County Fare: Canyon Ranch wins Lenox Rhubarb Festival cookoff with by a spoonful

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Canyon Ranch wins by a spoon in Saturday's Savory Rhubarb Contest at the fifth Lenox Rhubarb Festival. Canyon Ranch edged out Cranwell, the reigning champion, with its bite-sized, vegetarian rhubarb tacos.

Cranwell was back for a fifth year and brought its winning 2017 rhubarb chili. Another fifth-year contestant, Olde Heritage Tavern, brought a satisfying rhubarb pulled pork. Firefly Gastropub, competing for a fourth year, brought a fresh rhubarb vegetable bite in phyllo, and newcomer Blantyre presented a chicken-liver pate with grapefruit gelee and rhubarb compote, taking the contest to new heights.

A crowd estimated at 1,250 enjoyed the small-town festival atmosphere complete with a pancake breakfast, homemade rhubarb ice cream and pies, and the rousing, toe-tapping, music of the 14-member Eagles Trombone Ensemble, which played for 90 minutes.

Historical Society gala honors Eagle

Last Friday evening, The West Stockbridge Historical Society hosted a gala celebration to honor their ongoing restoration of the Old Town Hall on Main Street.

The celebration was a cocktail party that was chaired by Zina Greene and Carter White, and it was held at Turn Park and hosted by the park's owners Igor Gomberg and Tatya Brezgunova. The festivities were coordinated by Robert Salerno, the Historical Society's president.

The event honored The Berkshire Eagle and its publisher Fredric D. Rutberg "for strengthening and enhancing the community." The Eagle received proclamations from the Massachusetts Senate and House of Representatives appreciating the contributions that the newspaper has made since coming under local ownership in May 2016.

State Rep. William "Smitty" Pignatelli presented the House's proclamation to Rutberg and said that The Eagle's coverage of arts, culture and creative economy had improved so much, he nominated the paper for the prestigious Commonwealth Award, which it won in 2017.

In accepting the honors, Rutberg quoted Bob Wilmers, his late Eagle business partner, who said that "A strong local, independent newspaper is vital to a civil culture —explaining the issues, exposing wrongs and celebrating heroes."

True american hero

A true American hero might be coming to the Berkshire Hills Regional School District.

The Murphy-Leary American Legion Post 298 in Housatonic wants Medal of Honor recipient Sammy Lee Davis to tell his story to students at all three district schools in Great Barrington, just in time for Veterans Day 2018.

Legion officials need to raise $5,000 to cover the cost of the Vietnam veteran's speaking engagement likely to occur in late October. If any money is left over, it will be set aside to bring in future inspirational speakers to South Berkshire, according to Legion spokesman and Navy veteran Harold French.

"Sam has a great program that he puts on in the schools geared to different age groups. He would spend a couple of days giving his talks between the three schools," French wrote in an email to County Fare.

Contributions can be sent to American Legion Post 298, P.O. Box 34, Housatonic, MA 01236.

Davis' heroism that garnered him the highest award bestowed on U.S. military members was about survival and saving his brothers in arms.

The Dayton, Ohio, native was 21 when his Army unit, the 4th Artillery, 9th Infantry Division, was being overrun by the Viet Cong, Nov. 18, 1967, during a nightlong battle in Cai Lay of what was then South Vietnam. According to Davis' website biography, the private was providing gunfire to protect his artillery crew when enemy fire knocked out the American's howitzer and injured the crew.

Davis then jumped into action and fired off at the advancing enemy what ammunition was left to load in the damaged howitzer.

Soon after, Davis heard several American soldiers yelling, trapped on the enemy side of a river that separated the two combating forces.

Unable to swim, Davis hopped on an air mattress from the American camp, and paddled across the river, where he and another soldier brought three wounded GIs back to safety.

Despite Davis being wounded by friendly fire by the battle's end, he finished his tour of duty. A year later, President Lyndon B. Johnson put the Medal of Honor around Davis' neck, the film footage of which, years later, was used in the movie "Forrest Gump." Tom Hanks head was substituted for Davis' in the scene where Gump (Hanks) received his fictional Medal of Honor citation, loosely based on Davis' real one.

Trail riders award grants

The Berkshire Trail Riders Association has awarded grants of $1,000 each to the fire departments of Granville, Blandford, Sandisfield and Tolland. The grants will be used to attend Wilderness Training programs and purchase emergency rescue equipment such as rescue stretchers, communication radios, rope, and emergency generators.

Over the past 15 years, the Berkshire Trail Riders Association has donated over $50,000 to local and national charity organizations, including local fire departments and EMT units, police departments, state forest and Department of Environmental Protection agencies, private and public land owners and The Ronald McDonald House Charities.

Founded in the early 1970s as the Foothill Trail Riders and incorporated in 1992, the Berkshire Trail Riders Association has been advocating responsible off-road motorcycle riding, competition and local philanthropy in the greater New England region for nearly 50 years.

The group maintains the trails it rides, actively promoting its preservation through trail work parties several times a year, while working alongside local, state and federal agencies. Other than those on private lands, the trails are open to the public for other uses.

County Fare, a weekly column featuring "tales from throughout the Berkshires," is compiled by Eagle staffers.


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