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Aesthetically, this will be a new, strange and perhaps disconcerting Sailfest - but still ultimately and wonderfully fun. The Parade area across from the railroad station, traditionally the centralized heart of the event, is in the midst of a construction makeover and will not be a geographic player this year.
So, if you're an out-of-towner not used to New London and maybe only hit town every year for Sailfest, don't let the fact that the Parade is torn up distract you.
Sailfest is definitely happening - Friday through Sunday. The carnival rides. The food. The atmosphere and music, events, activities and infectious momentum.
"Sailfest events this year will be focused on the Waterfront, which is a great thing, as that space tends to be underutilized in general," says Rich Martin, a member of the Sailfest Committee and longtime coordinator of local enterainment for the gala. "It's too bad the Parade won't be nearer completion, as it would have been a great way to unveil the new space and its views. But I don't think it's going to slow things down in any way."
Exactly. It's Sailfest, so it's all good - and includes the 5K road race (9 a.m. Sunday), the Hygienic Art Festival Bizarre Bazaar (11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday), and the second annual New London Maritime Regatta (10:30 a.m. Sunday).
In addition, it's now possible to take in Saturday's all-world fireworks show (9:25 p.m.) while savoring a lobster dinner with exclusive seating on Fisherman's Pier (6 p.m. seating). There's a Friday-only raw bar (5-11 p.m.) boasting fresh-caught Noank bluepoint oysters, Watch Hill oysters, and Rhode Island Littlenecks. And there's a bicycle valet at the corner of Eugene O'Neill and State streets. (For a buck a bike, riders can leave their bikes under the supervision of volunteers for the day. All proceeds go towards the establishment of bicycle racks in downtown New London.)
For live music, there are two national acts this year: up-and-coming rock bands Titus Andronicus and Harlem Shakes. And, of course, the Reducers perform pre- and post-fireworks shows Saturday.
While the sturdily growing local roots scene is notably absent, the wildly diverse indie rock scene - for which New London is justifiably renowned - is significantly represented. Revered local heroes the Paul Brockett Roadshow Band and the Can Kickers are proven crowd-pleasers. And the area continues to produce newer bands, as well.
Sailfest, noon-11 p.m. Fri., 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Sat. and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun., New London Waterfront Park and downtown New London; free; 444-1879; sailfest.org.
Fireworks Experience and Lobster Dinner, 6 p.m. Saturday, Fisherman's Pier, New London; $85 single and $660 for table of eight, tickets online only; sailfest.org.
City Pier Stage
5 p.m. Get Haunted - primitive ghost rock
5:45 p.m. Recur Occurrence - nuevo power trio
6:30 p.m. Weird Beards - kook folk
7:15 p.m. Can Kickers - Ivy League Appalachia
8:10 p.m. Roadside Attractions - candlelit swing
9:10 p.m. Paul Brockett Roadshow Band - chautauqua boogie
10:10 p.m. Chasing Trinity - modern ska/punk
Noon: Church Play - Latin
2:30 p.m. Juventud Magic Dance Group - Latin
4:30 p.m. Taton y Tremendo - new reggae
5 p.m. Mujeres Latina - female salsa/meringue
5:45 p.m. Brenda K Star - old school salsa
6:30 p.m. Indio - new age salsa
7:15 p.m. Magic Juan - meringue-hop
Noon: Pine Point School's Pouncing Panthers Jump Rope Team
1 p.m. Ginja Brasileira - Afro-Brazilian dance
2 p.m. Dwight Baldwin - "Professor of Percussion"
2:30 p.m. Connecticut Interdenominational Mass Choir - trad- and contempo-gospel
3:15 p.m. Demo Martial Arts Class - Baguazhang display
Custom House Pier Stage
5 p.m. Craig Edwards - visionary Celtic
6:30 p.m. Shellbacks - post-Poguesian fun
7 p.m. The 7th Regiment Drum & Bugle Corps (New London Waterfront Park)
8:30 p.m. New London Firefighters Pipes & Drums
9 p.m. Celtic Cross - Pan-Irish musical celebration
Noon: Bianca Sperduti - solo vocalist
1 p.m. sayWHAT? - blues-rock teensters
2 p.m. Gabrieles Martial Arts - demonstration
4 p.m. Lofi Radio Stars - retro original rock
6 p.m. The Manchurians - fab blues
8 p.m. The Reducers - death, taxes, and the 'ducers!
12:30 p.m. Honey Moon - Wonderlust side project
2 p.m. Suicide Dolls - Martian grunge
3:30 p.m. Harlem Shakes - up-n-coming Brooklyn outfit
5 p.m. Titus Andronicus - the band, not the play
DJs Swagger Jackers spin between sets