NEW LONDON, Conn. — Sailfest is back in New London this weekend after the event was canceled the previous two years because of the pandemic.
Local restaurants and vendors say the three-day festival plays a big part in their yearly income. Raina Spaziani with Keifer’s Kettle Korn said business started booming as soon as the event opened.
“We count on these bigger events. I mean these are the bill payer events,” the Voluntown-based business owner said. “It’s very crucial for us to have these bigger events especially locally so we don’t have to travel huge distances.”
She said it was crippling for the business not to have Sailfest in 2020 or 2021. It’s the city’s biggest yearly event. Now that it’s back, she said other events are starting to make a return as well which is a plus for the business.
Jonathan Lucibelli with Dockside Resort Bar said this event is huge for the city and was much needed.
“Sailfest is basically an extra for us. It’s to bring life into the town, extra life,” he said. “It’s nice to see people living their best life.”
Lucibelli said Sailfest is extra money for them, similar to other holidays throughout the year. He said it helps the staff and the business to have additional income.
“We put extra money back into the business again to enhance the business,” he said.
Sailfest helps bring money to the city’s businesses that are already established as well as ones that are looking to make a name in New London like Favorite’s Bistro and Bar.
Owner Majan Pierre said they had to be at the event to start building a brand for their soon-to-be-open Caribbean-inspired restaurant.
“Sailfest is a great opportunity for people to get to know you because people come from different parts of the region,” she said. “You can make a lot of money on Sailfest, but for us, it’s reoccurring clients.”
Inflation is a struggle impacting businesses even with the return of the event. Increased gas prices and higher costs of products are being reflected in their prices.
“We don’t want to do that. So everything pretty much had to go up like a dollar or two an item,” Spaziani said.
Pierre said people will pay for it though if the flavors are there.
The business owners said people are excited to be back at Sailfest and they’re excited to serve them.
“They’re happy to be out. They happy to be with their friends,” Spaziani said.
Sunday is the final day of Sailfest. It runs from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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