The West End Association will host the seventh annual summer festival at Rockwell Park on Saturday, Aug. 18, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
“Our original idea was to have a block party, because we wanted to get all of the neighbors together, everyone from the West End, and how do you have a block party? Everybody comes and they have craft things and then you have some entertainers come in and then you bring in some food,” said David Hamelin, president of the West End Association, and Rockwell Festival general coordinator.
Hamelin said it “turned into a block party on steroids,” as there are now over one hundreds vendors planning to be a part of the festival.
“We have 15 to 20 food vendors and we have 15 bands that come in and play on two different stages, so it’s really expanded into a really nice, big block party, and it’s a chance for all of the neighbors to get together, and everybody in the city to get together, and just have a fun day,” said Hamelin.
Hamelin said guests can expect to hear musical acts ranging from choirs to country western to classic rock and everything in between. The Bristol Auto Club will be showcasing its antique and classic cars, and, there’s even a special area for younger attendees.
“The kids zone is its own entity; it takes up a half acre of space, and there’s all kids activities inside there,” said Hamelin. “They have musical acts, they have musicians, they have magicians that come through, they have a relay race, all of the Miss Bristol princesses shoot the kids with water guns, there’s going to be a little petting zoo coming in, there’s really a whole half an acre of kids activities, and that’s also free, there’s no charge to get into any of this stuff.”
It is free to attend the festival, with the only cost to attendees coming from purchasing food.
“There’s plenty of parking around the park, there’s a lot of on street parking surrounding the park, and then across the street at the Dollar aGeneral, they let us use their parking lot and we run a shuttle bus,” said Hamelin. “So if you get there a little bit later and all the parking spots are filled, you park across the street in their lot and the shuttle buses run every five minutes, it’s a constant procession.”
New this year is a partnership between Cigna Health and Insurance and the Wheeler Clinic: the Cigna Foundation Health Improvement Tour.
“This is a health and wellness screening trailer… and they’re going to do health screenings for cholesterol, body mass index, blood pressure, and… they’re going to do health screenings right there on site, they’re going to have registered nurses,” said Hamelin.
Hamelin believes the Rockwell Festival is important to the social fabric of Bristol, similarly to other popular events such as the Mum Festival, arts in the park, the summer concert series on Federal Hill, the Duck Race, and the many parades that pass through Forestville Center.
“I think all community events bring together people in Bristol and show them that there’s something to do all the time that is fun and is a family thing,” said Hamelin. “I think anything that brings people out, gets them out of their houses, out of their little shells is a great thing. Bristol is a great community, and there’s a ton of things going on all the time, and that’s part of what makes Bristol a nice town to live in.”