CT Kicks Off Summer with A Weekend Of Festivals And Music

CONNECTICUT — Kayak races, fast cars and a boatload of festivals kick off the official start of Summer this weekend in Connecticut.

The Beardsley Zoo in Bridgeport has scheduled a day of family fun around its annual Wing Ding Parade on Saturday, June 22, beginning at 9 a.m. Come in costume, get your face painted, and enjoy free admission to the zoo for the day. It’s all part of the city’s ongoing annual Barnum Festival.

The family fun continues Saturday at the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The annual Party on the Plaza kicks off the Center’s summer season, and combines classic carnival games with interactive science demos. The Hartford Athletics’ mascot, Dillon, will be on hand for a day filled with fun and geeky activities. The whole bash is included with your general admission ticket or Science Center Membership.

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…or you can just stop and smell the roses, all across the state. Connecticut is celebrating Historic Gardens Day on Sunday, June 23, and 16 estates and farms from Wilton to Woodstock will be throwing open their garden gates for peeps to peruse their perennials. See the list of hot house hotspots online here for details.

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Did you know Connecticut has a “state troubadour?” Her name is Kala Farnham, and she is a multi-instrumentalist singer-songwriter who will be strumming her stuff at The Henry Whitfield State Museum in Guilford in celebration of Make Music Day and the summer solstice Friday from 6-8 p.m. Bring your own lawn chairs, blankets, and picnics, or hit up The Greenery food truck and Sully’s Good Humor Truck, both on site. Admission is free, but the performance will be canceled if it rains.

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On Saturday, shift into an appreciably higher gear at the Jaguar Club of Southern New England’s Car Show, held at Lyman Orchards in Middlefield. The JCSNE’s 50th Annual Concours d’Elegance is free for spectators — the only requirement is you be a Jaguar enthusiast, and that bar is low. If you want to enter your Jag in the show, the process is online here.

You will have two opportunities to experience a concert at one of Connecticut’s more memorable venues when the Mystic River Jam Festival returns to Mystic Shipyard on Friday and Saturday. The lineup of bands covers rock, country, reggae and blues, and they’ll be playing 4-10 p.m. Friday and 1-10 p.m. Saturday. Mystic Dead close out the show both nights. Tickets are available online here. Parking is on site, but if you wish to arrive by boat (it’s that kind of place…), you will need to call the shipyard at 860-536-6588 for slip availability.

The 9th Annual Charles Island SUP Cup shoves off from Walnut Beach in Milford Saturday 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. The main events are the kayak and paddleboard races, but the deep backdrop of live music, kids’ crafts, wellness tents, outrigger canoe demonstrations, food trucks and free kayaking and paddleboarding after the races make it a thing of beauty. Spectating and vibing are free, but racers must pay to compete.

Jugglers, stilt walkers, live music, dancing, balloons… sounds like a party, and it is! The 2nd annual Celebrate Saybrook Street Party on Sunday will shut down Main Street in Old Saybrook from 2-7 p.m. to make way for over 40 artisans, crafters, and entertainers. The live music, and a huge variety of food to eat, make this the festival to beat this weekend. Admission is free, and a schedule of events is online here.

And let’s give it up for two brand-new summer fests making their debut in Connecticut this weekend:

The 1st Annual Windham Summer Festival will be held Saturday 3-9 p.m. at Jillson Square Park in Willimantic. Organizers are promising live music, food trucks, family friendly activities and free admission.

Come for the art and stay for the music at the first-ever SOLFEST in Weston on Saturday. The new festival is an ambitious day of artisan crafts, a juried art show, and gourmet food, followed by an evening of live music. Rain date is Sunday. Art-stuff is noon to 7 p.m., and live music will run from 6:00 to 10:00 pm. Parking is at the Hurlbutt Elementary School.

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