(Tyler Morgan will be one of the senior leaders for Rocky Hill soccer)
Boys Cross Country:
Middletown welcomes Newington, Rocky Hill, Wethersfield and a host of others for the Blue Dragon Invitation on Friday, Sept 8 (3:45) to officially start the 2017 season. Stefano Mazzeo and Matthew Lecky will pace the host team and Aiden Toth (Newington), Jason Oostendorp (Rocky Hill), and Garrett Tougas (Wethersfield) will also blaze the way during the invitational.
Cromwell hosts their own event on Saturday, Sept 16, welcoming schools to CHS for the CT River Championships. Senior Ben Keithan will lead the Panthers on the trails this season
Girls Cross Country:
Host Middletown, along with Newington, Rocky Hill, and Wethersfield, will all compete in the Blue Dragon Invitational on Friday, Sept 8 (3:30). The home squad has a pair of sophomores in Ariana Monarca and Nicole Nenninger coming off strong freshman campaigns. Isabella Schroeder, Allison Ayers, and Allison Appel head a talented Eagles unit and Lilah Devine, Amber Bayek, and Elizabeth Stockman head an equally impressive Terriers team. Newington’s Angelina Zacharias will also be in the mix.
The Cromwell girls welcome a group of schools to CHS for the CT River Championships on Saturday, Sept 16. Sophomores Georgia Mikan and Allison Arling, along with junior Emma Drzewiecki, will lead the way for the Panthers this season.
Newington is coming off a nine-win season, which earned them a tournament berth in 2016. The Indians lost an abundance of offensive firepower, but Maya Gajowiak and Vanesa Seguro will assume bigger roles this season, which starts with a home game against South Windsor on Friday, Sept 8 (3:45).
Wethersfield started to come together late last fall, winning two of their final three games after losing their first 13 contests. Starters Maya Mulholland, Gabriela Interian, Lexi Munger, and Emma Zaleski are returning for the Eagles, who start the season with four tough road games before returning to WHS for back-to-back home games against Mercy and Windsor on Sept 20 (5:45) and 22 (5:00).
Wethersfield is coming off another deep tourney run in 2016 and have scoring-machine Brendan Barry and fellow all-conference recipient Brendon Mansaku coming back. The Eagles also have goaltenders Enrico Gionfriddo and Mark Accarpio returning after the two split time between the pipes a season ago. The team’s home opener is Tuesday, Sept 12 (6:30) against rival Rocky Hill.
The Terriers graduated ten seniors, but have athlete-extraordinaire James Chasco-Dimauro, Jordan DelMastro, and Tyler Morgan back for their senior seasons. Juniors Riley Donovan Miguel Madera will also help fill the void of the departed seniors. Rocky Hill begins their home schedule on Friday, Sept 8 (6:00) against Newington.
The Indians will follow up the game at Rocky Hill by hosting their first home game is against New Britain on Monday, Sept 11 (6:00). Newington will be leaning on Mike Ganley and Jared Galarza this season and Jack DeGirolamo will be the Indians net protector this fall.
Cromwell is fresh off a quarterfinals appearance a season ago and has Jack Holcomb coming back for his senior season. The Panthers host Coginchaug for their home opener on Monday, Sept 11 (6:00).
Middletown starts their home schedule the next night, Tuesday, Sept 12 (6:00) when they welcome Maloney to MHS. The Blue Dragons will be counting on all-conference recipient Jeff Turro and fellow senior Carson Fitzner this season.
Middletown won a Class LL tourney game after finishing the 2016 regular season 11-3-2 and the team is primed for an even better 2017 with the return of all-conference seniors Amalia Sessoms and Kaitlyn D’Amico. The Blue Dragons open up at home, welcoming Meriden-based Platt to MHS on Friday, Sept 8 (3:45).
Newington reached the quarterfinals in Class LL following a terrific regular season. The Indians graduated a lot of talent, but senior Skylar Couillard, along with juniors Abby Molloy, Emmy Petronio, and Maggie Callahan are back attempting to duplicate last season’s feat. Their home opener is Friday, Sept 8 against Rocky Hill (3:45).
Cromwell also reached the quarters in the Class M tournament after winning 12 games and the Panthers have a strong nucleus returning, led by Olivia Belcourt, Jenna Serrantino, Cara Jordan, and Seraphina McKiernan. Their first game at CHS is Tuesday, Sept 12 against Coginchaug (6:00).
Rocky Hill has all the tools to be very good this season following a tourney win last fall. The Terriers only lost two players to graduation and have all-state selection Grace Moore and fellow all-conference recipients Bella Montalvo and Annie White returning. Goalie Samantha Steinman is also back for her senior season. They take on Wethersfield to kick-off their home schedule, Tuesday, Sept 12 (6:00).
Wethersfield is coming off a nine-loss season in 2016, but the Eagles are hoping to improve on that this fall and will lean on Jane Rumley, Alexis Szymecki, and Chloe Troy. They open the season at WHS, Friday Sept 8 against New Britain (3:30).
Girls Swimming & Diving:
Wethersfield has been the queens of the CCC for the past eight seasons and look to continue that streak this season behind Abigail Francis and Maura Stewart. The Eagles first home meet is a doozy, as they welcome Glastonbury to WHS on Tuesday, Sept 19 (5:00).
Rocky Hill begins the season with three straight home meets, starting with Southington on Tuesday, Sept 12 (3:45). Shelby Cios and Victoria Bower will pace the Terriers in the pool this fall.
Amber Rocheleau is coming off a fantastic season last fall and will again lead Newington, who starts the season hosting Enfield/Somers on Monday, Sept 11 (4:00).
Middletown’s Cassandra More remains the area’s best diver and will be back on the board for the Blue Dragons, who start the season with a home date against Glastonbury on Tuesday, Sept 12 (4:00).
Rocky Hill had several younger players get experience a season ago and still won 11 regular season matches. Seniors Grace Fisher and Nicole Chamberland are back, along with junior Julia O’Connor, who is coming off an all-conference selection as a sophomore. The Terriers host Newington to start the season on Friday, Sept 8 (5:45).
Wethersfield first home game is against Rocky Hill on Monday, Sept 11 (5:00). The Eagles struggled a season ago but have several starters returning, including a star in the making in Cheyenne Smith. Setter Jackie Reategui will again be the heart and soul of the team and Danielle Elliott will be a force in the middle.
Newington missed out on the postseason last fall, but look to rebound this season with an experienced lineup. Meghan Roberts had a monster year as a junior and she enters her senior season with team captain Blayne Wanner-Hyde by her side. Sophomore Benitez Carelys will also make an impact. The Indians first home game is Monday, Sept 11 (5:45) against New Britain.
Cromwell lost a handful of players to graduation after reaching the quarterfinals in Class S, but seniors Dana Coughlin and Amaya Feitel return to fill the voids. The Panthers first home game is Monday, Sept 11 (5:30) against Coginchaug.
*Football preview is next week*
(Rocky Hill's Julia O'Connor is back on the volleyball court after earning all-conference as a sophomore)
Obstacle mini golf at Berlin Battling Cages on the turnpike
The countdown to fall has begun, but before we say goodbye to abundant sunshine and daylight let’s take a look at ten day trips which are within driving distance of the area that combine fitness and fun. All of these activities are family friendly and offer something for all ages at a reasonable price or no cost at all.
Arethusa Dairy Farm: The Litchfield-based farm has been around since 1868 and produces some of the best dairy products in the world. The working farm offers tours on Saturdays, but the real treat is the wholesale location in the heart of Bantam at 828 Bantam Road. The brick and mortar location serves up butter, cheese, milk, yogurt, and their infamous ice cream, which never disappoints. It has a creamy, chewy texture and the natural flavors are out of this world. The folks at Arethusa serve up the usual frozen staples year round and always have seasonal flavors to enjoy. Peach (highly recommended), raspberry, and cherry are all in-season now.
Coventry Farmers Market: 2299 South Street in Coventry is home to one of the largest and most popular farmers markets in the Nutmeg State. Every Sunday from 11-2 through the end of October over 65 vendors pack the fairgrounds, featuring a handful of food trucks as well as booths serving farm fresh food and various novelty items created throughout Connecticut. The first Sunday in September is Dog Days, where all canine companions are welcome to join in the fun. The only drawback to the market is the hectic traffic, which becomes the heart of Times Square at high noon.
Sleeping Giant Driving Range: Sleeping Giant Golf Course, located at 3931 Whitney Avenue in Hamden, has one of the more scenic driving ranges in the state. Sleeping Giant Mountain is the backdrop for the driving range and the historic Farmington Canal is across the street, making this an ideal summer locale. Cap off your perfect day with a bite and drink on the patio at Aunt Chilada’s, which is a Mexican eatery that shares a parking lot with the driving range.
Castle Craig: Hiking is best when there’s a payoff at the top and a trek through the Hanging Hills in Meriden offers the ultimate prize. Castle Craig can we seen from miles below on I-691 and can be hiked or driven to via Hubbard Park in Meriden. The 32-foot tower has become a landmark in Connecticut, with an area to have a picnic or several trails to explore the surrounding woods. Bring a camera, because the views atop the tower are some of the best the state has to offer.
Berlin Batting Cages: 1801 Berlin Turnpike is home to a playground for all ages, offering battling cages, go-carts, two mini-golf courses, and bumper boats. Whether you aspire to be George Brett, Mario Andretti, Chi-Chi Rodriguez or Donald Aronow, the non-stop fun center is your one-stop shop. The facility is open seven days a week and is perfect for a birthday party or just a good time with friends and family outdoors.
Olde Mystic Village: Mystic is best known for their seaport and aquarium, but located next to the aquarium is a quaint outdoor village with plenty of shopping, grub, and entertainment. The facilities are open year round and host events for all seasons, with the 10th annual Garlic Festival coming up on Sept 16 and 17. On rainy days, the village even has its own movie theater showing the latest cinematic masterpieces. The drive to 27 Coogan Blvd in Mystic is also a scenic and the views of the water are breathtaking.
Avery’s Beverages: The old red barn in New Britain has been serving up scrumptious soda since the early 1900’s and now carries over 35 unique flavors. The historic beverage company is still at its original location at 520 Corbin Avenue, which is right up the road from Martha Hart Park, and offers “Make Your Own” and private labeling services Monday-Saturday. The only thing you won’t find at Avery’s is high fructose corn syrup, because all of their sodas are made with real sugar.
Lyman Orchard: The Middlefield orchard, located at 3 Lyman Road, is celebrating 275 years and offers a little of everything. From golfing to fruit picking to pie eater, Lyman’s has something for everyone and this Saturday, August 26, is the New England Clambake and the Classic Car Show. The annual Sunflower Maze is in full bloom and don’t’ forget to visit the Apple Barrel for some of the freshest produce and bakery items around.
Robb’s Farm: There are plenty of picturesque farms and orchards in South Glastonbury, but only Robb’s has the best homemade ice cream this side of the Mississippi. The working livestock facility has all the other amenities as the neighboring farms, including playful goats, but their ice cream is worth the trip over and over again. The fifth generation farm has a petting zoo during the fall and also has a seasonal pumpkin ice cream that is second to none.
Wickham Park: Connecticut has many beautiful parks, but Wickham Park in Manchester is about as gorgeous as they come. The massive park has 250 acres of gardens, open fields, woodlands, ponds, picnic areas, sports facilities, and other attractions. It’s a perfect location for the exercise enthusiast or for a family picnic and the first weekend in September the park hosts the 13th annual Greater Hartford Open Disc Golf Open, when 88 of the best disc golfers square off in a winner-take-all showdown.
The Patrones rock out at the Middletown Motorcylce Mania
The weather could not have been better for the 12th annual Middletown Motorcycle Mania, which lit up the heart of Main Street with loads of horsepower, entertainment, and fun last Wednesday night.
On an idyllic summer evening, more than 6,200 bikes and over 12,000 spectators filled the downtown Middletown area for what has become the largest one day summer motorcycle event in New England.
The large crowd was there to see the latest motorized innovations, while enjoying the live music and festive food at the annual event.
The four-hour extravaganza had plenty of the regulars, including the return of rockers Diamondback, featuring Wethersfield’s own Jimi Bell of the legendary melodic rock band House of Lords. Diamondback was the first ever band to play at the event a dozen years ago and made a ceremonious return, belting out their epic tunes on the main stage for the entire evening.
Local rock & rollers The Patrones also performed to adoring fans, delivering their smooth, classic covers in front of Brew Bakers.
The music was an added bonus to the real showstoppers, which were the hundreds of motorcycles on display, including those that won best in show.
The vintage and antique bikes are a draw to the motorcycle connoisseurs and the custom bikes are always a crowd favorite. The classic and custom choppers on display competed for a variety of awards, but the everyday riders filled up most of Main Street and several side streets.
Paul Thomas made the trek all the way from Maryland on his 2015 Harley Davidson Road Glide.
“This is my second time here,” said Thomas, “I have friends that live in the area. I get to visit them and come to the event. It’s a great chance to meet other riders and have a good time.”
Many others were Connecticut residents that come annually or were at the event for the first time.
“I’ve lived in the area for years, but I always had something else going on and never made here,” a local spectator said, “I’ll definitely be back.”
One of the biggest attractions of this year’s celebration was the Polaris Slingshots, which are three-wheeled, three-season hybrid cruisers.
Libby’s MotoWorld, who has been a regular vendor at Motorcycle Mania, had a booth and were displaying the newest trend in highway cruising.
“They’re a well-handling, well-built sports car. They’ll get 28-32 miles per gallon depending on how heavy your foot is,” joked Joe M. of Libby’s, “They’ve only been legal for the past couple of years and they’ve actually only had one year in Connecticut. We’ve sold a good share of them and other dealers have sold a good share of them too.”
The New Haven-based Libby’s has been servicing Connecticut’s motoring needs since 1957 and are a full service dealership providing sales, parts and service. They were one of the many vendors offering both motorized and non-motorized products to the hordes of people in attendance.
Like all good festivals, the event had a wide selection of tasty treats to satisfy the pallets of the attendees. Over a dozen food trucks lined the streets, including Middletown’s own Jerry’s Pizza, which served up their delicious, cheesy pizza on their infamous pillowy-soft crust.
Most of the normal food establishments that line Main Street stayed open during the event, including Tandoor, which was giving out samples of their savory Indian cuisine and refreshing mango lassi in front of the restaurant.
The impeccable weather, live music, and mouth-watering food made for another perfect event, which was presented by Hunter's Ambulance and Hunter Limousine in the honor of Dan Hunter, who was a founding sponsor of Middletown Motorcycle Mania.
As always, The Middlesex Chamber of Commerce, with the help of many volunteers, organized the event and all the proceeds benefitted youth programs in Middletown.
Middlesex Chamber President Larry McHugh noted, “The 12th Annual Middletown Motorcycle Mania was a huge success. I want to thank our sponsors, our vendors, City of Middletown personnel, especially the police, fire, public works and everyone who came out to support the event. Finally, I want to express my sincere appreciation to Event Chairman Rich Greco and our over 50 volunteers for their unbelievable support of Motorcycle Mania. This event gets bigger every year, and we are proud that its proceeds go to support Middletown youth programs. We are already looking forward to next year.”
Best in Show Winners:
Vern A. Hunter Vintage Bike Award, in Loving Memory of Vern and Barbara Hunter – presented by Hunter's Ambulance and Hunter Limousines, Winner – Charlie Warzecha of Essex, CT – 1966 Harley Davidson FLH
Best Vintage American Bike Award – presented by Hunter’s Ambulance & Hunter Limousines, Winner – Bill Yeske of Newington, CT – 1958 Harley Davidson FLH
Best Vintage British Bike Award – presented by Hunter’s Ambulance & Hunter Limousines, Winner Jay Egan of Suffield, CT – 1959 BSA Super Rocket
Best Vintage European Bike Award – presented by Hunter’s Ambulance & Hunter Limousines, Winner – Ted Smith of Cheshire, CT – 1936 BMW R12
Best Vintage Japanese Bike Award – presented by Hunter’s Ambulance & Hunter Limousines, Winner – Jason Jerome of Hackettstown, NJ – 1980 Honda CX500
Dan M. Hunter "Functionality with Style" Award – presented by Hunter’s Ambulance & Hunter Limousines- Winner – Adrian Soto of Meriden, CT - 2010 Harley Street Glide
The Haymond Law Award – presented by Haymond Law Office, Winner – Tony Schiavone of Cromwell, CT – 2007 Harley Davidson Ultra
Liberty’s Choice Award – presented by Liberty Bank, Winner – Kevin Fitzgerald of Southbridge, MA – 2000 Harley Davidson XCH1200 Sportster
The Gengras Elite Award – presented by Gengras Motorcycles, Winner - Brian Solito of Vernon, CT – 2016 Harley Davidson Ultra Slim
DBD Farkle Award – presented by Downtown Business District, Winner – Daniel Cusano of Bethany, CT – 1997 Harley Davidson Softail
The All-American Bike Award – presented by Bank of America, Winner – Keith Barthelete of Springfield, MA – 2015 Harley Davidson Road Glide Special
The Fat City Cycle Award – presented by Eli Cannon’s Tap Room, Winner – John Uvino of Meriden, CT – 1981 Harley Davidson FLH Police Special
The C. Oscar Hedström Award – presented by Brookfield Indian Motorcycle, Winner – George Gilbert of Portland, CT – 1951 Indian Chief
The Indian Motorcycle of Springfield Choice Award – presented by Indian Motorcycle of Springfield, Winner – Jason Miele of Hartford, CT – 1975 Honda CL360
Best Home Town Motorcycle Award – presented by Home Team Supply, Winner – Johnny Moore of Middletown, CT – Harley Davidson Road Glide
Mayor’s Choice Award – presented by Middletown Mayor Daniel Drew, Winner – Joe Delmonaco of Wallingford, CT – 2005 Short Tail Deluxe
George Gilbert's 1951 Indian Chief, which wonThe C. Oscar Hedström Award / The Polaris Slingshots were a hit at this years event
Pete's Produce Farm owner Pete Panzarella and his daughter, Anna, at the Newington Farmers Market
The Connecticut summer is on heading into the home stretch, but the season for locally grown produce is just heating up. So far this year we’ve consumed a massive amount of pie at the Wethersfield Farmers Market, rocked the farm stands in Rocky Hill, and witnessed the scenic views of Cromwell’s weekly market.
Now it’s Newington’s turn.
The town has a weekly farmers market that doesn’t have the space or size that the surrounding towns have, but it packs a lot into a small space at 100 Market Square.
The weekly market, which is open to the public from 9 am to 1 pm every Saturday from June through the end of October, is home to about a dozen vendors, serving up fresh produce and homemade delights and treasures.
Pete Panzarella, owner of Pete’s Produce Farm of Franklin, makes the trek west to Newington each and every Saturday to sell his farm fresh vegetables, fruits, and flowers.
“It’s been pretty steady this summer. Farmers markets are good for me because I just started,” said Panzarella, who started the farm six years ago and has been a vendor in Newington for the past five seasons, “Right now I sell seasonal vegetables, but I just put up a hoop house so I will be doing some early and late season growing.”
Panzarella runs the booth with his daughter, Anna, and started farming as a hobby after retiring from the state. His new hoop house, which is a tunnel-shaped greenhouse, will allow him to lengthen the growing season and will open up new avenues for his expanding hobby.
“I’m hoping to get a bigger jump in the spring,” added Panzarella, “Right now I just do the local farmers markets, but I used to sell to some restaurants and I’m looking to do more of a destination, so people can come. I’m also looking into eventually becoming a CSA.”
Panzarella’s farm stand has been one of the constants at the Newington market. Quilting after Dark and Maria’s Kitchen Krafts are a few of the others that set up shop on Saturday mornings. The market used to operate on Thursday evenings as well, but is now exclusive to Saturdays.
If you’re seeking farm fresh variety on the other six days out of the week, Stew Leonard’s is your best and most convenient option.
The massive store, located at 3475 Berlin Turnpike, is one of a handful of locations for the world famous market.
Originally started in Norwalk as Clover Dairy Farms in the late sixties, the name was eventually changed to Stew Leonard’s before the Newington location debuted in 2007. It quickly became a local hotspot for families due to the interactive and electronic farm animals, dairy products, fruits and veggies that sing and dance as you pass through the store.
As a matter of fact, the New York Times once called Stew Leonard’s the “Disneyland of Dairy Stores” and one visit to the location on the turnpike and you’ll see why.
Dairy products are Stew’s specialty and no visit would be complete without a soft served ice cream or frozen yogurt. Yours truly once channeled his inner-Bret Hart and proclaimed Stew’s ice cream as “the best there is, the best there was, and the best there ever will be.”
The tasty and delicious dairy products are what made the store renowned, but the limitless amount of produce is the freshest you can get, outside of a farmers market. The entire front of the store is a colorful array of freshness and during the holiday season pumpkins, trees, and wreaths fill the storefront.
If you’re looking for more of a traditional farm, Eddy Farm, located at 851 Willard Avenue, is you best and only bet. The century old farm is open seven days week though the end of October and is the only working farm in the town of Newington.
The farm’s rich history dates back to the late 1800’s and the current farm stand had been in business since the 1960’s.
Eddy’s sells everything from fresh basil to green beans and is home to the coveted Silver Queen corn, which is a naturally sweet corn that will melt your mouth and make you never again want to eat canned cream of the corn.
The fruits and veggies are enough to satisfy anyone’s taste buds, but the farm specializes in beautiful flowers, creating breathtaking floral designs for all occasions and all seasons.
Each and every day the farm stand also has freshly baked breads on hand from The Hartford Baking Company.
So no matter what your farm fresh needs are, Newington has several nutritious options.
Sports Editor for the Rare Reminder, Glastonbury Citizen, and Rivereast News Bulletin