Sailfest closes with good weather and happy vendors
New London — The weather remained spectacular, the crowds remained well behaved and vendors reported satisfaction as the 42nd Sailfest came to a close on Sunday.
The annual three-day New London event brought thousands to the waterfront to listen to music, enjoy rides and performances, and as always, eat plenty of food.
Sailfest Executive Director Barbara Neff was very pleased with this year's edition.
"I think it went very well," Neff said. "So many people helped make it work. You have to look at the leadership from so many. The police captain (Brian Wright) was a big factor, public works did an awesome job, we had people helping us out all day and night. The police department, fire department and great leadership from everywhere pulled together to help us out."
Things went smoothly on all sides this year. Neff said that there were almost no incidents involving vendors and the few that did happen were very minor. Wright said that there was only one arrest in the downtown area on Saturday night and that the arrest was after the festivities. New London Fire Battalion Chief Jeffrey Rheaume reported that there were no incidents involving code violations or over-capacity bars and restaurants.
"Even with the heat, we didn't see a spike in heat-related incidents," he said. "People took necessary precautions and we saw the breeze change directions, which also certainly helped."
Vendors reported a solid weekend as well. Chris Brown, an artist from Manchester, said that he had a great Sailfest.
"Weather is good so people are out," Brown said. "I try and be as accommodating as possible in terms of helping people move stuff and holding on to stuff. I've sold 13 paintings between today and Saturday, so it's just been awesome."
Sunday also had a new family focus. Pirates roamed the streets, the pavilion filled with kids learning to hula hoop and plenty of vendors were offering face-painting. Plenty of rides were on the waterfront.
While official numbers will not be available until later this week, last year an estimated 275,000 came to downtown New London to enjoy the weekend, producing an estimated $58.2 million in revenue for local businesses. However, this year did bring in more vendors as the event extended down Bank Street.
"Spectators had a great time," Wright said. "I just really appreciate the New London Police Department for doing such a great job. All public safety deserves praise, really. Don't want to forget the firefighters and medics that did so well too."
Editor's Note: This story corrects the name of the New London Fire Department battalion chief who spoke to The Day.
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