Berkshire County may be a retreat for Deval Patrick, but the former Massachusetts governor is far from a recluse when he visits his 77 acres in Richmond known as Sweet P Farm.
From attending arts events to shopping at local stores, Patrick has embraced Berkshire life since acquiring his Furnace District property in 2002. Many around the county know him best for his culinary interests.
"He's a real foodie," Hancock Shaker Village President and CEO Jennifer Trainer Thompson said by phone Thursday.
Patrick, who launched his bid for the presidency on Thursday, participated in the living history museum's "Food for Thought" speaker series in 2017 and is a regular at the popular "Baby Animals" exhibit at the farm each spring.
Thompson has known him for about a decade, she said. They met at a dinner party in the Berkshires.
"We bonded over smoked pit [barbecue]," said Thompson, who has authored numerous cookbooks during her career.
Patrick enjoys the kitchen himself. He grabs corn and other vegetables from Pittsfield's Bittersweet Farm "all the time," according to owner Dave Halley.
"He does a lot of cooking," Halley said.
Patrick has a taste for some of the county's fine dining establishments, too; in a 2012 interview with The Boston Globe, he listed John Andrews Farmhouse Restaurant in South Egremont and Nudel in Lenox among his favorite places to eat. At Rouge Restaurant in West Stockbridge, where he is a regular, he typically orders duck, according to owner Maggie Merelle. Manager Jeremy Kenny helps the politician pair wines with his meals, and chef Oliver Antunes gives him tips for preparing dishes at home.
"He loves to cook duck. I know that for a fact," Merelle said by phone.
West Stockbridge is a haunt for Patrick. He often frequents A.W. Baldwin Hardware on Center Street. According to owner Henry Baldwin, Patrick has a Saturday to-do list "just like everybody else," picking up a rake and a bag of grass seed, perhaps.
"He's very handy. He does a lot of yard work," Baldwin said, leaning over the store's front counter on Thursday.
Baldwin tries to respect Patrick's privacy when he's in the shop, where the former governor often gets "accosted" by fellow customers wanting to chat, Baldwin said. He has talked politics with Patrick on occasion, sharing, for instance, his thoughts on student loans.
"He's very receptive," Baldwin said.
Jackie Moffatt describes Patrick as "unassuming." The co-owner of Charles H. Baldwin & Sons, a country store across the street from the hardware shop, recalls Patrick visiting when he was governor. A security staffer scoped the place out before Patrick entered.
One time, Patrick stopped in on a tax-free weekend, asking about how the sales tax holiday affected the business. (Not much at Charles H. Baldwin, which is mostly foodstuffs, he was told.)
Nowadays, Patrick will walk in wearing a baseball cap, Moffatt said. He's bought some of the shop's greeting cards.
"He likes our sense of humor," she said.
Along Main Street, West Stockbridge Public Market is a popular sandwich source for Patrick. Owner Tim Walsh on Thursday posted on Facebook a photo of himself with Patrick. The Richmond resident could barely contain his excitement about Patrick's presidential run.
"Absolutely thrilled," said Walsh, who is married to Berkshire District Attorney Andrea Harrington. "Great for the economy here in town."
While Richmond doesn't boast a downtown like West Stockbridge's, Patrick can often be seen at its few hot spots. One of them is Bartlett's Orchard, which Patrick cited in the Globe piece for its cider doughnut prowess. Richmond residents seem to have a good opinion of Patrick, according to Trevor Bartlett, whose family owns the Swamp Road property and store.
"Anyone that's interacted with him likes him," Bartlett said by phone.
While picking up some milk and eggs at Bartlett's on Thursday, actor Rocco Sisto recalled meeting Patrick at Shakespeare & Company in Lenox. He described Patrick as "affable" and a supporter of the Berkshire arts scene.
"A great advocate for us," Sisto said.
Earlier that day, Rich Rosenfeld, of Richmond, was perusing Bartlett's, his whippet Jasper at his side. Near where he was standing, a walking stick he made was on sale, which sparked a Patrick story.
When the retired pediatrician learned that Patrick had bought a home in the Berkshires, he recounted, he dropped a couple of his rustic walking aids at the Patricks' front gate.
A few weeks later, Rosenfeld's office received a call from Patrick, who wanted to thank Rosenfeld for the kind gesture.
Rosenfeld's receptionist, however, told Patrick that the doctor was busy with patients and unable to come to the phone. So, Patrick chatted with her instead.
"He's a very gracious fellow," Rosenfeld said.
Benjamin Cassidy can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, at @bybencassidy on Twitter and 413-496-6251.