Yes, there were a few problems. The daffodils bloomed too early and missed their appearance. Some helium balloons got away and shut down a power transformer. But overall, the 34th annual Daffodil Festival, which wrapped up this past weekend, was a success, says Mark Zebora, president of the festival’s organizing committee.
“It was just a wonderful weekend,” Zebora said. “It was a little cool, but our numbers were good.”
Official numbers are still being crunched, but Ernie Larsen, head of publicity for the event, estimates about 60,000 attended the two-day event last weekend.
“We’re usually a little higher, but the wind and the cooler weather kept some people away,” he said.
Larsen also reports good turnout for the tag sale, road race and fishing derby the weekend before. He said about 10,000 to 15,000 attended those events.
Festival Covers Its Own Expenses
The Daffodil Festival used to be subsidized by the city, but now makes enough money to cover its own expenses, Larsen said. The city does provide in-kind donations, including police officers and park and recreation workers for the event. Last year brought in more than $300,000 in ticket sales, according to Larsen. This year’s revenues are still being calculated.
The crafters, about 110 from all over New England, pay for their space and keep the profits from their sales. Food vendors pay a fee for their spots. That fee hasn’t risen in many years, Larsen said. They also pay a percentage of any profits made over a predetermined amount. In addition, the committee takes a percentage of money raised from the amusement rides.
Fireworks a Little Different This Year
This year’s festival featured the classic favorites from years past with a few changes. For instance, the fireworks were launched from a new location—Farview Pavilion, about halfway up the trail to Castle Craig. Because they originated closer to the ground, the sound was more pronounced for spectators on in the park, Larsen explained.
The Daffodil Festival is the region’s first fireworks show of the summer season, so the fireworks manufacturer tests its newest fireworks designs on Meriden spectators, Larsen revealed. Meridenites got to witness some never-before-seen spectacular new explosions.
“It was a great show,” Larsen said.
Gone Like the Daffodil Blossoms
Now, like the daffodils, the festival has gone by. This week, everything comes down. Yesterday, parks workers were cleaning up the site at Hubbard Park. Equipment rental and carnival ride vendors packed up their wares and loaded them on trucks. Today, the big white tents come down.
“It’s an art putting it up and taking it down,” Larsen said. The ground has to be covered with tarps to keep the white tents clean. They come from Newport, Rhode Island, and are worth half a million dollars, he said, explaining why the committee rents rather than purchases the tents.
Lessons Learned for Next Year
For the most part, Larsen said, the festival went very well. As always, though, there were a few issues beyond the control of the organizers—like the weather. Early spring warmth threw the daffodils off schedule, causing them to bloom well before the festival began.
And the balloons. A bunch of helium-filled balloons got away from the festival on Sunday and floated too close to a power transformer, causing it to automatically shut down, leaving about 1,100 city residents without power for three hours.
Larsen also reported a few other things the committee will change next year. One is to put more money in the ATM machines at the festival. They ran out of cash twice, he said.
Also, they will add picnic tables during the tag sale so people will have a place to sit and eat, Larsen added. And they will make sure the cart that helps transport people with disabilities is available next year. It was being serviced that weekend, Larsen said.
Festival organizers have already started planning for next year. But for the moment, they need to sit back and catch their breath. They have been working tirelessly to pull off this year’s show.
Says Larsen: “I just saw Jeopardy (his favorite show) for the first time in a few weeks.”
Do you have any suggestions for the Daffodil Festival organizing committee? Tell us in the comments.