Spring Stroll and BBQ Festival: Shop, chalk, walk

Editor's note: Some of the events in this story have been cancelled or postponed. For weather updates, click here.

The sound of live music, little kids and their families circulating around the village, a street fashion show, and the smell of fresh barbecue. All are signs of two spring events happening in Ridgefield this weekend — the annual Spring Stroll and Ridgefield Gone Country BBQ Festival.

Main Street will be transformed into a hub of family activities featuring colorful chalk art, live DJs, shopping deals from Main Street retailers, a petting zoo, and more.

The Spring Stroll, organized by Downtown Ridgefield, runs from noon to 9 p.m. Friday, May 5, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 7. Ridgefield Gone Country will take place at the Lounsbury House starting Saturday at 11 a.m. and running through Sunday at 5 p.m.

Chalk art

One of the main attractions of the Spring Stroll is the chalk art that will be created by professional artists, as well as middle and high school students, on Sunday— starting at 10 a.m across the sidewalks on Main Street.

The artists are coming to town from Florida, Brooklyn, Long Island, and New York.

Businesses in town are donating food and services to make the artists’ stay memorable.

“West Lane Inn is donating rooms for the professional chalk artists,” said Kathy Graham, who’s organizing the Spring Stroll.

“The chalk artists that came last year wanted to return because what’s better than staying in West Lane? This year, Village Tavern is feeding them dinner and Prime Burger is giving them lunch,” she added.

Ursula Hanavan, also of Downtown Ridgefield, said she always looks for artists who will bond with the community.

“We’re looking for very family-oriented chalk artists,” she said, “that are good at talking to people, including them — almost ambassadors for chalk art.”

This form of art doesn’t get much attention in the state.

“You don’t get to see chalk art a lot down here, so we’re quite excited that we’re introducing chalk festivals in Connecticut,” said Hanavan.

This year, a returning artist, Mike Panzarino, will be placing six chalk tigers in hidden places for a scavenger hunt.

“We added the scavenger hunt last year,” said Hanavan. “He [Panzarino] always tries to incorporate local themes. Last year, he had tigers cavorting in the fountain.”

Indoor activities

For those wishing to escape the heat and still have some fun, a variety of local businesses are offering their own activities.

Friday happens to be Cinco de Mayo, so Keller Williams is hosting a themed party with salsa samples, among other treats.

Elizabella’s is holding a baking contest all day Friday — to apply, forms must be submitted today — Thursday, May 4 — by 4 p.m.

A family game, “Teddy Bear Name Guessing,” will take place at Purple Frog all day Friday and Saturday.

“We’ll have hundreds of names on the board, and you pick the name you think the bear might be called,” explained Hanavan.

The winner gets the teddy.

“He wears a little top, and we’ll personalize that as well for whoever is the winner.”


Those who get hungry can take a walk to the Gone Country BBQ Festival at the community center and taste food from participating vendors while enjoying live music, kids rides and other activities.

The Connecticut State BBQ Championship will be the feature event, with two individual championships to be awarded — one on Saturday and the other Sunday.

“Last year’s BBQ Festival was a tremendous success as over 5,000 individuals attended the event,” said Joe Savino, a member of Ridgefield Rotary Club.


Gone Country will have several local bands showcase their talent, including Jerome Goosman, Mackenzie & Caitlin, School of Rock, Harrison Street, Easy Street, and The Red Hots, as well as singers Erik Kreig, Jesse Lynch and Michelle DeAngelis.  

On Saturday, a string quartet made of up of four sixth graders — Fourte — will be playing outside the library at 11 a.m. as part of the stroll events going on downtown.

The all-female a cappella group from Ridgefield High School — The Nightingales — will be singing outside Town Hall Saturday at 2 p.m.

A rock class for toddlers by Back to Rock teachers will be taking place at noon on Catoonah Street Saturday.

Children’s music duo Jay and Ray will play music that is “energetic, silly, fun, and rooted in play-based learning” for all families to enjoy and take part in, on the lawn at the library at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

Family fun

Hanavan said some of the most exciting activities for children are the fire engines stationed outside the firehouse and the petting zoo on Catoonah Street at 1 p.m. on Saturday.

“They have this pig — he’s famous, he comes every year,” she said.

Friday night there will be circus performers and a performance by Ridgefield magician Tom Pesce.

Balloon artists will be strolling Main Street from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday.

“We just want that sort of festival vibe,” said Graham. “Spring has finally arrived — let’s breathe that sigh of relief.”

For a complete list of events and times, visit http://downtownridgefield.com/

Downtown Ridgefield held a weather meeting Wednesday May 3 at 5 p.m. after The Press went to print this week.

Check back Thursday online for any updates on rain dates.