WITHIN THE RAW
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WITHIN THE RAW
by Hana
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Best Festivals in Connecticut

Connecticut may be a popular place for fishing and boating, attracting over 400,000 anglers a year, and some 10,000 boaters on any given pleasant day to Long Island Sound, but it’s also a place for some elaborate festivities.

Festival-lovers who are thinking about or perhaps just purchased one of the homes for sale in Connecticut are in luck because the Nutmeg State hosts a wide range of celebrations. From medieval fairs to festivals honoring some of the state’s finest fare, like juicy fruits and creamy chowder, to live music and something for just about everyone, you’ll want to put some of these top festivals on your must-experience list.

The Connecticut Renaissance Faire, Lebanon

If you’d like to get a glimpse of what it might have been like to live in 16th-century England, for seven weekends in September and October, the Connecticut Renaissance Faire is hosted at the Lebanon County Fairgrounds. There are live performances in the streets, circuses, parades and acrobats, armored combat, jousting competitions, archery demos and even live training practice for birds of prey. You’ll see lots of people donning authentic period clothing, and your more than welcome to join in, if you don’t have your own garb there are shops here that sell Renaissance fashions. You’ll also find plenty of traditional foods and assorted items to buy like leather journals, jewelry and more.

St. Patrick’s Day, New Haven

The New Haven St. Patrick’s Day parade dates all the way back to 1842 and is the largest, single-day event in the state. A day for the Irish and honorary-Irish alike, there are all sorts of festivities throughout the day, though the highlight is the procession that starts on Chapel Street at Sherman Avenue, traveling southeast, ultimately ending at Orange Street. You’ll find plenty of food, fun, live music and other entertainment, and special activities for the kids.

Apple Festival, Salem

One of the best festivals for fall and the biggest event of the year in tiny Salem, is the Apple Festival. If you like apples, you’ll love this one. Celebrated over the last weekend of October, you’ll be able to indulge in everything apple, from apple pancakes, apple pies, apple brown betty, apple fritters to apple cider and more.

Strawberry Fest, Middlefield

Lyman Orchards has been around for nearly three centuries, and offers visitors the opportunity to pick pumpkins, pears, blueberries, apples, peaches, and strawberries. Its Strawberry Fest is its biggest even of the year, held to kick off the summer season annually in June, with breakfast events, pony rides, and of course, pick-your-own strawberries.

Bridgewater Country Fair, Bridgewater

The Bridgewater Country Fair is hosted in late August and features a wide range of events that are sponsored by volunteer fire-fighters from throughout the state. It brings out locals as well as visitors from far and wide, farmers, and folk artists, to watch the parade that meanders through historic Main Street, take part in pie-eating competitions and a horseshoe-pitching contest, as well as pick up baked goods and enjoy live entertainment, including concerts. If luck is on your side, you might win a prize via the raffle too.

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5 Secrets to Improving
Employee Performance

Put together a group of managers and executives, and the topic will almost always turn to employee productivity.  Executives are always looking for ways to boost performance, so they can maximize their payroll dollars.

Stretching thin a staff or putting more workload on them isn’t usually the answer.  People reach peak performance when they are happy, feel valued and feel that they are part of something bigger.  

Sometimes the small things you do can make the difference in how an employee produces.  

Here are a few secret tips that will help you to boost your staff’s performance.

Health

Take an interest in the health and well-being of your staff.  Consider initiating an employee wellness plan that is part of their benefits package.  

Maybe you offer healthy snacks in the break room or even provide free or discounted gym memberships.  If these aren't an option for you, consider offering flex time for doctor’s appointments and checkups.  

When you show your staff that you genuinely care about their health and happiness, they will work harder for you and stay in the position longer.

Communication

Make sure that each employee has a weekly meeting with their direct supervisor.  During this time, you can discuss how the previous week went, listen to their ideas for the upcoming week and just build a relationship with them.  

It makes a difference to feel like your voice is heard and that management does care about your thoughts and opinions.

Leadership

It is essential for senior executives and management to model the behavior they would like to see in their organization.  You've heard the saying it starts at the top? This is very true.

Employees look to you for guidance on how to do their jobs and acceptable behaviors in the store.  So, if you see things happening in your organization that you don’t like, take a hard look at yourself and your managers to make sure you are all in sync.

Trust

Trusting your employees with information gives them more of a sense of involvement in the company.  The scary statistic is that only 32% of people feel engaged in their jobs.  

By bringing them into the fold, you are showing them that they are valued and trusted employees.  This will help bridge the gap if you have an oppositional staff that is management versus employees.

Appreciate

Employee appreciation can go a long way.  When was the last time you thanked each of your employees personally?  One of the biggest complaints of disengaged employees is that they feel undervalued or taken advantage of.   

During the weekly one on one meetings that you should be having, it is imperative to make sure you show appreciation for the work they have done the previous week.  Make sure it is sincere and surrounding an event that happened.

Conclusion

Increasing your employee productivity isn't hard, but it will take work to change some of your old habits.  Remember, employees are the lifeblood of your organization, treat them right, and the sky's the limit.