Sailfest has returned to New London after a two-year hiatus due to the pandemic. Local restaurants and vendors said the event was crucial for revenue.
NEW LONDON, Conn. — Sailfest returns to New London this weekend after the event was canceled the previous two years due to the pandemic.
Local restaurants and vendors say the three-day festival plays a big role in their annual revenue. Raina Spaziani of Keifer’s Kettle Korn said business started booming as soon as the event opened.
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“We are counting on these big events. I mean these are the bill payer events,” the Voluntown-based business owner said. “It is very important for us to organize these larger events, especially locally, so that we do not have to travel great distances.
She said it was crippling for the company not to have Sailfest in 2020 or 2021. It’s the biggest annual event in town. Now that it’s back, she said other events are starting to return as well, which is a plus for the company.
Jonathan Lucibelli of Dockside Resort Bar said the event was huge for the town and needed.
“Sailfest is basically a plus for us. It’s about giving life to the city, extra life,” he said. “It’s nice to see people living their best lives.”
Lucibelli said Sailfest earns them extra money, like other holidays throughout the year. He said it helps the staff and the company to have additional income.
“We’ve put extra money back into the business to improve the business,” he said.
Sailfest helps bring money to businesses in the city that are already established as well as those looking to make a name for themselves in New London like Favorite’s Bistro and Bar.
Owner Majan Pierre said they needed to be at the event to start building a brand for their soon-to-open Caribbean-inspired restaurant.
“Sailfest is a great opportunity for people to get to know you because people come from different parts of the region,” she said. “You can make a lot of money on Sailfest, but for us they are repeat customers.”
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Inflation is a struggle that impacts businesses even with the return of the event. Rising gasoline prices and rising product costs are reflected in their prices.
“We don’t want to do that. So everything was pretty much going to go up like a dollar or two per item,” Spaziani said.
Pierre said people would pay if the flavors were there.
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The owners of the business said people were thrilled to be back at Sailfest and were excited to serve them.
“They are happy to be out. They are happy to be with their friends,” Spaziani said.
Sunday is the last day of Sailfest. It operates from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
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