Wilton Summer of 2021 Bucket List

The Summer of 2021 is here (as if those temperatures didn’t tell you this week) and there are places to go and things to see. Last year was a washout, making it doubly important to get out and enjoy all the things that Wilton has to offer. Whether you are a newly relocated resident or a Wilton lifer, GOOD Morning Wilton has a bucket list of places, events, and amenities you should check out over the next two months.

Hiking and Walking Wilton’s Trails

The Norwalk River Valley Trail is Wilton’s most popular route for hiking, walking, jogging and more. The Friends of the NRVT focused first on Wilton in its mission to create a 30 mile, 10-foot-wide multi-use trail from Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk to Rogers Park in Danbury, and Wiltonians know how lucky we are that they did. While more trail is being forged now in Ridgefield, Norwalk and Redding, there’s plenty of finished trail right here to enjoy.

In Wilton, the NRVT makes a loop. Hike the entire 5.25-mile loop or choose one side. The east side of the loop extends approximately two-and-a-quarter miles from Wolfpit Rd. and Rte. 7 to just short of Skunk Ln. The Wilton loop will soon be extended north of Skunk Ln. to reach the Cannondale train station, but for now, that’s where it ends to the east.

The 3.0-mile west side of the loop runs from Wolfpit Rd. and Rte. 7 to Schenk’s Island, through the town center along River Rd., passing Merwin’s Meadow, the school complex, and then hitting the north end of the loop in Allen’s Meadows at Olmstead Hill Rd.

Of course, the NRVT isn’t the only trail in Wilton. There’s something for everyone — wooded forests, open meadows, scenic overlooks, inclines, dog-friendly, wetlands and more. Check out the Wilton Conservation Commission page on the town website.

Schenck’s Island 

Though technically not an island, Schenck’s Island feels like one with the Norwalk River on its west and south sides and the railroad tracks to the east. It has been maintained as an open space park with a trail system that leads visitors in a loop around the island. There is also a side trail that parallels the Norwalk River. Clearings made along the river provide excellent sites for fishing, picnicking, or relaxing by the water’s edge.

To reach the island from Wilton Center, go south on Old Ridgefield Road 0.3 miles to River Road. Turn left (east) and cross the bridge. The park entrance is south of the bridge.

Fish for Trout in the Norwalk River

The Norwalk River holds a small but stable population of wildly spawning brown trout, and it’s being beautifully restored and maintained by the Norwalk River Watershed Association and the Mianus Chapter of Trout Unlimited. Check out Trout Unlimited’s     website for maps and fishing advice.

Keep Wilton Beautiful

Mother Earth gives us so much to enjoy, consider giving back to her by helping to preserve the natural beauty and ecosystems of Wilton. The Wilton Environmental Affairs office provides Wilton residents with litter pickers at no charge. They suggest bringing along a litter picker while walking the Norwalk River Valley Trail, watching your child’s soccer game, walking your dog, or strolling the neighborhood.

The Environmental Affairs office can also assign an area in need of clean-up for those having trouble finding a spot. Residents may stop by the Environmental Affairs office anytime Monday-Friday between 8 a.m and 4 p.m. to pick up litter pickers.

Merwin Meadows

Situated just off town center, Merwin Meadows community park offers a swimming pond with lifeguards, beach, pavilion and grills, bathhouse, playground, and athletic field. Cool off with a swim or have a picnic from 9:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. any day of the week.

Merwin Meadows summer passes, which are currently available for purchase through the department’s e-Trak online system.

Wilton Farmer’s Market

The Wilton Farmers’ Market features both local farmers and artisans and vendors who come together at the Wilton Historical Society every Wednesday from 12 p.m -5 p.m. (now through Oct. 27). According to its website, the market features “local Connecticut farmers offering seasonal and organic produce, fresh baked goods and pastries, food trucks with a selection of lunch items, local artists and crafters featuring their original and one of a kind art pieces, craft breweries for non-alcoholic beverages, premium imported Italian goods direct from Italy,” and more. All participating vendors are listed on the Wilton Chamber of Commerce website.

Wilton Historical Society

Wilton Historical Society co-executive director Allison Sanders shows off the museum’s “History is Here” exhibit.

Whether it’s Farmers’ Market Wednesday or any other, discover the beauty and charm of Wilton through its history. The Wilton Historical Society offers a number of exhibits honoring the rich stories of the Wilton residents that came before our time:

  • Remembering Dave: A Brubeck Family Album, Connecticut’s History, Wilton’s Story beautifully shares the life of the jazz great who called Wilton home. It runs through Saturday, July 31.
  • The fully touchable, Just Like Grandma Used to Make: A Hands-on Experience of 300 Years of Kitchen History exhibit is open for those who just can’t seem to keep their hands to themselves.
  • In the Wilton: Siwanog Tribe, English Parish, American Town exhibit, the early history of Wilton is traced through a selection of rarely seen objects from the Permanent Collection.
  • Celebrate 100 years of women’s suffrage with Citizens at Last: Hannah Ambler, Grace Schenck, and the Vote, a digital exhibit documenting the role of Wilton women in the fight to win the vote.

On your way out be sure to stop by the Betts Store to pick up a locally-made and one-of-a-kind item, and smell the herbs in the Colonial garden.

The Wilton Historical Society is open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m – 4 p.m. (224 Danbury Rd.)

Wilton Historical Society’s “Fire and Ice” Ice Cream Social

To prepare for the 4th of July weekend, the Wilton Historical Society is holding a “Fire and Ice” Ice Cream Social on Thursday, July 1 from 3:30-5 p.m. 

Docents in Colonial attire will demonstrate all manner of Colonial activities, from firing Revolutionary War-style muskets to spinning and blacksmithing. Kids can try their hands at spoke shaving, weaving, and flax-breaking. Enjoy ice cream social courtesy of the Drum Hill Chapter Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) and Captain David Hawley Betts Society Children of the American Revolution (CAR). Learn about the Verbruggen Cannon, an exact reproduction of a 1776 artillery also known as a “Grasshopper” and find out how it was loaded and fired.

The Wilton Historical Society will also debut a new exhibition: “Rebels and Redcoats: The Aftermath of the Battle of Ridgefield.”

The DAR will also hold a patriot look-up session where experienced genealogists will be on hand to help you discover your patriotic roots.

Brubeck Collection at Wilton Library

The family of the late jazz legend Dave Brubeck has moved the Brubeck Collection Archives to the Wilton Library.

The Library just unveiled the beautiful space it’s created to house the collection, a treasure trove of musical recordings, correspondence, legal and business documents, photographs, manuscripts, and memorabilia from Dave and Iola Brubeck, two of contemporary jazz’s greatest contributors. The librarians are still cataloging and moving much of the collection into the space but some of the memorabilia is on display in its new permanent home.

Of course, the Wilton Library on its own is a must visit, in the summer as well as year round. As Executive Director Elaine Tai-Lauria often says, the library is the cultural and intellectual center of Wilton. We think it’s a town jewel.  (137 Old Ridgefield Rd.)

Ambler Farm

photo: GOOD Morning Wilton

Ambler Farm combines everything that’s GOOD about Wilton: it shows off our agrarian history, provides a beautiful setting to walk around, entertains with a bevy of farm animals and amazing programs, and feeds us — it’s a working organic farm.

The Town purchased the 22-acre, 200-year-old working farm in 1999 from the estate of Betty Ambler, last of the Raymond-Ambler family to live at Ambler Farm. Renovated and restored by the Friends of Ambler Farm, this town treasure is now one of the most prominent of Wilton’s open spaces.

Not only does Ambler Farm offer great educational programming, there are programs for all ages, as well as the annual tradition of Ambler Farm Day in the fall. But summer is a great time to enjoy the seasonal farm stand (every Saturday, 9 a.m.-2 p.m.) and all the beauty the farm has to offer. Ambler Farm is open year round, from dawn until dusk. (257 Hurlbutt St.)

Ice Cream Tour

There’s no better way to cool off than with ice cream, and we suggest testing every ice cream shop in town this summer. Go to Scoops (92 Old Ridgefield Rd.), Gopher Ice Cream (379 Danbury Rd.), and Heibeck’s Stand (951 Danbury Rd.) to taste all the refreshing and yummy summery treats.

Road Stand Bites

Not only does Heibeck’s Stand have delicious homemade ice cream but its extensive menu offers great eats — including what they say have been voted the best hamburger, lobster roll and hot dog in Connecticut. We say don’t miss the truffle roasted brussel sprouts, shrimp po’ boy, loaded fries and Philly cheesesteak while you’re there. Oh, and did we mention the patio is BYOB? Meet you there!

Just a bit down Rte. 7 is Dog Daze Cafe (713 Danbury Rd.), a charming little roadside classic that’s been modernized and updated. Yummy toppings galore on their hot dogs are topped only by so much more on the menu with an organic flair. Fish and chips, juicy burgers, and the must-try mac-and-cheese wedges are on our list. While you’re there it’s worth picking up a mason jar (or two or 10) of organic jams, pickled veggies, relishes, salsa, honey and other spreads. Plus there’s a farm stand next door, so pick up some fresh farm-to-table produce while you’re at it. Just don’t forget the cash — Dog Daze is cash only.

Wilton Summer Concert Series

Each year the Wilton Parks and Recreation Department hosts free outdoor concerts for residents. This year, the series will feature local acts on four consecutive Sunday evenings from 5-7 p.m. The first two concerts will be held at Schenck’s Island with seating on the island; the final two will take place at Merwin Meadows. Dates and performers are Sunday, July 11 — Captain Obvious; Sunday, July 18 — TBD; Sunday, July 15 — The Defibrillators; and Sunday, Aug. 1 — The Treeshakers.

Kiwanis Car Show  

The Tom “Geeb” Fleming Memorial Cruise Night returns to Wilton Center on Friday, July 9, 5:30–8:30 p.m. at the Piersall Building (44 Old Ridgefield Rd.).

In memory of Geeb Fleming and Nick Allegretta, who started the show 19 years ago, the annual event shows off classic cars, old military vehicles, farm tractors, motorcycles, and more, which are all on-premises for this family event.

Hosted by the Wilton Kiwanis Club, members will be grilling and serving hamburgers, cheeseburgers, hot dogs, and soda to bring a little nostalgic feeling back to town. Proceeds from the sale of food and beverages will benefit the charitable efforts of the Kiwanis Club.

Wilton Street Fair and Sidewalk Sales

On Saturday, July 24, 10 a.m.- 3 p.m. the Wilton Chamber of Commerce will host its ninth annual Wilton Street Fair and Sidewalk Sales. The Chamber website says it best: “Wilton Center will be transformed into an exciting, action-packed, bargain-filled, entertaining, and delicious destination for residents and regional visitors.”

At this summer festival, you’ll find retailers, restaurateurs, businesses, artisans, and local organizations that show off Wilton as a great place to shop, dine and visit. Plus there’s a full schedule of entertainment with music, live performances and family-fun activities on the Town Green (101 Old Ridgefield Rd.) around the gazebo, at Wilton Library, and at the Wilton River Park Shopping Center (5 River Rd.) including face-painting, bouncy-house, obstacle course, magician, balloon characters, bubbles from Mr. Bungles, kid’s crafts, Sand Art Party, and more.

Find the day’s activities along Old Ridgefield Rd., from Center St. to River Rd.

Family S’mores at Woodcock Nature Center

Bring the whole family for some after-dinner s’mores at Woodcock Nature Center on Sunday, July 25, 6-7:30 p.m. Meet some animals, make new friends, and kids can burn off their dessert by exploring our playground and fitness trail. Register for free on the Woodcock Nature Center website.

“Stars Above: An All-American Open-Air Circus” 

This year, the Parks and Recreation Department is sponsoring a three-day engagement with a traveling circus called “Stars Above: An All-American Open-Air Circus” that will make its exclusive Connecticut stop in Wilton.

Created by 2020 Drama Desk Award nominees Josh Aviner and Lyndsay Magid Aviner of Hideaway Circus, Stars Above is a brand new, open-air circus touring the Northeast region of the U.S. this August and September, making 10 stops throughout Vermont, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and upstate New York.

The Wilton shows will take place on the Comstock Soccer Field behind Comstock Community Center (180 School Rd.), and are scheduled for Friday, Aug. 27 at 7 p.m.Saturday, Aug. 28 at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Aug. 29, at 7 p.m. Tickets for the Wilton shows are on sale now on the Stars Above Circus website.

Cannon Grange Agricultural Fair

The annual Cannon Grange Agricultural Fair shows off Wilton’s agrarian roots and the historic Cannondale Village. In and around historic Grange Hall there will be vendors as well as all the entries for the annual competition for home-grown and home-made items, featuring everything from jewelry and holiday decoration to vegetables, flowers, farm animals photography, eggs, and sewing. Plus vendors on hand for a little shopping add to the fun. Make sure to stop by the Cannon Grange (25 Cannon Rd.) on Sunday, August 29 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for the perfect end of summer celebration.