Hitchcock Academy fundraiser focuses on Perseid meteors

📸 Courtesy photo of Hitchcock Academy Director Sue Gregory with family members on the rock that helped inspire the annual Sip and Stars event.

BRIMFIELD — Three unique factors came together to birth the Hitchcock Academy fundraiser known as Sip and Stars, which takes place during the annual Perseid meteor shower.

This year’s Sip and Stars event is scheduled for August 8 with a rain/overcast date of August 15.  It began with a memory Hitchcock Academy Director Sue Gregory, has from her childhood.  She says her family had a summer cottage on Long Island Sound. On warm nights, after dinner and chores, Gregory says she and her siblings and friends would run out to the beach; lay on the big rocks dotting the shoreline and just watch the stars, counting the meteors in unison.  Decades later she can still summon the feeling of warmth that emanated from the rocks that had been baking in the sun all day. She remembers the excitement that siting the first shooting star generated among them. Seeing that first star flame across the sky endowed its discover with an inherent feeling of luck and awe.  Gregory wanted to align a summer Hitchcock Academy tradition with a memory that would be transcendent. Sip and Stars is first and foremost an opportunity to share a look at the heavens with your children, your partner, your family, your friends, your neighbors, your community.  It is an opportunity to look up and SEE without the filter of an electronic device.

From 6 to 10 p.m., ticket holders are invited to spread out into the Brimfield Winery Field at 35 Main Street and explore and identify the many wonders of the night sky.  Unplug and listen to the birds chattering at sunset and the sounds of crickets and peepers greeting the evening while you enjoy libations from Rapscallion Brewery and the Brimfield Winery.  Geoff and Kim McLean from Thames Astronomical Society will bring telescopes and plenty of knowledge to share as they take you on a laser pointer tour of the night sky.

If Gregory’s memory was the main factor in the development of Sip and Stars then the Thames Astronomical Society, Rapscallion Brewery, and the Brimfield Winery stepped to fill in the second section of the triangle.  Rapscallion is said to have the most diverse line up of beers in the Tri State Area and their commitment to supporting the community where they make their home meant partnering with Hitchcock Academy was a perfect union. Every year they donate 100 percent of the beer for the tasting.  Brimfield Winery’s location on the Brimfield Auction Acres provides the perfect venue: lots of unobstructed field for viewing and spreading out blankets and chairs. Their donation of the space and wine samples go a long way to make this a successful event.

Thirdly, generous gifts from community enterprises have rounded out the offerings available on this night.  There is a Children’s Tent and Games sponsored by Country Bank. The games will include stellar themed offerings such as “planetary” Frisbee and corn hole “constellation toss” to coincide with the evening theme.  BT’s Smokehouse, Country Bank, and the other sponsors all make contributions which boost the impact for Hitchcock’s fundraising. 

You are invited to make your own memory under the stars by purchasing your tickets at www.hitchcockacademy.org . The admission price of $20 before August 1, or $25 after August 1 entitles the over 21 ticket holder to three tastings and one full pour of their choice of offerings from Rapscallion and Brimfield Winery.  Under 21 are entitled to home brewed root beer for their ticket price of $5. All are encouraged to bring bug spray, blankets, chairs, flashlights. (Red is best but we will have red cellophane on hand to cover them in order to protect everyone’s night vision.) Bring your own picnic or purchase your dinner from the offerings of BT’s Smokehouse catering truck which will be on hand until 9 p.m. As this year marks the 50th anniversary of the moon landing we encourage you to break out memories to share with family friends as this event will also be featured in the night sky lecture. That’s the story of Sip and Stars. No device to distract from the experience. Just you, the truth you observe with your own eyes and the warmth generated being with family and friends. Just like that long ago rock …

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