July 4 fireworks, food truck events in Waterbury, North Haven providing summer boost to vendors post-pandemic


WATERBURY, Conn. (WTNH) — An announcement from Waterbury Mayor Neil O’Leary is good news for more than 20 food truck operators who’ve been hurting ever since the COVID-19 pandemic wiped out all of Connecticut’s summer festival season back in 2020.

“The announcement this year is we’re gonna have a great food truck extravaganza at the Brass Mill Mall from 2-10 p.m. on the 4th of July, Sunday,” the mayor said. “Fireworks are going to be at 9 o’clock. We’re going to have an amazing show again this year and we’re really excited to get the food trucks back on track. As we know, they’ve suffered terribly through the pandemic and we’re thrilled to get them back in action for the 4th of July.”

“Oh it’s huge for us financially,” said Jill Perez, owner of the Lemonade Grenade Food Truck. She and her husband also help to organize various food truck festivals around the state, including the one in Waterbury on July 4.

“We’re a business that only operates for fairs and festivals so basically we had no business at all in 2020,” she said.

Perez also tells News 8 the lack of a summer festival season created some economic casualties.

“I know about five that went out of business this past year because of COVID,” Perez said.

Food truck operators are getting a boost this weekend with a new event in North Haven Saturday and Sunday. The new North Haven Fair Food Festival is happening from 10 am-7 pm Saturday and 10 am-6 pm on Sunday on the North Haven Fairgrounds at 290 Washington Ave.

“To get the community out, give them the opportunity to sample food as well as to give the opportunity for the fair food vendors to start making some money again,” said Jeanne Lewis of the North Haven Fair Association.

Waterbury Mayor O’Leary telling News 8 he expects 10,000 people at his city’s 4th of July event — that’s what it drew before the pandemic. Last year, they held the fireworks but canceled the food truck festival in the parking lot of the Brass Mill Mall. This time around though, the mayor gave the green light for the entire night to return.

“So, our COVID positivity rate is very very low now, thankfully,” he said. “The infection rate has been very low for several weeks now and continues trending that way.”

That’s music to the ears of food truck operators hoping to get healthy again, too.

Perez said, “For food truck operators, this is their bread and butter.”

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