|By Debbie Gardner|
CHICOPEE Plans are well underway for the city's best summer party, the four-day Chicopee Fest of All, slated for June 27 to 30 on the grounds of Szot Park, located on Front Street.
"We're back for our eighth year, and we're extremely thankful to all the people and businesses that stepped up to help make this happen," Becky Elias, charwoman of this year's Fest of All, said.
Depending on the weather, Elias said 60,000 to 65,000 people could be coming out to enjoy the weekend of food, music, fireworks and fun again this year. There's no admission charge and all musical entertainment at the Fest a total of seven different performances as well as the Saturday night fireworks and the Sunday Car and Motorcycle Show are all free and open to the public.
"It's not just for Chicopee residents, it's for all local communities," Elias said, "If someone is looking for a good, free time, visit the Fest of All June 27 to 30."
Food, as always, is expected to be a big draw at the Fest, with Elias noting the addition of two new restaurants to tempt visitor's taste buds.
"The Log Cabin is bringing in a lobster macaroni and cheese that sounds delectable," Elias said, adding that Europa, a Ludlow restaurant specializing in Portuguese cuisine, is also joining the list of vendors. Longtime Fest favorites, such as the Hu Ke Lau, Maximum Capacity Sports Bar, Doogan's Deli, Poppies and Carol's Concessions will also be returning.
"You don't have to purchase tickets for food, you just buy what you want," Elias noted.
Music offerings will range from the classic rock sounds of Darik N The Funbags, who take the stage at 6 p.m. on June 27 to the southern rock style of the Cooper Jones Band, slated to play from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on June 30.
Elias said two of the Fest's most popular bands are appearing together at 6 p.m. on June 28.
"Back in Black is back, and Trailer Trash . . . they are big and upcoming," Elias said. "They really draw crowds."
Another band pairing, Moose & The High Tops and Wayne Morphew & the glorious Unknown will appear together in the big tent beginning at 2:30 p.m. on June 29.
Another perennial Fest favorite, the Junior Karaoke Finals, begins at noon on the June 29.
"The pre-qualifier for the kids Karaoke is June 17 at 6 p.m. at the Hu Ke Lau," Elias said, adding that there are usually more than 20 young singers at the Saturday finals and "they are just phenomenal."
In addition to the karaoke finals, Elias said there would be a variety of children's activities at the Fest, including a rock climbing wall, face painting, and a kid's bike pageant at 11 a.m. on June 30 (registration begins at 10 a.m.).
The Fest's annual Fast 5 Mile Road Race and 5K-Walk will kick off a full day of events on June 29, culminating in the 2013 fireworks display at 9:30 p.m.
"We are looking for participants for the road race and the walk," Bob Liswell, past chair of the Fest of All, said. "We are giving out cash prizes of close to $1,000 in total [to the winners]."
Liswell said individuals who register for the race and pay the $25 entrance fee ($20 for walkers) prior to June 21 are guaranteed to receive a race T-shirt. Applications will be accepted through race day. On site race registration will take place from 7 a.m. to 8:45 a.m. by the Szot Park tennis courts on June 29, with a 9 a.m. shotgun race start, he said.
Liswell added that Fest of All attendees on June 30 would be treated to a "great car and motorcycle show to benefit the Galaxy Club" at Westover Air Reserve Base. Registration for car and motorcycle exhibitors begins at 8 a.m., and there is a $10 per vehicle entrance fee. Trophies will be awarded in the categories of vintage, classic, hot rod, street rod, original, custom, truck, best paint and imports, with the car and motorcycle judged best of the show each receiving a $100 cash prize. Pre-event registration forms are available at Don Roy's Auto Body & Appearance Center, 1416 Granby Road.
Elias noted that last year, the car show benefited Shriners hospital for children.
"We like to switch it up to give local nonprofits help," she added.
Hours at this year's Chicopee Fest of All are June 27 and 28 from 4 to 9 p.m., June 29 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and June 30 from noon to 5 p.m. For a complete schedule of music and events, as well as a list of participating restaurants, visit the Fest's website at www.festofall.com.
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