Music on the Farm a hit at Indian Rock Nature Preserve

Published on Sunday, 29 July 2018 21:29
Written by Erica Drzewiecki


BRISTOL - All of summertime’s favorite accoutrements spent the day outside at Indian Rock Nature Preserve Sunday, where a large crowd came to enjoy them.

Grilled food, ice cream, fresh vegetables, beer and live music delighted visitors to the Environmental Learning Centers of Connecticut preserve, for its second annual Music on the Farm event.

Upbeat jazz tunes were the main dish. People gathered beneath a canopy and in the grassy area behind it to watch ELCCT Executive Director Scott Heth perform with his group, Wanda Houston and the HBH Band. Their act was followed by a performance from Eight to the Bar and later, Latanya Farrell.

“This is a great way to enjoy a nice summer day,” Indian Rock trustee Mark DiVenere pointed out.

He spent most of the afternoon standing over a grill, cooking up hamburgers, hotdogs and veggie burgers for guests of the farm. So did Dale Tracy, another of the center’s dozen-or-so board members.

“I’ll be cooking for as long as people need food,” Tracy said with a smile.

Bristol’s own Firefly Hollow Brewing was on-site providing beverage service. In addition to being a fun summer occasion, the event also served as a fundraiser for Indian Rock. The 280-acre preserve is home to sheep, cows, hand-built wigwams, a summer camp and year-round educational programming for children and adults.

Staff and volunteers celebrated the facility’s 40th anniversary at the first Music on the Farm event last summer.

“It was so successful we decided to do it again this year,” board President John Kirschner explained. “Hopefully we get just as much support today.”

Trustees describe the preserve as one of the city’s hidden gems, tucked away at the top of Wolcott Road.

“Most people in Bristol have been here, either for their kids or just themselves,” Kirschner said. “They really enjoy what we have to offer.”

Coordinator of Volunteer Services and Animal Care Erin O’Connell made sure everything went smoothly as people started arriving at the farm. About 40 of the ELCCT’s 250 volunteers facilitated activities throughout the day.

“Our volunteer program is a little over three years old,” O’Connell said. “We’re happy with the support we’re getting.”

Some volunteers work in the Garden for Good, growing and harvesting produce for the city’s food pantries and soup kitchens. Others care for the animals and run events.

“We hold events like this one so people can learn about what we do here,” O’Connell added. “And get people excited about being out in nature.”

Local residents aren’t the only visitors to Indian Rock. In fact, youths from 70 different towns participate in regular programming. Staff plan to expand these offerings in coming years.

“We now have a new director of education, so our educational programming is going to increase greatly,” said Sally O’Connor, who spent childhood summers on the land, owned then by her grandparents Fuller and Myrtle Barnes.

She and her family founded the preserve.

As Indian Rock enters its fourth decade, O’Connor said, Education Director Kirsten Tomlinson will be working on a new professional development initiative for teachers, implementing the National Research Council’s Next Generation Science Standards in school curriculum.

Three generations of the Furniss family sat in the sun enjoying the music Sunday. It was not their first time to Indian Rock.

“We love it here,” said Angelina Furniss, who lives in Bristol.

On her lap was her ten-and-a-half-month old daughter Lucia, and sitting beside them, Angelina’s mother Jean, from Terryville.

“I love the music,” Jean said. “And just being outdoors.”

Erica Drzewiecki can be reached at 860-801-5097 or

Posted in The Bristol Press, Bristol on Sunday, 29 July 2018 21:29. Updated: Sunday, 29 July 2018 21:31.