The Savin Rock Festival Committee is seeking craft and food vendors, entertainers and nonprofit organizations to participate in the Savin Rock Festival in Old Grove Park on Friday and Saturday, July 28-29. The festival, established by the West Haven Chamber of Commerce in 1982, honors the legacy of old Savin Rock Park. The two-day event features games, rides, music and seafood — all the ingredients that made “the Rock” famous.
The Savin Rock Festival was established by the West Haven Chamber of Commerce to bring organizations, clubs, businesses and families together for a summer festival that celebrates life in one of America’s oldest coastal communities while honoring the legacy of Savin Rock Park.
The early festivals were held on the grounds of West Haven High School, including Ken Strong Stadium. When the stadium and surrounding areas underwent renovations in the late 1980s to become the Fitzgerald Sports Complex, the administration of then-Mayor Azelio M. “Sal” Guerra moved the city’s flagship festival to its current home of Old Grove Park, a vibrant greenway nestled between Palace Street and the shoreline boardwalk that dates to 1870.
The Chamber of Commerce — initially under the direction of Brian M. Stone, David Gesler and Michael Shiner and thereafter by John L. Perrone and his wife, Mary Perrone — shepherded the festival through its infancy and through times that threatened to see it discontinued. Thanks to the work of the chamber and its committee, the event continued and flourished — so much so that it was taken over by a larger group and under the city’s auspices in the early 1990s.
The festival is a beacon for people seeking a taste of Savin Rock nostalgia, showcasing the time-honored recipe — musical groups, rides, games, mouthwatering foods — that made “the Rock” so special and so storied as “the playground of New England.”
From the dawn of the Savin Rock House hotel in 1838, Savin Rock had long been a resort hub until it was officially incorporated as an amusement park by the Savin Rock Park Co. Inc. on Memorial Day 1925, when it opened to 300,000 visitors and 66,000 automobiles in one spectacular day.
For the next four decades, the famous seaside park captured the hearts and imaginations of “Rock rats” of all ages with its distinctive sights, sounds and smells. “The Coney Island of Connecticut” shuttered on Sept. 21, 1966, to pave the way for the Savin Rock Urban Renewal Project.
Since its debut on July 24, 1982, the festival has attracted revelers young and old from all corners of Connecticut and beyond. It is West Haven’s largest attraction, with the exception of the Savin Rock Fireworks Spectacular.
— MICHAEL P. WALSH, Public Relations Information Coordinator
Read the story and see the photos from the 2023 Savin Rock Festival.