The Savin Rock Festival was canceled earlier this year because of the city’s ongoing financial plight. A city businessman stepped into the breach and is hoping his new fair-style festival will do what the former festival did: celebrate the city’s shore.
The new event, presented by Marenna Amusements owners George Marenna, Jr. and George Marenna III, is coming to the Savin Rock shoreline on back-to-back weekends starting Friday. Marenna’s company was the provider of the various rides and attractions used during the former festival, so much of what is offered will be a familiar treat for festival goers.
Shoreline Fest marks a return to “more of a fair atmosphere,” complete with crafts, food tents, rides and nonprofit booths, organizers said. Marenna and his associates have cobbled together fraternal and civic organizations in much the same way the Savin Rock Festival did.
The event is set for Old Grove Park, off Palace Street, and on the nearby lawn at Captain Thomas Boulevard and Oak Street. The popular shoreline venues are also known as Parcel I and Parcel J, respectively.
The hours are 6 p.m.-midnight Friday, noon-10 p.m. Saturday, noon-7 p.m. Sunday, 6 p.m.-midnight July 26-27, and noon-10 p.m. July 28.
Mayor Nancy R. Rossi said the privately operated festival is taking place at no cost to the city, a big consideration when the proposal was made.
According to Marenna Amusements’ contract with the city, the company is assuming all festival-related responsibilities and fees, including paying for non-city maintenance workers and extra-duty police, obtaining all permits and licenses, and paying for electricity, portable toilets and rubbish removal.
Marenna will use the proceeds from food concession rental fees “to offset the cost of police services and city expenses.”
Under the contract, the company will also pay the city a one-time fee of $5,000 for up to 21 amusement rides.
Before the cancellation of this year’s Savin Rock Festival because of financial constraints, the Marennas, who are no strangers to giving back to the city, supplied the festival’s rides and games for 23 years.
For Shoreline Fest, the Orange-based amusement company is partnering with the West Haven High School Band Parents Association, a longtime participant of the Savin Rock Festival, which previously depended on the festival for holding its annual craft fair fundraiser.
Rossi said the new festival allows the band parents to continue having the fair and raising much-needed money for their association.
The craft fair is open 2-8 p.m. today-Friday, 1-8 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, 2-8 p.m. July 26, and 1-8 p.m. July 27-28.
Marenna Amusements will offer bracelets for unlimited rides, a family pack of 24 tickets and single tickets.
Connected by a midway of games, both venues will feature food vendors and rides, including a Grand Carousel on the grounds of the 148-year-old Grove.
Marenna Jr. said the carousel was filmed in New York’s Central Park in 2016 and appeared in the Kevin Spacey movie “Rebel in the Rye” last year.
“I am thankful to George Marenna and his son for rising to the occasion and bringing this festival to our shoreline for all ages to enjoy,” Rossi has said. “While it will not replace the Savin Rock Festival, Shoreline Fest will preserve the legacy and spirit of old Savin Rock as a destination for family-friendly fun. I look forward to seeing my fellow Westies at the festival.”