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In the 12 months since the last Sailfest, necromancers have been toiling around the clock in a determined effort to KEEP FOG AWAY during this year's Saturday night fireworks extravaganza. The rituals employed were extracted from a cobwebbed grimoire and are dark and exceedingly complex in nature.
Actually, that's not true. There was no budget for necromancers, and "grimoire" is hard to spell.
Besides, as Sailfest executive director Barbara J. Neff points out, "I've been doing Sailfest for 17 years, and we've had one fog incident. If I was a gambler, those are pretty good odds."
Instead of worrying about fog, then, Neff has been focusing on what she does best: continuing to fine-tune and present New London's most iconic summer event - which takes place Friday through Sunday in the city's downtown district, Waterfront Park and Parade Plaza.
There's live entertainment, carnival rides, and food, of course - along with all manners of tangential events, vendors and booths, and sundry characters.
Music resounds on the Custom House Stage, the Hygienic Art Park Stage and the "As Seen on TV" Stage at City Pier. Headliners include jamsters Max Creek, New York hip-hop act Nickel, Michael (Son of Gregg) Allman, and Grammy-winning saxophonist Charles Neville - he of the Neville Brothers and Wild Tchoupitoulas resume - who performs with local bluesman Jeff Pitchell. And, as always, there's a fine and representative variety of local and regional acts (see schedule at right).
A new entertainment twist takes place all weekend at the "As Seen on TV" Stage at City Pier. A variety of acts who came to national awareness on the "America's Got Talent" television show will alternate sets performing gravity-defying, flame-happy and frenetically-juggled feats of dexterity.
"We've always wanted to have a stage aimed at kids or young adults that featured quick-hit action," Neff says. "Sailfest is a fast-paced event. People want to keep moving; see a band, grab some food, head to the waterfront ... I was talking to a friend from Boston named Stephen King and, no, he's not the writer but he WAS on 'America's Got Talent.'
"We thought a bunch of acts in that context would be perfect, and he called some of his friends with similar backgrounds and put together this talent. We work very hard on entertainment every year, but we want to keep moving forward and thinking of new things."
Carnival food enthusiasts will also have new culinary horizons to explore. In addition to sausage and peppers, hotdogs, chowder and fried dough of legend, Neff says new vendors will present stuffed baked potatoes, snow cones and, in what has become a midway-style necessity, deep-fried objects such as candy bars and Oreos.
"You can diet next week," Neff says.
As far as the pyrotechnics go, the "Fireworks Extravaganza" is scheduled for a 9 p.m. ignition-lift-off. Garden State Fireworks will again do the honors, and the show - the fourth largest on the East Coast - is sponsored by the Mashantucket Pequot Tribal Nation and Foxwoods Resort Casino. For those unable to make it downtown for the actual explosions, go to theday.com for live streaming coverage starting at 8:45 p.m.
Sailfest, noon-11 p.m. Fri., 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Sat. and 9 a.m.-6 p.m. Sun., downtown New London and Waterfront Park; fireworks at 9 p.m. Saturday; free; sailfestnl.org.
HYGIENIC ART PARK STAGE
5 p.m. - The CBYD Trio
6 p.m. - Chris McKay and the ToneShifters
7 p.m. - Elison Jackson
8 p.m. - The 3-Pack
9 p.m. - Horns of Ormus
10 p.m. - The Suicide Dolls
Noon - Shoreline Acoustic Music Fest with Braiden and Friends, Peter Magrane, Golden Ratio, Raymond Lange and Maggie's Guitar
3 p.m. - Writer's Block, InK
4 p.m. - Steven Broderick and the 100 Watt Suns
5:30 p.m. - John Fries and
7:30 p.m. - Soul Shot (two pre-fireworks sets)
9 p.m. - Fireworks
9:40 p.m. - Soul Shot with
Noon - Sherwood
12:30 p.m. - The Carolans
1 p.m. - Baird & Friends
1:25 p.m. - Jim Lampos
1:45 p.m. - Alan Winslow
2:05 p.m. - Kat Kidwell
2:25 p.m. - Ned Ruete
2:45 p.m. - Roger Viens
3:05 p.m. - Gaetano
3:30 p.m. - Pat Daddona &
4 p.m. - ArleneWow! & Dana Takaki
4:30 p.m. - Vox Nova
5:35 p.m. -Blonde Furniture
CUSTOM HOUSE STAGE
Weekend emcee is comic
6 p.m. - The Hoolios
7 p.m. - Nickel
8 p.m. - The Womacks
9 p.m. - Max Creek
Noon - Ethan Cash
1 p.m. - Leaf Jumpers
2 p.m. - Nikki Briar
3 p.m, - Josi Davis & Hot Damn
4 p.m. - Duffy Kane
4:45 p.m. - Nina Pezzello
5 p.m. - USCG Jazz Band
5:45 p.m. - Kate Diaz
6:30 p.m. - Perfect Day
7:30 p.m. - Wolfghost
8:30 p.m. - Azalea Drive
11 a.m. - Apostolic Lighthouse Choir
Noon - Barn Dawgs
1 p.m. - Paul Brockett Road Show
2 p.m. - Carl Franklin and The Franklin Brothers Band
3 p.m. - Jeff Pitchell with Charles Neville
4 p.m. - Michael Allman
AS SEEN ON TV STAGE AT SAILFEST, CITY PIER
6:15-10 p.m. - Alternating "Juggle This" from "America's Got Talent" (season four) and "Bending Gravity" from "America's Got Talent" (season two)
Noon-4:30 p.m. - "Juggle This"
5-9 p.m. - "The Fire Show" from "America's Got Talent" (season one)
2 and 6 p.m. - Keith Bindlestiff (as seen on the Letterman and Leno shows)
1 and 4 p.m. - "Bending Gravity"
3 p.m. - "The Fire Show"
1 and 4 p.m. - "Juggle This"
2 p.m. - Keith Bindlestiff
The Day's livestream of the fireworks show