Tuesday, July 3, 2018

Norfolk’s WINning three-day festival garners enthusiastic town-wide support

Norfolk is a very special community in the heart of Connecticut’s Litchfield Hills. It is also unique in that it has developed a summer and winter town-wide festival, Weekend in Norfolk (WIN), with support from more than 100 organizations, businesses and individuals and from the Town of Norfolk itself.

One of the most important elements of creating a town-wide festival is to get the support of local government officials, and Norfolk’s have put tangible help behind their approval of WIN. The town acts as the event’s fiscal agent so that donations made to WIN are tax deductible, its staff assists the committee as needed and it allows the use of town property for events that are part of WIN. “The town’s encouragement and support are so important,” says event co-chair Sue Frisch. “That support makes everything easier to do.”

Matt Riiska, Norfolk’s first selectman, believes that WIN, coming on August 3, 4 and 5 this summer, is a natural extension of Norfolk’s rich cultural heritage. “Music, art, and literature are all embraced by our town,” he says. “From the summer concerts at the Ellen Battell Stoeckel Estate, home of the Yale Summer School of Music, to the year round concerts at Infinity Hall and the concerts throughout the year at the library, there are many opportunities for music lovers. The monthly art openings at the Norfolk Library and the summer art programs at Yale not only display art, but also encourage artists to live and work in Norfolk. If you are more interested in literature you can always stop in at the Norfolk Library to pick up a good read or participate in a book discussion. All of these venues not only stimulate their respective arts, but are also architecturally beautiful. WIN is an excellent way to showcase what a wonderful town Norfolk is.”

Another essential element in Weekend in Norfolk’s success is the enthusiastic participation of the town’s organizations, which sponsor events and help publicize the weekend. “Everyone in town jumped on the idea when this was proposed three and a half years ago,” Frisch says, “and they’ve all been both creative and committee when it comes to events to showcase themselves and the town.

“We’ve been fortunate to have the Norfolk Chamber Music Festival, Infinity Music Hall and the Norfolk Artists & Friends all involved, but many other organizations, businesses and individuals are participating too. There are more than 40 sponsors for 70 or more events,” she says.

And another form of participation has been financial. Frisch says “An important part of putting on a festival is letting people know about it. Organizations like Norfolk Foundation, as well as businesses and many individuals, have been very generous in supporting its cost, including both materials and publicity. It helps make this community event come together.”

For example, Frisch says, the National Iron Bank and Weekend in Norfolk have partnered in a new initiative called WINbucks. “The bank is helping the local merchants by helping WIN,” Frisch adds. “They’ve made it possible for us to issue WINbucks, coupons good—during Weekend in Norfolk only—for new purchases of $5 or more at participating downtown merchants.” WINbucks, the brainchild of Frisch’s co-chair, Dawn Whalen, are given out during WIN to random attendees and were highly popular last year. Through its grant to WIN, the bank covers the cost of redeeming the coupons.

According to Brock Wehry, the Relationship Manager at the National Iron Bank, the most important reason they are participating in WIN is their belief in the importance of reinvesting in communities like Norfolk.  “A partnership with Weekend in Norfolk was a natural fit for the bank because many of its goals are aligned with those of the bank; such as fostering a sense of community, attracting new families into town, and supporting and stimulating the local economy. It’s a great event that provides a multitude of activities for people of all ages and interests, and also helps bring attention to the wonderful businesses and resources in town that visitors from other areas may not otherwise be aware are available,” says Wehry.

“Like the bank, I believe WIN was created with the intention of addressing the needs of the area, whether it’s stimulating the local economy or attracting new families into town” he says. National Iron Bank has a long history of volunteerism and community involvement, and we’re proud to continue that tradition and partner with WIN on this event. Hopefully, in time it can become its own tradition and continue evolving to meet the ever-changing needs of the Norfolk community.”

About WIN
A Weekend in Norfolk, to be held August 3, 4, and 5, is a fun and activity-filled three days that show off what town residents love about living here. World-class music, street concerts, art shows, a farmers market, walking tours and star gazing are just some of the activities. For kids activities there is water soccer, tours of Lost Ruby and other farms and ice cream socials, and adults can renew their wedding vows on the Village Green should the romantic spirit of Norfolk inspire them. For an up to date listing of events by special interest or by date and time, visit weekendinnorfolk.org.

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