What better way to spend one of the last weekends of summer than eating delicious hot dogs by the water and listening to live music? Doing all of that to support two great causes, of course.
The first annual WeinerFEST took place Sunday at Port 5, home to the National Association of Naval Veterans in the historic Black Rock area of Bridgeport. Port 5 is one of the oldest continual veterans clubs in the country and hosted this event through the help of one of its members and volunteers, Sean Griffin.
“For my birthday, I wanted to get a bunch of my friends to go to a bunch of different hot dog places, and they thought it was silly. So I figured, ‘Let me show them, I’ll invite 1,000 people and see what happens,’” Griffin said of his inspiration for the event. “That’s how it started, it was just for the fun of it.”
Event organizers were expecting a turnout of 500 people but well surpassed that number by the end of the day, with hopes to raise at least $5,000 for charity.
Proceeds from the event will benefit Freedom Guide Dogs and the Valley Goes Pink.
Freedom Guide Dogs trains and provides guide dogs to those in need, and includes a veterans program, while Valley Goes Pink is an “annual grassroots campaign to support The Hewitt Center for Breast Wellness at Griffin Hospital,” according to the hospital website.
“I wanted the theme of the party to be ‘pets and veterans’ so a pet organization that works with veterans made it simple,” Griffin said. “Valley Goes Pink is a local thing and we wanted to keep it local.”
“It’s awesome that Port 5 is here to support Freedom Guide Dogs and all of the other organizations here. It shows a dedication to the community. Their doing good is doing good for someone else,” Bob Bass, a Meriden resident who raises puppies for Freedom Guide Dogs, said.
WeinerFEST featured seven food trucks, including Snappy Dawg’s, Micalizzi’s ice cream and Italian ice, The Colombian Hot Dog, Vazzy’s Canteen, BFF Grill and a booth from BRYAC Restaurant and Raw Bar.
There were several vendors, ranging from pet supplies, local food retailers and bakers from southern Connecticut. There were also interactive booths, such as a $1,000 raffle and a Sound Tigers giveaway.
With support from companies such as Yuengling & Son, Inc. and Tito’s Vodka, the day was fun for the whole family, with plenty of games and performances from local groups, like “The Gig Center” of Westport and a dance number from kids of the Klein Memorial Auditorium Summer Theatre Arts Education program. Enterprise provided shuttle service to the event.
Two highlights of the day were a K-9 police dog demonstration and the Port 5 Color Guard’s ceremony honoring veterans.
“The Bridgeport community has shown a lot of support by showing up and being vocal about whatever they need, and helping me with everything I needed today, too,” Griffin said. “The goal is for this to become an annual event. As the advertisements all say, the Port 5 WeinerFEST will get bigger every year.”
Julia Mancini is the life editor for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at Julia.firstname.lastname@example.org.