Riverfest, Hartford’s biggest celebration and one of the largest in New England will be held this Saturday, July 7, at three sites along the Connecticut River.
Riverfest organizers are planning several new features as this year’s festival honors the men and women of the U.S. military. The annual event, will take place in Hartford and East Hartford from 4 p.m. to 10:15 p.m.
As part of the military tribute, Riverfest crowds will see a military flyover for the first time. Four A-10’s, known as Warthogs, will fly over the festival sites at a height of 1,000 feet. The flyover is scheduled for approximately 8 p.m., at the conclusion of a ceremony honoring Connecticut service members who lost their lives in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“As we celebrate America’s independence, we want to recognize the men and women who volunteer to safeguard the freedoms that we enjoy in this country,” said Charles Myers, Riverfront Recapture’s Director of Events. “This is not about politics,” he added. “This is about showing our appreciation to the men and women in uniform.”
Riverfest, presented by Mohegan Sun, will feature musical entertainment on three stages – at Mortensen Riverfront Plaza and Charter Oak Landing in Hartford, and at Founders Plaza in East Hartford.
Military bands are among the featured entertainment. The U.S. Air Force Band of Liberty will perform at Riverfront Plaza while the U.S. Coast Guard Dixieland Band and 2nd Company Governor’s Foot Guard Band take the stage at Founders Plaza. Tim Callinan, Connecticut’s Troubador, also will perform in East Hartford.
Charter Oak Landing will take on a Latin flavor as the Hispanic Professional Network produces the second annual “Fiesta del Rio,” a festival within a festival. Entertainers will include the Latin Heartbeat Orchestra and Esteban’s Latin Jazz.
Fireworks are traditional Riverfest crowd-pleasers and this year’s fireworks, sponsored by Travelers, will double the show’s impact. For the first time in the festival’s 27-year history, two barges on the river will be loaded with fireworks. A synchronized soundtrack of patriotic music will accompany the fireworks display, which will include 4,472 shells from around the world.
The half-hour fireworks show, starting at 9:45 p.m., is choreographed by Atlas Pyrovision, an international award-winning fireworks company. WDRC-FM will simulcast the soundtrack.
During the afternoon, several members of the New England Paralyzed Veterans Association, accompanied by able-bodied anglers, will compete in a bass fishing tournament. An awards ceremony will take place at Riverfront Plaza at 5 p.m.
Various branches of the armed services will display equipment at all of the festival sites. The Air Force, for example, will invite children to get into a 22’-long version of an F22 plane at Riverfront Plaza. The Connecticut Army National Guard will bring Humvees, a boat display, and search dogs to Charter Oak Landing. More than a dozen historic military vehicles will be on display along East Hartford’s East River Drive.
In addition, the American Legion Riders will have 40 motorcycles in East Hartford and the Capital Classic Car Club will show 17 cars at Charter Oak Landing, where the Dark Image Car Club also will display vehicles.
In Hartford, shuttle buses will run between Charter Oak Landing and Riverfront Plaza. Free parking is available at designated lots on Huyshope Avenue. The Constitution Plaza garage off State Street will offer a special festival rate of $5; the Morgan Street garage will have an all-day rate of $4.
There are no shuttle buses in East Hartford. Parking there is available in open lots and surrounding streets near the festival sites.
Festival details, including a full entertainment schedule, is available at www.riverfront.org.