SummerFest: Fair moves to the park Saturday

From fencing in the morning to Irish step dancing in the afternoon to music in the park throughout the day, Ridgefield residents will have plenty to do at this year’s SummerFest.

The Chamber of Commerce’s annual summer splash kicks off at 10 a.m. Saturday, July 22, in Ballard Park and runs up until 4 p.m. when the Irish folk band The Angry O’Hara’s will be finishing its 90-minute closing set.

Before the main attraction, flutist David Markowitz, the Ridgefield High School band Dischord, and classic rock students from the School of Rock will provide plenty of sweet summer sounds to those walking around and checking out the festival’s 60 vendors — or to those who sitting down on a blanket and soaking up the easy-going mood.

“It’s the exact festival we’ve had in the past, we’re just picking it up and putting it in the park” said Jennifer Zinzi, the chamber’s executive director.

“It’s such a blessing to have something like Ballard Park located centrally in our village, and we plan to use it,” she said. “The park lends itself so perfectly to this event so our hope is that people come and enjoy the vendors and the music, bring a blanket, sit down on the lawn, and spend the day with us.”

Wedged in between all the action in the park is the opportunity for residents to shop and enjoy sidewalk sales all over town — from downtown Ridgefield to Copps Hill Commons to Branchville.

“The beauty of moving to the park is that it allows us to leave Main Street open for the sidewalk sales there, as well as promote all the businesses in town,” Zinzi said.

“We’re responsible for all of Ridgefield, and that’s why we’re trying to promote things throughout town, starting with the yoga in the park that morning and running through that night with the production of MILK at the dance conservatory.”

The entertainment

While the fair starts at 10 — with its vendors and children’s activities, the party does begin an hour-and-a-half before that with a free yoga session presented by Lynn Kehoe Power Yoga.

From there, Markowitz will play the flute in the park’s gazebo from 10-10:30 a.m., followed by Dischord from 10:30-11.

“Dischord is a rock band of all high school students that played at the BandJam this fall and should bring out a lot of kids,” Zinzi said.

Way of the Sword will take the front stage after the young rockers are done. The Governor Street business, which opened earlier this year, will give a sword-fencing demonstration from 11:15 to 11:45.

The music will resume at noon with School of Rock, which will be followed by an Irish step dancing demonstration by the Newtown-based Ashurst Academy of Irish Dance from 1:45 to 2:15.

Those who want to keep up the Irish vibes can hang around for The Angry O’Hara’s, which play from 2:30 to 4.

“It’s a very unique lineup,” said Zinzi. “Our goal is to keep the stage as active as possible this year, and to bring in a lot of variety.”

The vendors

The music isn’t the only thing that the chamber hopes pulls people into the park Saturday afternoon.

Among the five dozen vendors that will be setting up booths, Zinzi believes that the sampling of local farm stands — Henny Penny Farms, Veronica’s Garden, and The Porch — attracts residents with a health-first mindset.

If the farmers aren’t enough, SummerFest will offer plenty of children’s activities from face painting to inflatable slides to inflatable archery.

For those looking to shop, there’s plenty of options starting with the Traveling Chic Boutique and Komfort Zone.

Ditto for those looking to buy Ridgefield-centric gear and show off their town pride.

Local shirt-making entrepreneur Sam Sulzinsky, a Ridgefield High School student, will be there selling his products, as well Ridgefield Screen Printing and The Rooted Plow.

If all one is looking to do is relax, then there’s free massages being offered, too.

“We want to keep people in town and be conscious of shopping local and eating local,” Zinzi said.

Brick and mortar

While the excitement around SummerFest stems from its location, the event’s organizers are not forgetting about who that “shop local” slogan pertains to the most.

And that’s why Zinzi isn’t allowing any food vendors in the park this year.

“It’s all about supporting our brick and mortar businesses,” she said. “We want to support the business owners who are here every day giving our town its character and charm ...

“We want people to enjoy themselves in the park, but we also want them to be coming in and out and supporting our merchants in the village and beyond.”

As for the location, Zinzi said she doesn’t know if the park will be a permanent home for SummerFest but that it was worth it to try something new.

“We want to support all of Ridgefield, and this was a way to make it not specifically about Main Street,” she said.

“We’re going to try it and if we need to adjust it, we’ll adjust it.”


Zinzi wants to make sure those attending SummerFest Saturday don’t plan on parking in the CVS parking lot.

“It’s a private lot and it will be monitored all day,” she said.

“There will be parking for the handicap adjacent to the park but everyone else needs to park in a public lot and walk over.”

The recommended lots are on Bailey Avenue, behind Town Hall, and Governor Street — one in front of the Thrift Shop and the other adjacent to the Boys and Girls Club.

The festival’s main sponsors are Fairfield County Bank, Winters Bros. Waste Systems, and Union Savings Bank.

“We can’t thank them enough for their support,” said Zinzi.

“It’s going to be the same SummerFest, just in a different location.”