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Western Litchfield: Where Nature Meets Culture 

click to enlarge Macedonia State Park in Kent
  • Macedonia State Park in Kent

To some, the sleepy villages of western Litchfield County appear to be nothing more than a series of scenic communities nestled in the Connecticut countryside. But the region's bucolic setting is a place where nature meets culture. It's both high brow and low profile, where hikers from the nearby Appalachian Trail can enjoy a beer at a local bar in their outdoor gear, or those seeking art can browse paintings and sculpture in the many art galleries that dot the region.

Western Litchfield County can easily be called a day-tripper's dream. The description of the area as a "Norman Rockwell Christmas card," easily fits with its abundance of artists, thriving retail sector, and delicious restaurants. One such establishment is Kent's Fife'n Drum, serving upscale bistro fare where locals, weekenders, and tourists come together. While co-owner Dolph Traymon was told by former employer Peggy Lee that he'd "lost his mind" when he opened the establishment more than 40 years ago, business has boomed since then as the restaurant has become the perfect blend of old and new. Customers gather around the piano bar to hear Traymon play, tickling the ivories of his Steinway with the expected skill of someone who used to perform with Frank Sinatra.

The area's other cultural centerpieces are its galleries, from the large-scale retrospectives mounted at the Tremaine Gallery at the Hotchkiss School to members' exhibitions at the Kent Art Association to the White Gallery in Lakeville, presenting modern contemporary masters and emerging artists. An especially exciting show is at James Barron Art/Kent, an exhibition of works by Connecticut native Sol LeWitt, including LeWitt's Wall Drawing #701, which will be on view for only the second time in over 20 years though June 28. The artist created colors for his wall drawings by combining red, blue, yellow and grey in layers. Sometimes as many as 14 layers were used to create one color.

click to enlarge Photography by Avery Danziger at the Hotchkiss School’s Tremaine Gallery in Lakeville.
  • Photography by Avery Danziger at the Hotchkiss School’s Tremaine Gallery in Lakeville.

In Sharon, a cultural hub is TriArts Sharon Playhouse, whose crowd-pleasing summer main stage schedule features three musicals: Lerner and Lowe's "My Fair Lady" (June 18-July 5), Stephen Sondheim's "Merrily We Roll Along" (July 15-19), and the beautifully weird "Little Shop of Horrors" (August 13-30).

The surrounding scenic beauty make the region irresistible for nature lovers. For those who believe the mountain is always clearer to the climber from the plain, Kent's Macedonia State Park offers Hudson Valley residents an opportunity for reflection, as the Blue Trails across Cobble Mountain offer outstanding views of the Catskill and Taconic Mountains. The park boasts 2,300 acres, and exciting terrain that has resulted from the slow wearing down of its hard rock formation base. Hikers can easily find a spot to camp for the night at one of the park's 51 campsites. A smaller, but equally stunning venue is the Kent Falls park. Kent Falls has its beginning in the town of Warren, draining an area of six or seven square miles. It then flows west where it plunges approximately 70 feet in a dramatic cascade. Visitors can wander across the covered bridge, hike the falls, and feel the mist on their faces as water cascades 250 feet down on its way to joining the Housatonic River.

Whatever you do in the region, there is always another trail to hike down, another gallery to explore, another reason to return.

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