrons’ connection with the Center. There’s really something for everyone here,” she said.

Katz was born in Manhattan, lived a short while in New Jersey then moved to Hamden as a toddler. She went to Ezra Academy in Woodbridge from 1st to 8th grades, then Hamden High School, from which she graduated in 1986.  She then attended Brandeis University, graduating in 1990 with a Bachelor of Arts Cum Laude, majoring in Politics and minoring in Art History.

Katz’ first professional experience was as the assistant to the Eastern States Civil Rights Director at the Anti-Defamation League in Boston. “I had aimed to go to law school but thought of a career in art history at the same time,” she said. “My hand was tipped by the fact that my work colleagues were attorneys and doing good work. I decided to pursue law.”

As such, she started at Boston University and finished at the University of Connecticut School of Law in Hartford, from which she graduated in 1994.

Along the way, in 1991, Katz married, to Stuart, an attorney at Cohen & Wolf in Bridgeport. “We met when I was 17. We were counselors at a sleepaway camp,” she laughed.

From 1994 to 2000, Katz practiced law as a litigator at Green & Gross, in Bridgeport, then became director of development at Ezra Academy, the year her first child, Zachary, now 11, was born. “I loved practicing law but I became a mom at that time and wanted to spend more time with my first-born,” she said.

Her work at Ezra was eye-opening. “I really began to enjoy the challenges of development work and finding funding sources for important projects,” said Katz.

In 2006, she adopted a second son, Benjamin, now 6, and slid into the role of Ezra’s director of admissions when the former position-holder retired. “That was ideal as it was more part-time,” she noted.

Katz held that role until mid-July 2011, at which point she decided to take the “fantastic new position” at WAC. “I’m excited to be working with a great staff, which includes another new recruit, Dr. Peter Van Heerden, the executive director. He’s got tremendous energy and vision. This is an exciting time and I look forward to the challenge and opportunities of my role.”

Festival Brings Indian Culture to Fairfield

Festival Brings Indian Culture to Fairfield:
The day’s humidity adds to the authenticity
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Fairfield Citizen News)

Fairfield, CT – With an aroma of curry and spices hanging in the air, colorful handmade cotton tops displayed everywhere, Bollywood tunes jangling from a speaker and stifling humidity, you would think you’d been transported to India. In reality, India had been transported to Fairfield, for an afternoon anyhow.

On Sunday, the Hindu Cultural Center of CT, which has found a new home in Stratford, hosted the 5th Annual Heritage India Festival on Town Hall Green. Hundreds of people padded through during the event to browse clothing and jewelry, sample food from four local Indian restaurants and watch traditional dance performances. Among attendees were Fairfield’s former First Selectman Ken Flatto and current First Selectman Michael Tetreau, who greeted citizens as they moved across the festival grounds.

Event Committee Member Renu Vij said the Fest is HCC’s major fundraiser and “a way to showcase India.” At the same time, it was a celebration of the non-profit having acquired the Unitarian Church at 96 Chapel Street, Stratford, as the site for its new permanent center. The Hindu Cultural Center is the first community center with a Hindu temple for the Indian population throughout Connecticut, according to HCC’s management team. The new home is the fulfillment of a dream, added Vij, and its establishment will be further marked with three days of opening ceremonies – Sept. 28, Oct. 1 and Oct. 2 – in the form of traditional, religious prayer.

HCC was founded in January 2003 with a mission to meet the cultural and religious needs of Indians living in Southern Connecticut regardless of their beliefs and mode of worship. Further, HCC believes in bringing together Hindus settled in the state with origins from a diverse array of world nations.

The Fest certainly attracted a wide range of Indian peoples, but also many non-Indians who were fans of the food, live performances and traditions.

Zanah Kagan, for example, came to buy a new top, and found herself in the expert hands of Parmita Kurada, a vendor from Greenwich of tops, wool and silk scarves, and energized healing beads. Rajeeta Krishnan, from Trumbull, was also in the market for a top, and was visiting with another vendor of same. Krishnan’s children, Sparsh, 6, and Rhea, 9, tugged at her, wanting to go see some dancing. Nearby, Pushpa Esarla, from Stamford, looked at earrings. Esarla’s daughter scurried over to Dharmi Patel, who was expertly applying elaborate henna tattoos to the backs of hands.

The dancers were all very clever and dressed in great finery. Vishaka Ravichandran, 11, and her sister Deepika, 13, teamed up to mock dance around baby Krishna. Seven-year-old Meghai Chaudhary was quite expressive in her performance of a classical “bharatnatyam” number. Five-year-old Shreya Guptal, from New York, danced Bollywood style. Teenager Chitra Nidadavolu, from Trumbull, also did a Bollywood dance illustration, passionately swirling and prancing about an open space in front of Town Hall, her long black hair flying wildly in all directions with her movements.

Other young people, like Aneesh Roy, 6, and his sister Ayesha, 3, were just content climbing trees.

Almost universally, though, the food offerings brought people together. Participating eateries included Bangalore and Methi of Fairifeld, Thali of Westport, and Paradise Biryani of Norwalk. Arranged in a long row of booths and tables, vendors put their best forkful forward, with treats like crispy samosas, flaky kachori chaat pastries and marinated chicken tikka. For attendees with a sweet tooth, kulfi frozen treats in mango and malai flavors, were served.

Sisters Neha and Anish Uppal, from Trumbull, didn’t need to wait for an invitation, as they stepped up to Methi’s table. Foizia Shakh, 16, from Monroe, wearing a rich red cotton top handmade in Bangladesh, wasn’t bashful either and strategically made her choices.

Then there were those, like Shemona Singh of Milford, sporting a vibrant pumpkin-colored cotton top and decorative sandals, that were happiest just being happy and lovely and letting their good vibes spread through the fest.

Country Mouse, City Smarts

Country Mouse, City Smarts:
Fine papers pro applies know-how to home décor / invites biz
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – There’s nothing cheesy about this mouse, which has served as an anchor in the lower Greenfield Hill area for more than 30 years.

The Country Mouse, at 75 Hillside Road in the Greenfield Commons plaza, began baiting customers in the late 1970s with hostess gifts, home décor items and candles. About seven years ago, Jim and Joan Driggs were lured in as new owners and immediately set about expanding the nest, to include baby gifts, wedding invitations and personal stationery.

According to Joan, who was happily assuming operating duties one recent weekend while her husband took five, it was Jim’s background in fine papers that helped grow the business. “He worked for Crane paper for 28 years and Caspari paper for another seven,” she said. “He was always connected to paper goods. I just teach and help out on the weekends.”

The shop’s invite books reflect Jim’s connections, with a wide array of samples from not only Crane, but William Arthur and Vera Wang. Cards can be customized for any occasion, said Joan.

Besides stationery, Driggs pitched, “You can get a nice hostess gift for under $10, or spend $200 on a nice Mariposa tray.”

The Mouse has become a destination in this category, pulling customers from not only Fairfield, but Westport, Southport, Bridgeport and even New York City, as well as online traffic. “Our clientele is very broad, from young mothers to grandmothers,” Joan offered. “But it’s people like Mrs. Roach (a long-time customer who had just entered the store) that make this environment a social event, not just a business or job. There was a woman in here earlier and we chatted for a half hour. The interaction makes it a much more enjoyable experience.”

Bravo! Gala Preview Party Marks a Century of Theatre in Fairfield County

Bravo! Gala Preview Party Marks a Century 
of Theatre in Fairfield County
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Fairfield Citizen News)

Fairfield, CT – There were the many treasures to admire behind glass and on display… then there were the living gems moving through the crowd.

On Saturday evening September 24, nearly 200 people gathered together at Fairfield Museum and History Center, 370 Beach Road, for a gala party previewing a new exhibit titled “Bravo: A Century of Theatre in Fairfield County”. The exhibit, scheduled for a soft opening to the public Sept. 25 then with more fanfare October 2, captures the history, drama and collectibles from three major regional theatres: the Westport Country Playhouse (WCP), The White Barn Theatre and The American Shakespeare Theatre in Stratford. The evening also honored Costume Designer Jane Greenwood, Playwright A.R. Gurney, WCP Artistic Director Mark Lamos and Actor Christopher Plummer.

First Selectman Michael Tetreau was among the many attendees supporting and said the museum is one of the most important organizations for telling the story of Fairfield County and sharing its heritage with future generations. “You think about the persistence and creativity it took to carve this area out of the wild. When I look at the gathering here, I see that same trait alive and well,” he offered.  “The museum is another brick in the wall of our cultural foundation, serving the people of Fairfield and our region.”

Besides celebrating the history of the arts in the county, Museum Executive Director Mike Jehle hoped to encourage people to get involved so that the arts will continue to thrive for another 100 years.

Kathie Bennewitz, the Museum’s Director of Exhibitions and Programs, got a little closer to experiencing theater than she really cared to. “We finished setting up for this event at 5:30, just a half hour before ‘curtain up’, at six – and with no rehearsal! That was theater in its truest sense!” she joked.

The real labor however, was in the months-long planning and gathering of memorabilia that preceded this elegant evening – labor chiefly handled by Marti LoMonaco, Professor of Theatre at Fairfield University, and Mar Williams, the exhibition’s developer. “We worked for eight months planning the layout and securing props and figuring out how to tell the story. A museum needs things,” she said. “How do you capture the energy of a live performance in a museum?”

LoMonaco added, “Westport Playhouse is the only one of the three theatres still operating. We wanted to show a mix of then and now, so pulled everything from costumes from the Playhouse’s recent production of ‘Lips Together Teeth Apart” to old ticket boxes, seats and pulleys from the 1930s. With luck, people will be so excited by the exhibit that they will want to go out and see live theater.”

Rounding everyone up in the Jacky Durrell Meeting Hall for a moment, to thank patrons and present awards to three of the four honorees (Christopher Plummer was called away to a film set in Canada), Mike Jehle extended a thanks to Honorary Event Chairman Joanne Woodward, who also could not be present. “She transformed a crumbly barn (WCP) into an anchor of the arts,” he said.

Sunny Spirits Top Soggy Sod at Annual Dwight Fair

Sunny Spirits Top Soggy Sod at 
Annual Dwight Fair
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Fairfield Citizen News)

Fairfield, CT – “We had planned to kick off Friday but the rain was just too much,” said Dwight School PTA President Michele Whelan, standing near a popcorn stand on still soft ground. “But the field dried out pretty quickly and the sun is shining. Fingers crossed that it stays that way!”

Though the first night – Friday, Sept. 23 – had to be cancelled due to buckets of rain that had fallen all day and continued into the overnight period, the Annual Timothy Dwight Fair commenced as planned the following day. Held for decades at the elementary school at 1600 Redding Road, the Fair welcomed scores of families to enjoy over a dozen carnival-style rides, activity galleries, a bake sale, grilled food and face painting. The Fair began at 11 a.m. Saturday, would continue until 9 p.m. and be held Sunday as well, from noon to 4 p.m. The Sunday opening was a reschedule of the Friday cancellation.

Whelan commented, “The event is a huge Dwight and Greenfield Hill community event. It’s Dwight students’ favorite event of the year. Proceeds fund PTA activities, like art in the classrooms, author visits, teaching gardens, junior achievement and assemblies.”

Whelan and fellow planners waited until the eleventh hour Friday to cancel that evening’s activities, hoping that the precipitation would hold off. While it did pause briefly after the dinner hour, Whelan said, “It created unsafe conditions and pools of water everywhere.” Despite the cancellation, her spirit was not dampened and she adopted a show-must-go-on attitude.

Judging by all the buzz, the rain was already a distant memory, supplanted by cotton candy, hamburgers and popcorn. Pop tunes broadcast from large speakers echoed across the fairgrounds, large amusement rides flashed and spun, and children ran here and there shouting and squealing.

Flipping mini basketballs into hoops at an activity booth, six-year-old MacLain Prom, a first grader at Dwight, said, “I like the Scat best,” when asked about his favorite amusement ride at the Fair. “I was upside down and spinning a lot. I got kind of a good headache.”

Parul Pomichter, of Fairfield, was grabbing a bite to eat at a picnic table with her three children. “We love coming here,” she said, “and have come every year since my eldest son Stash (now 11) was in kindergarten here at Dwight. It’s a great Fair.”

Fairfielder Lis Reed, watching her seven-year-old daughter Madeline, a second grader at Dwight, come shooting down the Super Slide, called the event “great family fun.” She added, “It’s an old style, safe, easy, happy deal.”

UNC at Chapel Hill’s New J-School Dean a Fairfield U Alum

UNC at Chapel Hill’s New J-School Dean a Fairfield U Alum:
Susan King speaks about 
the area and her colorful past
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication has named a new dean and she comes aboard with a bit of Fairfield in her past. And that’s not all.

Susan King, former vice president for external affairs for Carnegie Corporation of New York, will officially take the J-School helm January 1, 2012. She took a moment out to give Patch a rundown on her background and highlight some of the unique experiences she has had and people she has encountered.

King was born in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn and lived there until she was four, when her family relocated to Hillsdale, NJ. She essentially grew up there and then headed to four-year college at Marymount in Tarrytown, NY, from which she earned a B.A. in English, in Spring 1969.

Her junior year (Sept. 1967 to June 1968) was actually spent at University College of London University, where she furthered her English studies. “My time in London was transformative and an incredible period to be there,” she said. “During that school year, Martin Luther King and Bobby Kennedy were both killed. If you were over 20, you were asking, ‘What’s going on in America?’ It influenced my decision to be a journalist, to help me understand the issues better. I wanted to cover America – Who were we? What were we about?”

King recalled one Saturday night dance at the university cafeteria. “There were no decorations and everyone was just hanging out,” she said. “The difference was the music was history-making. The band was Cream and featured a young Eric Clapton, who was in his early 20s. I remember it being fantastic music – only years later did I realize their significance.”

In Summer 1969, King went to grad school at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, but didn’t have enough money to continue. So she returned to Hillsdale that fall and got a job at NBC News. “I was in the White Paper unit, the documentary division,” she said. “That was the year when network TV began doing a couple major primetime news specials. I was essentially a secretary, typing up stuff and processing expenses.”

In Summer 1970, King switched over to CBS News, working as a secondary assistant for anchorman Walter Cronkite. “He was a national icon, voted the most trusted man in America,” she said. “I worked on his personal staff for a year and a half.”

King said she made more out of the job than what was expected, doing a special project about Cronkite’s mail and his relationship with the public and how they perceived and interacted with him. She also created a newsletter that went out to all the news staff.

King really wanted to get a Master’s degree and found out about Fairfield University through the best friend of her future husband, Michael, who had just returned from Vietnam. (Michael and Susan had met at a civil rights event and ended up marrying during Spring Break 1971. They are still married today.)

Susan started at Fairfield University in Fall 1970. “I was struck by the beauty of Fairfield,” she said, which was quite a contrast with the city area from which she was commuting. “I was living on 90th Street between 1st and 2nd Avenues, a fringe area with dog poop on the sidewalks. I would come up on the railroad to Fairfield station. On Saturdays, I took a cab over to the school. In the evenings, I came up by car with a minister. The train was soothing and quiet and I read books.”

She was particularly impressed with the campus. “Bellarmine Hall was exquisite, an Old World anchor, very welcoming,” she said. “And the curriculum was electric. We experimented with many different media. I did still photography, made films, did deep research and studied cultural ideas and how they reflected society. I was interested in journalism and how to be a journalist. I gained a strategic viewpoint on the world, not just skills. The university forced me to think better.”

Ironically, now King is on the main board for Fairfield University, advising the president. She’s also on the communications committee, and had been on admissions, with the objective of moving the university to a higher level and maintaining fiduciary responsibility.

Frost Legacy Lives On in the Sand Hills of Nebraska

Frost Legacy Lives On in the Sand Hills of Nebraska:
Patch sits down with Fairfielder Prescott Frost, great-grandson of poet Robert Frost and founder of a grass-fed beef business
By Mike Lauterborn
© 2011. All Rights Reserved.

Fairfield, CT – His hat may hang in Fairfield, but his spirit roams in Nebraska. The Sand Hills of Nebraska to be precise, or the “Napa Valley of grass-fed beef” as he refers to it, where his family owns a 6,000-acre ranch.

The family in this instance is the Frosts, as in Robert Frost (1874-1963), who by the 1920s was the most celebrated poet in America, renown for his portraits of life and the landscapes of New England. And the owner of the hat is Prescott Frost, his great-grandson, a Beach Road resident and owner of Prescott Frost Inc., a just-launched grass-fed beef business spurred by the 600-head cow/calf herd he maintains on the Nebraska spread.

Born Prescott Frost Wilber at Bridgeport Hospital in February 1958, the 53-year-old rancher grew up on Lalley Boulevard, the son of Elinor Frost and Malcolm G. Wilber. Elinor, 83, a Bridgeport resident, served 20 years in the Connecticut State Legislature. Prescott’s late father, Malcolm G. Wilber, was the Vice President of Connecticut National Bank in Bridgeport. Prescott has an older brother, Douglas, who’s 61 and a Seattle, WA, resident.

Prescott was a member of the first kindergarten class at Roger Sherman Elementary School on Fern Street, when it opened in 1963. Robert Frost died that same year (January 29, in Boston). As such, Prescott has few memories of him. “I remember sitting on his knee in the living room,” he said. “Grandma Lesley was really the authority on him, and carried all the information. Once a year, she would come and read his poems to us. It was generally an embarrassing moment, but in our family, the currency is not money, it’s knowledge.”

Prescott did not inherit the literary gene. “I know how to put a sentence together pretty well, but I am not disciplined to do it,” he said. “My latest stab at poetry was six haiku poems written for the catalog page of my business website.”

From Sherman School, Prescott advanced to Tomlinson Middle School, for 7th and 8th grade, then Roger Ludlowe High School for his freshman year. The balance of high school was spent at Putney School, a small private boarding school in Putney, Vermont. “My mother had gone there and used to take me up when she visited friends. I fell in love with it,” he said.

Construction became Prescott’s initial occupation. “I started working with my hands at Putney, helping build the art building,” he said. “When I graduated in 1976, I moved to the Lower East Side of Manhattan and did residential construction, renovations, a lot of brownstones and walk-ups.”

College stints followed – two years at Northeastern University in Boston and two years at New York University, graduating in 1982 with a degree in Economics and a minor in Art History and History.

Prescott spent the next three years in Europe. “I worked outside Paris in fruit and vegetable markets hauling boxes, and I lived in Rome, working for a filmmaker, doing sound and loading cameras. I became fluent in French and Italian.”

In 1985, Prescott got married to an L.A. girl he knew from high school, moved to L.A. and went to work as a stockbroker for Shearson-Lehman in Beverly Hills. He did that for 10 years before quitting, in 1995, to move to Illinois to manage a family farming operation. Prescott’s other great-grandfather, Union Colonel Dudley C. Smith, was deeded the land in lieu of payment for his service during the Civil War. “The soil was black and eight feet deep,” he said.

Unfortunately, his stay lasted only a month. “I got into a conflict with my uncles about sustainable farming,” he said.

Prescott went back to L.A. and ran his own decorative painting business for eight years, until 2003. While there, he convinced family to convert the Illinois farm land to organic and ultimately moved back to oversee the transition, staying on for six years. He introduced livestock to eat the grass and fertilize the land and got taken with the grass-fed beef bug. It inspired him to sell the Illinois farm to buy the ranch in Nebraska in June 2009 and set up shop there.

Frost described a different world in Nebraska from the one we know in Fairfield. “People wave to each other as they pass,” he said. “They’re close to the earth, live with nature, live rugged lives. They don’t get people in cities. But people in cities buy the beef. I’m trying to bridge these two worlds.”

Frost’s partner is rancher Rick Calvo, who lives on the ranch with his wife and two kids. “He’s one of the best guys in the country to do what he does… steeped in the cattle industry… known as the guru of grass-fed genetics.”

The cattle are Red Angus and Murray Grey breeds, which are fattened on the ranch then processed at a USDA fully-licensed facility in Madison, Wisconsin. Frost’s model is direct-to-consumer, eliminating the middle man, using the Internet, avoiding brick-and-mortar and wholesalers, etc. “You get meat direct from the ranch, flash-frozen, meat you deserve. The meat is just fantastic,” he said. “It’s tender, flavorful, not gamey. It overcomes all the problems people have had with beef over the years.”

Expanding on his mission, Frost said, “My goal is to change agriculture one acre and one cow at a time. Every acre that goes from corn production back to grass is a step in the right direction. I’m raising solar beef using the power of the sun, soil and rain. Theirs is petro beef based on tractors, chemicals/herbicides and fertilizers.”

Frost acknowledges that buying local is really great, but when it comes to beef, land near metro areas isn’t compatible. “To properly raise organic cattle, you need to go to the great grass growing regions of the world – whether it’s the pompous of Argentina or Sand Hills of Nebraska. For us in the U.S., it’s the latter. I’m not interested in feeding your fancy friends with a cut of beef. I’m interested in feeding your family affordable delicious beef.”

Benefits of grass-fed beef *
·      Has 10 times more beta-carotene than feedlot beef, which is important for stimulating the immune system and maintaining healthy vision, skin and bones
·      Contains three times more vitamin E than feedlot beef, which helps prevent cancer and cardiovascular disease
·      Contains three times more Omega-3 fatty acids, which helps reduce blood pressure and maintain healthy brain function
·      Contains three times more conjugated linoleic acid, a healthy fat that can reduce “bad” cholesterol and prevent arthritis
·      No hormones, antibiotics or chemicals are employed
·      Protein source is legumes, clover and alfalfa
·      Starch is derived from grasses
·      Cattle’s medicinal needs are met by grazing on beneficial plants and herbs
·      Soil is improved through natural fertilization, mimicking bison
·      The composition of a cow is not altered as with corn-fed cattle that have imbalances
·      Animals spend entire lives on pasture as God intended   

* Information provided by Prescott Frost Inc. and its public relations firm Organic Works.

For more information about Prescott Frost and his grass-fed beef business, visit

Kicking Daisies Drop into Pinkberry

Kicking Daisies Drop into Pinkberry:
Hometown rockers take five to enjoy fro-yo, greet fans
By Mike Lauterborn
(for Fairfield Citizen News)

Fairfield, CT – There was that feeling of anticipation like when the Beatles’ plane was about to touch down in New York for the first time and fans were abuzz on the tarmac. In this case, fans were chattering and fondling CDs on the sidewalk outside Pinkberry in downtown Fairfield and it was the Kicking Daisies who were arriving… walking over from Chef’s Table just up the block.

The primarily Fairfield-based teen rockers were fresh in from opening for TV star/singer Victoria Justice out in L.A. and had a busy schedule ahead with radio station appearances and a big show Friday. But they knew it was important to stay connected with fans, especially the local ones that had supported them from the beginning and had kept an eye on their meteoric rise in the music world since their formal start in January 2009 – an appearance at Fairfield Theatre Company.

One trio in line at the CD signing table outside Pinkberry’s 1512 Post Road shop was 13-year-olds Jillian Rogers, Elizabeth Brunt and Melissa Shea, each clutching KD’s latest CD release, “Keeping Secrets”. They each named a favorite musician and gave reasons why they respected them.

“I love Carly (Kalafus, 15, the bassist and a lead vocalist),” said Rogers. “She has bright red hair and doesn’t care how she dresses or what people think. She didn’t really want to play bass at first, but learned in an hour. She’s inspiring because she’s so driven.”

Brunt’s preference was Carly’s 18-year-old sister Caitlin, the drummer and a vocalist. “I’m also a female drummer,” said Brunt. “When people find that out, they say I’m insane. I tell them there’s a lot of amazing female drummers out there. Caitlin is my inspiration and my favorite drummer ever.”

Shea named 15-year-old Ben Spremulli, the lead guitarist and keyboardist as her favorite KD member. “We’re kind of alike,” she said. “We like the same music. He’s really funny and nice.”

Rogers recalled meeting Carly, as well as Duran (Visek, 16, lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist) at the Milford Mall, on her birthday no less. “They wished me a happy birthday,” she said. “I was really excited, and that  was the first time I ever went up and said hi to anyone. I usually don’t talk to people. I’d seen them at only one concert before and didn’t get to say hi. In the store, they seemed more approachable.”

KD’s fans were not restricted to just teens. Fairfielder Karen DeWitt, 48, was just as excited as her 11-year-old daughter, Lauren, to meet the band. “I like their sound, very upbeat,” she said. “I don’t have XM radio, so I listen to a lot of CDs. I grabbed their disc at Las Vetas – for $5, I figured how can I go wrong? Well, I absolutely love it. It’s great for musical talent, especially local, to make it out there, and they’re genuinely nice kids. Clean music, great to drive to.”

KD’s Tour Manager and Chef’s Table Owner Rich Herzfeld stood to the side and looked on as the band, which he had led over from his café, sat down at the signing table to greet fans. He provided an update on the group’s current status.

“Back on August 20th, they appeared as the musical guests on an episode of the Disney show “So Random”, kind of a kids’ ‘Saturday Night Live,’” he said. “It gets replayed three or four times a week, in constant rotation. That has established them as a national act, and has them breaching international waters.”

Herzfeld mentioned the Victoria Justice appearance for Nickelodean, saying it gives them even more broad exposure. “Most importantly, they signed a deal with Wal-Mart for exclusive distribution of their latest CD,” he said. “So it’s only available at WalMart or”

Herzfeld also noted the recent move to L.A. of the band’s manager Brian Murphy, who had been a long-time Fairfield resident, with a home near Roger Sherman Elementary School. “That will help with KD’s access to the world of TV and movies.”

The band was scheduled to do an interview with radio station WEBE 108 the following day, then a live performance for KC101 and KISS stations in Hartford. The show was to be Podcast on the station’s website. Then, KD was scheduled to play the Ridgefield Playhouse Friday. “The capacity there is 500, and 350 tickets have already been sold. There are usually a lot of last-minute ticket sales, so hopefully we’ll sell out that show,” said Herzfeld.

“Long-term, they’re going to be doing appearances at radio stations nationwide, supporting the release of their new single ‘Breathing’, which officially released August 29,” Herzfeld added. “For now, they’re getting some cool opportunities opening for bands they love, like the Ready Set, Downtown Fiction and the Summer Set.”

Does the rigorous schedule conflict with schooling? “Carly is in regular school at Milford’s Jonathan Law High School and has a pretty flexible schedule,” said Herzfeld. “Caitlin has graduated. And Ben and Duran are both home schooled. So there’s a lot of flexibility.”

As critical for fans as KD’s touring schedule was to know was their favorite Pinkberry concoctions. Carly: “I start with the Original and add strawberries, weird chocolate stuff, brownie bites and tons of honey.” Ben: “Peanut butter, toasted almonds, mixed nuts, chocolate peanut butter crunch.” Duran: “Original with strawberries, kiwi, banana, chocolate crunch balls and toasted almonds.” Caitlin: “Peanut butter, strawberries, brownie bites, yogurt chips, Captain Krunch, the 50-cent extra crunch and a bunch of honey.”

Enjoying his fro-yo treat and bandmates’ company at a table inside the shop, Visek commented, “Life is good, though being in a band is a constant struggle. If you’re not on your A-game 100% of the time, you’re gonna get spit out. You can’t risk a band performance and take a step down. But this is what I live for and thrive on.”

Visek added that he’s studying for his G.E.D. and traveling can be tiresome. “Things I get stressed about are early gigs, and getting warmed up in time.”

The front man also commented on the bane of being a vocalist. “When you’re a singer and have a gig, you can’t drink soda, iced tea, orange juice, chocolate, milk or smoothies. Really only water.”

One of the greatest things for Visek has been meeting some of his music heroes. “I recently met two main inspirations: Max Bemis from Say Anything -- I listen to all his music -- and Andrew McMahon, from Jack’s Mannequin. He’s especially inspiring in that he survived cancer and wrote a record about it. Amazing.”