A new three-day celebration — Summer Fest — will be held in downtown Utica from 4:30 to 8 p.m. June 21 - June 23. The free, family-friendly event will bring in performers, musicians and street vendors, according to organizers with The Event Company.
Funk Evolution will perform opening night. The high energy horn fueled Funk, Rock, R&B, Soul and fusion group is fronted by powerhouse vocalist Sabrina Grogan, who draws on the talents of the other seven members to propel her to great musical heights, bringing everyone in the crowd along for the ride. Members of Funk Evolution have performed with Trans Siberian Orchestra, Aretha Franklin, the Average White Band, George Clinton’s Parliament and Funkadelic and the Grass Roots.
Jimmy Vivino & The Blue Soul Rockers will be the Friday music headliner. Vivino landed the gig of the music director/guitarist and arranger on The Tonight Show with Conan O’Brien in 1993 and still serves in that capacity for O’Brien on his current show.
During his tenure, he’s had the opportunity to perform with and impress many artists he has great admiration for – and to earn theirs. Vivino has also produced, performed with or arranged for artists including Slash, Joe Walsh, Levon Helm, Steely Dan’s Donald Fagen, Joe Bonamassa, Brad Whitford of Aerosmith, the Tedeschi Trucks Band Johnnie Johnson, Gov’t Mule and many others.
Vivino expressed an interest in having an area musician join him during his set. The highly regarded and accomplished Monk Rowe will do that and perform an opening set at Utica Summer Fest on Friday, June 23.
Saturday night’s musical attraction is the go-to band for Margaritaville venues and a group that landed Trop Rock band of the year honors. The Boat Drunks have also performed with Jimmy Buffett and members of his Coral Reefer Band and Little Feat on a number of occasions. Summer songs on a young summer night… what better way to welcome the new season, organizers noted.
Several of the region’s best food trucks will be on-site during Summer Fest hours and McCraith Beverages will have the Beer & Wine Garden stocked with ice cold adult beverages. A variety of their non-alcohol refreshments will also be available in all-ages areas of the festival.
Fidelis Kids Zone will feature activities for youngsters. Children can also take a shot at scoring against Audie on the Utica Comets street hockey rink. The young at heart can compete shooting hoops, with the low scorer winning a slight soaking. Other games and activities will also be available, and the Utica Zoo will be on-site with some two, four and no-legged creatures.
Each night, someone attending Utica Summer Fest in especially festive attire will be rewarded with $500! Thursday is the celebration of the Summer Solstice. Dress and act the part and win the crowd’s approval and you could win. Friday attend in a 1970’s outfit in celebration of the Killabrew Saloon’s over 40 years in business for the chance to win. Saturday, CNY Sealcoating will be looking for the best Parrothead outfit who will pocket the prize after The Boat Drunks set.
Note that Genesee Street from Elizabeth Street to Blandina Street will be closed to regular traffic, as well as Devereux Street, Thursday 2-9 p.m., and Friday and Saturday from 3-9 p.m. All three streets will be pedestrian only zones during Festival hours.
For more information, go online to uticasummerfest.com.