Sailfest starts in New London

NEW LONDON --  If there is one place to be this summer, it is the Sailfest in New London.

“The people, the music, you’ve got good food, everything,” said Anthony Basilica of New London.

The three day fair in New London is one of Southern Connecticut’s most popular summertime events and attracts people from across the state and country.

“It is me and my siblings first time coming to Sailfest so we wanted to check it out,” said Ontasia Perry of Norwich. “I think the ferris wheel was sketchy but other rides that we went on were cool.”

There is plenty to enjoy, including amusement park rides, games, entertainment, food and beautiful views of sailboats. The festival is also great for the local economy and small business owners.

“A lot of local businesses are coming down just for the exposure to the crowds,” said Sailfest Waterfront Coordinator, George Welte.

Sailfest is Amy Brick’s bread and butter. The Jungle Juice Smoothies owner makes her profits solely by working events like the festival.

“The location is just amazing so everyone’s out going to the beach and shopping and going to the restaurants,” she said.

Chef Tomm Johnson runs New London High School’s Culinary Cafe Program, which teaches culinary arts to students. Their program is entirely funded by the food students make, including homemade donuts the students made for Sailfest, which they sell at various events.

“They have to learn how to make the actual products,” Johnson said. “How much it cost. How much it takes to make. How much profit you can make.”

The big draw are Saturday night’s fireworks.

Welte said a lot of thought goes into making the show safe.

“There is a long swim between here and where the fireworks are being launched,” Welte said. “It’s right out on the water.”

“Good food tonight and good fireworks tomorrow night,” Basilica said.