By Steven Scarpa
Special to the Record-Journal
MERIDEN — Hundreds gathered Saturday in Hubbard Park to grab some food, get a little spring sun and buy a tchotchke they didn't think they needed at the pre-Daffodil Festival weekend.
Saturday was an appetizer for next weekend’s main course, the Daffodil Festival, which will feature live music, fireworks, food, a carnival, parade, craft fairs, and hundreds of thousands daffodils.
All manner of objects were on sale at the tag sale held in the main tent. A quick look at a couple of tables revealed the wide array of offerings: mini citrus trees, old clothes, books, Matchbox cars, old doorknobs, kitchenware, silver jewelry, an old adding machine, just to name a few. The stuff in everyone’s attic was getting an airing, and it looked as if people were getting a deal or two.
Meriden resident Stephanie Smith, along with her fiancé Brian Chaffkin, had set up a table outside the main tent. She has been coming to the Daffodil Festival since she was a child, but this was her second year working a table at the pre-weekend. They offered a small, focused collection: a bunch of first edition books from authors as wide ranging as Stephen King, Zane Grey, and John Steinbeck. They were also selling a vinyl copy of The Beatles first album. “I like buying things. I’ve got a collection of stuff that we have to get rid of …” Smith said. “So we can buy more,” Chaffkin added.
Across from the tag sale tent, music blasted away at the Children’s Health Fair. Just about every town agency had a table and shared information about how their offerings can help make a kid’s life a little easy and better. The Meriden fire department, public library, public schools, the Meriden YMCA, and Midstate Medical Center were just a few of the organizations on hand for the event.
The Meriden chapter of the Kiwanis Club had perhaps the day’s most popular – and helpful – give away. Children, after going through a short bike course where they got simple lessons on safe street riding, were given a colorful bike helmet. Pierre Blanchet, past president of the Meriden Kiwanis, expected they would give away over a hundred over the course of the day.
“The Kiwanis is all about kids, so why not bike safety? We think it’s important,” Blanchet said.
The day was indeed a family affair. Saturday was Chaliza Maya’s first visit to a pre-Festival weekend, but it didn’t stop her from thinking a bit ahead to the food options available in a week: Belgian waffles, fried Oreos, kettle corn, fried dough. Everything offered next week sounded good to her.
“You get full from just trying all the samples,” she said.
Maya had lived away from Meriden for almost two decades but the Daffodil Festival was something you don’t easily forget.
“It was something I remembered as a kid. My mom took me every year,” Maya said.
“You always come back to Meriden,” said Olga Ortega, Maya’s mother.
The festival warmup weekend continues Sunday at 10 a.m. with the Meriden Rotary 5K Road Race, Kids Fun Run & Walk.