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Hartford's EnvisionFest: A Day Of Fun Downtown

Sep 26, 2012
The Hartford Courant

Music, Dancing, Shakespeare, Art, Bicycling, Comedy, All Within Walking Distance

Hartford-area residents, it’s time to get out of your car and walk. Or bike.

EnvisionFest, a one-day celebration of the cultural attractions available in downtown Hartford, comes to the capital city on Saturday, Sept. 29, for a full day (and into the night) of music, art,dancing, comedy and activities for kids and adults.

All 100 events will take place in the 34 venues in the downtown area. The idea came from the “iQuilt” plan, a movement to emphasize Hartford’s walkability by pointing out how close many of the city’s cultural attractions are.

So while that leaves out the Twain and Stowe houses, Franklin Avenue and Cedar Hill cemetery, it includes a variety of walkable destinations including Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art, the Old State House, Connecticut Science Center, Bushnell Park, Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts, and pop-up performance spaces and art venues along Main Street, from the riverfront, Charter Oak Avenue, Stilts building plaza (Main and Church streets), Jazz on the corner (Gold and Jewel streets) and Community Crossroads at Constitution Plaza.

“We really want to celebrate walking culture and innovation,” says Jackie Mandyk, who helped organize EnvisionFest. “It all goes back to the iQuilt plan ... It addressed how to connect the cultural venues of Hartford so each is less of an island and they’re all more connected by public and private space?”

It isn’t just the standing attractions that will take part in EnvisionFest, but also some enticements presented for the occasion. One of the most innovative is Walter Wick’s globes, a series of reflective globes set up along Main Street and designed by Hartford resident Walter Wick, creator of the “Can You See What I See?” book series.

“There are globes, 22 inches wide, in five different locations. He has created riddle for each one,” Mandyk says. “You have to find what he is trying to have you find by finding its reflection in the globe.”

Another bit of street entertainment is Break-Dancing Shakespeare’s production of “Much Ado About Nothing.”

“The goal is to get kids interested in Shakespeare,” Mandyk says.

People attending EnvisionFest can get “passports” and get them stamped at all the venues they visit.

Mandyk says the organizers of EnvisionFest hope that some remnant of the day’s activities will remain after the day is over. “Tony Falcone is doing a Discovery Mural with 147 pieces. It’s sort of a large paint-by-bnumbers,” she says. “The blocks will go up one by one, and eventually they will create a rather large mural on a wall ... near the Atheneum.” But it will not remain there. “We’re hoping it will find a home somewhere.”

Many events will take place all day (11 a.m. to 6 p.m.). All events are free. However, a series of bicycle rides all around the city, organized by Bike Walk CT, is $45 a person. Those begin as early as 9 a.m. For details and to sign up, visit The day ends with a free concert at 6:30 p.m. by the Hartford Symphony Orchestra at the band shell in Bushnell Park.

Some Activities

>>Art exhibits: Pop-up pod galleries of work of Anita GangiBalkun, James Duval, Jenni Friedman and Rita Valley, at Main and Asylum streets, installation of “The Wave” by Susan Hoffman and Elena Kalman in Bushnell Park, G. Fox-themed show at Capital Community College, and Hartford Art School alumni art show at 38 Prospect St.

>>A map and bridge design exhibit at City Hall.

>>Musical performances, dominoes, voter registration, language learning, Billings Forge Cafe at the main branch of Hartford Public Library.

>>Free guided tours of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Arch, Wadsworth Atheneum, Ancient Burying Ground and Travelers observation deck.

>>Free rides at the Bushnell Park Carousel.

>>Kids’ fitness activities, Frisbee contests, YMCA fitness stations and lawn games in Bushnell Park;

>>Dancing at the Clear Channel tent in Bushnell Park.

>>Bike Walk CT, other bike-related activities at Wells and Trumbull streets in Bushnell Park.

>>Living Chess by Shakespeare Connecticut at Bushnell Plaza.

>>Art-making at the Wadsworth Atheneum and Burr Mall.

>>Open house/free admission at Connecticut Science Center, Charter Oak Cultural Center, Wadsworth Atheneum and Old State House.

>>Pipes in the Valley’s Celtic Music Festival, with highland games, step dancing, birds of prey, kids’ games and food, at Riverfront Recapture, until 10 p.m.


Scheduled Events

Other events are scheduled by the hour. Here’s the lineup. For details about all events, and a map and activity grid, visit

>>9 a.m.: Discover Hartford bike tour.

>>11 a.m. Hartford Stage presents “Breakdancing Shakespeare: ‘Much Ado About Nothing’.” Church & Main Plaza.