WEST HAVEN, July 30, 2016 — The 35th annual Savin Rock Festival is in its third day in Old Grove Park, offering a midway of food, games, entertainment and rides — and beer — from noon-10 p.m.
The event, which pays homage to the legacy of Savin Rock Park, is showcasing its first beer garden since the festival began in 1982.
For the 2016 schedule of events, click on Savin Rock Festival below.
The four-day festival, sponsored by the University of New Haven, kicked off Thursday evening with a beautiful rendition of “The Star-Spangled Banner” by Caitlin Morrissey.
Eight to the Bar was faithful covering swing, boogie-woogie and Motown standards and was followed by The American Longboards, which surfed through a catalog of sunny California favorites spanning the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s.
Marenna Amusements is offering a family pack of 24 tickets for $20 and bracelets for unlimited rides for $25. Otherwise, tickets cost $1 each.
Marenna is premiering a carousel that was recently filmed in New York’s Central Park for an upcoming movie starring Kevin Spacey, said the company’s owners, George Marenna Jr. and George Marenna III.
On Friday night, after welcoming remarks from Mayor Edward M. O’Brien, The Bronx Wanderers, billed as “a high-octane rock ’n’ roll experience,” played a 90-minute, showstopping mix of ’50s, ’60s and ’70s chart-toppers.
The 102nd Army Band, composed of members of the Connecticut National Guard, warmed up concertgoers with pop and rock anthems, culminating in a touching tribute to U.S. service members with a performance of “God Bless the USA,” the popular 1984 patriotic song written and recorded by country music artist Lee Greenwood.
Local organizations are setting up informational booths, and the food court is serving up the fare — fried seafood, split hot dogs, frozen custard — that catapulted old Savin Rock to notoriety as “the Coney Island of Connecticut.”
The festival hours for today and Sunday are noon-10 p.m.
Today, the West Haven High School dance team performs at 11:45 a.m., followed by teen rock band Tears Fall Down at noon, reggae group Moto at 1 p.m., alternative rock band The Bamboo Treehouse at 2 p.m., rhythm and blues group The Nu Groove Band at 3 p.m. and crooner Michael Rea at 5 p.m.
Rubber City, powered by a horn section that rivals such bands as Chicago and Tower of Power, goes on at 6 p.m.
Festival headliner The Official Blues Brothers Revue, featuring Wayne Catania as Jake and Kieron Lafferty as Elwood, starts at 8:30 p.m., performing a 90-minute playlist from the timeless repertoire of The Blues Brothers, including “Soul Man,” “Rubber Biscuit” “Sweet Home Chicago,” “Rawhide,” “Peter Gunn” and “Gimme Some Lovin.’”
Produced by Dan Aykroyd and Judy Belushi Pisano, wife of the late John Belushi, the Blues Brothers Revue honors Chicago’s rich history of blues, gospel and soul music, according to a release from the show’s publicist, David Budge.
Under the musical direction of Rock and Roll Hall of Fame impresario Paul Shaffer, Catania, Lafferty and the high-energy eight-piece Intercontinental Rhythm & Blues Revue Band “deliver a big sound, performed with the passion and precision of the original Blues Brothers band,” Budge said.
Catania and Lafferty were discovered in Las Vegas and handpicked by Aykroyd and Belushi Pisano.
Once the duo leaps onstage, Belushi Pisano said, Catania and Lafferty become the original characters created by Aykroyd and John Belushi in 1978 when the original act debuted on NBC’s “Saturday Night Live.”
“Kieron and Wayne are not imitators; they live the music and embody those characters,” Belushi Pisano said. “They understand the spirit of The Blues Brothers and revel in the joy of being Jake and Elwood.”
Catania and Lafferty are the only artists sanctioned by the show’s producers to don the signature hat and sunglasses and walk in the legendary footsteps of Jake and Elwood Blues. The duo fronts an incendiary live concert that combines the comedy and hits from the 1980 film “The Blues Brothers” and subsequent recordings with an interactive multimedia show for all ages to enjoy.
“Backed by a powerhouse band, concertgoers are in for a night of laughter, dancing and foot-stomping fun,” Budge said.
On Sunday, Top 40 solo act Jim Crutchfield is on at 1 p.m., followed by oldies group Vinnie Carr at 2 p.m., classic rock band Furious George at 3 p.m., Tower of Power tribute group On the Serious Side at 4 p.m. and contemporary rock band Soul Jar at 5 p.m.
The festival closes once again with a 6 p.m. concert by The Asberry Boys, which include the four youngest siblings of The Taubl Family Band who made it to the finals of NBC’s “America’s Got Talent” in 2008, followed by Stevie Nicks cover group The Navels at 8 p.m.
The West Haven High School Band Parents is holding a craft fair today and Sunday from noon-8 p.m.
The Top Hat Dance Academy is performing at noon Sunday.
To help with expenses, the Savin Rock Festival Committee is selling T-shirts and other merchandise in the hospitality tent. It is also charging nonresidents $5 for parking.
Organizers said the parking revenue and beer and merchandise sales are supporting next year’s festival budget.
The cash-only beer garden is pouring four craft, domestic and imported draft beers, as well as a hard cider and a wine. It is serving beer today from 1-9 p.m. and Sunday from 1-7 p.m.
O’Brien praised the contributions of committee members in planning the 2016 festival.
“The committee has worked hard to emulate the proud heritage of ‘the Rock’ by booking another showstopping lineup of entertainers in hopes of matching — if not surpassing — last year’s attendance record,” O’Brien said.
West Haven’s flagship festival was established by the Chamber of Commerce — initially under the direction of Brian M. Stone, David Gesler and Michael Shiner and thereafter by John L. Perrone and his wife, Mary Perrone — to bring organizations, clubs, businesses and families together for a summer festival that celebrates life in one of America’s oldest coastal communities.
From the dawn of the Savin Rock House hotel in 1838, Savin Rock had long been a resort hub until it was officially incorporated as an amusement park by the Savin Rock Park Co. on Memorial Day 1925, when it opened to 300,000 visitors and 66,000 automobiles in one spectacular day.
For the next four decades, the popular seaside park captured the hearts and imaginations of “Rock rats” young and old with its distinctive sights, sounds and smells. “Connecticut’s playground” shuttered Sept. 21, 1966, to pave the way for the Savin Rock Urban Renewal Project.
Attendees are reminded that a city ordinance prohibits domestic animals on certain parks, beaches or recreation areas. The fine is $50 per offense.
Also, per the Police Department, backpacks, bicycles and glass containers are prohibited, and coolers are subject to search.
— MICHAEL P. WALSH, Public Relations Information Coordinator