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Welcome to Connecticut's Farmington Valley and the 18th annual edition of The Valley Book. As we remind you every year: While globalization, googlization, texting, instagramming, tweeting, app mania, mega-mergers, stock market bounces, hyper-tech, social media culture, chain ownership and big data are the undeniable and unpredictable trends, we remain just the opposite — small data.

We're a trusted, homegrown resource for useful, predictable local information produced entirely by local people. We're very proud of that, and of the distinctive quality of our work.

We're tuned into the big picture, but we embrace the small one — the one with the special things that still make us proud this part of the world is home. Whether you're feeling pummeled, lost, or overwhelmed in the turmoil of the post-recession, post-cable-TV streaming syndrome or sick of Snapchatting, you can get to us when you need us. Buzz us, touch us on your iPhone, click us on your computer, friend us on Facebook, catch us on Valley Book Mobile — or hug us in print at home just like you’ve always done.

Our part of the world is a picturesque, 150-square-mile piece of land cradled between small mountain ridges on its eastern and western edges. It derives its name from the Farmington River, whose sparkling water and "Wild and Scenic" designation makes it a unique amenity for both residents and visitors. Avon, Canton, Farmington, Simsbury and Granby are the core towns where the Valley's population is concentrated. Burlington, New Hartford, Colebrook and Barkhamsted are part of the larger watershed area. The population of the core towns is approximately 85,000, and more than 100,000 live in the larger area.

While the state capital of Hartford is still a major source of employment and a center of business and cultural activity, the Farmington Valley has a distinct identity as a mature, upscale market that includes its own strong corporate and commercial infrastructure. With quiet neighborhoods placed unobtrusively in a semi-rural setting, a relatively unhurried pace, and superb school systems, it’s also among the finest residential communities in Connecticut.

Once sleepy Canton is certainly not that anymore. It has had a surge in commercial development along its coveted slice of Route 44 and attracted spillover residential demand from pricier Simsbury and Avon. Though it's the Valley's smallest town by number, with a population of just over 10,000, it leads the area in percentage growth. Granby has a bit more than 11,000 residents — Avon, 18,000. Simsbury (23,400) and Farmington (25,500) are the largest towns.

Like most places, we've languished for a while in the aftermath of the great recession. But there are a lot of bright spots. Here are some from the past year. In Farmington: Route 4 improvements near the "Truffles curve" promise better traffic flow; not too far west on Route 4, the 37,000 square-foot Hartford Mormon Temple was completed in late 2016; Simsbury's star Meadow Asian Cuisine opened right next door; attractive food and gathering spots like Cure restaurant, Culteavo tea room, and Scene Art Bar, sprouted up in Unionville. In Canton, they're pushing ahead on hydropower and the Collins factory restoration plan in Collinsville. In Simsbury, The Hartford Insurance Group sold its 173-acre campus and development plans are in the offing; the high school ranked among CT top 10 in US News and made Newsweek's Top Public High Schools in America List; the town was 9 in Money mag; Dorset Crossing, a large medical office park/apartment development on Simsbury's northern edge, is renting up. In Avon, The Residence at Brookside, a 74-unit assisted living facility opposite Riverdale Farms is now in full operation. In Granby, plans to restructure the elementary school system are underway, Jimmy Chen has created the Valley’s best new restaurant, @the Barn and opened Table 570 on Hopmeadow Street in Simsbury just before Christmas; local folks pitched in to raise funds for the Holcomb Farm Pavilion, a community center; Brignole Vineyards major expansion includes a new wine tasting and community events center.

But, no matter whether times are trying or terrific, local people still agree that The Valley Book is the way they find the everyday things they’re looking for — and those special things that bring life to the Valley.

It's an afternoon of impressionists at Farmington's Hill-Stead Museum, or a warm summer evening at their Sunken Garden Poetry Series. It's listening to the Hartford Symphony or catching a concert by Harry Connick, Jr. or Willie Nelson at the Simsbury Meadows Performing Arts Center.

It's gasping at the sixth annual White Water Triple Crown New England Championships at Tariffville Gorge, participating in Granby's 5K and 10K Road Races. It's the Winter Special Olympics at Ski Sundown in New Hartford or ice-skating at the International Skating Center in Simsbury.

It's heading out early for Tavern Day in Burlington, Sam Collins Day in Collinsville, Avon Day in, yes, Avon — or making a day of it at Simsbury's Septemberfest, Celebrate Granby at Salmon Brook Park, or the annual Heublein Tower Toot on Talcott Mountain. It's antiquing in Collinsville or searching for trendy stuff at Canton's Shoppes at Farmington Valley.

As we publish and post this 18th edition, more folks than ever continue to tell us that they love us and keep us at home, visit us online, or connect with us on their smartphone because we're the easiest, most reliable way to find real things nearby — from pizza to a plumber to a prep school — to save some money buying local, to discover a place, or to enjoy a portrait of a familiar face.

We have some great, fresh new features this year. Our "Farm to Table" department tells where to find the farms and restaurants with the fresh foods that keep you healthy and smart. Who are the Valley's cutest pets? Hundreds of unbiased owners entered their beauties in our contest, giving our Pets department a fresh look. And, Lanny Nagler's superb photography helps to highlight the natural and man-made beauty the Valley has to offer.

Online, we're always Google's top choice for Farmington Valley searches in just about every business and info category. Find us at thevalleybook.com for show times, weather, restaurant menus and business listings.

A huge thanks to all of you who posed for pictures! Pets too!! And a big round of applause to our very talented group of regular contributors: Lanny Nagler (photography), Bill Dougal (illustrations), Judy Henderson (Nuggets) and to The Inside Diner from The West Hartford Book, who always adds some spice to our restaurant reports.

Please enjoy our 2017 edition. Use us for all your regular shopping, reference and information needs, and share us with your visitors. And remember, the Valley's a special place to live and The Valley Book reminds you why! — R.E.P.


Photos by Lanny Nagler. All artwork and content is copyrighted by Distinctive Directories.
Any use of materials on this web site without permission is strictly prohibited.