Tags Posts tagged with "Julianne Mosher"

Julianne Mosher

By Julianne Mosher

Theatre Three kicks off its 53rd season with the award-winning musical The Prom. Set in current day New York City and Indiana, The Prom brings humor and color to an important issue facing the nation — LGBTQIA rights.

Let me explain. This high energy show starts off with four narcissistic Broadway stars who receive a terrible review about their latest play and their personalities. In order to gain positive feedback to counteract the reviewer’s comment of them being self-obsessed, they learn a trending news story happening in Indiana: a lesbian high school student was not allowed to bring her girlfriend to their prom which incited a riot of the local townspeople. 

The actors, Dee Dee Allen (Linda May), Barry Glickman (Ryan Nolin), Angie Dickinson (Sari Feldman) and Trent Oliver (Brian Gill) – along with the public relations rep, Sheldon (Jason Allyn) hitch a ride west to “selflessly” help the high schooler, Emma (Jae Hughes) gain back her prom. 

Set in a small town with big religious and conservative values, Emma is ostracized, bullied and is blamed for the school board cancelling the prom…until the stars show up dripping in glitter and voicing their opinions with their big personalities and  sharing with the world how they are helping Emma. 

With standout performances by Hughes, they make you feel strong emotion for the drama they are going through in the show. While the play has many highs, a lot of laughs and catchy musical numbers, the show will bring you to tears – especially if you know someone who has gone through a struggle with acceptance.

Interestingly, several details from The Prom were actually based on real-life events. In 2010, Mississippi student Constance McMillen was not admitted into her prom with her girlfriend – and the parents there also tried to separate the straight kids from the LGBTQIA students.

McMillen went to court. Her case was taken by the ACLU and was awarded a payment of $35,000 from the school district that hurt her. They then implemented a non-discrimination policy. 

But while Hughes’ emotional journey, and the main purpose of this show, is heavy and starting of a movement, you can appreciate May, Nolin, Feldman, Gill and Allyn’s silly, charismatic personalities to lighten the mood. You’d actually believe they are Broadway stars with their stellar performances. In fact, everyone on the stage from the main characters to the ensemble deserves constant standing ovations for their professionalism and talent. Even the smallest roles were noticed.

Throughout the show, secrets are unveiled, twists are made and conflict ensues, keeping the audience engaged from start to finish. The set design, by Randall Parsons, is completely reminiscent of a high school auditorium – especially when it gets decorated for the big dance. Allyn and Joe Kassner’s costume design are also impressive. The big personalities of the Broadway stars required a lot of glitter and that’s exactly what they had. Plus, Rico’s Clothing, based in Center Moriches, donated the men’s formal wear for the show. 

All in all, the show is something you could watch over and over, laughing and crying (in a good way!) every time. Theatre Three’s The Prom is an important play that will make people think the following: We are all human, love is love, and “I wish I had a friend like Barry to help me dress up for my prom!”

Don’t miss this one.

Theatre Three, 412 Main St., Port Jefferson presents The Prom on the Mainstage through Oct. 21. Tickets are $40 adults, $32 seniors, $20 students, and $20 children ages 5 and up. To order, please call 631-928-9100 or visit www.theatrethree.com.

By Julianne Mosher

These dragons won’t need any slaying and will not be spitting fire. In fact, this might actually bring some good luck.

The 9th annual Dragon Boat Race Festival is heading back to Port Jefferson on Saturday, Sept. 16 and it will have something for everyone. 

Sponsored by The Greater Port Jefferson Chamber of Commerce, this event is a way to foster community togetherness. It also serves to promote Asian and Asian American culture and customs while connecting with students at Stony Brook University.

Kicking off with a race in the Long Island Sound, it coincides with a full festival filled with fun, food and friends.

Barbara Ransome, the chamber’s director of operations, said that every year this particular festival brings in hundreds of people from across Long Island and even New York City.

“There’s nothing else like this around,” she said, “And we’re the only festival doing this in Suffolk County.”

Just a few miles away from Stony Brook University, which has a large Asian and Pan-Asian community, Ransome said the festival not only brings new people to the village every year, but also parts of these cultures that local residents might have not seen before.

“Not only is this festival entertaining,” Ransome said, “But it’s also educational and that’s a wonderful thing.”

This year, 21 teams are signed up — including two from the university and a group from Flushing, Queens. Each boat has about 22 people in it as they race for the win.

But it isn’t just a race for visitors to watch and cheer on. There are dance troupes, Japanese percussionists, singers and martial artists, plus retailers, cultural vendors and food trucks.

And you can’t forget the Bearded Dragon who will dance for the crowd — but don’t worry… it isn’t scary.

For centuries, the bearded dragon has had a significant impact on different cultures around the world. Specifically in Eastern cultures, including Chinese mythology, the dragon symbolizes power, strength and good luck. Similarly, in Japan, bearded dragons are associated with longevity and wisdom, as they are said to possess secret knowledge. 

Other fun activities for kids will include face painting, origami, crafts and reptile visitors from the Center for Environmental and Educational Discovery.

“This is a way to embrace diversity within our own backyard,” Ransome said. “It offers different things that you might have never seen before.”

The Port Jefferson Dragon Boat Race Festival will kick off its opening ceremonies on Saturday, Sept. 16 at 8:30 a.m. with a performance by the Asian Veterans Color Guard, singing of the national anthem by Samantha Reichers, a Blessing of the Dragon and the traditional “Eye Dotting” ceremony to awaken the dragon at Port Jefferson Harbor and Harborfront Park, located at 101A East Broadway. The race will begin at 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. and will run alongside the entertainment schedule (see left hand page).

The event will be held rain or shine. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and come enjoy the festivities! For more information, call 631-473-1414 or visit www.portjeffdragonracefest.com

Schedule of Events:

7:45 a.m.  

Team Captains Meeting at Harborfront Park

8:30 a.m.  

Opening Ceremonies with Master of Ceremonies Suzanne Velazquez, Asian Veterans Color Guard, singing of the National Anthem by Samantha Reichers, and Blessing of the Dragon and  ‘Eye Dotting’ ceremony with Theravada Monks from the Vajiradhammapadip Buddhist Temple in Centereach

8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.  

Food Vendors, Cultural Crafts, Children Activities, Retail/Educational/Nonprofit Vendor Tables

9 a.m. to 5 p.m.  

Continual Dragon Boat Races in Port Jefferson’s Inner Harbor

9:45 a.m. 

Rebel Thaiboxing demonstration

10 a.m. to 10:45 a.m

The Sound of Long Island Chorus, Americana program and traditional Chinese songs

10:45 a.m. to 11:45 a.m.

Yixin Dance Center

11:45 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Long Island Chinese Dance Group performance

12 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.  

Lunch Break (no racing)

12;30 p.m. to 1 p.m.

Taiko Tides Drumming and Oroshi Drumming contest

1 p.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Parade of the Team T-shirts Contest, Best Drummer Costume Contest

1:30 p.m.

Races resume

1:30 p.m. to 2:15 p.m.  

Authentic Shaolin Kung Fu Lion Dance , Kung Fu  & Tai Chi demonstrations

2:15 p.m. to 2:45 p.m.  

Port Jefferson High School Music Group, Harbor Country Day School

2:45 p.m. to 3 p.m. 

Rebel Thaiboxing Demonstration

3 p.m. to 3:30 p.m.

Stony Brook Youth Chorus

3:30 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Yana Dance Group – Chinese Traditional Dance

4 p.m. to 4:15 p.m. 

Galante Martial Arts demonstrating Tai Chi, Arnis (Filipino Martial Arts) and Jiu Jitsu

4:15 to 4:45 p.m.

Long Island Modeling

4:30 p.m.

Last Dragon Boat Race

5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.

Closing Ceremonies and Awards


BACK BY POPULAR DEMAND: Called everything from ‘hillbilly-Pink Floyd’ to ‘folk-pop’ to ‘surreal Americana,’ the Slambovian Circus of Dreams returns to this year's festival. Photo by Tom Moore

By Julianne Mosher

If you have a love for folk music, head over to Benner’s Farm in East Setauket on Sunday, Sept. 10 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. for the 11th annual Fiddle and Folk Festival. Just in time for fall, the event will have a little something for everyone.

Held on the grounds of the historic farm, that has been owned by Bob Benner and his family since 1977, festival-goers can always expect the best in traditional and contemporary folk music plus other fun-filled farm activities suitable for all ages. 

Singer-songwriter Cassandra House

“Bob Benner has been instrumental in the Fiddle and Folk Festival for years,” said Amy Tuttle, program director for the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council.

Tuttle added that the festival was held for many years at the Long Island Museum in Stony Brook. Unfortunately, it stopped for a bit, until Benner “resurrected it.” 

“It’s always on the first Sunday after Labor Day,” said Tuttle, who said that the GPJAC has been involved every year at Benner’s since — except for one year which was during the COVID-19 pandemic. “We have an eclectic variety of music, so there’s something for everybody.”

This year’s performers include The Slambovian Circus of Dreams (back by popular demand), Cassandra House, Barbecue  Bruce and the Brisket Brothers, and last year’s “Pick of the Crop,” Stephen Robinson and Hank Stone. Bob Westcott will emcee and entertain between sets with stories and song.

With the exception of The Slambovian Circus of Dreams, who are popular regulars on the folk festival scene, the rest of the performers are all Long Island locals; Cassandra House is from the South Shore and Barbecue  Bruce and the Brisket Brothers (Bruce MacDonald, Dan Skabeikis and John Brisotti) hail from the North Fork.

Tuttle also mentioned the “Pick of the Crop,” a new contest that was implemented last year. The idea is for performers to virtually audition online before the festival with finalists performing in-person the day of the festival in front of a group of judges. Those judges then decide which of the finalists will perform on the main stage at next year’s festival. 

Right now, there is an online submission page where musicians, singers and songwriters can submit their work. The first round of judges will then choose from those submissions who made it to the next round, performing on the Shady Grove Stage. 

“It’s a really nice festival,” Tuttle said. “Everyone always has a great time.”

If the main stage and contest stages weren’t enough, there’s more. This year, an open mic stage will be presented on the back of Bob Benner’s old ’24 Model T Truck.

Benner said that other than the music and food that will be available to enjoy, there will be other fun things to do — especially for the little ones. 

“We’ll have a kid’s corner and caricatures,” he said, adding Long Island’s largest swing will be available to play on. Visitors will also be available to visit with the farm’s many animals including sheep, goats and chickens.

“The Fiddle and Folk Festival is a perfect way to ease out of all the fun things we have been doing over the summer and head into the fall,” Tuttle said. “It’s relaxed and a great way to unwind before the start of the school year.”

Presented by Homestead Arts, the Greater Port Jefferson-Northern Brookhaven Arts Council and Benner’s Farm, the music festival will be held rain or shine.

Benner’s Farm is located at 56 Gnarled Hollow Road in East Setauket. Advance sale tickets for the Fiddle & Folk Festival are $20 for adults, $17 for seniors and $10 for children. Tickets on the day of the event are  $23 adults, $20 seniors and $10 for children.

Audience members are encouraged to bring their own seating. A full schedule of performances and events along with applications for the “Pick of the Crop” contest are available at www.fiddleandfolk.com. For more information, call 631-689-8172.

AHOY MATEY! Visit with pirates at this year's festival. File photo by Aidan Johnson/TBR News Media

By Julianne Mosher 

Harborfront Park in Port Jefferson will turn into a pirate’s paradise this weekend and it’ll make visitors want to shake their “booty.”

On Saturday, Aug. 19, singers from around the world will head to the Village to share the gift of song, and some history, with tunes that came straight from the seas, as part of the 3rd annual Port Jefferson Sea Shanty & Maritime Music Festival.

Amy Tuttle, program director of the Greater Port Jefferson Arts Council (GPJAC), said that the free event brings in local sea shanty singers and others from all over New England, Canada, and even the UK. From noon until dusk, visitors can sit and sing along in Harborfront Park, located at 101-A East Broadway, or they might catch glimpses of a few street singers walking around town. 

“Port Jefferson was a shipbuilding community,” Tuttle said. “A lot of the captains and ship builders lived in these very houses that are still standing.”

Tuttle added that over a century ago, Port Jefferson was one of the largest shipbuilding communities in the state. Not only were a large number of big boats created right on these docks, but a huge number of small, wooden boats, as well. 

“Sea shanties were work songs developed by people who worked on and who built the ships,” she said. “They could be considered one of the first genres of world music —wherever there was a port, there would be different influences. It’s really interesting.”

And to really bring the vibe of early century Port Jefferson, across the park at Bayles Boat Shop, which is part of the Long Island Seaport and Eco Center (LISEC) and a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of maritime history on Long Island, will be hosting its annual Sikaflex Quick and Dirty Boat Build. 

Now in its 12th year, the event allows would-be boat designers and builders to have a weekend of fun and showcase their creative skills and talents. Using only a provided supply of plywood, plastic cable ties, and Sikaflex/sealant, two member teams must build, paint and then paddle their design around the village dock in Port Jefferson Harbor located just offshore of Harborfront Park.

Several two-person teams will have five hours on Saturday and return on Sunday to decorate their boats and prepare to race them at 3 p.m. Trophies will be awarded after the races for design, decoration, first built and race winners. “People will be able to watch the boats being built, listen to music and sing along,” Tuttle said. 

Port Jefferson hosted the first Sea Shanty & Maritime Music Festival in 2021. Tuttle said that for many years, Mystic CT would host a Sea Shanty Festival, but unfortunately, it was discontinued. In the time passing, she heard from many of the artists looking for other places to sing their songs, so the GPJAC partnered with the Village of Port Jefferson and the Folk Music Society of New York to bring this whaling town back to its roots.

Featured performers will include John Roberts, David Jones, David Littlefield, Bonnie & Dan Milner, Heather Wood, Joseph Morneault, Geoff Kaufman, and Deirdre Murtha and Alan Short — plus a grand finale concert featuring all the musicians at around 6 p.m. Pirates at Large will be at the “pirate camp” outside the Village Center in character, singing along, too.

“Each year this gets a little bit bigger and we’re so excited to bring it back again,” Tuttle said. “There’s nothing else like it.” For more information, visit www.gpjac.org.

Photo from Google Maps

By Julianne Mosher

When Pentimento Restaurant in Stony Brook village closed nearly two years ago, the spot’s former manager, Elaine Micali, knew it wasn’t going to be the end for her.

A long-time resident of the Three Village community, Micali was a teacher-turned-tutor-turned-manager for the old Italian spot that closed in 2021. She said for 10 years, she moved up in the ranks, starting as a catering manager helping to schedule events and eventually becoming the location’s main manager.

But since Pentimento had closed, Micali and her husband Enzo decided it was time to create their own spot.

Micali said that over the last two years, she and her husband — and business partner — have looked locally and across the Island for a good location for their own restaurant they plan on calling Elaine’s Restaurant and Bar.

“At the end of the day, I wanted to stay in the Three Village community,” she said.

And that’s when they learned Tai Show North, located at 316 Main St. in East Setauket, was going to be closing its doors. Known for their hibachi and sushi dishes, Micali said that the still-open restaurant was put up for sale and they found it to be the perfect fit.

Without giving too much away, Micali said they will be renovating the whole restaurant, which currently sports an Asian aesthetic, to match the types of cuisine they plan on bringing in — regional Italian with a mix of American and Mediterranean delights.

“Both my husband and I are Italian and we spent a lot of time in Italy,” she said. “It’s going to be unique for this particular area and an open extension of our home.”

Micali said she signed the paperwork this month to take over Tai Show North, but it will still operate under its current management until the end of August. She will take over the premises Sept. 1 with an anticipated opening in early 2024. 

“It’s exciting,” Micali said. “I’m combining all my favorite things.”

And while since the news broke that the former Pentimento manager was opening her own place, she said they still have a lot of work ahead of them.

Some renovations Micali mentioned are a new bar, completely revamping the dining space, getting rid of the hibachi grills and creating a space for catered events like bridal showers and parties.

So for now, Micali said that those interested can follow Elaine’s Restaurant and Bar on Facebook and Instagram for more updates, also visit www.elaines-setauket.com.

Moderator Julie Tighe with Ed Romaine.

By Julianne Mosher

[email protected]

Republican Brookhaven Town Supervisor Ed Romaine visited Stony Brook University to address Suffolk County’s environmental concerns at a forum against Democrat Dave Calone in the race for county executive. 

On Monday, July 17, the New York League of Conservation Voters, alongside Citizens Campaign for the Environment, filled the Sidney Gelber Auditorium at Stony Brook University for a two-hour debate with both candidates running for Suffolk County executive, replacing Steve Bellone (D) whose 12-year term will be ending in November.

More than 200 people listened to both Calone and Romaine discuss what both parties found to be most important regarding climate change, offshore wind, water quality, open space conservation, environmental justice, sustainable transportation and farming. NYLCV President Julie Tighe was moderator. The event began with Calone answering the dozen questions submitted prior to the event followed by Romaine. Each response was set to a 2-minute time limit. 

Dave Calone

Moderator Julie Tighe with Dave Calone.

“We need to protect what makes us special, because what makes us special — whether it’s our beaches, our water, etc. — drives our economy,” Calone said. “And we need a thriving environment to make sure that (a) people want to live here and (b) people can live here.”

Calone said his experience in environmental concerns, as well as being a state and federal prosecutor, stem from his previous accomplishments in the private sector, planning commission and nonprofit space. 

He said he supported renewable technologies by getting the ball rolling for off-shore wind production as early as 2012, leading the effort as Suffolk County Planning Commission chair to cut red tape and boost solar energy production. He added he fought for water quality by running the county’s first wastewater financing summit and helping to draft the county’s water quality ballot initiative.

“People in Suffolk County care about the environment,” Calone said. “I am the candidate with the broadest environmental experience in Suffolk County to run for Suffolk County executive.”

Calone criticized county Republicans for their handling of the Brookhaven landfill, which Romaine rebutted, touting his efforts to shut down the landfill.

Ed Romaine

Moderator Julie Tighe with Ed Romaine.

Romaine, who has been Brookhaven Town supervisor since 2012, served in the county Legislature starting in 1985 and was deemed a fighter for the environment by authoring Suffolk’s first Clean Water Act. He was then elected to Suffolk County clerk, staying in that role for 16 years. In 2005, he was again elected to the county Legislature where he sponsored several environmental bills including Michael’s Law, which banned explosive fuel gels in the county.

As Brookhaven Town supervisor, Romaine has led other environmental initiatives, including protecting one of Brookhaven’s largest waterways, the Carmans River. He also sits on the board of the Central Pine Barrens Commission where he helps oversee and safeguard over 105,000 acres worth of land and groundwater. He is an avid supporter of farmland and wetland preservation on the East End and said he has worked to reduce waste and entice the growth of green energy in Brookhaven Town.

“Redevelopment is the way to go as opposed to new development,” Romaine said. “We only have one island and we need to save what is left.”

Agreeing on one thing in particular, Calone and Romaine both support adding the Clean Water Restoration Act to the Nov. 7 ballot. This vote could create one countywide sewer district and fund other improvements to water quality.

New show at the Engeman Theater is a smash hit

By Julianne Mosher

Grab your favorite cocktail, a Hawaiian-print shirt and head on down to Northport to go wastin’ away again in Margaritaville at the John W. Engeman Theater. 

Its latest show, Jimmy Buffet’s Escape to Margaritaville, isn’t only for “Parrot Heads” or Buffet enthusiasts — it has something for everyone: a really good time. 

The show starts out following a part-time bartender/part-time singer, Tully, (who’s also a full-time ladies’ man) at his job on an island in the sun. Working at a tourist spot, he’s introduced to a visitor named Rachel who’s on location for a work trip/bachelorette party for her best friend, Tammy. 

A complete overachiever and workaholic, Rachel isn’t really expecting anything but gathering soil at the local volcano for her project. But Tully, intrigued by her, attempts to befriend her and eventually falls hard in love. 

Through the beachy sounds of Jimmy Buffet, the audience is taken on a journey of the island, learning the backstories (good and bad) of all the characters inhabiting it. Not only will the show make you laugh out loud, but you’ll be out of your seat singing along to popular hits including “Fins,” “Why Don’t We Get Drunk and Screw,” “Cheeseburger in Paradise,” and, of course, “Margaritaville.”

Directed and choreographed by Keith Andrews, the entire cast deserves accolades for their performance. Sam Sherwood (Tully) is a true star, while Amanda Bailey (Marley), Maggie Bera (Tammy), Hunter Brown (Brick) and Meadow Nguy (Rachel) shine alongside him. 

Dan Sharkey, who plays the questionable and somewhat lost J.D., will have you laughing and falling in love with his character, especially after you learn more about how he landed on the island. 

And if you like piña coladas, or any other fruity drinks, make sure you head to the theater a bit early for a pre-show where visitors can hop on stage, grab a beverage and listen to some tunes sung by the cast as if they are victors to the resort themselves!

That being said, the set design feels like you’re in the Caribbean or somewhere in Hawaii. Beautiful tropical flowers in bright, summer colors line the stage, while the house band (who is typically seated beneath the stage) performs live music front and center. 

But while the show primarily takes place at the resort, the cast does a great job with extras to flip between Tammy’s apartment, the airport, a restaurant in the states and of course, the volcano. Yes, there’s an active volcano that smokes right in the background. However, don’t worry — it hasn’t been active in years… when it killed real estate agents who were vacationing for a conference a few decades ago… (You’ll learn that backstory if you come by).

So, make sure you change into your shirt with a fun, bold print, put on your sandals and take a shot of tequila before you head down to The Engeman for a fantastic and fun night out because, remember, it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere!

The John W. Engeman Theater, 250 Main St., Northport presents Jimmy Buffet’s Escape to Margaritaville through Aug. 27. Showings include Thursdays and Fridays at 8 p.m., Saturdays and 3 p.m. and 8 p.m., and Sundays at 2 p.m. Some Wednesdays and Sunday evenings are available. Tickets are $80 or $85 for Saturday evenings. To order call 631-261-2900 or visit www.engemantheater.com.

By Julianne Mosher

[email protected]

With high humidity, torrential rainstorms and hot temperatures, the Village of Port Jefferson brought a new meaning to the dog days of summer last weekend.

The second annual Port Paws Dog Festival was initiated last year and is a friendly competition for dogs of all sizes, ages and breeds. Dogs from all over the East Coast — and even Canada — came downtown to participate in what was supposed to be a three-day event. 

On Saturday, July 15, Kevin Wood, economic development director for the village and chair of the event, said the event brought in more than 160 registered people and their furry friends while the start of the festival on July 14, a day for noncommitted competitors, brought more than 70 dogs to try it out. However, severe flooding resulting from Sunday’s rainstorm caused the last day of the festival to be canceled.

Wood said that the event, which has been in the planning since last year’s festival took place, won’t be rescheduled for 2023 as they are already preparing for next summer.

The Port Paws competition looks to see who can jump the highest, swim the farthest and retrieve a toy in the pool the fastest after jumping and diving off a dock, built on the field, and into the giant pool. All money raised goes to the Port Jefferson Harbor Education & Arts Conservancy.

“The conservancy brings something special to Port Jefferson village and I am proud to plan and manage it,” Wood said. “A big thank you to the village parks, DPW and code departments for making this event one of the highlights of the summer in Port Jefferson.”

Located at Joe Erland Field on Caroline Avenue, a 30,000-gallon pool was installed as well as tents, a misting station and games; animal lovers alike were able to find something to do. Some played cornhole while others visited the tables of several local businesses that helped sponsor the event. 

Throughout the show, Dock Dogs presented the Big Air Wave competition accompanied by the Extreme Vertical and Speed Retrieve competition for both competitors and spectators to enjoy. The Big Air competition featured dogs running down a 40-foot dock and diving into a pool of water for an object, in which they were electronically judged for the length of their jump. Rounding out the action was the Speed Retrieve — where the dogs were put on the clock to see how fast they could run down the dock, jump into the water, swim to the end of the pool and retrieve an object that was held by a modified extender arm.

The Extreme Vertical competition is a “high jump” for the dogs as they each lunge to snag a “bumper” suspended in the air. With each grab, the height increases in 2-inch increments until only one dog is crowned king. 

Wood had previously said he first saw the competition while visiting the East End of Long Island, and soon realized he needed to bring it Down Port. 

“Port Jefferson is a dog-loving town,” he said. 

The Wood family always had small, lap dogs — whom they loved — but when they adopted Brody, who adores the water, Wood thought it would be fun to see how he, and all the other local dogs, would do in a friendly competition. 

“No municipality has done this before,” Wood said. “I wanted to bring it to the next level and bring it to the village.”

This year’s winners were Tonka Bean, from Millerton south of Albany, who won a basket donated by Fetch Boutique and was crowned Top Iron Dog. Another pup, Gilly, won second place for Big Air and received a Fedora Lounge Salon gift certificate. 

Also in attendance were the Suffolk County Police Department Canine Unit which showed off some of their lifesaving methods.

One woman’s pandemic project brings local scents across Long Island

By Julianne Mosher

When the world shut down in 2020, Renee Fondacaro immediately knew she wanted to take on a hobby. 

Always a fan of candles, Fondacaro would have them constantly burning in her Old Field home. She took on a hobby at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic by blending essential oil scents with a clean, healthier candle wax base that she would drop off at her friends’ homes.

“I had ordered a candle kit because the pandemic was boring,” she said. “I made a bunch of them and would drop them off to my friends because I felt like it was a little gift that could maybe bring happiness when everyone was so stressed out.”

And they did bring happiness — because they smelled great. Fondacaro’s friends and family began to ask her, “Why are you not selling these?”

So, just about six months later, the mom of three signed up for her first craft fair in October 2020 where she made her first official sale. She and her husband John, who is a veterinarian specialist, decided that instead of a hobby, this was going to be a business. Soon after, they formed an LLC, got insurance and trademarked, and settled on the name “Old Field Apothecary,” as she creates her mini masterpieces right inside her Old Field home.

As a two-time cancer survivor, and retired nurse, Fondacaro is very health conscious. As an avid candle lover, sometimes it’s hard to know what exactly is being put into the air we breathe. That’s why she decided to make her candles at Old Field Apothecary 100% natural.

“It was really important for me to find ingredients that were very, very clean,” she said. “Candles can be very toxic if they’re not made with good, clean ingredients.”

Using clean coconut and apricot cream wax, she melts the mixture into jars that are heat safe for with woodburning wicks that make the perfect crackling sound. She would ask people what scents they were looking for, and now, nearly three years later, she has created over 80 different types, along with linen and room sprays and wax melts. She said the process is relatively simple, the longest part is melting the wax.

Fondacaro, who grew up in Setauket, would travel to local farmers markets and other craft fairs, along with making a website to sell her products. But she wanted to include the community even more. She started to approach local and other Long Island-based stores to start collaborating with including the Three Village Historical Society in Setauket and The Reboli Center for Art and History, The Long Island Museum, and The Jazz Loft in Stony Brook (where the candles are named after famous jazz musicians).

She began to venture out of the local Three Village area, too, including a collab with Kidd Squid Brewing Company in Sag Harbor and the Raynham Hall Museum in Oyster Bay. She is currently planning a scent for a shop on Block Island, too, and for some wineries on the North Fork.

But the Reboli Center is the place that has the most variety. Lois Reboli, president of the center, said that Fondacaro walked in one day and they talked about a collaboration. She couldn’t be happier with their partnership.

“Her candles are exceptional and we are very honored to have them at our place,” said Reboli. “They bring in a lot of foot traffic from people who may have not come into the Reboli Center before.”

Fondacaro said some of her most popular scents are the lavender candles because they’re calming and not overwhelming. She loves the more woodsy, earthy scents. 

“Almost everyone who buys my candles always come back and tell me that they really can see the difference in the way they burn,” she said. “They don’t get headaches. They don’t get watery eyes. They don’t get side effects and symptoms from any toxins, so I love that.”

And there is a scent for everyone: blackberry and musk, coffee bean and cacao, strawberry cream truffle, or “after the rain” — just to name a few. Plus, they’re animal friendly so furry friends can enjoy these new smells, too. 

Candles start at $27.95 and are hand-poured right in Old Field. To view the entire collection, visit www.oldfieldapothecary.com

This article originally appeared in Summer Times, a seasonal guide supplement by TBR News Media.


Julianne Mosher captured these scenes at the 2023 Seaside Hunter Derby at Old Field Farm in Setauket on June 18. The event was held in conjunction with Gallery North’s 19th annual Wet Paint Festival, giving over 40 artists much inspiration for their plein air painting.

Send your Photo of the Week to [email protected]