Spring is in the air and what better way to celebrate the season than with festivals of art, music and good times. From the floral-inspired Daffodil and Dogwood festivals to the sounds of bluegrass and the smell of sheep, Connecticut offers unique and long-standing events this time of year. Oh, and of course, there are lots of fair-tastic foods to discover too!
35th Annual Meriden Daffodil Festival
Meriden, CT 06037
Dates: April 27-28
Spring is in the air; over a half a million daffodils can’t be wrong. The 35th annual Meriden Daffodil Festival is not only a celebration of spring and flowers, but has become a celebration of great Connecticut music. Sure, there are fried foods, flower gazing and fireworks, but with 36 bands playing on three stages, entertainment coordinator Rob DeRosa has once again lined up a garden of musical appearances. This year’s musical acts include Advocate Grand Band Slam’s “Best Rock Band” winners Little Ugly, CPTV’s children songster SteveSongs, blues guitarists Dan Stevens Trio, up-and-coming Americana crooner Hannah Fair and 32 others. Plan to spend your days and nights with quality music that fills your soul while filling your belly on additive fair foods.
104th Annual Connecticut Sheep, Wool and Fiber Festival
Tolland Agricultural Center
24 Hyde Ave.
Vernon, CT 06066
Date: April 27
Over a hundred years ago, the Connecticut Sheep Breeders Association decided to create an annual event “to promote the keeping of sheep in Connecticut.” Today, the festival is one of the premier agricultural events in New England. Demonstrations include sheep shearing, sheep dog trials (watch dogs successfully and unsuccessfully attempt to herd sheep), wool skirting, knitting, crocheting, spinning and more. Kids will not only love to see all the animals, but there is an entire area with games and crafts for youngsters to enjoy. It’s a great family experience and educational for the general public. There are dozens of vendors to stroll through selling wool-related goods, industry-related products and general merchandise including shirts and, of course, delicious fair foods. Music performances can also be “herd” throughout the day.
78th Annual Dogwood Festival
Greenfield Hill Congregational Church
1045 Old Academy Road
Fairfield, CT 06824
Dates: May 3-5
When the Dogwood Festival began, gas was 10 cents a gallon, Bing Crosby and Billie Holiday could be heard on the radio and they just opened the Boulder Dam (renamed Hoover Dam in 1947). In 1936, a group of women from the Greenfield Hill Church sold refreshments and crafts to the many visitors who came to see the blooming dogwood trees on the church property. Seventy-eight years later, the annual event has evolved into a three-day festival including a juried arts and crafts show, a local art show, games for kids, a huge tag sale, live auction, a plant tent, guided historic walking tours, concerts, a Saturday night dance and even a road race. Of course, there is plenty to eat as well.
Outdoor Crafts Festival of the Bruce Museum
Bruce Museum Grounds
1 Museum Drive
Greenwich, CT 06830
Dates: May 18-19
One of two annual outdoor events held by Greenwich’s Bruce Museum, the Crafts Festival features 80 juried artists of handmade works including jewelry, furniture, glassware, ceramics and accessories. Artists are present and items are for sale as you stroll through the booths (with fantastic food in hand, no doubt). Music fills the air during the afternoon with several performances each day. Kid and family crafts are also offered both outside and inside the museum. Admission to the Bruce Museum is included, giving visitors an opportunity to explore current exhibits.
Shoreline Spring Festival
Madison Town Green
575 Boston Post Road
Madison, CT 06443
Date: May 18
Over 120 craft and art exhibitors will be featured in the 4th annual Shoreline Spring Festival. Booth vendors include artists, jewelers, fair trade suppliers, local foods (breads, pastries, cakes, candies, sandwiches, etc.) and a farmers market featuring honey, maple syrup, vegetables and more. Live music and entertainment begin at noon. This event is sponsored by Shoreline Unitarian Universalist Society.
Strawberry Park Bluegrass Festival
Strawberry Park RV Resort
42 Pierce Road
Preston, CT 06365
Dates: May 30 through June 2
The Strawberry Park Bluegrass Festival is a unique Woodstock-style, four-day festival of camping, music and camaraderie. Dozens of bands perform on two stages including The Seldom Scene, The Steeldrivers, The Kruger Brothers, The Gibson Brothers, Sierra Hull, The Hillbenders, The Honey Dew Drops, Dry Branch Fire Squad and many others. Campsites and “campsites in the rough” (a.k.a. pitch your tent) are available for festival attendees only.
27th Annual Celebrate West Hartford ~ Arts & Crafts Show
West Hartford Town Hall Common
50 S. Main St.
West Hartford, CT 06107
Dates: June 8-9
The Annual West Hartford Arts & Crafts Show is a two-day community festival featuring an assortment of crafts, music, local organizations, family and kid activities, carnival rides and a 5K road race. Musical performances include local school jazz ensembles and bands as well as mainstream rock bands over the course of the weekend. Over 30,000 are expected in what Hartford Magazine deemed as the “Best Local Annual Event” several years in a row.
Edward Main is a freelance writer covering all things Connecticut. His work can be found on Examiner.com.