Last weekend on June 11th, the Hamden Chamber of Commerce held Hamden Fest, an annual event celebrating local businesses, where the town can come together and experience the best of Hamden’s thriving small business sector. Hamden’s local community and beyond gathered in Hamden Town Center Park starting at 11 a.m. with activities going well into the evening.
This year’s event hosted the Chamber’s 17th annual Business & Community Expo, which featured over 50 vendors ranging from local artists’ pop-up shops to food trucks and experiential events. Many local favorites could be found set up across the festival, such as Moon Rocks, a woman-run Hamden-based bakery founded by Marni Rae-Esposito and her mother Cynthia Rae. Moon Rocks was recognized as one of the best small businesses in the state multiple times and was even invited to showcase its goods alongside other outstanding small businesses on Capitol Hill.
Along with the bustling businesses and vendors, there were plenty of activities for the town’s younger ages. Kids had the chance to experience tons of fun activities held at the park’s all-ability playground, Josh’s Jungle. There they were able to enjoy button-making, inflatables, and yard games along with soccer hosted by the CFC Arena, Soccer Shots, and No. 1 Soccer Camp.
In addition to the exposition, entertainment was offered all day, with 6 different concerts and shows. Performances were held by a variety of local bands and dance groups. The 1 p.m. performance was held by the Whitney Players, a theater company that unites seasoned actors with new performers both young and old to help educate and entertain the local community. Their unique mix of ages not only makes the company special but helps actors gain more enriching experiences in performance too.
“When you work with kids and they're all the same age level, they're awkward about trying things in front of their friends,” said Cindy Simell-Devoe, director of the Whitney Players since their debut show in 2003, “But when they work with older people and they see that going big is what's good. The little ones want to impress the teens, the teens want to impress college kids, the college kids want to impress the adults, and everybody gets their game up. Wow, and then we learned from them too.”
After a few more performances throughout the day, the finale to Hamden Fest began at 7 p.m. with a sunset concert held by The Wendy May Band, a Connecticut-based blues rock & country band. The start of the performance was paired with the last minutes of “Happy Hour Under the Tent,” where adults could grab beers and wine before the concert began. Wendy May and her band rocked the night to a close as the vendors packed up, happy with another successful Hamden Fest.