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Going to the Dogs

With $50 billion spent on pets, three Wilton companies are making money and helping others.



Douglas Foulke

Last year Americans spent more than $50 billion—billion—on their pets. That’s a lot of kibble, leashes, and toys. A notable wedge of that financial pie is connected to three pet companies—Blue Buffalo, Doggone Smart/Nano Pet, and the up-and-coming Clear Conscience Pets—all with strong ties to the Wilton community.

In 12 short years, Blue Buffalo, located in Wilton Center, has grown to become a popular national brand. The genesis of the company was surprisingly simple. Bill Bishop, a Wilton resident and one of the founders of SoBe beverages, had just inked a deal to sell SoBe to Pepsi. He was 65, financially flush, and ready to retire.

While celebrating with his sons (who were also his co-workers) at the Black Goose Grill in Darien, Bill Bishop learned retirement wasn’t in the cards. Chris and Billy told their father they wanted to keep working with him. Why? “Because it’s fun and my dad is a very empowering person,” says Chris Bishop.

But what kind of business venture could they start? At the time, Bill and his wife Jackie had been researching nutritional cures with a holistic vet to help heal their Airedale, Blue, who was suffering with cancer. Recognizing an opening in the marketplace for a natural, nutritionally balanced product, Bill Bishop suggested creating a dog food company, and Blue Buffalo was born.

Bishop Sr. is a savvy marketer who believes that the company’s “Buff culture” embraces a healthy life/work balance. “Your kid only sings for the first time once,” he says with a smile. “You should be there.” Their offices are sprawling but maintain a casual vibe. Visiting dogs wag their tails as you pass by, the CEO wears jeans, and a “no BS policy” is in force.

Bill Bishop attributes the company’s success to the fact that they understand their consumer. “They’re normal people with normal lives, and that’s how we market to them. Our slogan is ‘Love them like family. Feed them like family.”’

In 2003 the company established the Blue Buffalo Foundation for Cancer Research, which has made huge strides in gaining a better understanding of dog and cat cancers. “And much of the research is transferable to helping humans,” he says with obvious pride.

On first blush, Chris Onthank, an affable, pleasantly rumpled art grad who does fine carpentry and breeds rare waterfowl, doesn’t appear to be a typical CEO. But when one learns more about his innate connection to animals and his passion for great design, it becomes obvious why he’s become a successful entrepreneur. His brainchild, Nano-Pet Technology, is a globally successful pet-product company responsible for creating the DogGone Smart pet line. Their signature product is a pet bed constructed with patented, non-toxic nano-technology woven directly into the fabric. The result is an environmentally safe pet bed that magically repels all liquids, filth and anything stinky. “We’re a solution-based company,” says Onthank. “We focus on solving the problems all pet owners face: how to deal with dirt, mud, and odor.”

Now in their eighth year of business, the company employs over 1,000 people worldwide and their product line is carried in pet stores internationally.

When developing new pet lines, product testing is a breeze. “All we have to do is go downstairs to the Canine Center, where at least 60 pet volunteers stand at the ready,” says Onthank. The pet center offers doggy daycare, agility, behavioral, and puppy training, and canine swimming lessons. Chris, who goes by the nom-de-guerre The Canine Master, is also an expert dog-trainer and makes sure to do at least one hands-on training session a day. “Working with dogs centers me.”

Onthank grew up above a kennel run by his grandmother where she raised Dachshunds and Dobermans. As a child, he helped Betty Ambler with the animals at Ambler Farm. Today, along with his family, he lives with a rescue dog, four active beehives and a menagerie of birds on a five-acre spread in Wilton.

Anthony and Amanda Bennie live just down the road from the Onthanks. Four years ago Anthony, a marketer, writer, dog lover, and “sales guy” in the pet food industry, asked himself the question:  “How do you reinvent the dog biscuit?”  After some trial and error, he came up with a quality product, and then he and his wife both left secure jobs and launched Clear Conscience Pets, a company that specializes in organically sourced, healthy dog treats.

Their trademark Sliders have ingredients that sound so appetizing they wouldn’t be out of place on a restaurant menu: chicken or beef tenders, organic flax seed, cheddar cheese, and vegetables. Anthony Bennie vouches for the superior taste and health benefits by eating them himself on a YouTube video. While experimenting, the duo also invented Super Gravy, “a powder that, when mixed with water, “becomes an au jus gravy so your dog can experience Thanksgiving all year round.”

“We won’t compromise on quality,” says Anthony firmly. “That made it harder initially,” adds Amanda. “But people are beginning to understand and appreciate what we do.”  The company has been expanding and they recently won their ninth national award for Best Treat of the Year from the Dogington Post. Will Clear Conscience grow to become a strong national brand like Blue Buffalo and DogGone Smart? Only time, hard work, and discerning dog palates will tell.

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July 2017

Join us on Sunday, July 23, at 11:15 am for activities at Captain’s Cove Marina in Black Rock Harbor at 1 Bostwick Avenue in Bridgeport.  In the 18th century, the Historic...

Cost: $20 for members and $25 for non-members.

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Captain’s Cove Marina in Black Rock Harbor
1 Bostwick Avenue
Bridgeport, CT
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Cost: $20, $35, $50, $65

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Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts
149 Girdle Ridge Road
Katonah, NY  10536
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An ensemble-based show with beloved music, heartfelt writing, and a story that takes a village to tell.   IN THE SPOTLIGHT is a not-for-profit summer theater program for area youth...

Cost: TICKETS: $12 or $15 at the door

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THE KLEIN
910 FAIRFIELD AVE
Bridgeport, CT
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Singin' in the Rain is considered the "Greatest Movie Musical of All Time" by many musical theatre critics. This stage version is faithfully and lovingly adapted...

Cost: $45-$60, Group Pricing Available

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Hosted at Silvermine Golf Club in Norwalk, this charity golf tournament is loads of fun, featuring live entertainment, high-value prizes, plenty of food and drink, great auction items, and poignant...

Cost: $275/single | $1,000/foursome

Where:
Silvermine Golf Club
95 N Seir Hill Rd
Norwalk, CT
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Telephone: 203-762-9990
Contact Name: Scott Gance
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Singin' in the Rain is considered the "Greatest Movie Musical of All Time" by many musical theatre critics. This stage version is faithfully and lovingly adapted...

Cost: $45-$60, Group Pricing Available

Where:
Waveny Park
11 Farm Road
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This is a new children musical in the making. You will be the very first to see it performed.    Dancing Princesses begins with an enchanting mystery for the kingdom to solve - why...

Cost: $22.00 - $150.00

Where:
Waveny Park
11 Farm Road
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Robin Hood, with his band of brothers are seeking to rid the land of evil and return hope to the mistreated. It’s a tale that’s been told a thousand...

Cost: $22.00 - $150.00

Where:
Waveny Park
11 Farm Road
New Canaan, CT
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Website »

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Who knew? Silvermine Arts Center, in our own backyard, is one of the oldest artist communities in the United States. This summer, Whitney Museum’s David Kiehl curates the 2017...

Where:
Silvermine Arts Center
1037 Silvermine Road
New Canaan, CT  06840
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Website »

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There’s a new theatre in the neighborhood, committed to producing ambitious, thought provoking plays and readings. Thrown Stone, the brain child of  co-artistic directors Jason Peck...

Cost: $29-$49

Where:
Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance
440 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


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Cost: free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
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Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
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Connecticut Ballet’s Summer Dance Caravan returns to Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts for the annual free performance on Tuesday, July 25 at 8:00pm. The state’s professional...

Cost: Free

Where:
Levitt Pavilion for the Performing Arts
Jesup Green
Westport, CT  06880
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Singin' in the Rain is considered the "Greatest Movie Musical of All Time" by many musical theatre critics. This stage version is faithfully and lovingly adapted...

Cost: $45-$60, Group Pricing Available

Where:
Waveny Park
11 Farm Road
New Canaan, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

This is a new children musical in the making. You will be the very first to see it performed.    Dancing Princesses begins with an enchanting mystery for the kingdom to solve - why...

Cost: $22.00 - $150.00

Where:
Waveny Park
11 Farm Road
New Canaan, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Robin Hood, with his band of brothers are seeking to rid the land of evil and return hope to the mistreated. It’s a tale that’s been told a thousand...

Cost: $22.00 - $150.00

Where:
Waveny Park
11 Farm Road
New Canaan, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Who knew? Silvermine Arts Center, in our own backyard, is one of the oldest artist communities in the United States. This summer, Whitney Museum’s David Kiehl curates the 2017...

Where:
Silvermine Arts Center
1037 Silvermine Road
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Website »

More information

There’s a new theatre in the neighborhood, committed to producing ambitious, thought provoking plays and readings. Thrown Stone, the brain child of  co-artistic directors Jason Peck...

Cost: $29-$49

Where:
Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance
440 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Each year Stamford Downtown hosts a distinguished outdoor sculpture exhibit designed to attract both local and regional audiences. Art in Public Places Outdoor Sculpture exhibit features sculptures...

Cost: Free

Where:
Stamford Downtown
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“From A Student Perspective” presents selected art from about 20 students from NCC’s Studio Arts, Graphic Design and Architecture Department. The work is in a variety of media...

Cost: free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
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New Yorker Shorts Back by popular demand! Professional book discussion leader Susan Boyar will discuss five short stories published in The New Yorker magazine over five...

Cost: Free

Where:
Rimer Room at Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Rd
Wilton, CT  06897
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Telephone: 203-762-6334
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Premier folk artists of Ensemble Barynya will present an evening of dances, songs, and virtuoso performances from the Russian tradition. Accompanied by instruments such as the Balalaika and...

Cost: Adult $10, Child $5

Where:
Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts
149 Girdle Ridge Road
Katonah, NY  10536
View map »


Website »

More information

Singin' in the Rain is considered the "Greatest Movie Musical of All Time" by many musical theatre critics. This stage version is faithfully and lovingly adapted...

Cost: $45-$60, Group Pricing Available

Where:
Waveny Park
11 Farm Road
New Canaan, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

This is a new children musical in the making. You will be the very first to see it performed.    Dancing Princesses begins with an enchanting mystery for the kingdom to solve - why...

Cost: $22.00 - $150.00

Where:
Waveny Park
11 Farm Road
New Canaan, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Robin Hood, with his band of brothers are seeking to rid the land of evil and return hope to the mistreated. It’s a tale that’s been told a thousand...

Cost: $22.00 - $150.00

Where:
Waveny Park
11 Farm Road
New Canaan, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Who knew? Silvermine Arts Center, in our own backyard, is one of the oldest artist communities in the United States. This summer, Whitney Museum’s David Kiehl curates the 2017...

Where:
Silvermine Arts Center
1037 Silvermine Road
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Website »

More information

There’s a new theatre in the neighborhood, committed to producing ambitious, thought provoking plays and readings. Thrown Stone, the brain child of  co-artistic directors Jason Peck...

Cost: $29-$49

Where:
Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance
440 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Each year Stamford Downtown hosts a distinguished outdoor sculpture exhibit designed to attract both local and regional audiences. Art in Public Places Outdoor Sculpture exhibit features sculptures...

Cost: Free

Where:
Stamford Downtown
, CT


Website »

More information

“From A Student Perspective” presents selected art from about 20 students from NCC’s Studio Arts, Graphic Design and Architecture Department. The work is in a variety of media...

Cost: free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

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Thursday, July 27 Summer Music & More Concert Series: Echoes of Sinatra with Steve Kazlauskas, 5 – 6:30 p.m. Steve Kazlauskas croons the best of Sinatra in this crowd-pleasing American...

Cost: free

Where:
Wilton Library
137 Old Ridgefield Road, Wilton
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Telephone: 120-376-23950
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Rachel Platten at Alive@Five "Fight Song" singer is coming Thursday eveing July 27, 2017 to Columbus Park for Alive@Five 21 and Over Only Thursday nights...

Cost: $15.00

Where:
Columbus Park
205 Main St
Stamford, CT  06901
View map »


Sponsor: Crowne Plaza Stamford, Stamford Marriott Hotel & Spa, Sheraton Stamford Hotel, Hotel Zero Degrees
Website »

More information

Gramophone magazine placed Artist-in-Resident Jason Vieaux “among the elite of today’s classical guitarists.” In his final concert of the season, Vieaux returns to the...

Cost: $25

Where:
Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts
149 Girdle Ridge Road
Katonah, NY  10536
View map »


Website »

More information

The Music on the Hill Summer Chorus performs the Schubert Mass in E-Flat with artistic director Ellen Dickinson, Conductor. One of Schubert's last major works, the Mass in E-Flat is...

Cost: $20 in advance; $25 at the door; children/students free.

Where:
St. Matthew's Episcopal Church
36 New Canaan Road
Wilton, CT  06897
View map »


Sponsor: Music on the Hill
Telephone: 203-529-3133
Contact Name: Music on the Hill
Website »

More information

Singin' in the Rain is considered the "Greatest Movie Musical of All Time" by many musical theatre critics. This stage version is faithfully and lovingly adapted...

Cost: $45-$60, Group Pricing Available

Where:
Waveny Park
11 Farm Road
New Canaan, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

This is a new children musical in the making. You will be the very first to see it performed.    Dancing Princesses begins with an enchanting mystery for the kingdom to solve - why...

Cost: $22.00 - $150.00

Where:
Waveny Park
11 Farm Road
New Canaan, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Robin Hood, with his band of brothers are seeking to rid the land of evil and return hope to the mistreated. It’s a tale that’s been told a thousand...

Cost: $22.00 - $150.00

Where:
Waveny Park
11 Farm Road
New Canaan, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Who knew? Silvermine Arts Center, in our own backyard, is one of the oldest artist communities in the United States. This summer, Whitney Museum’s David Kiehl curates the 2017...

Where:
Silvermine Arts Center
1037 Silvermine Road
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Website »

More information

There’s a new theatre in the neighborhood, committed to producing ambitious, thought provoking plays and readings. Thrown Stone, the brain child of  co-artistic directors Jason Peck...

Cost: $29-$49

Where:
Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance
440 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Each year Stamford Downtown hosts a distinguished outdoor sculpture exhibit designed to attract both local and regional audiences. Art in Public Places Outdoor Sculpture exhibit features sculptures...

Cost: Free

Where:
Stamford Downtown
, CT


Website »

More information

“From A Student Perspective” presents selected art from about 20 students from NCC’s Studio Arts, Graphic Design and Architecture Department. The work is in a variety of media...

Cost: free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

Experience the joy of setting sail and shutting off the engine as we sail through Long Island Sound. Sit back and relax or take a turn at the helm, the choice is yours. Sails depart from...

Cost: $40/adults, $20 for children ages 5-12

Where:
Cove Island Park
1281 Cove Rd
Stamford, CT  06902
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

The Big Easy comes to Caramoor when New Orleans pianist Henry Butler teams with trumpeter/arranger Steven Bernstein and The Hot 9 for a tour through the classic early songbooks of Fats Waller,...

Cost: $40, $45, $55, $65, $75

Where:
Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts
149 Girdle Ridge Road
Katonah, NY  10536
View map »


Website »

More information

Singin' in the Rain is considered the "Greatest Movie Musical of All Time" by many musical theatre critics. This stage version is faithfully and lovingly adapted...

Cost: $45-$60, Group Pricing Available

Where:
Waveny Park
11 Farm Road
New Canaan, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

This is a new children musical in the making. You will be the very first to see it performed.    Dancing Princesses begins with an enchanting mystery for the kingdom to solve - why...

Cost: $22.00 - $150.00

Where:
Waveny Park
11 Farm Road
New Canaan, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Robin Hood, with his band of brothers are seeking to rid the land of evil and return hope to the mistreated. It’s a tale that’s been told a thousand...

Cost: $22.00 - $150.00

Where:
Waveny Park
11 Farm Road
New Canaan, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Who knew? Silvermine Arts Center, in our own backyard, is one of the oldest artist communities in the United States. This summer, Whitney Museum’s David Kiehl curates the 2017...

Where:
Silvermine Arts Center
1037 Silvermine Road
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Website »

More information

There’s a new theatre in the neighborhood, committed to producing ambitious, thought provoking plays and readings. Thrown Stone, the brain child of  co-artistic directors Jason Peck...

Cost: $29-$49

Where:
Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance
440 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Each year Stamford Downtown hosts a distinguished outdoor sculpture exhibit designed to attract both local and regional audiences. Art in Public Places Outdoor Sculpture exhibit features sculptures...

Cost: Free

Where:
Stamford Downtown
, CT


Website »

More information

“From A Student Perspective” presents selected art from about 20 students from NCC’s Studio Arts, Graphic Design and Architecture Department. The work is in a variety of media...

Cost: free

Where:
Maritime Garage Gallery
11 North Water Street
Norwalk, CT  06854
View map »


Sponsor: Norwalk Parking Authority
Telephone: 203-831-9063
Contact Name: Maritime Garage Gallery
Website »

More information

Experience the joy of setting sail and shutting off the engine as we sail through Long Island Sound. Sit back and relax or take a turn at the helm, the choice is yours. Sails depart from...

Cost: $40/adults, $20 for children ages 5-12

Where:
Cove Island Park
1281 Cove Rd
Stamford, CT  06902
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...

East Norwalk Blue will be offering food, drinks and a raw bar complete with oysters and clams harvested from pristine coastal Connecticut waters. In addition, they will be having a hands-on oyster...

Cost: $50.00

Where:
7 Edgewater Place
Norwalk , CT  06855
View map »


Sponsor: Norm Bloom & Son Oyster Company
Website »

More information

Barbara Nevins and the Southwest Cafe present the 11th annual Southwest Cafe Margarita Run to benefit the Ridgefield Sunrise Cottage. This festive 5k offers participants a healthy night out...

Cost: $35.00 registration (June 1 – July 29) $40 Race Day

Where:
Southwest Cafe
109 Danbury Rd
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Two-time Tony Award-winner Sutton Foster brings her crystal-clear voice and vivacious personality to Caramoor for a dazzling cabaret evening of song. Equally at home with showtunes, pop, and...

Cost: $30, $40, $50, $60, $75, $90, $100

Where:
Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts
149 Girdle Ridge Road
Katonah, NY  10536
View map »


Website »

More information

Music Theatre of Connecticut presents the next installment of MTC’s Hot Summer Nights series, Leslie Orofino: “Cocktails with Cole: The Life and Music of Legend Cole Porter”....

Cost: $25-$35 for single tickets. Reservations suggested.

Where:
Music Theatre of Connecticut
509 Westport Ave.
Norwalk, CT  06851
View map »


Telephone: 203-454-3883
Website »

More information

Singin' in the Rain is considered the "Greatest Movie Musical of All Time" by many musical theatre critics. This stage version is faithfully and lovingly adapted...

Cost: $45-$60, Group Pricing Available

Where:
Waveny Park
11 Farm Road
New Canaan, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

This is a new children musical in the making. You will be the very first to see it performed.    Dancing Princesses begins with an enchanting mystery for the kingdom to solve - why...

Cost: $22.00 - $150.00

Where:
Waveny Park
11 Farm Road
New Canaan, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Robin Hood, with his band of brothers are seeking to rid the land of evil and return hope to the mistreated. It’s a tale that’s been told a thousand...

Cost: $22.00 - $150.00

Where:
Waveny Park
11 Farm Road
New Canaan, CT
View map »


Website »

More information

Who knew? Silvermine Arts Center, in our own backyard, is one of the oldest artist communities in the United States. This summer, Whitney Museum’s David Kiehl curates the 2017...

Where:
Silvermine Arts Center
1037 Silvermine Road
New Canaan, CT  06840
View map »


Website »

More information

There’s a new theatre in the neighborhood, committed to producing ambitious, thought provoking plays and readings. Thrown Stone, the brain child of  co-artistic directors Jason Peck...

Cost: $29-$49

Where:
Ridgefield Conservatory of Dance
440 Main Street
Ridgefield, CT  06877
View map »


Website »

More information

Each year Stamford Downtown hosts a distinguished outdoor sculpture exhibit designed to attract both local and regional audiences. Art in Public Places Outdoor Sculpture exhibit features sculptures...

Cost: Free

Where:
Stamford Downtown
, CT


Website »

More information

Juried artisans showing one-of-a-kind works in  fine arts and fine crafts will be featured at the 3rd Annual Stamford Art Festival on Saturday and Sunday, July 29 and 30, from 10 am to 5 pm,...

Cost: Free admission

Where:
Harbor Point
00 Washington Blvd #200
Stamford, CT  06902
View map »


Website »

More information

Experience the joy of setting sail and shutting off the engine as we sail through Long Island Sound. Sit back and relax or take a turn at the helm, the choice is yours. Sails depart from...

Cost: $40/adults, $20 for children ages 5-12

Where:
Cove Island Park
1281 Cove Rd
Stamford, CT  06902
View map »


Website »

More information

Show More...
Show Less...
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