Given the popularity of its events and the place it holds in the community’s heart, it is hard to believe establishing the role Ambler Farm would play in Wilton was often riven by controversy. What kinds of events, whether to pave a parking lot or include lighting for events at night dominated a series of public hearings before the Planning and Zoning Commission in 2005.
But the Ambler Farm Committee — soon to become the Friends of Ambler Farm — persevered, and here they are 10 years later, ready to celebrate a decade of achievement with a 10th anniversary gala — Once Upon a Farm.
Dinner, dancing, celebration, reminiscing, and a live auction will take place Saturday, Nov. 7, from 6:30 to 11 at Silver Spring Country Club in Ridgefield. Providing the dance music will be Otis and the Hurricanes.
The event is a fund-raiser to support completing the construction of the Raymond- Ambler farmhouse. Although the exterior work is complete, there is much to be done inside, including drainage and septic work, heating and plumbing, insulation and wallboard, electrical work, and making it ADA-compliant. At present the interior has been stripped to the studs with rough plywood flooring, and even the moldings and shutters have been removed, numbered, and set aside for refinishing.
In addition to the ticket price of $250, the Friends will raise money through a live auction. Among the items up for bid will be a South Africa safari, a ranch vacation in Montana, a one-year membership in the Hermitage golf and ski resort, dinner at Barcelona, and the Field of Dreams — 250 daffodils to be planted on the winning bidder’s property in time to bloom next spring.
The Hermitage is a threehour drive from Wilton in the Deerfield Valley of Vermont. In addition to Alpine and cross-country skiing and snowboarding, there is an 18-hole golf course designed by Desmond Muirhead, and clubhouse with restaurant and bar, fitness center and spa, movie theater, arcade and more. The starting bid is $6,000.
The Ranch at Rock Creek in Montana offers a three-night “glamping” experience for two and two round-trip tickets on JetBlue anywhere it flies. There are some restrictions on when the vacation may be used. Starting bid is $4,500.
The safari package includes a six-night stay at the eco-friendly Zulu Nyala Heritage Safari Lodge, with three meals and two game viewing drives per day. The starting bid is $2,500.
Gala revelers will also be treated to a video produced by the Driscoll family that will include interviews with farm supporters and photos and video of events this past year.
“It’s a special evening,” said gala co-chair Jen Hulse. “We’ve never had a gala. … It’s going to be a fun, feel-good evening.” Her fellow co-chairs include Kelly Lash and Alison Semple.
Sponsors of the event include the Amadeo and Semple families, Village Market, Aetheria Relaxation Spa, Bankwell, Deane Inc. and Terry Scarborough, and Deloitte.
The town of Wilton acquired Ambler Farm in 1999, and some if its signature events began shortly thereafter, with the first Ambler Farm Day in 2001. The first vegetable garden was dug in 2001, and the holiday greens sale took off in 2004.
During last year’s budget vote, a capital bond of $250,000 was approved for Ambler Farm, which the Friends must match. That money, and the matching funds, which will include money raised from the gala, will be used for the construction.
“We are very close to matching those funds,” Executive Director Robin Clune said. “We are hoping the gala will put us over the top.”
Should they be successful, construction could begin within the next few months. “We hope to get in the house next year,” she said. It will be used for a variety of farm and community programs.
For information, call Clune at 203-834-11453 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
To register for the gala, visit 501auctions.com/amblerfarmgala.