Fairfield Museum fall gala raises $35,000 for education programs

On Saturday, October 24, the Fairfield Museum was transformed into an autumnal artisan’s studio. With weavers, a glass-blower, a woodworker and local musicians on hand, approximately 150 guests enjoyed extraordinary An Artisan Evening, complete with artisanal fare, specialty cocktails and the opportunity to support the Museum’s education programs. In addition, longtime Museum supporters Tom & Mary Hodgman were honored at the event.

Walt Matis, Gala honoree Tom Hodgman, State Senator Tony Hwang and Mike Jehle, executive director of the Fairfield Museum & History Center

Walt Matis, Gala honoree Tom Hodgman, State Senator Tony Hwang and Mike Jehle, executive director of the Fairfield Museum & History Center

The gala marked the opening of the Museum’s newest exhibition, Handcrafted: Artisans Past & Present and raised funds for the Museum’s educational programming. An “auction” led by Museum Executive Director Mike Jehle allowed attendees to raise their paddles to directly fund field trips, school visits by Museum staff and buses that bring students from under-privileged areas to visit the Museum. Fairfield resident and Museum Board member Jen Hinkle chaired the warm and welcoming event and noted, “It’s easy to support a fundraiser that helps bring school children from underprivileged communities to the Fairfield Museum!”

Shaking up the cocktails behind the bar was “celebrity bartender” State Senator Tony Hwang, a longtime friend of the Fairfield Museum. Committee member Denise Stone said that “having our celebrity bartender, the esteemed State Senator, the effervescent, Tony Hwang serving up the tasty Tito’s cosmopolitan, our signature cocktail of the evening, was a greatly appreciated added treat!”

Meanwhile, under a beautifully lit tent, six local artisans were on hand to demonstrate their crafts and chat with guests about their skills. Artisanal fare was provided by Susan Kane Catering and included lobster rolls, specialty sliders and artisanal mac & cheese. Gorgeous flowers from Elegant Effects in Floral Design and fall trees from Oliver Nurseries added to the warm feeling of the evening.

The highlight of the evening was a presentation of the Gold Selleck Silliman Medal to longtime Museum supporters Tom & Mary Hodgman. Mike Jehle explained that the medal commemorates an exemplary figure in the history of Fairfield and “is bestowed by the Fairfield Museum on a member of the community who through their life distinguishes themselves for their outstanding dedication to good citizenship.”

“Tom and Mary joined our effort to build this fantastic facility in 2006,” said Jehle at the gala. “And ever since then, for the past decade, they have been a vital part of the Fairfield Museum’s success. Under Tom’s leadership and encouragement as a Board member, the Museum has come into its own and is now a vital, thriving center of our community.”

Mr. Hodgman was on hand to accept the award on behalf of himself and his wife Mary. He made a touching speech to the rapt crowd about his dedication to the Fairfield Museum and its importance to him personally, and to the community.

The medal is named for Brigadier General Gold Selleck Silliman, a prominent Fairfield patriot in the American Revolution who believed that fighting for independence was necessary for the greater good, and faced profound personal consequences for his position. In May 1779 Tories from Long Island forcibly kidnapped Silliman and his son from their Fairfield home in the middle of the night, and took them to Oyster Bay where they were held for more than a year. Through his life and sacrifice, Gold Selleck Silliman embodied the deep commitment and love of community that recipients of this award make toward a better Fairfield for all.

The event concluded with chocolate. Fascia’s Chocolates, including salted caramel chocolates and luscious mint meltaways, were offered to guests as they departed.

Mike Jehle said “the Museum is grateful for all those who came out and supported the event. Their support helps us deliver extraordinary programs to more than 6,000 students”

This year’s committee also included Sally Cummings, Ellen Gould, Andrea Hoffman, Sharon Lauer, Cathy Mackay, Georgette Pascale, Finley Shaw, Patti Spaght, Denise Stone, Gay Tice and Polly Tucker. Jen Hinkle said she and her committee were so proud to put on the event. “The Fairfield Museum is one of the town’s greatest treasures,” she said. “This event showcased the fact that it is not merely a time capsule, but is a true cultural and community center.”

Event sponsors were Brody Wilkinson, P.C., Pascale Communications and Consulting and media sponsor Fairfield Living Magazine. Additional support was provided by Susan Kane Catering, Fascia’s Chocolates, Tito’s Vodka, Harry’s Wine & Liquor Market, Ellen Gould, Universal Printing, Oliver Nurseries, Mo’s Wine & Spirits, State Senator Tony Hwang, Elegant Effects in Floral Design & Peter Stephens.

As committee member Denise Stone summed it up, “The evening had a heartwarming feel with the crowd’s generous spirit shining through and funding the Museum’s educational programs! Bravo!”

Chair of the Fairfield Museum’s Board of Directors, Sharon Lauer, Gala Chair Jen Hinkle, and Gala committee members Andrea Hoffman, Patti Spaght, Gay Tice, Sally Cummings, and Denise Stone

Chair of the Fairfield Museum’s Board of Directors, Sharon Lauer, Gala Chair Jen Hinkle, and Gala committee members Andrea Hoffman, Patti Spaght, Gay Tice, Sally Cummings, and Denise Stone

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