BRISTOL - Indian Rock Nature Preserve offers a taste of an authentic old-fashioned Thanksgiving at its annual Colonial Dinner.
“It’s like a Sturbridge Village experience,” said Jeannine Audette, member of the board of trustees for the Environmental Learning Centers of Connecticut Inc., Indian Rock’s parent organization.
Tickets are on sale now for the dinner on Saturday, Nov. 3, from 4 to 9 p.m., at the nature preserve, 501 Wolcott Road. They are $100 per person. The proceeds help fund Indian Rock’s educational programs.
The dinner has been happening for at least 12 years, but off and on, Audette said.
“They took a year off with the dinner and then last year they brought it back with a vengeance,” she said. “It originally started in the Pebble House at Indian Rock, which only holds about 40 people. The board decided to increase the size of the event so that more people could experience it, so now it’s in the main building.”
South Side Market caters the dinner, and the main building is renamed Morgan’s Tavern the night of the event “to give it a colonial feel,” she said.
The event includes a turkey cooking on an open hearth; colonial dishes; authentic refreshments like mead, beer, and wine; a presentation of plants found on the property and their medicinal uses; and an assortment of colonial demonstrations and reenactments, including storytelling, tomahawk throwing, games, music and more. Colonial attire is optional.
“Not only is it a dinner but it’s also an educational experience of colonial times,” Audette said. “We serve foods that are connected to colonial times. People are dressed in colonial garb and talk about the Tunxis Indians and other subjects. We have artisans from colonial times, like a spinner or a silhouette artist. Ax throwing is becoming more popular now as a social event and we have our own version in tomahawk throwing.”
“Our board and our volunteers are very fastidiously about making sure that things are authentic as can be. No paper tablecloths or Solo cups,” she said.
Indian Rock is a site where the Tunxis Indians used to gather, and camp staff still often find arrowheads and other artifacts there, Audette said. “There is even a replica of a Tunxis Indian wigwam, which is made out of tulip bark. It’s quite impressive actually.”
There is a farm on the site and the sheep and the chickens add to the atmosphere, along with a hay ride to take guests around to the various buildings, she said. “So while it’s a dinner it’s also an educational experience.”
The dinner is one of Indian Rock’s biggest fundraisers of the year, along with a comedy night in March and Music on the Farm in the summer, she said, “but this is kind of their signature event, simply because it’s so unique and fits the nature of the place.”
“It’s a great evening,” she added. “Everyone that comes leaves feeling, not only that they’ve had a good time, but that they’ve supported a great organization that brings nature and environmental awareness to the community.”
For event information, call 860-583-1234 or visit www.elcct.org . To buy tickets, visit http://elcct.org/event/annual-colonial-dinner-program/.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.