- Front Porch
By the numbers
Parade marchers: 3,000
Food vendors: 42
Music: 34 bands, 3 stages
New daffodils: 40,000
Fresh mulch: 240 cubic yards
Garbage cans: 50
Toilets: 7 flush, 32 portable
Shuttle buses: 60 (12 handicapped accessible)
Last year’s attendance: 75,000
Ticket sales: $340,000
MERIDEN — It’s not difficult in the weeks leading up to the 36th annual Daffodil Festival to find signs plastered with the festival’s signature statistic: “600,001 daffodils can’t be wrong,” but there are also plenty of other numbers that can be used to define two weekends’ worth of festivities.
For example, Parks and Recreation Department workers begin in mid-March, or six weeks out from the main festival weekend, preparing Hubbard Park for the tens of thousands of revelers who will stroll through on April 26 and 27, said Mark Zebora, Parks and Recreation director. Recently, they’ve spread 240 cubic yards of fresh mulch throughout the park, as well.
Last year’s festival saw a record-breaking attendance of 75,000, bringing in more than $340,000 in ticket sales.
To get everyone to the festival and avoid a parking mess, 60 shuttle buses, including 12 handicapped-accessible buses, will be making trips back and forth between Hubbard Park and the Hub in downtown Meriden all weekend, Zebora said.
More than 3,000 people march in the festival parade that includes floats and banners by local organizations. The Antique Veterans of Meriden World Post No. 1 are the grand marshals this year.
Those who attend this year can listen to music by 34 different bands playing across three different stages, or sample food from 42 different food vendors.
Food will be available at the carnival as well, where World’s Best Sundae ice cream truck owner Frank Flood says 66 percent of his sales will be in vanilla ice cream, and 33 percent in chocolate.
“People are very consistent with that,” Flood said.
Finding a place to dump empty plates and cups shouldn’t be an issue either, with something like 50 garbage cans throughout the park, and a garbage truck on site as well, Zebora said. And the inevitable search for a restroom will be made easier by the addition of 32 portable toilets to the park’s existing seven flush toilets, Zebora said.
At the Midstate Chamber of Commerce business expo, 40 different businesses will be on display, and there are 111 booths sold under the arts and crafts tent, Zebora said. At the tag sale on April 19, 102 booths were set up displaying wares.
And to help run it all, somewhere between 250 and 275 volunteers will be working either four- or eight-hour shifts throughout the weekend.
Despite all this, it is ultimately the festival’s namesake that takes center stage. Zebora said the department purchased 40,000 daffodil bulbs this year from a wholesaler in the Netherlands, for about $10,000. The average life expectancy of a daffodil plant is “between 10 and 15 years,” Zebora added.
Though predominately yellow, once the flowers bloom, festival-goers could also see some white and pink, and white and yellow petals.
“We should be in full swing by the festival weekend,” Zebora said, “right at the peak of the season.”
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