The venue had a different feel yet the spirit of camaraderie and good will was very much in evidence.

The Housatonic Valley Association hosted the year's biggest fundraiser Nov. 18 at the Washington Montessori School.

The 22nd annual event traditionally has been held at Bryan Memorial Town Hall in Washington Depot, but that edifice is undergoing renovations following a propane gas explosion in August.

The move several miles north along Route 202 did nothing to hamper the mood.

Hundreds of folks including many of Northwest Connecticut's rich and famous gathered at Montessori School to show their support for the environmental organization's programs.

The afternoon featured a silent auction, live music, and a live auction with celebrity auctioneer Tim Luke of HGTV's "Cash in the Attic."

Among the items up for bid were vacation packages in the Bahamas, Paris, Provence, London, India, Indonesia and the Caribbean, and offerings from local artists and craftsmen, shops and restaurants.

Actress and HVA board member Christine Baranski of New Preston served for a third year as honorary chairwoman.

The reception was catered by Executive Cuisine in New Milford.

Proceeds from the event will support projects to protect the Housatonic River and its 2,000-square-mile watershed, including 83 towns from Pittsfield, Mass., through the Berkshire Hills, eastern New York and western Connecticut to Long Island Sound.

For more information, call 860-672-6678 or visit

Photography by Trish Haldin