Saturday, September 24, 2022

Autumn fun in CT

The scene at this year's Big E on Connecticut Day.

Fairs, concerts, shows & beer festivals on tap during a busy autumn in Ct.

It was a busy summer's end, so we're just getting to our picks for fall activities. Tropical storm remnants aside, the weather is favoring a bunch of outdoor fairs, leaf-peeping and pumpkin-buying. 

We just returned from a visit to the Big E in West Springfield, Mass. (which runs through Oct. 2), and while a grown daughter was set on reliving moments of her youth with a fried mozzarella treat, I was fixated on taking home a couple of the cream puffs, which I ate in sublime sessions over the next two days. Mission accomplished.

We also sampled a hard cider and the kielbasa poutine at the tent run by the The Student Prince & The Fort, a Springfield staple of German food that we've visited previously. 

Other fairs earning a view or visit (and most Connecticut areas have a fair nearby) include the Durham Fair as we write this, the Connecticut Renaissance Faire Oct. 1-2 in Lebanon, the Southington Apple Harvest Festival weekends Sept. 30 to Oct. 9 and That's Amore Italian Festival Oct. 8-9 in Stamford.

It's also a cool season for indoor events as they ramp up fall and winter entertainment slates. Here's a preview of some favorites:

 Vendors pour samples at a previous Sun Brewfest.

There are beer festivals at both of Connecticut's huge casino resorts, with Mohegan Sun’s 9th annual Sun BrewFest weekend Oct. 7-8. The main event is Saturday from 3-6 p.m. at the Earth Expo & Convention Center ($55). But Mohegan has added a Seltzer Social event on Friday at the Earth Ballroom starting at 8 p.m, where $45 will get you fall-inspired spirits, local bites of food and some of the most popular hard seltzers on the market. Both events will have live music.

Speaking of the Expo Center, Mohegan also has the artsy-craftsy New England Christmas Festival returning to Mohegan Sun Nov. 4-6. The popular show is the largest arts and crafts festival in New England. It will take place at the Earth Expo Center, with kids under 15 free and adults at $13 to get in.

Foxwoods, meanwhile, will present its Foxwoods Beerfest (Battle of the Brews) from 3-7 p.m. on Nov. 19, with affordably priced tickets at $20-$30 for a promised lineup of 150 beers from more than 70 different breweries, microbrews and brewpubs, along with ciders, seltzers and specialty cocktails. Food is available, too, of course. It will take place at the Rainmaker Expo Center, which is the former bingo hall now transformed into a 75,000-square-foot meeting space for events. The new High Stakes Bingo Hall ($7 million, seating 2,200) opened this summer in the old Festival Casino area, near the previous buffet. (The big buffets at Mohegan and Foxwoods were a COVID casualty and have not come back.)

Speaking of Foxwoods, the casino will have a rare autumn theater musical Nov. 11-13 with "On Your Feet," the story of Emilio and Gloria Estefan, at the Great Cedar Showroom. Tickets are $25-$75 (but Ticketmaster fees will add to that noticeably).

Other shows:

Multi-platinum, progressive rockers  Trans-Siberian Orchestra will bring its winter tour to Mohegan Sun Arena for two shows on Wednesday, Nov.23 at 3 and 8 p.m.

Adam Sandler’s music and comedy performance at Mohegan Sun Arena was originally scheduled for Oct. 29 but is now scheduled for 8 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 20. Tickets are $129.50, $99.50, and $79.50.

Mohegan Sun will also host the Pentatonix: A Christmas Spectacular! 2022 Tour Dec. 22 with a concert at the arena. Tickets are $59 to $250, which seems a bit pricey for a cappella music. The entertaining group, above, is unveiling its sixth holiday album in late October.

The Katharine Hepburn Cultural Arts Center, aka “The Kate, will have folk and roots storyteller/songwriter Sophie B. Hawkins, left, on Thursday, September 29, at 7:30 p.m., for just $32.

TheaterWorks Hartford has the intriguing "Fun Home," a Tony Award-winning musical, starting Oct. 8, with Broadway's Aaron Lazar, Christine Noll and Sarah Beth Pfeifer.

Hartford Stage will lead its fall season with "The Mousetrap" by Agatha Christie, directed by Jackson Gay, Oct. 13-Nov. 6.

The Bushnell has Tina Fay's "Mean Girls" through Oct. 2. And Disney fans will be excited about the new production of "Aladdin" Nov. 8-13. (On New Year's Eve, the Mortensen theater there will present the "Hip Hop Nutcracker" at 8 p.m.)

Center Stage Theatre in Shelton will present the musical "The Marvelous Wonderettes: Dream On" from October 14-23.

Westport Country Playhouse will stage a story of determination, hope and inspiration in “From the Mississippi Delta,” written by Endesha Ida Mae Holland and directed by Goldie E. Patrick, from Oct. 18 - 30. The play was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize and won a Los Angeles Drama-Logue Award.










Monday, September 19, 2022

Casino beat



Foxwoods doubles down on gaming, betting on future leisure spending

Foxwoods Resort Casino, one of the world's largest, recently announced a series of improvements centered more around its profit center -- gaming -- than its food or live entertainment options.

The Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation, with its sprawling 30-year-old gleaming Oz that transformed a quiet cedar swamp and forest, will spend another $85 million in upgrades that include a new casino in an old space, new high-limit slots, a 40-seat bar with slots attached and a few other enhancements to reverse the COVID-19 slowdowns and attract future crowds.

The highly leveraged resort also recently opened an expansive High Stakes Bingo Hall (which is how the resort got started) and a DraftKings sports betting and iGaming operation. So if gambling is the bread and butter of the massive operation, Foxwoods is baking up a storm.

It's not all about the gaming, of course. The resort, led by affable CEO and President Jason Guyot, is also making over its casual dining spot Golden Dragon, adding a celebrity chef restaurant next year, a Wahlburgers outlet (there's also one just outside MGM Springfield) and an indoor water park in partnership with Great Wolf Lodge in 2024. 

The water park and Wahlburgers may be aimed at families but the announced addition of a large Players' Lounge and the recent opening of the curious, top-location CardVault of sports memorabilia seem targeted to the well-to-do.                                                                 

Foxwoods had layoffs and closures in 2020 when the pandemic struck, and some functions went dark (Two Trees Inn among them) and never returned. Much of the $85 million will be spent on the new casino in the former Grand Ballroom on the main concourse of the Grand Pequot area.

The last time Foxwoods spent this much money on upgrades was the opening of the Fox Tower, which turned into a near-back breaker as the 2008 recession hit. In the following years, debt had to be restructured. Subsequent upgrades were less audacious but still eye-catching, such as the still-operating HighFlyer Zipline, Thrill Tower plunge (since removed) and Monza go-kart racing track.





Media (including this writer, left) at the jump-off point of the HighFlyer Zipline attraction a few years ago. 




Foxwoods remains a place of amazement, mostly for its sheer size but also its ability to offer a range of gaming and nongaming entertainment. In an oversaturated casino environment with recent gaming centers in Springfield and Encore Boston (not to mention lesser ones in Rhode Island), it's a tricky balance for the Mashantucket resort, located closer to those states than Mohegan Sun is.

It's not about overall size (Mohegan is also huge) but the quality of service and upkeep of the sprawling facilities that will tell the story going forward. Anyone can offer gambling these days. So folks will respond to the homey touches, attractive offerings, affordable options and star quality of the entertainment that convey the wow factor. Oh, and an occasional hit at the slots or table games.


    Caputo, downstairs from where the new casino will be built at Foxwoods.




Monday, July 25, 2022


Tequila Tasting draws 850; Mohegan Sun announces date for fall favorite Sun Brewfest 

On another busy weekend at Connecticut entertainment behemoth Mohegan Sun Casino, Tequila Tasting drew some 850 people to the Earth Ballroom to sample tequila brands and other spirits from about 50 vendors.

The numbers are from a Mohegan Sun representative; the crowds were due to the tequila event in the Earth Ballroom but also owing to the hot weather chasing folks indoors on a summer Saturday, along with a basketball tourney of top traveling teams called Jam Fest: 2022 New England Finale and even former Barenaked Ladies front man Stephen Page performing in the Wolf Den.

It would have been an even more crowded resort had the Matchbox Twenty concert at the Arena not been postponed due to COVID concerns. (Two other large postponements will affect this weekend's foot traffic at Mohegan Sun: Shawn Mendes on Friday (health concerns over the rigors of touring, he said on social media) and Toby Keith Saturday (cancer).

Tequila Tasting attendees sampled tequila (along with mezcal and other products) at the various tables, but mostly tequila from the five categories of tequila -- blanco, reposado, añejo, extra añejo, and cristalino. A favorite of the 2022 scene seemed to be reposado, which can be sipped alone or mixed. 

On Monday, the casino moved on from the tasting to its next huge alcohol-based event, the October Sun Brewfest in the expansive Expo and Convention Center.

                                Glasses from the last Sun Brewfest in 2019.

Mohegan Sun’s 9th annual Sun BrewFest,, tabled in 2020 and 2021 due to the pandemic, will present more than 100 beer and similar products, including craft brews, microbrews, imports, domestics, near beers (including the wonderful Athletic brand, and ciders. Tickets to the Oct. 8 event are on pre-sale now at $40 and on general sale Aug. 1 for $50.


Representatives of Prospero pause at the start of Tequila Tasting.

                                           A mixed tequila drink with orange and mint.

The Patrón mix-your-own margarita bike at Tequila Tasting.


A Patrón rep at a booth just outside the Expo and Convention Center hallway at Tequila Tasting.


Stephen Page performing in the Wolf Den.
A Teremana Tequila rep shows a bottle of mixed margarita.




Thursday, June 02, 2022


Tequila Tasting draws a crowd of thirsty fans in 2018.


Blow out your flip flop? Sun Tequila Tasting returning to Mohegan Sun 




  Mohegan Sun Casino's relaxed summertime alcohol event, The Sun Tequila Tasting, will return to the Earth Ballroom July 23 after a four-year absence. Attendees again will be able to sip tequila shots, mixed drinks and nosh on Mexican food.
  We've been to this event before and it's part of what Mohegan Sun does very well -- gathering people and creating a fun time for adults young and old. (Just remember that tequila is a potent spirit and you need to drink lots of water, too.)
  The three-hour event, starting at 7 that evening, will be held in the Earth Ballroom, which features 20,000 square feet of space. Music will be by the Ct/RI band The Fake Experience, with tunes such as "Get Back" by the Beatles and "Abracadabra" by The Steve Miller Band.

          Right, a dessert station in 2018.

 The first Tequila Tasting in Uncasville was in 2017, leading to the 2018 tasting in the then-new Earth Ballroom in the Expo Center wing of the casino resort. But the event wasn't on the field in 2019 and then didn't come out of the dugout in pandemic years 2020 and 2021.
 There is a price to all this fun, of course, this year at $75 for admission to browse stations showcasing the pricey tequila and mezcal, talk to some knowledgeable reps (see video here from 2018), sample the various spirits (OK, mezcal is too smoky for some of us) and chow down on some tacos and similar fare from Taco Pacifico.
   Mohegan's planners say Patrón fans will provide an opportunity to pedal a one-of-a-kind blender bike (right) to mix up one's own margarita at a Patrón sponsored Happy Hour. There will also be a photo booth, live music and dancing.
 Guests must be at least 21 years of age of older to attend, of course. Valid ID and ticket are required upon entry, Mohegan noted.





Friday, May 27, 2022

 Tickets available as Foxwoods hosts touring 'Fiddler' and 'Waitress'

For a last-minute treat, get yourself to Foxwoods Resort & Casino this weekend for the touring version of "Fiddler on the Roof," running Friday, May 27, to Sunday with five performances.

"Fiddler on the Roof" is the heartwarming story of fathers and daughters, husbands and wives, and life, love and laughter, says a Foxwoods release, featuring musical hits you know and love including “Tradition,” “Sunrise, Sunset,” “If I Were A Rich Man” and “Matchmaker, Matchmaker.” 

Tony-winning director Bartlett Sher and the team bring a fresh  vision to the show from  Joseph Stein and Pulitzer Prize winners Jerry Bock and Sheldon Harnick.

 Coming in June will be the recent-era hit "Waitress" from June 3-5.  Inspired by the film, "Waitress" tells the story of Jenna, an expert pie maker who dreams of a way out of her small town, says the release. A baking contest and the town’s new doctor may offer her a fresh start, but Jenna must summon the strength to rebuild her own life. 

Hey, you had me at "pie." We've seen both of these shows and they're pretty enjoyable. Tickets are a relative bargain at $45-$75.




Wednesday, April 27, 2022

Casino beat

Friday brings flurry of ticket ops for Hall & Oates, Toby Keith and more at Mohegan Sun

Mohegan Sun's busy slate of entertainment shows for the rest of the year continues to see new offerings come on line, including Pitbull, Toby Keith and Hall & Oates.
Daryl Hall and John Oates, the No. 1 selling duo in music history, will return to Mohegan Sun Arena at 7:30 p.m. on Oct. 9. Tickets are $149.50, $99.50, $79.50, and $59.50 and go on sale Friday, April 29, at 10 a.m. via ticketmaster.com. Tickets will also be available at the Mohegan Sun Box Office a day later.
Summer will bring superstar singer/songwriter Toby Keith's return to Mohegan Sun Arena at 7 p.m. July 30 for his 19th consecutive headlining tour. (That's Keith at left.)
Tickets are $85, $75, and a very limited amount at $25, and go on sale Friday via ticketmaster.com and Saturday at the box office.
Awkward-comedy purveyor Daniel Tosh will make his return to Mohegan Sun Arena this fall as part of his Leaves and Lobster Tour dates. Tosh will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. Sept.16. Tickets are $89, $69, and $49 and also go on sale Friday morning via ticketmaster.com. Tickets will also be available at the box office April 30.
Tickets are already on sale for the Pitbull concert. The Grammy-award winning superstar has announced his latest North American Can’t Stop Us Now Tour, which stops at Mohegan Sun Arena for an 8 p.m. show on Aug. 6. Tickets are $129.50, $99.50, $79.50, $59.50.
Tickets also recently went on sale for the great Puerto Rican band El Gran Combo, slated to play the Mohegan Sun Arena with special guests Grupo Niche, Luis Figueroa and Sara Contreras Nov. 26 as part of the El Gran Combo 60th Anniversary World Tour. Tickets are $125, $99, $79, and $55.

Tuesday, April 19, 2022

Casino beat

 Seen and heard at Whiskey Union 2022 at Mohegan Sun April 16

              
 Attendees check out spirits at Mohegan Sun's Whiskey Union Saturday night. 






A server pours some of Bulleit's new Crafted Cocktails at the tasting event in Uncasville.







Below, one of the many brands available to sip in the Earth Ballroom.




Two pose for a picture in front of a tree decoration, above.




Matt Ellenthal of Wilton, Conn., above, pours a taste of Negroni, one of the new line of cocktails finished in oak barrels from the company he founded with his wife, Martha, called Barrelsmith. The couple experimented for years to create the mixed spirit drinks. Matt worked in a tech company involved in casinos; Martha recently served as Director of Fine Wines at ReserveBar, an online spirits destination.

                       A representative and visitors at the Wyoming Whiskey booth.

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

Casino beat


 

       A rye whiskey available for sampling at a previous Whiskey Union.

Mohegan Sun readies another round of Whiskey Union April 16

While the Sun Wine & Food Fest is the granddaddy of Mohegan Sun alcohol-based events, Whiskey Union is a popular cousin to enjoy with  some friends, some food and a complement of cold water during and after.
This spring's edition will take place Saturday, April 16, from 8-11 p.m. at the Earth Ballroom in the Expo and Convention Center wing of the popular casino. It's a lot of fun for folks who can appreciate the various incarnations of this hard liquor -- bourbon, rye, Japanese, Tennessee, Scotch among them -- in a happening atmosphere.
If you just like a nice mixed cocktail, there's a bar or two to crank those out, too. And your $70 ticket also gets you some food samples from the likes of Backyard Smokers along with some musical entertainment. But best of all perhaps is the chance to chat it up with industry reps (and the occasional owners) from distilleries on how they do their thing, and why they would bother to mix in chocolate (see photo), maple or apple flavors.
Also a highlight for us is to say hello to Carrie Carella, co-owner of NoRA Cupcake Co., and see/taste her latest sweet creations.
And: A portion of ticket proceeds will go to support the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut.
Day-of-event tickets are $75.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Foxwoods readies St. Patrick's Day specials

Foxwoods Resort & Casino has a few St. Patrick's Day specials on tap for Thursday, March 17.
Cedars Steaks & Oysters is offering a Corned Beef Brisket Special. Including Corned Beef, Carrots, Cabbage, Red Bliss Potatoes and Grain Mustard, for a modest $23. That's a bargain at this place, one of the resort's most consistent restaurants.


I'm not a fan of the current frenzy to get everyone betting their leisure money on sports games, but the  DraftKings Sportsbook facility at Foxwoods is offering Loaded Reuben Fries for $15. That's Hand Cut Fries, Corned Beef, Sauerkraut, Melted Swiss Cheese and Thousand Island drizzle. You might call that a bit of March Madness for your digestive track, but I'm intrigued. Must be 21 or older. 
At the diner-variety Veranda Café, you can get an Irish breakfast or dinner, including a Bailey’s French Toast Casserole with an Irish Cream Whiskey Drizzle for $16 or a New England Boiled Dinner with Corned Beef, Carrots, Cabbage, Red Bliss Potatoes and Grain Mustard for $23.
In addition to the food, there's a Pot of Gold Kiosk Game starting at 9 a.m. Visit any Promotions Kiosk with your Foxwoods Rewards Card to play. Choose the right pot of gold and you could win bonus slot play, Foxwoods Rewards Points, a designer gold necklace or up to $5,000, says Foxwoods.

 

Casino Beat

Music to our ears: A host of events at Mohegan Sun in coming months

Betting that COVID-19 is more or less in the rear-view mirror, Mohegan Sun is rolling out a busy slate of concerts and other entertainment for the rest of the year. Here are some of the big-name acts due from spring to the fall.
🎤 Older folks first: Frankie Valli and The Four Seasons -- one of our all-time favorites -- will make their return to Mohegan Sun Arena at 8 p.m.  April 22. That only seems weird to say in 2022 because the rock legend is 87 years old. (Here's my chat with Valli before another CT visit in 2019.)
Tickets are $35 via ticketmaster.com and the Mohegan Sun Box Office.
The original Jersey boy, Valli had hits with mostly Bob Gaudio/Bob Crewe tunes such as “Sherry,” “Walk Like A Man,” “Big Girls Don’t Cry,” “Rag Doll,” “Beggin'” and “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You." Valli and the Four Seasons have sold more than 100 million records worldwide.

🎤Speaking of Italian singers, the Il Volo performance at Mohegan Sun Arena scheduled in March is now on for September 17. Tickets will be honored for the new rescheduled date. (Here's my chat with a member of Il Volo in early 2020, previewing a very satisfying concert by the three tenors at Foxwoods.)
The new concert will explore the music of Ennio Morricone and all of their greatest hits when they kick off their North American tour this September.

🎵And then there's the music of 2Cellos, the eclectic duo comprised of two classically trained cellists who reached video viral fame on YouTube with their 2011 rendition of Michael Jackson’s “Smooth Criminal.” They will play the Mohegan Arena March 31. The pair, Luka Šulić and Hauser, spoke to me in 2017 before another area gig. Here's that story.
🎵April 15 and 16 will bring Lorde and Shinedown, respectively, to the Arena (see MoheganSun.com), and New Haven's own Michael Bolton, see adjacent, will be center stage on May 6. Also in May, there's Chicago May 7, Sting and Joe Sumner May 15 and country icon Brad Paisley 27.

🎸Breaking Benjamin is returning to the road this spring and will join special guests Seether, Starset, and Lacey Sturm for a night of rock music at April 23 at Mohegan Sun Arena.
Tickets are $59.50, $49.50, and $39.50.
🎸For the first time, rock band Third Eye Blind will command Mohegan Sun Arena as part of their “Summer Gods: 25 Years in the Blind” tour. Special guests Taking Back Sunday and Hockey Dad will join TEB at 7 p.m. July 21st at Mohegan Sun Arena. Tickets are $35 and available at the Mohegan Sun Box Office.
Breaking Benjamin first made a splash with 2002’s "Saturate" and the band has amassed a string of mainstream rock radio hits.
🎸Rock band Limp Bizkit will return will bring their month-long Still Sucks Tour to the Mohegan Sun ArenaThursday, May 12th. Tickets are $69.50, $59.50, $49.50, and $39.50 and go on sale Friday, March 18th, at 10:00am via ticketmaster.com. 

🎵Former boy band OneRepublic will perform their Never Ending Summer Tour with special guest Need to Breathe at 7 p.m. July 22 at Mohegan Sun Arena.

Tickets are $149.50, $99.50, $79.50 and $59.50.

OneRepublic released their latest single “West Coast” recently, along with a video for the song.

🎤Grammy and Emmy Award-winning comedian, actor, director and producer Chris Rock has announced his “Ego Death World Tour 2022," which will bring him to Mohegan Sun Arena June 3rd. This tough ticket is priced at $119.50, $99.50, and $79.50 (much much more in the secondary market). 
And you have to respect the phone policy at this event. At least I do. Says Mohegan: This event will be a phone-free experience. Use of phones will not be permitted in the performance space. Upon arrival at the venue, photos will be secured in individual "Yondr" pouches that will be opened at the end of the event. Guests maintain possession of their devices at all times and can access them throughout the event only in designated Phone Use Areas within the venue. All devices will be re-secured in Yondr pouches before returning to the performance space."
🎤The same applies to comic Hasan Minhaj and his April 9 appearance at the Arena. Minhaj was the host and creator of the weekly comedy show "Patriot Act" on Netflix. Lock up the phone, kids.
As Nelson Muntz on "The Simpsons" would say to the phone-obsessed: "Ha ha!"

🎤 Jeff Dunham, left, the ventriloquist who has sold out arenas for more than two decades, returns to Mohegan Sun Arena with his newest tour “Jeff Dunham: Seriously!?” August 5. 
Tickets are $69, $59, $49, and $39.

🎼Multi-Platinum, award-winning singer, songwriter and actor Josh Groban follows his latest album, "Harmony," with a return to Mohegan Sun Arena at 7 p.m.April . Tickets are $79, $59, and $49.
🎤 Country singer Kane Brown will perform a two-night concert gig at Mohegan Sun Arena June 4 and 5 as part of his “Blessed & Free Tour.”  Special guests Walker Hayes and Raelynn will join Brown for the second date.
Tickets for the June 5th show are $130.50, $100.50, $80.50, and $60.50 Kane Brown has earned three AMA Awards and produced two of the most streamed country songs of all time – seven-time Platinum No. 1 hits “Heaven” and “What Ifs.”

🎵 Eight-time Grammy-nominated Rock band Death Cab for Cutie will take the stage for one night July 15 at Mohegan Sun Arena. Tickets are $45 and $35.
Death Cab for Cutie originally formed in Bellingham, Washington, in 1998. 

August to October


🎤Country superstar Sam Hunt makes his return to Mohegan Sun Arena for one night at 7:30 p.m. August 19.
Tickets are $129.50, $99.50, $79.50, and $59.50.
 








🎵The group My Chemical Romance has announced additional North American tour dates to their already substantial run and My Chemical Romance will take the stage at September 1st at Mohegan Sun Arena. 

Tickets are a hefty $229.50, $179.50, $149.50, and $129.50. Backing them on the road will be various performers, including Waterparks and Meg Myers at Mohegan Sun Arena.



🎤Comedian and podcast host Tom Segura returns to Mohegan Sun Arena for one night at 8:00pm on Saturday, September 3rd.
Tickets are $99.50, $79.50, $69.50, and $59.50.
Actor, comedian, and writer Tom Segura is one of the biggest names in the comedy business and is best known for his Netflix specials "Ball Hog" (2020), "Disgraceful" (2018), "Mostly Stories" (2016), and "Completely Normal" (2014). 
 
🎵On the heels of their sold out spring 2022 "Dreams in Gold" arena tour, Grammy Award-winning Rock band Greta Van Fleet will hit the road this fall and (with special guests Houndmouth and Robert Finley) will take the stage at Mohegan Sun Arena for the first time October 7th.

 Tickets are $99, $89 and $69.

Saturday, February 12, 2022

Happenings at MGM Springfield

MGM Springfield has too many slot machines and too few live entertainment options, as we've said from the start. Its upstairs movie theater was a bad decision when that space could have been devoted to a large venue for live shows and more convention ballrooms. 

That decision had something to do with appeasing local concerns about the Mass Mutual Center's business, the nearby Symphony Hall and the perceived needs of local moviegoers (in a streaming era, alas). And while COVID hasn't helped MGM's restaurant scene, with more closed eateries than open ones before 4 p.m. and on some weekdays, the casino is still worth a visit for these new and continuing traits:

If you like a lively atmosphere in terms of music, there's usually pop or recent-era tunes coming from overhead speakers at MGM, unlike most locations at Connecticut casinos. OK, that's not my cup of tea, especially with high-volume slot machines blaring, but it works for some folks.

There is a continuing Monday-Thursday 2-for-1 deal for seniors at the South End Market (food court), although its Wicked Noodles is temporarily closed. That leaves Bill's Diner the lobster/fish place and the gelato stand. A new taco place there is coming in a matter of weeks, however.

TAP Sports Bar is a fun asset for MGM, although visits during COVID have seen this place closed much of the time. It's closed now on Monday and Tuesday but open after 4 on other days.

MGM does program some shows at Mass Mutual Center and Symphony Hall, and there's one for families with very young children on April 30. "Peppa Pig Live! Peppa Pig's Adventure!" will take place at 2 p.m. that day a Symphony Hall. Tickets are on sale now at Ticketmaster for about $29 each plus fees. 

Stay tuned for more from MGM, a quick right off of I-91 in Springfield center.





Foxwoods to celebrate 30th year as it announces new features

View from Lantern Hill nearby, with the resort at right and museum tower at left.

Massive Foxwoods Resort Casino will mark its 30th anniversary in coming days, opening with an afternoon ceremony and media event on Feb. 15. Word is officials will  announce "a new partnership, expansion plans and additional exciting initiatives happening on property for guests."  

Foxwoods opened on February 15, 1992 and has employed thousands of regional residents while handing over more than $4 billion in slot revenue to the state. In 1998, Foxwoods added a cultural landmark to honor the reservation’s tribal ancestors -- the Mashantucket Pequot Museum, which features 85,000 square feet of permanent, indoor exhibitions, highlighting “Life of the Reservation” and “The Pequot War,” as well as dioramas, films and interactive programs.


A historical display at the Mashantucket Pequot Museum, right.

(Photos by Joe Amarante)

Casino beat

A wrapup on Mohegan Sun's huge Wine Fest, and news of the next 'spirited' gathering

The January spectacle Sun Wine and Food Fest turned out remarkably well for a four-day opus whose key Grand Tasting day and Sunday brunch capper were run amid blizzard conditions (below) in Uncasville at Mohegan Sun. Add to that a waning surge of omicron-variety COVID and Mohegan officials had to wage a gutsy bet of their own on their large staff and expansive facility to pull off this multi-event fest. While attendance was not massive, it was substantial and important to the paychecks of employees and marketing of vendors.

The Expo and Convention Center at Wine Fest, below.




Chef Adam Young’s delicious dessert during @MoheganSun Dine Around Saturday night, Jan. 29.









Chef David Rose turning out an amazing porcini-crusted porterhouse steak and fingerling potatoes (w duck fat) dish @MoheganSun Whiskeys of the world, part of Wine & Food Fest.






Mohegan officials and staff have now turned their attention to the next booze-and-food event, April's Sun Whiskey Union, making its return after a quiet 2021 on April 18 from 8-11 p.m. in the Expo Center's Earth Ballroom.

As Mohegan Sun PR put it the other day, "guests can enjoy live music and taste top-of-the-line whiskey, scotch, bourbon and rye -- as well as a variety of craft cocktails for those who prefer other types of liquor. Whiskey enthusiasts are able to chat with some of the distilleries’ representatives and experts on their style of whiskeys and other libations." Food will be available including barbeque by Backyard Smokers and NoRA Cupcake Company. 

Tickets start at $65 during the presale period from Feb. 11-17. The public on-sale begins Feb. 18 at 10 a.m. with ticket prices at $70 through ticketmaster.com and the Mohegan Sun Box Office. A portion of ticket proceeds will go to support the United Way of Southeastern Connecticut. 

Thursday, January 27, 2022

'Snow way; we're not canceling Wine & Food Fest, says Mohegan Sun

Late word from Mohegan Sun:  The 18th Annual Sun Wine & Food Fest at Mohegan Sun began as scheduled Thursday evening, with events running through Sunday afternoon, despite the forecast of heavy snowfall Saturday.

There is a late pivot to help those planning to experience the signature event, however. If you choose not to attend the massive Grand Tasting Saturday, you can either get a refund at point of purchase OR attend the pre-storm Grand Tasting Preview Friday night at the same Earth Expo Center location from 8-10 p.m.

In a Mohegan release Thursday afternoon, President and General Manager Jeff Hamilton said, “We understand that parts of our region will be impacted by the impending weather, so we wanted to make sure to provide the opportunity for our Sun Wine & Food Fest guests to plan accordingly for our major event this Saturday. Whether it’s utilizing your Saturday tickets for Friday evening, or inquiring about a refund, we’re happy to assist.”

And, says Mohegan Sun, guests who utilize their Saturday Grand Tasting tickets to enjoy Friday evening’s Grand Tasting Preview are still welcomed to use the same ticket for the Grand Tasting.

A longtime friend of this writer, liquor salesman  Steve Tommessilli, above, pours a sample at the 2019 event. Tommessilli died suddenly last winter.

Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Casino beat

 

You can feed a family with Mohegan Sun coffee shop's new 1-pound donut

Mohegan Sun's new coffee shop, The Crafty Stir, knows how to get our attention -- with a one-pound donut! And you can wash it down with a spiked Illy coffee.

No one ever said casinos were shy about marketing their attractions, and this monster pastry fits right in. But the coffee shop's hours are also useful in a time when the longtime feasting spot, the Seasons Buffet, has been closed due to the pandemic. The new place is open 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. (midnight on Friday and Saturday).

Located just off the Sky Tower Lobby (where hotel guests can quickly access it at daybreak), the shop features hot and iced drinks along with pastries, bagels and even a sandwich or three.

Here's a list of goodies at The Crafty Stir via Mohegan Sun's PR department: Specialty hot drinks include Fresh Brewed Coffee, Tea, Hot Chocolate, Americano, Cappuccino, Espresso, Café Latte, Mocha Latte and Caramel Macchiato.

"For Spiked Coffee, Mohegan Sun guests can enjoy Irish Coffee with Jameson, Carmel Irish with Jameson & Caramel Schnapps, Café Caribbean with Bacardi Spiced & Amaretto, Kentucky Coffee with Jim Beam Honey Whiskey, The Nutty Irishman with Frangelico & Irish Cream and the Russian Café, with Kahlúa & Grey Goose Vodka," says the release.

The big donut (or doughnut if you're a stickler) is $7, by the way. "Additionally, The Crafty Stir offers ... grab n’ go options like Fruit Parfait, Yogurt, Caesar Salad, Guacamole or Hummus. The Crafty Stir will also offer a 'barista bomb,' where a pastry can be spiked with a pipette of alcohol of a guests’ choosing."

Uh, what? Because there's not enough alcohol at Mohegan? No, not hardly. The casino's signature booze event, Wine & Food Fest, is coming up Jan. 21-23, incidentally. But it does catch your eye.

Breakfast wraps and sandwiches should also be popular. And there are beer options, too, including On the River IPA, which is brewed through a collaboration between Mohegan Sun and Outer Light Brewing of Groton.

One more thing, speaking about Seasons Buffet. Officials at the casino note that the space is being used as site of a COVID-19 vaccine clinic on several dates through Feb. 26.