Planning pays off for Rockwell festival

By TAYLOR MURCHISON-GALLAGHER

STAFF WRITER

Community members and community groups spent Saturday, Aug. 17, with the West End Association, ringing in the eighth year of the Rockwell Park Summer Festival.

Dave Hamelin, chairman of the West End Association, said the team begins preparing for the festival in January, but the two months leading up to the festival is when preparation starts to get hectic. The evening before the festival, you could find the association member’s measuring and mapping out spaces in Rockwell Park, ensuring that every vendor and organization will have the perfect spot in the park.

Upon entering the festival, attendees passed through a walkway lined with community nonprofit organizations.

This, Hamelin said, is to guarantee constant traffic, because volunteers are the backbone of the community.

This mentality is part of why a large number of vendors, performers, and organizations return year after year.

“It’s a family day, there’s all kinds of things for the kids to do — there’s vendors for the adults but, there’s just tons of stuff for families,” said Hamelin. “The kids zone is really impressive. And, everything is free, so this is just a free day for people to come by and get their information and get their stuff.”

Throughout the day, families were treated to a half-acre sized space devoted to younger attendees, sponsored by Imagine Nation, A Museum Early Learning Center. The kids zone was equipped with activities such as an obsta- cle course, animal experiences through the Museum’s animal studios and a traveling petting zoo, and attendees were offered the opportunity to have their faces painted by the Miss Bristol and Miss Forestville titleholders.

Also in attendance was Kayla Paulette, the 2018 Miss Chrysanthemum, who said she enjoyed being able to meet new people and enjoy a friendly conversation.

In the early afternoon, automotive enthusiasts were treated to a sprawling car show, hosted by the Bristol Auto Club.

The city’s auto club was founded in 1975, and continues to hold weekly cruise nights every Saturday of the month from the first Saturday in May, to the first Saturday in October.

Dave Champagne, the vice president of the auto club, said cruise nights are held in the Burger King parking lot at the corner of North Main Street and Route 6.

“We’ve been doing this for probably about eight or 10 years now for the West End Association,” said Champagne. “It’s something we do to help them out, to bring more people to their wonderful party that they have here, and we’ve been doing a nice job and they’ve been helping us out, it’s been a lot of fun every year.”

Walking through the car show would allow attendees the chance to see classic cars such as the Volks Wagon Thing, Corvettes, and Buicks, as well as newer cars such as the Dodge Hellcat, or Champagne’s personal favorite — his 2013 60th anniversary Corvette.

At the close of the show, five gentlemen walked away with an award. Nicholas Santullo received Best in Show for his 1963 Corvette, Richard Vontell received Festivals Choice for his 1956 Chevy Bel Air, Henry Russell received President’s Choice for his 1936 Chevy, John Monikowski received Most Unique for his 2015 Dodge Challenger Hellcat, and George Crawford received Most Colorful for his 1965 Chevy Impala.

There also were a wide array of food trucks and vendors. The West End Association secured a wide selection for varied tastes.

Kelli and Vincenzo DiMauro of Big Enzo’s BBQ offered one of their most popular options — the smoked bacon candy — which Kelli DiMauro said is one of the featured smoked bacon candies on the East Coast.

Leo Montero Canhao swings on the monkey bars with help from his grandmother, Bernadette Lockett, of Bristol at the Rockwell Summer Festival at Rockwell Park on Saturday. (LISA SANCHEZ GONZALEZ)

Vincenzo DiMauro explained the duo started Big Enzo’s three years ago after seeing candied bacon. He said that his own smoked bacon candy begins with a thick piece of bacon that is then rubbed down with a special brown sugar rub, skewered, and smoked for about two hours.

Attendees also had the opportunity to meet the duo behind Dem Boyz Grill and Catering — Pernell Clemonts and Neison Homar.

Dem Boyz officially opened on June 30, and in the past six weeks the duo has become a quick favorite of Bristolites.

“We provide all kinds of quality foods here. We don’t buy frozen products, or any processed food. We season and prepare all the food on the truck — the chicken, the fish, we buy Martin Rosol’s hot dogs from New Britain, and we buy butcher foods from Meadow Meat in Middletown,” said Clemonts. “We want to be a part of the community, period, in general. We live here, we’ve always wanted to do something like this, we do it for the family, for the kids, for the public, we do it for everybody.”

Comments? Email tmurchison@BristolObserver.com.