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Rocking Out to Spring

The worst thing about winter isn’t the snow, or the freezing temperatures, or the fact that it’s dark at 4 p.m. No, the worst part of winter is being stuck inside. This past winter might have been remarkably mild, but it was still winter. Are you ready to get outdoors? It just so happens that April sees the area’s first major outdoor music festival. Throw in carnival rides, fireworks and food, and you’ll start to understand why the Meriden Daffodil Festival is a special event. This year’s festival takes place Saturday, April 28th and Sunday, April 29th in Meriden’s Hubbard Park. Here’s your chance to spend a full weekend listening to good music while someone else takes care of the details.

For local music fans, the festival can’t be beat. Local artists are scheduled to perform on three stages, their styles ranging from blues to pop and everything inbetween. Producer Robbie DeRosa has organized the daffodil festival’s music lineup for more than a decade. You might know DeRosa from his ThinManMusic record label or from the radio show “Homegrown” on Wesleyan’s WESU 88.1. DeRosa is a loyal Connecticut music fan who changes the festival’s lineup drastically each year to keep things fresh. This year’s festival will be headlined by indie pop/ rock duo Mates of State. The band, made up of husband and wife Jason Hammel and Kori Gardner, got its start in San Francisco but has since moved to Stratford. Mates of States’ most recent album, 2011’s Mountaintops, has gotten good reviews from the likes of Spin Magazine and Pitchfork Media. Hammel and Gardner are well-respected in the indie world and are a great pickup for the festival.

Another notable group in the lineup is New Haven’s M.T. Bearington. This indie-rock up-and-comer will be performing fresh off an appearance at South by Southwest. String Theorie, an instrumental world fusion band from Hartford, brings a unique style that you have to see to understand. River City Slim & The Zydeco Hogs is also from Hartford but plays a brand of blues that evokes the Louisiana bayou. Jennifer Hill & Co., whose influences range from The Beatles to Fiona Apple, will add a pleasant pop element to the show.

Of course the daffodil festival is about more than music. There are plenty of reasons for non-music fans to attend, and even those who come primarily for the bands will find an abundance of welcome distractions. Ernie Larsen, one of the volunteers who helps organize the festival every year, sums it up best when he says the festival offers “something for everyone.” As Larsen says, putting this event together is “not an easy job.”When you walk into Hubbard Park, you’ll see why. Preparations began in the fall when the Meriden Parks & Recreation Department headed there to take on an important task: planting more than 600,000 Prince Alfred daffodil bulbs.

A section of the park will be turned into a carnival area. Adults can stroll through a craft show with art and jewelry from local artists. Take the kids over to the “Theater of the Trees,” a children’s stage offering performances by clowns, magicians, balloon artists and storytellers. There’s a parade on Saturday morning, and fireworks on Saturday night. And the best part: You don’t have to spend a dime, except for food. Parking, shuttle rides to Hubbard Park, admission, the music and most of the activities are free.

Larsen expects this year’s festival to attract more than 50,000 people. You can find a list of activities, parking information, and a lot more about the Meriden Daffodil Festival at


Tom Zeleznock, Hartford Magazine