Known for its commitment to the best jazz for the past 18 years, this is the festival that discovered Diana Krall and was a favorite of the late, great Dave Brubeck.
Litchfield has broadened its scope lately to include all sorts of jazz—virtually every type of Latin jazz has been represented, as has swing, blues and even gospel.
While keeping a sharp eye on what’s new and best in jazz and showcasing artists like NEA Jazz Master and multi-Grammy winner Eddie Palmieri and his Latin Band (Aug. 10), the festival has fine-tuned, extended and improved all the outer-festival experiences.
Thanks to its art and craft curator, Ellen Corsell of Kent’s Heron Gallery, dozens of fine artists and crafters from New England and beyond will exhibit and sell hand-crafted jewelry of all styles and price points, candles, clothing, ceramics, local olive oils, jam and jellies and more.
Ms. Muir said she does one-stop shopping for the holidays here every year and loves to be asked where she purchased one of her festival finds. She said she loves being a walking billboard for her crafters.
Ms. Muir is excited, too, about the fine artists who will display their work at the Second Stage Tent and is especially pleased to have the work of one of her stalwarts, Danielle Mailer, grace the 2013 festival T-shirt.
Beverage offerings (you can buy on site but not bring your own) now boast a locally crafted lager from Olde Burnside Brewery out of East Hartford and an exciting new line of California wines from the Alfresco line bottled and distributed by Ridgefield-based Master Brands.
Choosey about their wines, Ms. Muir and several of her pickier staffers sampled chilled glasses of the wines they’d offer at the festival and were delighted with the line’s quality and crisp finish for summer drinking. (Both companies are sponsors of the festival this year).
It wouldn’t be a festival without food. Great food, both exotic and familiar. Litchfield is offering everything from Ethiopian vegetarian and vegan options, pad thai, falafel, and lobster fritters to steak grinders and locally raised bison burgers. To top off meals, you can try savory or sweet French crepes, Ben & Jerry’s ice cream and organic coffees and teas from the Lakeville-based Harney & Sons.
Visitors are welcome to bring picnics if they wish, but all food offerings are well priced.
Litchfield Jazz Festival sponsors the five-week-long Litchfield Jazz Camp, and the festival is often the first jazz experience many youngsters have. And so from both marketing and educational standpoints, Ms. Muir aims to attract families with children.
The fest has always featured students from Litchfield Jazz Camp on their second stage between main-stage acts. These sidebar performances are a hit with both adults and children.
Face painting was introduced by the Village Center for the Arts a couple of years ago, and it will be there again this year. There is a small fee for participation.
But with help from Mommy Poppins, a source for children’s entertainment and some of their own leads, Ms. Muir and the fest’s technical director, Karen Simpson, have created what they are calling a “Kid Zone” and have lined up free activities for kids to observe and participate in on both weekend days.
On Saturday, the audience will enjoy watching the well-known graffiti artist Ryan Christiansen create an epic mural for the festival. Other attractions during the weekend include stilt walking, juggling and other thrills by Matica Circus Company; close-up magic by Brian Miller, who performs at theaters, colleges, comedy clubs and was magician in residence at Foxwoods Resort; and hoop dancing by the beautiful and talented Karlie Dean, also known as “Miss Fly Hips.” Also on the student stage, RS Berkeley, the instrument manufacturer, is hosting demonstrations of trumpets and saxophones of all kinds by its endorsers, all of whom work for the Camp and started their musical careers there 10 to 15 years ago. Thanks to RS Berkeley, two lucky families have the chance to win one of their excellent trumpets or saxophones.
Visit www.litchfieldjazzfest.com for complete information about Litchfield Jazz Festival and its family offerings and about Litchfield Jazz Camp, which is still accepting students July 7-Aug. 9, or call 860-361-6285.
Tickets to the festival start at $30. Outer-Fest activities are free to ticketholders. Admission for children age 12 and younger is free on the lawn with an adult. Tickets for the Friday evening gala are $150.
The Goshen Fairgrounds is located at 116 Old Middle St. in Goshen.
Published: Monday, July 08, 2013. View article on countytimes.com.
Photo by Antonio Monteiro (didn't appear in the County Times Article).