New Canaan Athletic Foundation Plans Community-Wide Music Festival at Waveny

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Coppo Field as seen from the road toward Lapham Community Center. Credit: Michael Dinan

A nonprofit organization that supports youth and high school student athletes in New Canaan announced last week that it’s planning to host a community-wide gathering in Waveny this fall as part of a new annual fundraiser.

The New Canaan Athletic Foundation’s awareness and capital campaign will be an hours-long concert at Waveny in the style of the hugely popular and successful Greenwich Town Party, according to the organization’s chairman, Mike Benevento.

To be held on the Saturday after Labor Day weekend, the music festival is to be held in the area of Coppo Field—behind Lapham Commuity Center, on the far side of the water towers from the new turf fields at New Canaan High School—following consultation with the first selectman, NCHS athletic director and town recreation director and parks superintendent, Benevento told members of the Parks & Recreation Commission at their June 12 meeting. In future years—unless the Coppo location works out exceptionally well—the event could be held out back of Waveny House, he said (there’s already a wedding booked for that Saturday this year). NCAF hasn’t yet settled on a formal name for the gathering.

“We would like to sort of own that weekend going forward,” Benevento said at the meeting, held in Town Hall. He was joined at the meeting by NCAF board member Kim Connors, who is chairing the organization’s annual fundraising subcommittee.

“We feel like it’s a weekend where everybody is sort of back in town, if they have been away for the summer. It’s a weekend that doesn’t really conflict with heavy sports schedules into the fall—for example, the varsity football schedule this year does not have a game that weekend. Their season starts the following weekend. And so we feel like if we can put a stake in the ground and own that weekend, we can make this a really successful annual event and I think the most interesting thing from our perspective—and it goes with the mission of the Foundation, which is all sports and community—what is interesting about it is that we feel like we can make this a community event that can touch everybody and have everybody invited. And the venue that we have chosen is one that we think works well and can handle that kind of group.”

The Parks & Recreation Commission voted 9-0 to approve the one-time use of Coppo Field for the Sept. 7 event. Those voting included Commission Chair Rona Siegel as well as Carl Mason, Francesca Segalas, Doug Richardson, Sally Campbell, Steve Haberstroh, Matt Konspore, Laura Costigan and Hank Green. Commissioners Gene Goodman and Jack Hawkins were absent.

Commissioners asked how many people would attend (perhaps 1,000, as compared to 8,000 to 10,000 for the Family Fourth fireworks), what time the event would run (probably 5 to 10 p.m.), which direction the stage would face (toward the pool), how many parking spaces there are for the Coppo Field location (426), whether attendees would bring their own seating (it’ll be a mix, including well-placed tables that could sell at a higher price point), whether there would be dancing in the aisles (there will be no formal dance floor), whether there will be food made available (yes, there’s a list of town-approved food trucks), whether there will be alcohol (yes, controlled using wristbands), whether approval will be sought from the local Special Events Committee (yes, and that will trigger hiring police), whether there’s a rain date (not yet) and whether the bands have been announced (reserved but not yet announced, one of the bands has played in recent years at the Greenwich Town Party and “They are good,” Benevento said).

Campbell, a regular member of the Commission, asked whether NCAF would sell tickets in advance. 

The NCAF is working with the same firm that advised on the Greenwich Town Party, Greenwich-based firm Case Study Brands, Benevento said.

“While we are all amateurs and we have some experience doing some of this stuff, we will 100% be hiring professional to handle the logistics of everything that comes along with an event like this,” Benevento said.

The New Canaan Athletic Foundation’s announcement marks another big step to be taken by a nonprofit organization that’s been busy in the past several months, finalizing a formal partnership with the town and hiring Bobby Rushton as its first executive director. According to NCAF’s website, the organization seeks “to support the community’s athletic facilities, broadly defined, in order to enhance the development and enrichment of athletic programs.”

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