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Market celebrates Connecticut's harvest

By Florence Griswold Museum

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OLD LYME, CT - On Saturday, July 28 from 9am to 3pm the abundance and excitement of a French country market comes to Connecticut. For the fourteenth year, the Florence Griswold Museum in Old Lyme hosts Market En Plein Air, a place for artisanal bakers, organic farmers, and specialty food producers to show off their specialties. Last year, over 6,000 people attended this special event that is part of Old Lyme Midsummer Festival. A chefs’ competition, an artisan craft fair, dog contest, book signings, and hands-on activity area round out the food-focused experience!

Modeled after the outdoor markets found in villages throughout France, Market En Plein Air features the freshest organic fruits and vegetables, flowers, breads, fine cheeses, herbs, and specialty foods -- all of the highest quality and all produced in Connecticut. From 9am to 3pm, twenty-eight specially selected vendors will be on hand with delicious items to sample and take home. Festivalgoers can enjoy a prepared lunch by Gourmet Galley and stroll the Museum’s 11-acre historic site along the banks of the Lieutenant River.

Many vendors from previous years are returning with some of their most popular specialties, including artisan breads by Howard’s Bread in Chester and Alforno’s in Deep River, farmstead cheeses by Cato Corner Farm in Colchester; organic vegetables by White Gate Farm in East Lyme; and fresh roasted coffee from Ashlawn Farm in Lyme. Newcomers include Hostas and shade plants by John O’Brien Nursery in West Granby, fruit, vegetables, and eggs from Killian and Bassette Farmstead in South Glastonbury, and Italian baked goods and pasta from Meriano's Bake Shoppe in Guilford.

The market takes its name from the tradition of painting en plein air, which is French for, "in the open air." The Florence Griswold Museum is the home of Lyme Art Colony, a group of early 20th century Impressionist artist who came to capture Connecticut’s abundant scenery. These artists took their canvases, paints, and palettes into the pastures and down to the shoreline to paint the world firsthand. Market "En Plein Air" celebrates Connecticut’s artistic heritage as well as its homegrown goodness. Located on the riverfront grounds of the Museum, the market takes place under a series of tents bursting with colorful displays.

Even four-legged friends can participate in the day’s activities with Parading Paws Dog Show hosted by Vista Vocational & Life Skills Center of Westbrook. Does your dog have the best smile, longest tail, biggest paws? Registration is from 9- 10am. Judging begins at 10:30am. Special categories include Best Trick and Best Costume. Guest Judge will be Jill Abramson, the executive editor of The New York Times and author of The Puppy Diaries: Raising a Dog Named Scout. From 11:30am - 12:30pm, Abramson signs her instructive and entertaining chronicle of Scout's first year.
From 9am to 3pm, Crafted-by-Hand: An Artisan Fair features noted jewelry designers Kristen Brown (Lebanon), Jennifer Johnson (Lisbon), Linda Davidson (Columbia), and Christine Hainsworth (West Hartford), potter Pat Rist (Branford), artists Judy Perry (Old Saybrook) and Chris Straus (West Hartford), silk marbler Lucille Scelfo (Northford), and crafter Laurie-Annya Linfoot (Stonington).

Next to the Market on the grounds of the Museum is Hands-On/Minds-On, where visitors of all ages enjoy fun, creative projects provided by area cultural organizations from 10am to 3pm.

At 12pm the Bee and Thistle Inn and Spa presents BEAT Shoreline Chef Competition. Just like on TV, four local chefs are given secret ingredients selected from Market En Plein Air vendors. Using those items, they prepare a dish to be judged on taste and presentation. Spectators watch as the chefs prepare their items. The winner will be selected at 1:30pm. The event takes place at the Florence Griswold Museum on stage by the banks of the Lieutenant River. Competing are Kris Rowe, chef at the Bee & Thistle Inn and Spa, Old Lyme; Dennis Young, chef at the Old Lyme Inn; Debra Corning, chef at the Monkey Farm Restaurant, Old Saybrook; Nick Dion, chef at Jessie’s Restaurant, Old Lyme. Judges are Sheldon Baker, PM Magazine’s Phantom Gourmet; Lee White, food writer and critic the Lyme Times; Amy Barry, journalist and freelance writer for Shoreline Publishing Company and Linda Guica, food writer and food columnist for the Hartford Courant. Linnea Rufo, owner of the Bee & Thistle Inn and Spa will mc the event.

From 1 to 2pm chef, author, and advocate Emily Brooks discusses local food and the sustainable agriculture movements and signs her most recent publications, Connecticut Farmer & Feast and New York City Farmer & Feast.

Entrance to activities is free. Admission to the Museum and riverfront gallery, which features the special exhibition, On Hudson: Highlights from the Albany Institute of History & Art will be reduced to $5 for the day. The Florence Griswold Museum is located in Old Lyme’s historic district at 96 Lyme Street. Exit 70 off I-95. (860) 434-5542. www.FlorenceGriswoldMuseum.org.

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