Bicentennial Celebration of Battle of Stonington- 1814

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I know my site is called Do Again, but sometimes that just isn’t an option. Sometimes you only get the chance to do something once. That is when you take the bull by the horns and dive right into the mix. This is about one of those times.

The weekend of August 9th, 2014, Stonington CT will be celebrating the 200th anniversary of The Battle of Stonington. In 1814, during the War of 1812, those pesky Brits decided to attack our sleepy little village and the battle raged for four days and nights. The brave residents of Stonington fought off five ships, commanded by Thomas Masterman Hardy of the British Royal Navy . Why would they bother little ole us, you ask?

They needed food. Desperately. And we had cattle.

We looked like an easy mark.

They were wrong.

The village residents had a lot of New England pluck about them and refused to surrender, which of course irked Commander Hardy to no end. So, he decided to bombard our village with cannonballs in an attempt to force us to bow down to his authority.

Here’s the problem – we weren’t a fort or military outpost, just a small fishing village. How could we prevail?

Fortunately, we had three small cannons at our disposal. Leftovers from the Revolutionary War? I don’t know.

In any case, they shot at us, we shot at them. . . . . . . Being thrifty New Englanders, we also gathered up the British cannonballs and wailed them back at the ships. Yup, we is smart. (Two of the cannons used in the battle are on permanent display in Cannon Square near the southern end of the village.)

While the Brits had much more firepower, after a few days they grudgingly gave up and limped off into the sunset. The attack did damage many homes, but the village survived. In fact, some homes still have cannonballs lodged in their walls to this day. A friend of mine has one in her basement wall.

Soon, talk about our plucky little town became “the talk of the country.” According to Mary Beth Baker, the executive director of the Stonington Historical Society, “It was a victory at a time when there were not many victories for the country. And it was a victory in a state that had reservations about the war. It was a way for Connecticut to rally behind the cause.”

For a long time, the annual celebration of The Battle of Stonington was more celebrated in town than the 4th of July. Even now, the village puts on some sort of celebration in remembrance of the eventually, but with its 200th anniversary, this year is special.

Currently, there is a curated exhibit at the La Grua Center, and special displays at the Stonington Historical Society Nathaniel Palmer House and Lighthouse. On the 10th, there will be a parade, along with a commemoration, concert, battle-themed walking tour, tall-ship cruises and a display of the tattered flag which flew during the battle.

For more information about these fun events, check out the Stonington Historical website and Stonington Borough websites It will be a grand weekend for all.

I mean really, Stonington knows how to do small town parades.

So please, do yourself a huge favor and come to Stonington for the festivities. You will be glad you did.

Photographs courtesy of Jerry J. Williams and Heather Lathrop Williams

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Beyond the Farmer’s Market @ The Velvet Mill

Each weekend the Stonington Farmer’s Market is held at the Velvet Mill, the streets get more and more crowded. Soon, I think the parking is going to overflow down my street. Especially if it keeps snowing the way it has. Yet, while the Market is packed, I wonder how many really go beyond the obvious to discover some of the other vendors and artists that inhabit this interesting revitalized factory.

This rambling building hosts a surprisingly wide-variety of businesses. I encourage you to get adventurous and poke your nose into the many wings and floors of the Velvet Mill. While not all businesses are open each Saturday, many do have their doors open for people to wander in and check out their wares.

DSCN0223If you enter the building from the main parking lot on Bayview Avenue, you will find a set of stairs in front of you. Don’t be like most people and walk by; if you go up the stairs, you will be greeted by what I like to call “The Great Hall.” This is a wonderfully bright gallery filled with paintings and sculpture by the many artists who have studios located on this floor. One of the most prominent artists is Dennis Sirine. You can’t miss his studio, because it is flanked with several of his paintings, including a large self-portrait over his studio entrance.

DSCN0228Enter his airy studio and you will find yourself surrounded by both his realistic and abstract paintings and tables. This is a must see on your weekly rounds. Oh, and if he isn’t in his studio, just go on down to the Farmer’s Market – he is often there socializing with the regulars.

Once you come back down the stairs, before you continue on to the Farmer’s Market (looking DSCN0226for Denise maybe?), stop off at Zest Bakery. This small shop is becoming a must for regulars. Zest always has a line on Saturdays, but no need to just stop by then, they are open every day except Mondays. Their baked goods are available for the impulse purchase or you can make a special request and they will take special orders. Some of the treats I have tried so far include a lemon meringue tart with a lavender/lemon zest crust for Easter, special order macarons for a graduation party, and just a double chocolate brownies, just for fun. Stop by and check it out; you will be glad you did.

DSCN0227Continue on down the corridor with a cookie and coffee in hand and you will find Indo Chic

, an import clothing company that specializes in Asian inspired clothing, which is both comfortable and well, chic! I love to look through the hangers and tables to see what is new each week. If you go around the corner, you will see even more outfits in the studio space. If you like bright colors and funky apparel, this is the place for you.

As you can see, the Farmer’s Market @ the Velvet Mill is MUCH more than just food. I mean really, I haven’t even told you about the glass and clay studios, print makers, art school, yoga studio. . . .

You get it. See you Saturday; it’s a Do Again!

Just wondering, if you went to a farmer’s market this weekend, what did you buy?