HARTFORD — Riverfront Recapture’s 35th annual Riverfest was held Saturday and is expected to break attendance records.
Organizers estimate around 250,000 people attended from all over the Hartford area.
The weather was gorgeous as organizers looked to rebound from the 2013 festival that was postponed to a weekday because of high water levels in the water.
“The river cooperated. Mother nature cooperated. The river is at normal levels,” said Debbie Baker with Hartford Riverfront Recapture.
The celebration had a country fair theme this year. New attractions included a beer garden, sponsored by Ted’s Montana Grill, as well as a performance from the UConn Woodsmen Lumberjack team.
The annual free event is an Independence Day celebration that takes place on either side of the Connecticut River, at Mortensen Riverfront Plaza in Hartford and Great River Park in East Hartford.
The East Hartford location hosted performances by the country music group the Jandee Lee Porter band.
The festival organizers partnered with ConnectiCon to hold a children’s costume show during the festival. Many ConnectiCon attendees were seen checking out the Riverfront festival.
“We’ve had lots of characters from the convention walking back and forth, interacting with other viewers,” said Baker.
The festival appears to have a large impact on downtown restaurants in Hartford throughout the weekend. Riverfest, along with ConnectiCon and a Dave Matthews Band concert at the Xfinity Theater brought scores of people to Hartford all weekend.
Hartford’s City Steam Brewery is expecting their busiest weekend of the entire summer.
“Were a huge restaurant, so we rarely fill up to capacity, barely go on a wait this weekend with ConnectiCon, DMB, Riverfest in the area. We’ve been on a wait all day. It’s nuts,” said Laurel Greenbarber, marketing director for City Steam Brewery.
Organizers say the 2014 festival was supported by nearly $300,000 in sponsorship commitments from corporations and local organizations.