Riverfest set to blast off fireworks, fun in Hartford - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Riverfest set to blast off fireworks, fun in Hartford

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Riverfest kicks off on Saturday. (WFSB photo) Riverfest kicks off on Saturday. (WFSB photo)
A photo of a previous fireworks show at Riverfest. (WFSB file photo) A photo of a previous fireworks show at Riverfest. (WFSB file photo)
(WFSB photo) (WFSB photo)

A year after flooding forced it to reschedule and downsize, Riverfest is back in Hartford this weekend.

This year, a full festival and fireworks display was planned for both sides of the Connecticut River.

"We just think it's a really good thing to volunteer to help out the community and the fireworks is a really good community event," said Brianna Cote, a Riverfest volunteer.

Cote said she was taking a little time away from work on a Friday morning to join others to help set up Riverfest 2014.

"Fireworks. Fun, food and everything," said Clarence Johnson of East Hartford, who was looking forward to the festivities.

Police said they expected hundreds of thousands of people to come to Great River Park in East Hartford and across the river at Hartford's Riverfront Plaza.

That's not all.

At the same time, Connecticon was set to kick off at the Connecticut Convention Center. Hundreds more people planned to take advantage of that event.

"Connecticon and the Riverfest almost always line up so that you can get fireworks on the Saturday of Connecticon," said Abigail Lindquist of New Hartford. "So it's a great day to stay late."

Also, Dave Matthews will be performing at the X-Finity Theater.

Police advised anyone heading to those events to leave early.

In the meantime, the city has been preparing for Riverfest 2014 and its celebration of the Connecticut River with music, food and fireworks.

"The police tell us that we draw about 200-250,000 people," said Joe Marfuggi, CEO of Riverfront Recapture. "Downtown fills up, all across the city people come in to watch the fireworks."

The fireworks were expected to be the most popular part of the event. It was the only part Riverfest was able to keep last year when the celebration was flooded out.

This year, the festivities start at 4 p.m. Saturday with music, pony rides, a lumberjack competition and beer garden.

The buoys were already out on the river, marking where the barges will park to fire off the 26-minute long fireworks show. That kicks off at 9 p.m.

"We'll have four barges on the river this year, it's a big show," Marfuggi said. "Atlas Pyrovision out of New Hampshire won the world championships two years ago, they're doing the show."

Mortensen Riverfront Plaza in Hartford will be packed with food vendors and live music. Across the river in East Hartford there will be a country fair.

"I love the fireworks," said Elliot Newton of New Britain. "It's a great event here in Hartford. You get a lot of people together right here next to the river. It's a beautiful park here. I don't think a lot of people know about it or come down to it, but it really is a beautiful spot."

All of the entertainment is free. It was set up by Riverfront Recapture.

Organizers told Eyewitness News that they were glad the river and weather were cooperating this year.

"We love Riverfest," Marfuggi said. "Every year we try to do something to make it a little different, a little better and I think we've pulled that off this year."

"There's so many people that come to the fireworks," said Cote. "It's great to know that I had a part in it."

WFSB is a proud co-sponsor of Riverfest. Reporters Jill Konopka and Kim Lucey will be there to emcee some of the festivities on Saturday.

For more information on Riverfest, click here.

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