As Memorial Day - the official start of summer - inches closer, cities, towns and community groups are gearing up for a season full of festivals, car shows, fireworks and more. Below is a a sampling of upcoming activities around the region.
The Newington Memorial Day Parade will step off on May 26 at 10:30 a.m. in rain or sunshine at the intersection of Main Street and East Robbins Ave. followed by a 12 p.m. ceremony of Roses in Town Hall on Garfield Street.
The free Cruising Newington Class Car Show on Market Square will happen on June 14 from 5 to 8 p.m. A Craft Beer Tasting & Concert in Mill Pond Park will happen on July 20 from 6 to 8 p.m. with advance tickets on sale for $20, $25 at the door, from 8 to 10 p.m. beer will be $5. Hot air balloon rides at 6 p.m. for $10 will also be available.
In typical late summer fashion, Newington Parks and Recreation’s big annual event is the Life. Be In It. Extravaganza at Mill Pond Park, on July 21 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. This event attracts more than 40,000 people each year and continues to grow in popularity, with events on the days leading up to starting on Thursday. Carnival, food, vendors, performance by Billy Joel tribute band River of Dreams and a gigantic fireworks show at 9:30 p.m. are offered.
“There’s several entertainment events happening on a daily basis for all ages,” said Bill DeMaio, superintendent of the Newington Parks and Recreation Department. “Check out our program guide at newingtonct.gov.”
At the end of the summer is the Hartford Sangerbund Bierfest from August 24-26. German Beer, a variety of wurst and schnitzel, homemade cakes and pastries, homemade potato pancakes, vendors and more will be accompanied by a band from Germany and Schuhplattler dancers at the organizations home on 719 North Mountain Rd. Admission is $10 with children 17 and under free.
In the town that claims to be the birthplace of Yankee peddling, residents can watch the free Veterans’ Commission Memorial Day Parade, which was moved to May 26 with a rain date of May 28 after three of the last four events forced it indoors.
Starting at 9 a.m. at St. Paul’s Church on Peck Street, the parade runs down Farmington Avenue and turns left on Massirio Drive and ending at the Berlin Veterans Memorial Park were a ceremony with an invocation, benediction and musical performances will be held.
The guest speaker is Thomas J. Saadi, commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Veterans Affairs, and an Air Force flyover is in the works, Colaressi said.
That same weekend is the Berlin Fire Department car show at Sage Park from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. with music, food and a touch-a-truck section with tractors, construction vehicles and a fire engine for kids to climb into, all at no cost. The proceeds will go toward supporting veterans in the area, with $6,000 collected in the previous year, said former Berlin Fire Chief Jim Simons.
One of the next major events of summer in town is the free to attend Kensington Congregational Church Festival on the Hill on June 9.
“It’s a great community event that kicks off the summer,” said Gwen McAnn, an organizer for the event. The main draw is the buttered lobster rolls, but there will also be live music, vendors and activities for kids. The third annual “Lobster Loop” at 9 a.m. with a new route will kick the day off, and the Kiwanis club’s butterfly chips will be on the scene.
Ensuing on June 2 is a “Bark B Que” fundraiser by the Connecticut Humane Society at A.S. Labieniec in partnership with Rooster Co. and Flora restaurants from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. A silent auction, drinks, food demonstrations, music and fare from the two restaurants will be part of the event.
On Saturdays between June 16 and Sept. 29 from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. is the pet friendly Berlin Farmer’s Market at Hungerford Park featuring fresh food from Berger Farms, Bostrum Farms, Copper Pot Farms, Sanremo Bakery bread and pizza, and several craft vendors.
Similar to Plainville, it may be at the end of the summer, but it’s the biggest event in town: the Berlin Fair put on by the Berlin Lions Club. The event that will be running in its 70th year Sept. 14-Sept. 16 is an opportunity for local organizations to fundraise through the various food offerings they served out of their unique booths. Carnival rides, vendor sales, tractor pulls, livestock and baking competition, antiques tractors and last year, a Demolition Derby the night prior, are also part of the fun, that requires a $12 admission fee for adults.
Programs for kids by the town’s Parks and Recreation Department can be found on its website via town.berlin.ct.us.
It wouldn’t be summer in New Britain if a Klingberg Vintage Motorcar Series wasn’t happening. With a new twist on the annual tradition, the show has been broken up from one six hour show to a five three hour ones. The second one is scheduled for May 19 and will feature pre-1979 cars, including pre-war (1942) cars, station wagons, and “woodies.”
General admission is $10, with seniors 65 and up at $8 and children 12 and under free. Parking is free at the Klingberg New Britain campus, 370 Linwood St., where the event will take place. The remaining shows in the series are on June 16 for early cars and classics, Sept. 22 for super cars, and Oct 27 for vintage trucks.
Also next weekend is the Big Dionysos Festival May 18-20 at 301 West Main St., which puts a focus on Greek food. Lamb shanks, souvlaki, baklava and more will be featured, with indoor and outdoor seating at St. George Greek Orthodox Church.
A youth group dance performance will happen on Friday at 7 p.m. and then again on the Saturday at 5 and 8 p.m., as a live Greek band will play all three days in the afternoon.
On July 14 from 12 to 8 p.m. will be the 25th annual Puerto Rican Festival. Alderman Willie Pabon, a member of the Puerto Rican Society that hosts the event, said there will be music, food, vendors and a celebration of Puerto Rican culture.
New Britainites can also expect some other annual events to return, such as the fifth annual Rose Garden Festival, presented by Stanley Black & Decker, at Walnut Hill park June 16 from 5 to 10 p.m. Admission is $7 per person in advance, and $10 at the door for food from restaurants in the area, full bar service and dancing to live music from Latanya Farrell and Soul Sound Revue.
There’s also the free Summer Concert Series. There will be four concerts on Wednesdays in Central Park between June 6 and June 27 from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m., and 17 concerts at the amphitheater in Walnut Hill Park between July 2 and Aug. 29.
The farmers market with fresh food, crafts and other unique items will run every Wednesday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. between July 11 and Oct. 24 in Central Park.
More information on programs for kids, pools and the Fourth of July fireworks at Stanley Quarter Park can be found in the Parks and Recreation Department’s summer brochure on the city’s website, newbritainct.gov.
Sports fanatics can take in one of many New Britain Bees games this season at John Karbonic Way. Besides the regular games, the team as a summer packed with promotions such as different Latin and Polish Heritage nights, and other activities such as fireworks on Saturdays. More information on the Bees’ promotion schedule can be found on its website, nbbees.com.
Kicking things off in Plainville is the seventh annual Fly-In & Car Show on June 9 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Robertson Airport.
“It’s a great event,” said Town Councilor Scott Saunders, who helped organize it. Proceeds from the event go toward the Petit Family Foundation and The Plainville Community Food Pantry.
“We’ve raised $150,000 for the charities,” Saunders said.
Other events in town include a summer concert series on Tuesday evenings at 6:30 p.m. at Norton Park, 197 South Washington St., with nine concerts running between June 5 and July 31.
The Plainville Family Resource Network is offering two free ocean-themed summer evenings at Paderewski Park on July 9 and Aug. 6 from 6 to 7:15 p.m. Also, the Plainville Library/Recreation Department will host a hip hop break dance event for all ages at Norton Park on Aug. 7 from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m.
Later that week “FUN DAY,” will be held on Aug. 10 at Norton Park from 1 to 3 p.m. in an event aimed to serve children ages 3 to 11. Face painting, spin art, thumbprints, tattoos, a dunker, tissue flowers, pony rides and a button maker will be on hand for the free admission event. There will be a small charge for refreshments and balloons.
Last but certainly not least in Plainville is the Plainville Balloon Festival Aug. 24-26. The festival features hot air balloons inflated for flights, with more than 120 crafters and vendors, live entertainment, activities for children, food and fireworks.
First up is the 16th annual Touch-a-Truck on May 19 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. sponsored by the Southington Recreation Department and American Legion Auxiliary 72. Admission is $4 for children, free for adults.
Following this event will be the start to the 25th “Music on the Green” summer concert series put on by the Southington Recreation Department on Wednesdays between May 23 and Sept. 5 (except July 4) from 7 to 9 p.m. at the Southington Town Green. A car show is also held during each week’s event, which will be postponed to Thursday in the event of inclement weather. Admission is free, and a blanket or lawn chair to enjoy the show is encouraged.
A farmers market will be happening on the Town Green, starting the first Friday in July and running on Fridays through the first week of October. There will be children’s entertainment events at the Southington Drive-In every Tuesday for eight weeks starting June 26, with magicians, jugglers and a variety of acts at 6 and 7 p.m.
Also at the Southington Drive-In, at 995 Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike, 15 movies will be screened weekly between June 2 and Oct. 27, with gates opening at 6 p.m. and movies beginning at sunset. Residents pay $10 a carload, non-residents $15 a carload and walk-ins are $2 a person but bring a lawn chair.
Rounding out the major summer activities in town is the popular Italian Heritage Festival from July 27-29 on the lower portion of Center Street.
Information on the towns’ pool openings, which feature a new splash pad can be found on the town’s recreation department page at Southington.org.