May Daze Stroll & Swing Dance, May 6

In Uncategorized on April 28, 2016 at 1:06 pm

May Daze Night. That’s been the name for the first Friday evening of May in Chester Center for several decades, thanks to the Chester Merchants. No one seems to know the reason for the name, but they know one thing – it’s always a great evening for people to convene in Chester Center for a “stroll” to meet friends, see new art exhibits, find sales and gift drawings at the shops, hear good music, and enjoy savory treats and wines as they browse.

This year, as the Main Street Bridge reconstruction nears its completion, the Merchants have added another element – a Main Street Swing Dance on May Daze Night. May is “Swinging Chester” month, so what could be better than a Swing Dance?

Gary Torello

Gary Torello

Chester Rotarian and DJ Gary Torello will be playing music in the street from 8 to 10 p.m., and Suzie Woodward of Lark has lined up swing dancers to show off some of their steps and moves. Come on down and dance on Main Street with us! It’s a perfect opportunity for Chester community fun and celebration and showing your support for Chester artists and Chester businesses.  

May Daze Night begins at 5 p.m. Parking is available in several public parking lots, on Water Street and on Maple Street. Questions? Check in with Suzie Woodward at Lark, 860-322-4047.

Here are just a few of the evening’s happenings between 5 and 8 p.m., before the Swing Dance:

Dina Varano Gallery will introduce Dina’s new collection of necklaces, “Delicate Elements.” They are distinctive creations to be worn on their own, yet they also are perfect for layering together at different lengths. These delicate elements in 14kt gold on sterling silver chains capture the essence of shapes found in nature. Festive refreshments will be served from 5 to 9 p.m.

Maple and Main Gallery of Fine Art will serve wine and cookies as you enjoy the Spring Exhibit of over 200 new paintings by 46 established artists. In addition, there is a special show in the Stone Gallery of the paintings by the late Don Bement of Haddam Neck.

Leif Nilsson, at the Leif Nilsson Spring Street Gallery, will have a 5 – 8 p.m. reception for his exhibit of his new gouache paintings done in the United Kingdom this spring.

Chester’s Hans Lohse puts the finishing touches on his bird house creations, which will be on exhibit at Chester Gallery, beginning with a reception on Friday, May 6, at 5 p.m. Also exhibiting that evening will be Richard Ziemann and Elizabeth Gourlay.

Chester’s Hans Lohse puts the finishing touches on his bird house creations, which will be on exhibit at Chester Gallery, beginning with a reception on Friday, May 6, at 5 p.m. Also exhibiting that evening will be Richard Ziemann and Elizabeth Gourlay.

Watch for more photos and more happenings on

Meeting House Players’ Production Opens April 29

In Uncategorized on April 18, 2016 at 5:48 pm

augustThe Meeting House Players will present Tracy Letts’ 2008 Pulitzer Prize and Tony Award winning play August: Osage County at the Chester Meeting House.  The production opens on Friday, April 29, and continues on April 30 and May 6 and 7.

A vanished father. A pill-popping mother. Three sisters harboring shady little secrets. When the large Weston family unexpectedly reunites after Dad disappears, their Oklahoman family homestead explodes in a whirlwind of repressed truths and unsettling secrets. This dark comedy unflinchingly and uproariously exposes the dark side of a Midwestern American family.  August: Osage County is being directed by Lenore Grunko and features a 13-member ensemble of talented area actors who bring these unique characters to life.

Evening performances start at 8 p.m. A matinee performance is scheduled for Saturday, May 7, at 2 p.m.  Tickets prices are $20 for preferred seating tickets and $15 for open seating tickets.  Reservation requests for both preferred and open seating are available by e-mail at or at 860-526-3684.  Unreserved tickets will be available at the door.

Please note that this play contains mature themes and may not be appropriate for all audiences.

The Chester Meeting House is located at 4 Liberty Street in Chester. The Meeting House Players is a not-for-profit, all volunteer community theater organization pursuing the theater arts with the talents and interests of individuals throughout Connecticut.

MHP Osage Cast Photo

The cast of “August: Osage County”

Chester “Walking Song” Video Wins Gold!

In Chester CT Events, Walking on April 17, 2016 at 3:08 pm

For years, the town of Chester knew the state was requiring that the Main Street Bridge be rebuilt, and this caused a lot of angst among merchants, selectmen, and residents. How would we cope with keeping the town center viable and reachable? Would the shops, restaurants and galleries continue to attract customers? Where would people park?

The selectmen required that the state do the reconstruction from the beginning of January 2016 until Memorial Day, to get it over with before summertime shopping and the Chester Sunday Market began. The town’s Economic Development Commission created a “Survival Guide” and held several planning meetings in an effort to minimize the impact on the business district.

Janet Cummings and Peter Good created the "Walking Town" decal and pewter ornament.

Janet Cummings and Peter Good created the “Walking Town” decal and pewter ornament.

Then, last fall the Chester merchants decided to meet the challenge head on. With a small group of creative merchants, Leslie Strauss wrote and recorded “The Chester Walking Song,” saying, “We are all so busy getting in shape on treadmills that we forget how much more enjoyable it is to get out there and ‘walk about.’ Chester Village shops, galleries and restaurants are, and will continue to be, more easily accessed than the average mall store. With parking lots within 70 steps, you can ‘walk right in and come hang out.’”

Annalisa Russell-Smith, of Chester-based Local Plant Productions, then volunteered to create a video of Chester Center with the song in the background.

Annalisa Russell-Smith filming in Chester Center. Photo by Al Malpa

Annalisa Russell-Smith filming in Chester Center. Photo by Al Malpa

As Leslie says, “Annalisa’s enchanting minute-long video reinforces the vibrancy of the village, and how accessible everything is to anyone willing to ‘walk right in, come hang out.’ The shops, galleries, restaurants and street scenes entice visitors of all ages to be sure to make Chester one of their New England favorites.”

This month, Annalisa’s video was selected for a Gold Award by the Hermes Creative Awards, an international competition for creative professionals involved in the concept, writing and design of traditional materials and programs, and emerging technologies. Hermes Creative Awards is administered and judged by the Association of Marketing and Communication Professionals.

For more information about Annalisa Russell-Smith, go to
Watch (and listen to) the Chester video here: More information about the Hermes Creative Awards here:


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