Fireworks and tractor pulls: Something for everyone

Southeastern Connecticut is a premier summer playground, thanks to its beaches, outdoor concerts, Shakespeare in the Park, sailing, al fresco dining, carnivals and countless other warm-weather activities - and the season's entertainment blockbuster, Sailfest, which opens today, promises to pack 'em in.

The highlight, as usual, will be a fireworks extravaganza at 9 p.m. Saturday, billed as the fourth largest pyrotechnics show on the East Coast. There also will be dozens of musical acts performing on various stages throughout the weekend, as well as jugglers, rides for the kids, a road race and assorted vendors hawking T-shirts, balloons, glow sticks and the like.

Every year some curmudgeonly citizens complain about the crowds, the traffic, the high-priced parking or the noise, but we say they should push their way through the City Pier throngs, buy some fried dough, plop down on a bench overlooking the Thames River and chill out.

Those seeking entertainment in a distinctively non-urban setting can, as an alternative, hitch up their wagons and roll over to the 50th annual North Stonington Agricultural Fair for authentic C&W music, tractor pulls, pie-eating and nail-driving contests, and a women's hay-bale toss. Yee-haw!

The fair opened Thursday and continues through Sunday.

And for a completely different experience, consider attending tonight's Amherst Early Music Festival at Connecticut College in New London for a performance of the Baroque opera-ballet of Jean-Philippe Rameau's "Les Indes Glantes." Niantic Community Church also is staging The Golden Gates traditional Russian folk dancing troupe, and the Bean and Leaf in London is putting on a poetry open mic.

Saturday's alternatives to Sailfest include an intergenerational family performance using mask style puppetry by Larry Hunt of Masque Theatre at St. John's Episcopal Church in Niantic, and a horseshoe crab walk at Bluff Point State Park in Groton co-sponsored by the Mystic Aquarium and Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center.

That's what's so great about this region: There really is something for everyone.

Of course, you can always stay home, flip on the tube and watch the ballgame, but what fun is that?

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