Music, food vendors, entertainment, a parade, a carnival and more are all set to open on Friday, Sept. 29. Crews will begin setting up the tents for vendor booths next week.
“We’re ready to go, tents start going up Monday,” said Jim Champagne, a festival committee member.
He’s hoping for good weather for the festival but hasn’t been checking.
“It’s just not worth checking. It’s just not,” he said. “The day before, we have to be prepared to call it if in fact there’s rain, but that’s the only time I look.”
Food sellers, area non-profits, political parties and others rent booths for the festival. Tom Lombardi, a festival committee member and Town Councilor, said the booths sold out quickly this year.
“We sold out of booths and space early on. That’s a good thing for the festival, it’s a bad thing for folks trying to get in late,” Lombardi said.
Chris Palmieri, a festival committee member and Town Councilor, said it’s a good sign for the festival’s popularity.
“There’s a wait list. There’s already people who are interested in our festival next year,” Palmieri said. “It’s fantastic to have so many people interested in being a part of our festival.”
He described the festival and the effort that surrounds it as showcasing the best of Southington.
“It’s really symbolic of our whole community,” Palmieri said. “So many of our non-profits are there, local businesses, sponsors volunteers…It’s really the synergy of everyone coming together to make the festival as successful as it is.”
Dave Lapreay, the town’s recreation, youth and senior services director, coordinates the festival. Lombardi said he’s “done a great job as usual” in pulling the event together.
For three years, the festival featured national acts such as Bowling for Soup and Spin Doctors. Lombardi said they were big hits but that those acts came with risks in the case of bad weather as well as a hefty price tag.
Those contracts included payment guarantees regardless of how well the festival did.
“They want guarantees and we can’t guarantee the weather,” Champagne said.
Lombardi said the bands lined up for this year will still be a hit and draw a huge crowd.
“We had to measure our risk,” he said. “If we had bad weather, we’d be losing $25,000 (with a national act).”
The local bands for this year include Night Shift, Audacity, Leppard (The Def Leppard Experience), Kyle Niles Band, Soul Sound Revue, Relic, Lexi Max and High Noon, a Lynyrd Skynyrd and Southern Rock tribute band.
Jerry Triano, a festival committee member, said concert-goers wouldn’t be disappointed.
“They’re all top shelf,” he said. “People are going to be happy.”
The festival kicks off at 5 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 29 and runs for the remainder of that weekend as well as the following weekend, Oct. 6 – 8.
Some events only take place during one of the weekends. That first Saturday, Oct. 1, will feature a fireworks show at 9 p.m. On the second weekend, the festival’s arts and craft show will take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7 and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 8.
The arts and craft show will take place rain or shine.
The Apple Harvest Festival parade will take place on Sunday, Oct. 1 at 2 p.m. Paul Champagne, Jim Champagne’s brother and a festival volunteer, will be the parade grand marshal.
“He’s been a core part of the festival in the past and still to this day,” Lombardi said. “That’ll be good to honor him.”