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REcreational Dining

Eating out can be fun, social and entertaining. Mixing with friends and trying new foods is a recipe for a good time. But now some restaurants are taking it a step further and offering activities that encourage their patrons to enjoy their establishments in new ways.

Craft breweries abound in the tristate region and these are perfect for allowing patrons to mix and mingle over a hot game and a cold beer. The Great Falls Brewing Co, recently opened in the Canaan Union Depot, is a case in point. There, the child-friendly family atmosphere offers customers a chance to lounge on a couch or spread out a board game on a table. A Foosball table is a magnet for the younger clients, who can sip on one of the house-made root beers, while adults may be attracted to activities such paint-and-sips, beer yoga and themed evenings.

Norbrook Farm Brewery, straddling the Norfolk and Colebrook town lines on Stillman Hill Road, has different kinds of entertainment for its customers. Trails have been designed on the extensive property for mountain biking, hiking and cross-country skiing.

“We had half-a-dozen who went skiing this morning,” co-owner John Auclair said recently. “Skiing and snowshoeing have also happened.”

The change of seasons will not diminish the opportunity for exercise capped off by the craft beers created by brew master Colin Coan. Disc golf has proved a popular attraction on the farm’s 18-hole course. Disc golf uses Frisbee-like discs thrown at a basket-shaped target with rules similar to those of golf.

“Disc golf was popular last fall right up until it snowed,” said Auclair. “The course still needs some signage but, without a doubt, the activities do draw people to the brewery. There is a tight network of disc golfers that like to try different courses—and the beer doesn’t hurt either.”

At the Prairie Whale in Great Barrington, al fresco diners have options for entertainment. Jessica Ashworth, front of house manager, said the ping pong table that is outside year-round is always an attraction—even in cold weather. “We had paddles out there last night,” she reported.

In the summer months, cornhole, a lawn game in which players take turns throwing bags of corn (or bean bags) at a hole in a raised platform, engages diners’ attention as do the soccer goal at the side of the building and the basketball goal at the rear.

“Basketball is popular with both the staff and customers,” said Ashworth. “The activities are definitely something that entice people, especially couples with children. The adults can sit and relax while the kids play. They also help when you have a wait.”

Trivia Nights, a common entertainment in the United Kingdom pubs for decades, has taken hold in the United States, providing American bar owners an opportunity to attract crowds on usually slower week nights. Heidi and Michael Dinsmore, owners of Wood Creek Bar and Grill, are among the Litchfield County entrepreneurs who have embraced the concept.

One of their biggest draws, though, is a karaoke fundraiser held annually for the past 16 years for the Norfolk Volunteer Fire Department. The Karaoke Night draws people of all levels of vocal talent to the corner pub for fun and laughs.