Roundup: Yankee Doodle Fair, Music Honors, Homelessness Help ...

14 Jun 2024

It’s a double celebration for Westport kids: Today is both the last day of school, and the second day of the Yankee Doodle Fair.

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The annual event — with roots dating way back to the early 20th century — opened yesterday, at the Westport Woman’s Club on Imperial Avenue.

It continues today (Friday, 6-10 p.m.), Saturday (1-10 p.m.) and Sunday (1-5 p.m.).

As always, there are rides, games, food vendors, booths — everything a carnival is known for.

Proceeds benefit the many good works of the Woman’s Club, including grants to non-profits and scholarships.

See you at the Fair!

Waiting for action, yesterday afternoon. (Photo/Richard Fogel)


Speaking of that Ferris wheel: From the top, fairgoers get a great view of the nearby Levitt Pavilion.

Tonight, they’ll catch glimpses of a shows. And everyone at the Yankee Doodle Fair can hear some of the music too, through the trees.

The Super Sonic Shorties — an all-female rock group — take the stage at 8 p.m. tonight. Click here for free tickets, and more information.

On Sunday (6 p.m. — after the fair closes), it’s The Wood Brothers. The Bygones open for them. Limited tickets remain; click here.

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The Wood Brothers are no strangers to the Levitt. They played a free show there in 2011. They’re back now as touring phenoms.


Speaking still of the Yankee Doodle Fair:

The Westport Astronomical Society will be there in force tomorrow (Saturday). But they won’t be riding the Ferris wheel, or even playing one of those galactic games.

The WAS will set up solar telescopes, so fairgoers can view the sun.

It’s full circle (ho ho). In 2017, the organization received a Westport Woman’s Club Ruegg Grant. They bought a Lunt 100mm solar telescope, for pristine views of the sun and its active atmosphere.

It, and other telescopes, will be there tomorrow. See the sun like never before!

Westport Astronomical Society’s solar telescope.


As it does once a year, the Yankee Doodle Fair forced the relocation of the Farmers’ Market from Imperial Avenue to the Westport Library parking lot.

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No problem! Neither vendors nor shoppers missed a beat.

The place was packed yesterday. Perfect late-spring weather made the produce, breads, baked goods — and so much more — even more delicious.

The view from the Levitt Pavilion steps. (Photo/Dan Woog


If you were at Staples Pops Concert last week — or the Candlelight Concert, or any other show at the high school, middle schools or elementary schools this year — this is not exactly stop-the-presses news:

The Westport Public Schools have been honored with another “Best Communities for Music Education” award from the National Association of Music Merchants Foundation.

The honor is getting routine. We’ve won it every year since 2013.

“Best Communities Music Education” designations go to districts that demonstrate outstanding achievement in efforts to provide music access and education to all students.

Criteria include funding, graduation requirements, music class participation, instruction time, facilities, support for the music program, and community music-making programs.

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Over 200 students take part in the Candlelight Concert each year. Hundreds more participate in music programs at the middle and elementary schools.


Speaking of awards: Dozens of Westporters were proudly in the Hartford crowd Wednesday, as the Town of Westport, Westport Housing Authority and Homes with Hope were all honored by the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness.

All 3 groups received “Community Champions Awards,” for their continuing innovative practices and collaborative efforts, significantly impacting hundreds of people needing shelter and food.

Congratulations to all, on this major recognition!

Officials representing the town of Westport, Homes with Hope and Westport Housing Authority, and the Connecticut Coalition to End Homelessness, at Wednesday’s ceremony.


There’s an old saying: “When you fall off a horse, get right back up.”

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The same can be said about rowing shells.

In late March, over 2 dozen Saugatuck Rowing Club rowers and coaches were rescued from the frigid Long Island Sound after 3 shells capsized in a sudden squall. Significant equipment was lost.

Despite their challenging spring, the team put 8 boats into the A finals at USRowing Nationals last week — the most in the club history.

Now, for the first time, SRC will send a crew to the Henley Royal Regatta in England June 28 through July 8. It’s a great international test for the local club.

Though their commitments to attend the US Naval Academy and Military Academy, respectively, prevent them from competing in England, captains George Bentley and Dillon Bhutani have led fundraising effort for the trip by seeking sponsors for feats of endurance.

Travel to England is expensive, and requires specialized clothing (including a specific blazer and hat). Not all rowing families can manage the financial burden. To defray expenses, the team will stay with a host family rather than a hotel.

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Donations of any size are welcome. Click here to help.

Saugatuck Rowing Club heads to Henley.


Westport Police made 4 custodial arrests last week.

An 18-year-old Weston man was charged with reckless driving, DUI under 21 years, passing in a no-passing zone and failure to drive n the proper lane, following a single-car rollover accident around 8:44 p.m. on May 14. Several witnesses described the driver’s reckless, aggressive habits prior to the crash.

A 26-year-old Danbury man was charged with evading responsibility, following too closely, and driving without a license, following an accident at 8:18 a.m. on May 9. A woman stopped in traffic on Bayberry Lane at Long Lots Road was struck from behind by an SUV. As she inspected the damage, the driver shrugged his shoulders and drove away. The woman took a photo of his license plate.

A 52-year-old Southbury man was charged with reckless burning, criminal mischief and threatening, following an investigation into an early morning April 2019 fire at the Saugatuck train station. Due to the man’s mental state at the time of the incident, he was transported to a local hospital for evaluation.

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A 36-year-old Torrington man was charged with burglary and larceny, following a November report of a burglary while a family was not home. A security camera showed the man entering the home. He was arrested after being implicated in another burglary in the neighborhood.

Westport Police also issued these citations:

Failure to comply with state traffic commission regulations: 19 citatiosn Operating an unregistered motor vehicle: 6 Traveling unreasonably fast: 5 Operating a motor vehicle without a license: 4 Operating a motor vehicle under suspension: 3 Failure to obey traffic control signals: 2 Evading responsibility: 1 Driving while texting: 1 Distracted driving 1 Improper passing: 1 Failure to drive right: 1 Following too closely: 1 Failure to obey stop sign: 1 Unsafe backing: 1 Unreadable license plates: 1 Failure to wear seat belt: 1 Improper turn signal lamps: 1 Failure to renew registration: 1


April Cunningham’s Westport roots run deep.

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Her maiden name is Carusone. Her father was a Westport police officer. Her grandfather James Dorta worked for the town.

She fell on hard times. Both she and her husband are on disability. She has severe arthritis, while he has cataracts and needs surgery.

A couple of months ago, generous Westporters helped her and her husband with housing and food, in Milford.

Once again, they are on the verge of homelessness and hunger.

Click here to read the story of a local resident in need, with a link to a fund for assistance.


Russell Barnard, co-founder and publisher of Country Music Magazine, and longtime resident of Westport, died on February 5. He was 86.

He grew up in Pampa, Texas, then earned a degree in chemical engineering from Yale University in 1960.

After beginning his career at Sinclair Oil he soon moved to the music industry, working for Columbia Records in New York from 1963 to 1970, before turning to media and publishing.

In the early 70s he was a consultant to various media outlets and publications. He served as publisher of Harper’s Magazine from 1972 to 1976.

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In 1972, he co-founded Country Music Magazine. With over 700,000 subscribers, it appealed to fans, music artists and industry executives, while never shying away from controversy or honest criticism.

Longtime contributor Rich Kienzle said that Barnard encouraged his writers —including luminaries like Patrick Carr, Nick Tosches and Peter Guralnick — to be “outlaw journalists,” like some country artists.

Barnard’s ability to spot, and foster, writing talent was as important to the magazine’s success as his ability to spot musical trends.

In 1988 he moved the magazine and his family from New York to Westport. Country Music had offices on Riverside Avenue and then Post Road East at Turkey Hill Road, where it remained until Barnard sold the magazine in 1999. The last issue was published in 2003.

In 2012, Barnard and his wife Helen — who worked as an editor of the magazine in Westport — moved back to New York City. He donated a collection of archived material to the University of North Carolina Wilson Special Collections Library, which Ken Burns drew on extensively for his documentary on the history of country music.

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He is survived by Helen; their children Anne, John and Christopher, as well as 2 grandchildren. A small funeral was held in February at Willowbrook Cemetery, where he is buried.

Russ Barnard and Johnny Cash, at the singer’s Tennessee cabin.


Yesterday, “06880” reported on the protected area at Compo Beach, where American oystercatchers are nesting.

That’s not the only local spot to tread lightly. This is a shot from Sherwood Island State Park — an excellent reminder of the wonders of “Westport … Naturally:

(Photo/Pam Docters)


And finally: Happy Flag Day! Long may she wave …

(“06880” is here for you on Flag Day … and every other day of the year too. If you’d like to support our work, please click here. Thank you!)

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