NEW LONDON, Conn. (WTNH) — Sailfest is back after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hundreds of thousands of people are expected to descend onto downtown New London for the three-day festival. In addition to the vendors, there are rides, games, a beer garden, and lots of entertainment.

Restaurants and stores are expecting a boost in business from these crowds.

“We have had repeat customers that have come during Sailfest and tried our food, and they were like, ‘oh yeah, we’re coming back,” Jose Martinez with Thames Landing Oyster House said.

People started arriving early in downtown New London to order up their Sailfest favorites like Tara’s fried dough and Oreos with all the fixings.

So how many will they make this weekend? “Oh god we lose.. we lose count after our first couple of batches,” said RJ Julian of Tara’s Fried Dough.

Julian says he’s super excited to be back at Waterfront Park. COVID shut down Sailfest for a couple of years.

“This is one of my favorites,” said Julian. “Just the way it lays out on the water. It’s a beautiful event they do a really nice job here.”

The biggest attraction arrives Saturday night with a fireworks display over the Thames River.

City officials want people to have a fun and safe time. Members of the New London Police Department Union have expressed their concerns about security during the festival. Local, federal, and state law enforcement agencies are teaming up this weekend.

David Sousa and his wife who live in New London came downtown to watch everything being set up.

“Mostly hope it goes safe and smooth and nobody gets hurt and there’s no problems like other states have,” said Sousa.

Festival-goers can expect a little different layout for the vendors and rides at Waterfront Park, and they will no longer be allowed to leave strollers, coolers, or backpacks unattended. People are asked to leave pets at home, and any personal items must be carried in a clear plastic bag.

Learn more about Sailfest 2022 here.