Youthtopia to return May 18, with broader focus
By Janice Steinhagen - Staff Writer
Griswold - posted Mon., Feb. 18, 2013
Youthtopia, the popular spring festival that once centered on music and activities for teens and young adults, is returning by popular demand this May with a new focus. This year, activities at the fair in Veterans Memorial Park will be inclusive of age groups from early childhood to the “young at heart.”
“It used to be just for kids. Now we’re kind of marketing it to the whole town, with a kind of ‘young-at-heart’ philosophy. We’re trying to reach the whole community,” said Ryan Aubin, director of Griswold Recreation and Youth Services. “We’re focusing on every age, every family in our community.”
When the event planning committee disbanded last year and the event didn’t take place, town officials “got complaints from the residents that missed it,” said Aubin. That input served as “kind of a mandate” to the Youth Center staff to take over the organization of the event, he said.
Consequently, the entertainment line-up is designed to appeal across the age spectrum, he said. Along with longtime featured acts like Spittin’ Image (the lip-synch performers from St. Mary Parish’s religious education program) and the Griswold Middle School Jazz Band, other performers will include Griswold resident and Elvis impersonator Ray Ellis, Mr. Magic Richard Rothstein and DJ Jesse Aron.
The Youth Center is teaming up with 4-H to offer more events this year, including pony rides and presentations by agriculture students, Aubin said, similar to what 4-H presented at the Family Fun Day at the park last fall. The LifeStar helicopter will be available for tours during the spring event, and youngsters will be greeted by sports mascots including CT the Tiger, the Rock Cats’ Rocky and Blaze from the Connecticut Sun.
Familiar features will include bouncy rides from Eastern Connecticut Moonwalks in Jewett City; food offered by local restaurants and organizations, including the A.A. Young Hose and Ladder’s hot dogs and hamburgers; and arts and craft vendors. Aubin said that applications for vendor tables are available at http://www.griswoldyfs.com/pdf/FORMY13_V.jpg. Vending this year is open to artists and craftspeople who make their wares by hand, and the registration fee is either $30 or the equivalent value of merchandise or services in a raffle basket. Registration is due by April 8 and is limited to 40 vendors.
Sponsors for the day-long celebration include Jewett City Savings Bank, Goodwin Family Dentistry, the RLB Memorial Fund and Backus Hospital’s Plainfield Emergency Care Center. “We were told by Jewett City Savings that this is the number-one community event, and they want to be a part of it,” Aubin said. Other corporate sponsors are also still welcome.
Youthtopia is slated for Saturday, May 18, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Veterans Memorial Park on Ashland Street in Jewett City. There is no admission charge. A rain date is set for May 25.