For those who stick around Wilton in July, a favorite activity is enjoying the series of free concerts at Wilton Library. From Motown to rock ’n’ roll to the Great American Songbook, the concerts have been a mainstay of the Wilton summer scene for 16 years.

But they would not be possible without the financial support of Village Market, which has been underwriting the series since its inception.

The library will honor those behind the market — co-owners Tim Dolnier and Mike Picheco, general manager Nancy Dolnier, and former owner Peter Keating — at its annual spring gala on Saturday, April 1, from 7 to 11 p.m. at the Silver Spring Country Club in Ridgefield.

The library will invite its guests to “experience the wonder” with a theme of Alice in Wonderland. Putting it all together is a 20-member committee led by co-chairs Michele Nichols and Kristin Johnson.

Invitations will go out later this month and are also available online at www.wiltonlibrary.org.

“Our goal is to recognize the individuals and the organizations or companies that have really helped to sustain this organization over the years, enriching our resources, our programs, our services.” Library Director Elaine Tai-Lauria said in an interview last week. When staff was consulted on who this year’s honoree should be, the vote was unanimous.

“It was a no-brainer,” said Robin Axness, the library’s director of development.

Tai-Lauria called the market’s 16 years of support of the concerts “a long history of supporting a program” — one that’s grown in popularity. The library just announced that the market will continue its support for a 17th season this year.

“It just warms my heart,” Tai-Lauria said. “You see some of these couples, they get up and start dancing and it’s just such a good feeling. It really is an honor for us to recognize somebody who contributes, not just to the library but the whole community through the library.”

Village Market co-owner and co-president Tim Dolnier said they “were certainly thrilled” when the library announced they would be honored. He described the library as “one of the focal points of the community” and said supporting the summer concerts “is a good way to give back to the community.”

He described the support as “an honor — something Mike and I are happy to carry on” from the foundation set by former owner Peter Keating.

“What’s great, too,” Dolnier continued, “is to hear feedback from our customers that they had a great time.”

The summer concert series grew out of a brainstorming session between marketing manager Janet Crystal and former director Kathy Leeds. It has grown in popularity over the years and for many has become a “go-to” event during the summer.

“When we hit on a band or a group the audience really responds to, we try to have them back,” Crystal said. As an example, this will be the fifth year for Steve Kazlauskas, who sings the songs of Frank Sinatra. On the flip side, this year will bring a Wilton band called Bob’s Your Uncle to the Brubeck Room stage for the first time.

While the summer concerts represent the Village Market’s biggest investment in the library, its support goes back years.

“They’ve been a major supporter,” Axness said. Of the library’s building expansion campaign in 2003 she said, “They were first on board with that.”

The market also donates baskets for silent auctions and caters a number of events.

“We walk across the street a lot,” Nancy Dolnier said.

Community


“I think we represent the community in honoring all that they’ve contributed to over the years,” Tai-Lauria said, adding that she has been a member of other organizations the market has supported. “A real pillar of the community, standing for quality, and as an aside, we’ve had so many people say they are pleased they are being honored. … What a testament to what they’ve meant to our community.”

This is the third year the library will have a recognition ceremony at its spring benefit.

“We felt strongly as the community center as we are in town and what we mean to the community, there are so many businesses and people who support the library, and I think we should acknowledge that,” Axness said.

“We know they appreciate the library as a community asset through their commitment over these many years,” Tai-Lauria said of the market. “That recognition means a lot. They believe in us, and that’s why they’re supporting us.”

The gala


While the women were effusive in their praise of the Village Market, they were mum on the details of the gala, keeping it a surprise for their guests.

Betsy Huffman will create the tablescapes in the overall theme of Alice in Wonderland. Because last year’s guests were so taken by the tablescapes, they want it to be a surprise.

“It’s generated such an excitement and buzz from last year,” Axness said. “They want to give the guests a real surprise. … We really want to focus on a fun evening.”

Along with hors d’oeuvres and dinner, entertainment will be by Bob Riccio. There will also be silent and live auctions. Some of the items up for bid will include passes to Disney World, a week’s stay at a home in Vermont, and other getaways. There will be a raffle for two JetBlue tickets anywhere the airline flies.

Individual tickets to the gala are $200, and there are sponsorships for $2,000, $3,000, and $5,000. Details may be found at www.wiltonlibrary.org.

The Amadeo family is the lead sponsor, and presenting sponsors are the Davatzes family and Fairfield County Bank.

A highlight of the evening will be the presentation to the Village Market.

Said Tim Dolnier, “We’ve been involved with the library for a long time. It’s been a very important relationship we hope to continue for a long time. Because the community supports us, we can go back and support the library.”