The Savin Rock Festival will return to the West Haven shoreline in 2020 after the city clears the cumulative deficit in the Savin Rock Festival Fund, Mayor Nancy R. Rossi announced.
After running consecutive deficits, the festival was canceled in 2018 as the city began addressing its overall financial situation.
The festival fund ran deficits over several years, Rossi said, and is in the red for $53,845. The cumulative deficit of $53,845 excluded police expenses and included public works expenses only for two years.
City records show the 2017 festival alone ran a deficit of $32,606. That festival had revenues of $39,292 and expenses of $71,898, with the largest expenditure being entertainment — to the tune of more than $30,000.
“The city of West Haven will pay off the $53,845 deficit in the Savin Rock Festival Fund, only after securing permission from the state Municipal Accountability Review Board, using a small amount of the projected operating budget surplus this fiscal year,” Rossi said. “We are in a much better place than we were 18 months ago. I have had to make some tough decisions — canceling the Savin Rock Festival was one of them — but we had to fix the city first.
“Once we pay off the old deficit in the festival fund, I will appoint a committee and ask for volunteers to be responsible for organizing and running the festival in 2020 within an established budget. The festival will request sponsors and charge a reasonable fee for food, ride and entertainment vendors to cover the cost of the event.”
West Haven’s flagship festival was established by the Chamber of Commerce — initially under the direction of Brian M. Stone, David Gesler and Michael Shiner and thereafter by John L. Perrone and his wife, Mary Perrone — to bring organizations, clubs, businesses and families together for a summer festival that celebrates life in one of America’s oldest coastal communities.
From the dawn of the Savin Rock House hotel in 1838, “the Rock” had long been a resort hub until it was officially incorporated as an amusement park by the Savin Rock Park Co. on Memorial Day 1925, when it opened to 300,000 visitors and 66,000 automobiles in one spectacular day.
For the next four decades, the popular seaside park captured the hearts and imaginations of “Rock rats” of all ages with its distinctive sights, sounds and smells. “The playground of New England” shuttered Sept. 21, 1966, to pave the way for the Savin Rock Urban Renewal Project.
“The Savin Rock Festival is a great event and highlights the city’s rich history,” Rossi said. “I look forward to bringing the festival and all the memories and nostalgia back to Old Grove Park next year.”