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The original item was published from 7/31/2016 12:53:00 PM to 8/1/2016 8:46:22 AM.

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Posted on: July 31, 2016

[ARCHIVED] Fourth and final day of Savin Rock Festival underway in Old Grove Park

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PHOTO — The Official Blues Brothers Revue, featuring Kieron Lafferty as Elwood, left, and Wayne Catania as Jake, is shown headlining the 35th annual Savin Rock Festival Saturday night, performing a 90-minute set of blues, gospel and soul classics from the timeless repertoire of The Blues Brothers in front of 3,000 rain-drenched spectators and turning Old Grove Park into a giant dance floor. (City Photo/Michael P. Walsh)


WEST HAVEN, July 31, 2016 — The 35th annual Savin Rock Festival is in its fourth and final 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.”

On Saturday, the picturesque Grove provided a backdrop for the many quality entertainers that set up residence in the 146-year-old park, including alternative rock band The Bamboo Treehouse, rhythm and blues group The Nu Groove Band, crooner Michael Rea and Rubber City, which was powered by a horn section that rivaled such bands as Chicago and Tower of Power.

With an estimated crowd of 3,000, festival headliner The Official Blues Brothers Revue, featuring Wayne Catania as Jake and Kieron Lafferty as Elwood, performed a somersaulting set of blues, gospel and soul classics from the timeless repertoire of The Blues Brothers, captivating the frenzied throng with hit after hit for 90 minutes as revelers transformed the rain-drenched Grove into dance party central. The duo was anchored by the eight-piece Intercontinental Rhythm & Blues Revue Band.

Today, 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 from noon-8 p.m.

The Top Hat Dance Academy is performing at noon today.

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 1-7 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

Savin Rock Festival
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