After a long winter made it seem like warm, sunny weather would never come to the region, there are several events going on throughout Bristol and surrounding areas the next few months to celebrate summer and put winter in the rear view mirror.
From free concerts to car shows to heritage festivals, plenty of gatherings are abound in Central Connecticut.
Here is a look at just some of the offerings this summer.
While there’s several events lined up for the start of summer, toward the end of it is the Rockwell Summer Festival on Aug. 18 at Rockwell Park in which thousands attend.
Last year’s event featured a car show, skateboard competition, vendors, music, sports and pie-eating contests activities for kids to an estimated 10,000 people who attended.
“The variety of events held by the City of Bristol and private organizations is truly amazing this year,” said Mike Thomas of the Bristol Development Authority. “No matter what your interest is, there is something available for almost everyone.”
Coming soon is the Bristol Blues home opener on June 2 at 6:30 p.m. against the Pittsfield Suns, with gates opening at 5:30 p.m.
From there the first ever free Latino festival on June 9 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Brackett Park on the corner of School and North Main streets will happen. Live music as well as a mix of cultural interaction of food vendors from Caribbean, South American and Central American cuisine will be part of the festivities.
On a weekly basis there’s a free farmers market every Saturday between June 23 and October 27 from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Centre Square, North Main Street; eight Tuesday evening shows from 7 to 8:30 p.m. as part of a free summer concert series between June 26 and August 14 mostly at the Rockwell Amphitheatre and one at Ultimate Wireforms in Forestville Center; A Bristol Auto Club Cruise night car show for free admission and with oldies music on Saturdays between May 12 through Sept. 29 from 5 to 9 p.m.; and tea parties with cookies, juices, wand craft, story time, carousel rides, balloon animals and more for youngsters at the New England Carousel Museum between 1 and 3 p.m. one Sunday a month with $20 for children and $5 for adults prices.
“From the Bristol Parks & Recreation’s weekly summer concert series at Rockwell Park to the West End Summer Festival all the way to the Mum Festival in September adds to the enjoyment and excitement of celebrating summer,” Thomas said. “We are truly excited about the formation of the City’s Arts, Culture, and Tourism Council will bring even more special events, festivals, and concerts to the City.”
Events returning later on in the summer include Neon Nights on Aug. 3 from 6 to 9 p.m. at Rockwell Park Pool, 238 Jacobs St. with a glowing pool, DJ, light show and carnival-themed goodies for $5.
The 6th annual Bristol Half Marathon & 10K is on the morning of Aug. 19 for $40-$55 with proceeds going to support the VA Connecticut Fisher House, which provides comfort homes for military and veterans’ families.
The free Pooch Plunge on Aug. 20, in which only four-legged tail wagers will be allowed in Rockwell Park Pool from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
And on Aug. 21 will be a new Back to School Pencil Hunt put on by Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu, First Bristol Federal Credit Union and ESPN for students in kindergarden through eighth grade. Music and prizes will accompany the scavenger hunt for school supplies.
In the fall, there will be the free Mum Festival between Thursday, Sept. 20 and Sunday, Sept. 23 with art, food trucks, live music, amusement rides and of course, the parade on the last day. The theme this year is “Fall in love with Bristol.”
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.
As with a lot of towns in Central Connecticut, the town of Plymouth will kick off its summer festivities with a Memorial Day Parade on May 28. While Plymouth used to have two Memorial parades, one for Terryville and one for Plymouth Center, this will be the only parade for the Town of Plymouth during Memorial Day weekend.
Following, The Plymouth Land Trust will hold a free Tree Identification Walk on June 3, from 2 to 3 p.m. on the Land Trust’s Leach Stanton Preserve. Meet on the Plymouth Green on North Street for about a one-mile walk through the wooded areas behind the land trust to learn to identify over 20 trees by sight, smell, taste and touch. Passing the foundation remains from the 1850 Shelton Tuttle Carriage factory, by Byron Tuttle and Augustus Shelton, and the house of Shelton, will be included.
The walk, which is a part of Connecticut Trails Weekend, includes a tour of the Plymouth Town Green, which is on The National Register of Historic Places, Jerry Milne, of the Plymouth Land Trust, said. There will be free refreshments at Antiques at the Green afterward. Families are welcome.
The next weekend the Plymouth Historical Society will host an open house on June 9 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and showcase an 1852 steam engine with working steam whistle, one of three in the country, said Milne.
Weekend escape room challenges at the Lock Museum, 181 Main St., on the former site of Eagle Lock Company, in which participants will explore five rooms to solve riddles, open locks and break free, for $23 an adult and $15 for children aged 12 to 17 are also available.
In August will be the Terryville Fair, which in previous years has had tractor pulls, skillet tossing, music, food and fireworks for an $8 general admission fee.