The free Connecticut Family Festival on June 3 at the New London waterfront is shaping up to be one of the must-attend children’s events of the summer. The lineup of activities, experiences, and personalities is confirmed, and preparations are underway. Here’s what visitors can expect on this fun summer day.
The festival theme is literacy and stewardship for the environment, and with New London’s history with the sea, what better place to hold this event? Boats. There must be boats. New England Science & Sailing (NESS) will be on hand with sailboats for children and families to try sailing for the first time or to show off your small boat handling skills! Additionally, a real tug boat will also be tied up at the pier for an up-close-and-personal view; however, visitors are not allowed on board. Project Oceanology will be at the pier, and feature a touch tank on board.
Stewardship includes recycling and conservation, and the Southeastern Connecticut Regional Resource Recovery Authority (SCRRRA) will provide hands-on information and education about recycling. Keeping plastic water bottles or marine debris out of our waterways is a big issue, and NESS is providing Zip 2 Water Refill stations and visitors are encouraged to bring their own refillable water bottles to the event. A limited number of refillable water bottles will be given out at the event.
What would a festival be without entertainment? New London Youth Affairs (NLYA) has lined up some fabulous personalities, not the least of which is Simply Enchanted performing at the Pier Stage as The Little Mermaid. She will sing, read a book, and talk about how trash in our oceans affects her home and her fish friends.
“This festival celebrates the integration of arts, music, literacy and stewardship in a fun family setting” says Kristin Havrilla Clarke, director of New London Main Street.
The Pier Stage will also feature the ISAAC Bucket Brigade opening the festival with a drumming performance at the end of City Pier to welcome the tug boat carrying special festival guests. Other great entertainers will include Creative Dance with L’Ana Burton, the Free Men of the Sea—a living history pirate reenactment group, and the Nathan Hale Arts Magnet School Showcase.
On the Hygienic Stage, local favorites Steve Elci and Friends will perform for children of all ages. Tiger Eye Dance is a local youth dance group. You might recognize Steve Songs—also a children’s band—from PBS. Another interesting act is African drumming by Che` Cartafalsa.
Tina Salcedo of NLYA emphasizes that “the festival is about children’s literacy, and encouraging families and children to read together.” To that end, of course there will be authors of children’s books. In keeping with the theme of water and environment, author Peter Mandel will read from Boats on the River, as well as his newest, Zoo Ah-Choooo, and Jackhammer Sam. Mandel says, “Whenever I’ve been in the New London area for signings or library talks, I’ve been impressed by how important reading is there, for both parents and kids.”
The New London School Readiness Council (NLSRC) is a collaborative made up of local school readiness pre-school programs, community members, agencies, and parents all working to see that New London families with children birth to age eight have access to the resources they need to keep children healthy, safe, and to become successful learners. NLSRC is one of the sponsors of the festival and will be on hand with activities and information for families.
Further support of children’s literacy and the stewardship theme is provided by two other authors who will read from their books. Christine Ieronimo is the author of A Thirst for Home: A Story of Water Across the World, which she wrote after a trip to Ethopia that brought home the need for drinkable water around the world. Tish Rabe will read from her books, Clam I Am, How to Help the Earth, and On the First Day of Kindergarten which is given by NLSRC to each New London child when they register for Kindergarten.
Rounding out an exciting day, vendors and organizations including Deepwater Maritime Crafts and Signs, Mystic Aquarium, and Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center will provide activities such as art and manipulative crafts, and face painting.
This is simply one event you won’t want to miss. For the latest updates, follow the Connecticut Family page on Facebook.