Fall in Love with Ridgefield: Scarecrows, window painting help celebrate season

Fall isn’t all about pumpkins!

In Ridgefield, the autumn months can be marked by scarecrows on lampposts and decorated store windows along Main Street. It’s a season of creativity — not just with scarecrow decorations but with food and fashion, too — and it’s a season of connectivity.

And that’s what makes the annual Fall in Love with Ridgefield celebration stand out among its other seasonal counterparts.

“Fall is a happy time to be in the community and I think Fall in Love with Ridgefield is a particularly special event because it celebrates not only that happiness but also highlights all the things we love most about living here, and that’s the community spirit,” said Suzanne Brennan, executive director of the Lounsbury House.

“It brings the youth downtown and has them interacting with our business owners and showing off all their creative skills in the shop windows. It also brings families downtown to participate and vote in the scarecrow contests and explore the new businesses and all our great restaurants.”

This year’s Fall in Love with Ridgefield weekend kicks offs Friday, Oct. 18, with the Keeler Tavern Museum’s annual scarecrow contest and runs through Saturday, Oct. 19.

Some highlights of the event include balloon artists on Main Street, a book sale at the library, and live music in front of town hall.

But residents familiar with the tradition know it for the window painting on Main Street that’s done by middle school and high school artists in the early morning and the pumpkin painting on the lawn next to Prime Burger that lasts until the early afternoon.

The pumpkins come from the Jesse Lee pumpkin patch on Main Street, which remains open for those looking to buy some front porch decorations this weekend.

“We forget how much there is to explore here,” said Brennan, who is part of the Downtown Ridgefield Merchants Association that puts on the two-day event along with Ridgefield’s Park and Recreation.

“Driving through downtown Ridgefield is different than getting out there and walking around and getting to know the people here,” she added. “My favorite part about Ridgefield is discovering new places and building new relationships and weekends like these give us such a great opportunity to do just that.”

Brennan said that restaurants will be offering special menus this weekend and that Downtown Ridgefield Merchants will be offering sales.

“The restaurants are really creative around here this time of year,” she said, “they have things like pumpkin ravioli and pumpkin martinis. It’s worth seeing what they’re cooking because it’s always super delicious and it’s not something you can get any other time of year.”

Business relationships

Brennan emphasized that shop owners want to have connections with people in the community.

“Technology has isolated us,” she said. “And that’s why our shop owners put this event on every year: They want us to be connected; they want people to be in their stores and interacting with them. That’s how you develop and maintain the sense of community that we have here. ... We’re so fortunate to live in this beautiful town, why not enjoy it and make it the best possible town it can be?”

And for the naysayers who say Ridgefield is too expensive to shop in, Brennan hopes they can give the shops one more chance to change their opinions.

“Our boutiques are affordable,” she said. “You don’t have to seek out deals at the mall. ... There’s a whole range of items that are price sensitive to everyone.”

Working at the Lounsbury House, Brennan sees firsthand the importance of the town’s merchants.

“Our nonprofit community — the Aldrich, Keeler Tavern, the Playhouse, Lounsbury House, we all depend on the generosity of these business owners and what they give freely to us,” she said. “It’s important that we support them. Put your money where you house is — it helps all of us.”

And the time commitment is worth recognizing, too.

“It’s not just monetary. It costs them a lot time, and they do it to make these events worth our while,” she said. “These owners work tirelessly to put on events like this and the Holiday Stroll. The least we can do is turn out and show them our support. ... The nonprofits need the businesses support and the businesses need the community’s support.”

Moving pretty fast

If supporting local merchants or engaging in the fun family activities isn’t enough incentive for residents to attend Fall in Love with Ridgefield, Brennan believes the main attraction for the event is the season itself.

“Fall is fleeting,” she said, “we better grab it before it’s gone.”

With the crisp weather and foliage added as a selling point, Fall in Love stands out among its seasonal celebration peers — the Spring Stroll, SummerFest, and the Holiday Stroll.

“This is an event for people who want to walk around town and just enjoy being here,” Brennan said. “Take time to visit your regular places and explore some new ones. But most of all: just enjoy this beautiful town we live in. Sit on a bench, sit outside for lunch. Walk around and experience all Ridgefield has to offer. .... share the love, feel love, be the love.”