Meriden's Daffodil Fest: Food, Music And Blooming Fun

Meriden gets a little daffy this time of year.

The city hosts the annual Daffodil Festival each April in Hubbard Park, but for a while, organizers were worried that the guests of honor might not show up.

"At the end of March we still had snow on the ground," says Mark Zebora, the event's chairman. "We were waiting for some good weather to get the flowers to pop."

Sunny days and warmer temperatures have boosted Zebora's confidence that more than half a million blooms will make their annual appearance for two weekends of festivities. Tens of thousands of people are expected to attend the the pre-festival, which is April 22-23, and the actual festival, April 29-30.

"For so many people, the festival is the end of cabin fever and the beginning of spring," says Zebora. "Admission is free, parking is free, shuttles are free and entertainment is free. You don't find an event like this in too many places anymore."

The pre-festival weekend kicks off the festivities. Hours are 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Events include a Gourmet Food Truck Festival on both days, with Hardcore Sweet Cupcakes, 3 Chicks Grille, Chompers and nearly 30 other vendors featuring "everything from gourmet burgers to cupcakes," Zebora says.

One of the pre-festival's most popular events is what organizers call "Connecticut's largest tag sale," on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.

"People actually start lining up at 6 a.m. It's huge," says tag sale coordinator Doreen Roddy. "It's really more of a flea market with about 150 vendors selling antiques, crafts, tools as well as tag sale items."

Other pre-festival events include a Kids Fun Run at 9:45 a.m. and a 5K road race on Sunday at 10 a.m. (registration starts at 9 a.m.), and live entertainment and carnival rides on Saturday and Sunday. Carnival ride tickets are $2 to $4 per ride or $25 for an all-day wristband.

Festival weekend activities start with Daffodil Festival Parade at 11:30 a.m. on April 29 (Gates open at 10 a.m.) Along with live music on three stages throughout the weekend --  including a show by the Alpaca Gnomes --  and a special Theater of the Trees area with acts and entertainment for kids, the weekend includes carnival rides and a juried craft show.

Meriden's Silver Fork, a food tent featuring offerings prepared by non-profit organizations, opens at 10 a.m. April 20 and 30, and includes such festival favorites as fried dough, steamed cheeseburgers, Silver City waffles, grinders on a stick, loaded baked potatoes and apple-pie empanadas.

Saturday wraps up with a fireworks display at 8:30 p.m. On April 30, gates open at 10 a.m. and close at 5 p.m.

Shuttle buses run the weekend of the festival: Saturday from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. (buses will leave Hubbard Park after the fireworks on Saturday night); and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Parking and shuttle locations include the Westfield Shopping Mall on the Boscov's/Sears deck; Platt High School, Lincoln Middle School, Meriden Enterprise Center and H.C. Wilcox Tech.

THE MERIDEN DAFFODIL FESTIVAL runs the weekends of April 22-23 and April 28-29. Admission is free to both. Parking and more information at daffodilfest.com. More information on the music here.

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