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On Labor Day weekend my wife, Tricia, and I headed for northeast Connecticut to explore a seasonal favorite, The Woodstock Fair. Unfortunately, we had a late start. By the time we arrived at the fairgrounds, the line of cars waiting to park was over a mile long. Down the road from the fairgrounds is a popular farm winery that we had planned to visit on the way home. Fortunately, Taylor Brooke Winery was open and their parking lot was invitingly empty.
The owners of this winery, Dick and Linda Auger, began making wine as a hobby in 1993. Their love of the craft led to the official establishment of this winery in 1999, after hand-planting their first 300 vines. They have continued planting additional vines every year since then. Today, I estimate that they have over 2000 vines contributing to at least half of their wine production. During my visit I photographed a large field of new vines, which I believe will significantly increase my estimate of that number.
They received a Connecticut Farm Winery permit in November of 1999, and opened the tasting room (pictured below) in June of 1994. Currently, Taylor Brooke produces 16 small batch wines, which include dry estate-grown whites and reds, fruit-infused Rieslings and dessert wines.
Dick and Linda have transformed one of the largest and oldest farms in this area into one of Connecticut’s most popular and respected farm wineries.
Dick enjoys greeting visitors during tasting sessions. At these meet and greet sessions, he enthusiastically shares his extensive knowledge of every aspect of wine, from planting vines to producing quality wines from the grapes. As the winemaker, he manages the production of about 2500 cases of wine a year.
There are two outside tasting areas for guests to enjoy their wine when the weather permits.
The bottle of wine in the photo below is a Riesling infused with a natural raspberry essence. I usually prefer the crisp, clean brightness of Sauvignon Blanc when I drink or cook with a white wine. However, after a brief conversation with another visitor in the tasting room, I decided to try this seasonal wine. I was surprised to discover an intense brightness in this wine without the cloying sweetness found in other wines of this type. After tasting it and preparing two of my favorite braised chicken and herb recipes, I used this wine in the reduction sauce, with great success. I am now curious to see how it will pair with some of my favorite Asian recipes.
The grapes in the background are Cayuga White; a hardy hybrid grape developed at Cornell University. This grape is one of the mainstays of wineries in Connecticut.
Pictured below are several mature Cayuga White vines producing an impressive yield. This grape variety answers the question, “Which hybrid grape is easy to grow and make quality wine from?”
This spacious vineyard allows visitors to take unguided tours of the various fields, and also provides comfortable areas to relax and enjoy the view.
Below is what I believe is the latest field being prepared for planting in the spring.
Passing up a large and very popular fair to take a relaxing and informative tour of a first class vineyard like Taylor Brooke was time well spent.
Crazy Horse —The Last Great Warrior of the Plains
This photo was taken from the recently constructed viewing deck near the Monument. Mike lined this shot to show the contrast between a completed model and the Memorial’s work in progress.
I met Mike and Jayne nearly 54 years ago while playing a game called “curb ball” with a few friends. It’s a simple game that only requires a sidewalk curb or concrete step, and a few friends to play. It became popular in many cities around the country after World War II. We liked playing games like this because the only equipment needed was a tennis ball, or a pink rubber ball that we called a “pinkie”. This day, however, tragedy struck. I was the designated batter. As I threw the ball against the curb, it struck the very edge and collapsed. Unfortunately, it was the only ball we had. We thought that the game was over until Mike and Jayne, who had been watching us play offered us a solution to the problem. Mike announced that he had two brand new “pinkies” at home. If we let him be the next batter, he would run home and get one. We all agreed, so Mike ran home and brought back a brand new ball, and the game continued. We have been friends ever since.
The background in this photo was shot, by me, in 1960. It is the the parking court where we played many ball games like “curb ball”. The characters in the foreground were frequent players in all of our games. The foregound photo was taken at our Franklin Field Project reunion in August, 2013. Jayne was behind the camera.
Over the years, Mike and Jayne have not lost their willingness to share with friends. Last year they vacationed in New Mexico. They returned with some great photographs of the Albuquerque Balloon Festival, and gave me permission to publish them in my February post of this year. This year they went to the Great Plains to see and experience the majesty of the Crazy Horse Memorial being carved into a 600-foot-high mountain in the Black Hills of South Dakota. When completed, it will be 563 feet high and 641 feet long. These dimensions will make it the largest sculpture in the world. Crazy Horse’s head will be larger than all of the heads of the Presidents at Mount Rushmore.
The Black Hills are a small mountain range rising from the Great Plains in South Dakota and extending into Wyoming. These hills were so named because of their dark appearance when viewed from a distance because of their dense tree cover. The Lakota made the Black Hills their home after forcing the Cheyenne to relocate to the west in 1776.
Crazy Horse was an Oglala Sioux Native American Chief who waged a desperate battle against the removal of his people from the Black Hills to U.S. government reservations. He was born to parents of two tribes of the Lakota division of Sioux. His father was an Oglala and his mother was a Miniconjou. His birth came at a time when the Lakota people were at the height of their power. They controlled a vast swath of land from the Missouri River in the east to the Big Horn River in the west. Their contact with white settlers was minimal until the 1850s when white settlers began moving west in search of gold and a new life on the frontier. As the number of new settlers increased, they introduced diseases that began to take a serious toll on native American populations. By 1854, tensions between native Americans and the settlers boiled over with an incident known as the Grattan Massacre. In August of 1854, a group of soldiers led by Lieutenant John Grattan entered the Sioux camp of Chief Conquering Bear to arrest a man for killing a settler’s cow that wandered into the area. The Chief refused to turn the man over to the soldiers, and violence erupted. During the confrontation one of the soldiers shot and killed the Chief. The camp’s warriors fought back and killed Grattan and his 30 soldiers. This is widely believed to be the conflict that set off the first great war between the Lakota and the United States. As conflicts escalated between the United States and the Lakota, Crazy Horse was at the center of many key battles. Because of his exceptional fighting ability Crazy Horse was named Ogale Tanka (war leader) by his tribe in 1865. He had a seemingly mystical ability to avoid injury or death on the battlefield. It is believed that he was only wounded twice; both wounds were inflicted by members of his tribe. Crazy Horse had one motive for fighting in most of his battles. He was determined retake the Lakota life he had known as a child, when his people had full run of the Great Plains.
The last stand and death of Crazy Horse
During the Civil War (1861-1865), the military avoided battle with the Lakota. In 1866, however, hostilities began again. In December of that year Crazy Horse led an attack on a Captain William Fetterman and a brigade of 80 soldiers, outside of Fort Laramie on the Bozeman Trail in Wyoming, just south of the Montana border. Fetterman and his entire brigade were killed. This was a huge embarrassment for the U.S military.
On June 17, 1876, Crazy Horse led 1,200 Oglala and Cheyenne warriors against General George Crook and his brigade as they were on their way to confront Chief Sitting Bull at his encampment on the Little Bighorn River. The attack foiled Crook’s planned attack, preventing him from linking up with General Custer and his 7th Cavalry on Big Horn River. On June 24, 1876, Custer attacked Sitting Bull’s camp. This attack ended in disaster for the 7th Cavalry. The detachment was cut to pieces and killed to the last man. After the defeat on the Big Horn River, the Army pursued a scorched-earth policy against the Lakota. Sitting Bull led his followers to Canada to escape this wrath. Crazy Horse refused and vowed to continue fighting. During the winter of 1877, hunger and cold forced many of Crazy Horse’s warriors to abandon him. On May 6, 1877, Crazy Horse led his people into Fort Robinson to surrender. On the morning of September 5th, 1877, Crazy Horse was bayoneted in the back by a guard while being formally arrested at Fort Robinson, and died later that night.
Looking into the future of the Memorial
The painting below shows how this remarkable carving will look in the future when all of Korczak’s major goals are completed. A poem written by the sculptor will be carved behind the horse and rider in letters three feet tall.
Korczak Ziolkowski, a Polish/American sculptor, was the designer of The Crazy Horse Memorial. He was born in Boston in 1908 to Polish parents. He was educated at Rindge Technical (now called Rindge Latin) in Cambridge, Massachusetts. After graduating he became apprentice to a Boston ship maker, and began carving wood at age 20. He later moved to West Hartford, Connecticut, to begin a career as a professional artist. He was one of the sculptors who helped in the carving of Mount Rushmore. His reputation as a sculptor, and his familiarity with South Dakota’s Black Hills prompted several Lakota chiefs to approach him about constructing a monument honoring Native Americans. Chief Henry Standing Bear of the Lakota Nation wrote him a letter saying, “My fellow chiefs would like the white man to know the red man has great heroes, too. In 1947, Ziolkowski moved to the Black Hills to begin planning the sculpture. The first blast was made on June 3, 1948, and the Memorial was dedicated to the Native American people. He continued his work until his death in 1982. After his death, his wife Ruth took over the project as director until her death on May 14 of this year. Their children are continuing the carving of the monument or are active in the Crazy Horse Memorial Foundation. The U.S. government has offered the foundation 10 million dollars to help with the construction, but it has been turned down. The foundation charges admission to visitors to raise development funds.
Planned dimensions of the Crazy Horse Memorial
Mount Rushmore — only 8 miles away
If you are interested in this subject go to www.biography.com and type Crazy Horse into the search bar. There you will find biographies of many of the historical figures discussed here.
The Durham Fair was first held on the last weekend of September in 1916, and has been held on this same weekend for the past 95 years. Over the years the fair has only been cancelled twice and delayed once. During the World War II years of 1942, 1943 and 1944, limited resources forced cancellation. A hurricane passed through the area in 1938 forcing the second cancellation, and Hurricane Gloria in 1985 prevented the fair from opening on its first day (Friday). However, the dedicated efforts of hundreds of volunteers made it possible for the fair to open on schedule for the weekend. Unlike many other large agricultural fairs that have replaced volunteers with paid staff and management, the Durham Fair remains 100 percent volunteer run. I believe it one of only two agricultural fairs in the country to maintain this tradition. This fair also takes pride in distributing all profits to provide academic scholarships and a variety of support services to the town of Durham
Fair activities include livestock exhibits, pulling contests, agricultural exhibits, and craft events. The draft horse and tractor pulls are my favorites. This year, the weather was gorgeous during the three-day event, and an estimated 200,000 people were expected to attend. If someone told me that half of those folks were there on Sunday with me and my wife Tricia, I would have no trouble believing it.
Here is the main stage tent, which this year featured popular entertainers like Tower of Power, a group with more than 20 successful albums to their credit. Other entertainers included: Montgomery Gentry, featuring Troy Gentry and Eddie Montgomery, who together have celebrated multiple awards for their music, and Jo Dee Messina, a talented, award winning country western singer. Past entertainers on the main stage have included Justin Moore, Bill Monroe, Loretta Lynn, the Guess Who and KC and the Sunshine Band.
A view of the fair from the top of the Town Green not far from The Wine Festival Tent.
This is a reincarnation of food sold by an old Boston fast food chain that thrived in the ’50s and ’60s. During our high school years, Dave Duffy and I commuted to school on public transportation. The final leg of that journey was on an elevated train that ran from Forest Hill Station, where Dave jumped on. The next stop was Green Street, then it rolled into Egleston Station where I got on. Two stops later we arrived at Kneeland Street Station where Dave and I got off and walked from there to Cathedral High School. Keep in mind that this commute was taking place at around 7 in the morning. At the bottom of the stairs leading from the station was a fast food shop called Joe and Nemo’s. And they sold? You guessed it! Steamed burgers and hot dogs, already on the bun with only mustard for a garnish. If you ever talk to Dave, please don’t tell him that you heard this from me. We didn’t make a regular habit of it, but there were days when a steamed cheeseburger or hot dog tasted pretty good at 7 in the morning. Joe and Nemo’s was a Boston original, with at least 40 stores in various neighborhoods around Boston and Cambridge. Judging from the line at the counter, steamed burgers and dogs are still popular — at least in Connecticut. I was tempted to order one, but 6 dollars was out of my price range. At Joe and Nemo’s they cost us less than a dollar each. Of course, that was back in 1960.
A blast from the past
The Connecticut Wine Festival returned to the Durham Fair for a second year to showcase Connecticut wines. The popularity of this event is a reflection of the growing enthusiasm in this country for local wines. This is especially true here in Connecticut where local wines continue to win fans and impress connoisseurs from around the world.
Entrance to the Wine Festival tent. That is Tricia in background entering the tent. Her enthusiasm for this event was obvious here. Like many of the woman that I met at the festival, she has an educated palette for certain wines and is eager to share her knowledge with others.
The Wine Institute of New England was conducting a free wine appreciation seminar, covering wine tasting techniques, varietal information and debunking common wine myths.
I was very impressed with the wine knowledge and sophisticated taste preferences of young women that I met while at the festival.
Michael Blunt (in the middle) starring as Puck in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream
This performance, accompanied by a full symphony orchestra and young choral group, was a true testament to how much determination and effort my youngest has devoted to developing a career in a very demanding profession. The attending audience loved the performance, and demonstrated it with a standing ovation at its conclusion.