First in Line: Trenton festival now kicks off season

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Put on your dancing shoes
Photo by Ilene Flanagan
Put on your dancing — and walking and running and eating — shoes for what may be the biggest Trenton Summer Festival yet. Parks and Recreation Director Joann Perna said the 38th installment of the seasonal celebration will be two weeks earlier than normal with record attendance expected to take part in the festivities.

By JAMES MITCHELL
Sunday Times Newspapers

TRENTON — Most organizers of community festivals and annual events are content to continue longstanding traditions unchanged. “Bigger” is not always an option or possibility.

Yet “New and improved” seems the spirit for the 38th annual Trenton Summer Festival, beginning with the dates of the weekend celebration beginning Friday.

Parks and Recreation Director Joann Perna said the traditional mid-July dates had long presented conflicts with other regional events, which may have limited attendance by both participants and vendors.

“Now we’re the first one of the summer,” Perna said.

The idea for the festival to be held earlier in the summer was first aired after last year’s event during wrap-up meetings. Organizers understood that they’d competed for attention with other activities, and a survey of vendors and participants confirmed that a rescheduled event would be mutually beneficial.

“The whole push is we’re now the first one out of the block, ‘Where Summer Begins,'” Perna said.

So far, the strategy has paid off. Perna said that, for example, the festival’s craft fair last year hosted bout 100 vendors during a weekend that also included art fairs in Wyandotte and Plymouth. As of last week nearly 170 crafters had been accepted for well over 200 booths.

“We were all really competing for the same vendors,” Perna said, “and the same visitors who like to go to art fairs.”

An expanded craft show was among the additions that prompted an expanded festival area. Perna said the main area will be a block larger along West Jefferson Avenue — the previous Sherry Street boundary pushed north to Atwood — and overall attendance is expected to pass last year’s estimated 75,000 visitors.

“We’ll see a great deal of increase,” Perna said in anticipation of up to 100,000 visitors. The festival seems poised to combine its hometown local reunion spirit while also setting up the city as host to guests of the town.

“It’s an opportunity to showcase our community to outside visitors,” Perna said.

The festival will run from Friday to Sunday, with a “sneak preview” night from 7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, featuring a wine tasting, restaurant samples and live entertainment at 8 p.m.; tickets are $18 in advance, $20 and available at City Hall, 2800 Third St. or by calling 734-675-7300.

From 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday (and until 6 p.m. Sunday), the festival is open to the public with a variety of crafters, food vendors, Kids’ Korner games and activities, tournaments and live entertainment.

Perna said that considerable crowds are expected for local favorites Fifty Amp Fuse (8:30 p.m. Friday) and international stars The Tubes Featuring Fee Waybill (8:30 p.m. Saturday), known for ’80s hits including “Talk To Ya Later” and “She’s A Beauty.” Music for all tastes will be heard throughout the festival.

The festival is organized by volunteers and Parks and Recreation staff in conjunction with sponsoring local businesses.

Free shuttle service will be available from parking lots at Kennedy Recreation Center, 3101 West Road; Trenton High School, 2601 Charlton Road; and Kmart, 19800 West Road in Woodhaven.

For moreinformation and a complete listing of entertainment and attractions, go to www.trentonsummerfestival.org.

(James Mitchell can be reached at jmitchell@bewickpublications.com.)

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