The Litchfield Hills located in the northwest corner of the state bordering New York and Massachusetts is often thought of as the “real Connecticut” because of its unspoiled bucolic countryside, large gracious colonial homes, picture perfect village greens and charming villages that are not sullied by the ever persuasive mega chain stores and eateries that make so many cities in America cookie cutter samples of one another.
There are many activities for visitors to enjoy in this southern New England state from down hill and cross country skiing to ice fishing, skating and even meandering on a winter wine trail or simply relaxing by a fire at a cozy country inn.
One exciting winter event that takes place every January in the quintessential village of Salisbury, located in the gently rolling Litchfield Hills is the U.S. Ski Jumping Championship. The village has hosted this internationally recognized ski event ever since the day back in the roaring Twenties when a pair of Salisbury youngsters strapped on their skis and sailed off the roof of a snow-covered barn. That, at least, is how the locals recount the story. Whether the tale is true or just an example of good old-fashioned Yankee yarn spinning, “Salisburyites” have over the years grown delightfully dippy about their annual ski get-together. When, for example, the U.S. Weather Service fails to cooperate and the hills lie bare and brown, the determined and resourceful villagers import the fluffy white stuff from wherever Mother Nature has been more generous, spreading a blanket of flakes on the jumping ramp and the landing area with a wheezing, gasping corn blower. Only a few times has the event had to be canceled, much to the chagrin of the snow-loving Salisburyites. In 1991, some snowmaking equipment was finally acquired and the days of shovels and strained backs are over for good.
Extreme downhill skiers from across the US will be competing at Alpine ski jumping a sport also known as Gelande. This is a daring hybrid form of jumping where jumpers use heavy downhill ski equipment, including poles, and the danger to the jump by ignoring the landing grooves cut into the run for traditional jumpers.
Informal practice will take place Friday night, January 25, with Alpine ski jumping under the lights scheduled for Saturday from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday afternoon will feature a Junior Meet from 1p.m. to 3 p.m., and the Human Dogsled Race will mush into action on Sunday at 2 p.m. The Litchfield Hills is renowned for its comfortable country inns and bed and breakfasts so if you plan on making a weekend sojourn to this winter wonderland there are many options to choose from. The Norfolk Curling Club will be on hand to give demonstrations and there is also an ice carving competition. For more information www.jumpfest.org
The Ragamont House Bed and Breakfast, an award winning Landmark property located in the heart of scenic Salisbury offers elegance and comfort in a stately Greek Revival Landmark Mansion. Expansive gardens, canopied beds, cathedral ceilings, fireplaces and cozy sitting areas are combined with up-to-date modern conveniences and three lovely suites that you will happily call home. The Blue Room has a rustic cathedral ceiling with two double Shaker inspired canopied beds that have been designed by local cabinetmaker Ian Ingersoll of Cornwall Bridge Connecticut. This room offers a cozy sitting area with a working fireplace that is a perfect place to warm up after a day at the ski jumps. http://www.ragamont.com.
Rock Hall Luxe Lodging located in nearby Colebrook is a romantic and refined boutique lodging experience on a spacious private estate designed by renowned architect Addison Mizner in 1912. Originally the house was built as a residence for Jerome Alexandre, an heir to the Alexandre Steam Ship fortune and his wife Violet Adelaide Oakley. Mizner known as “The Architect of Palm Beach,” designed and built their 10,000 square foot manor house in his signature Spanish Mediterranean Revival style. Today, Rock Hall is the only surviving Mizner residence north of the Mason Dixon Line.
Rock Hall, listed on the National Register of Historic Places features graceful gardens, orchards, walking trails and meadows; billiard and fitness rooms, and a seasonal tennis court, swimming pool and jacuzzi. Choose from five distinctive guest suites including Chamber 3 with its’ hand blocked pastel printed wallpaper from Italy, Juliet Gray queen size bed with gilt bed tables, chaise and wood burning fireplace --the room is an expression of romance at its best. http://www.19rockhallroad.com.
Falls Village Inn located in the heart of Falls Village and a short drive from Satre Hill is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It was recently renovated under the artful eye of Bunny Williams. Each room is decorated in a comfortable sophisticated style that is a signature of Bunny Williams designs. The taproom is intimate and comfortable offering draughts ales, lagers and pilsners along with a reasonably priced menu that includes chicken potpie, clam chowder and crab cakes…great comfort food after a day at the ski jumps. http://thefallsvillageinn.com/
For a resort like accommodations, try the Interlaken Inn known as New England’s Country Resort located in nearby Lakeville. This resort is located between two lakes and offers all the modern conveniences of a world-class hotel with the added benefit of being located in a setting of great natural beauty. Here you have a choice of lodging options from a room in a romantic Victorian Mansion to a townhouse conveniently equipped with a full kitchen and loft. http://www.interlakeninn.com.