Mortensen Riverfront Plaza
Great River Park and Founders Plaza
East Hartford, CT
Hours: Sat, July 7 – 4 p.m to 10 p.m.; July 8 rain day
For the 32nd year in a row, Riverfest promises family fun spanning three parks in Hartford and East Hartford, all within walking distance of each other. Enjoy free entertainment, a fireworks display and delicious fair food with the whole family. Presented by Mohegan Sun, Riverfest is a standing tradition for Riverfront Recapture, which oversees four parks covering 148 acres along four miles of Connecticut River shoreline. Recapture’s trails, amphitheater, boat launch and excursion boat ride along with a growing list of amenities, festivals and attractions make for a destination like no other, especially during its 4th of July celebration.
Parking is available in designated areas of East Hartford as well as area garages in Hartford. Hartford’s Morgan Street Garage offers free parking for the event. Handicap parking for the festival is also available, including that for fireworks viewing only at Charter Oak Landing. Take advantage of the Hartford Star Shuttle, a free service that connects the Convention Center, the Science Center and downtown to the Riverfront. The shuttle runs approximately every 12 minutes continuously throughout the event until 1 a.m.
Expect attractions such as unicyclists, stilt walkers, field games, bounce houses, face painting and a video game trailer. This timeless family fun runs from 4 p.m to 8 p.m., boasting the addition of the Chris Clark Bicycle Trick Stunt Show at the Great River Park amphitheater at 4 p.m. and 6:30 p.m. this year. Enjoy all of this and more in Great River Park in East Hartford and Mortensen Riverfront Plaza on the Hartford side.
Musical performances are held on four stages throughout the grounds, and this year’s stars include Last Chance Band and the 94th Army Band. Entertainers scheduled so far this year include River City Slim and the Zydeco Hogs, Adam Ezra Group’s roots rock offerings, Rustic Overtones with a little rock/funk combo and Shaded Soul, which offers Motown, R&B, jazz, rock and soul. Be sure not to miss the Comedy Hypnotist Show by HypnoLorenzo to be held at the Great River Park amphitheater at 4:45 p.m.
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Sponsored by Travelers, fireworks will once again be made possible through the efforts of Atlas PyroVision Productions at 9 p.m. Firing by wireless signal from three barges and visible from vantage points along the Connecticut River, including Charter Oak Landing, this state-of-the-art display comes complete with a musical soundtrack.
100 Allyn St.
Hartford, CT 06103
A lively lunch and dinner destination offering both traditional Mexican food and drink as well as original variations that are sure to delight, Agave Grill is the perfect place to grab dinner if carnival food isn’t cutting it. Tableside guacamole and an extensive tequila bar add flavor and flair to the menu. From vegetarian chili to banana chimichangas, Agave keeps ‘em coming back. For a kid-friendly vibe, grab weekend brunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at this awesome eatery.
350 Asylum St
Hartford, CT 06103
If the thought of good barbecue or Cajun-style food makes your mouth water, Black-eyed Sally’s is sure to keep you coming back. With menu items like Louisiana gumbo, southern fried chicken, Memphis-style ribs, cornbread and a full array of sandwiches, sides and salads, choosing won’t be easy.
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Theodora DeBarbieri is an animal advocate, columnist and local TV show host residing in Connecticut. She is owned by a number of dogs, cats and birds. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.