OLD LYME — After a two-year hiatus, the Midsummer Festival will return to the Lyme Street on July 30 with live concerts, art sales, children’s activities, a classic car show, food, an author talk featuring Luanne Rice, and more.
“The festival has a lot of different activities — there’s something for everybody. A family could take their children to the “Hands-On/M!nds On” trail at the Florence Griswold Museum. People could go to the Classic Car Show or walk to the Lyme Academy for live music. You could start the day with the race if you’re a runner or walker,” said Cheryl Poirier, a marketing volunteer with the Old Lyme Arts District.
The traditional pre-festival concert, this year featuring the Mighty Soul Drivers, will be held on the lawn of the Florence Griswold Museum from 7 to 9 p.m. on Friday, July 29.
“The concert on the evening before the festival has always been a time when people reconnect with neighbors and friends they haven’t seen all summer,” said Poirier. “People bring lawn chairs, blankets and a picnic for a fun evening with live music.”
On Saturday, the festival begins with the 5K Run/Walk at 8 a.m. and Kids K at 9 a.m., sponsored by the Lyme Youth Service Bureau. Pre-registration for the 5K is available at LYSB.org, or on Saturday beginning at 6:45 a.m.
The Classic Car Show hosted by the Lyme-Old Lyme Lions Club — featuring antique, exotic, and hot rod vehicles from across the region — starts at 9 a.m. at 100 Lyme St., home of the Roger Tory Peterson Estuary Center. For $20, participants can register their classic cars, either in advance at lymeoldlymelions.org or on Saturday. Visitors can judge cars from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. for $5. The club will also run its grill, serving burgers, hotdogs and fries.
“Interspersed through the festival are art sales. So many people like to collect artists’ work and the town’s identity is tied to the Old Lyme Art Colony. It’s a great way to support today’s artists or to remember your vacation in Old Lyme,” Poirier said.
The Midsummer Fence Artists, a group of oil painters, pastelists, photographers and others, will display their works for sale “Parisian style” on fencing from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on the lawn of the Old Lyme Inn, at 85 Lyme St. The show includes art demonstrations, and the inn will be open for lunch and dinner.
More than a century old, the Lyme Art Association, at 90 Lyme St., will hold a sale of its members’ art from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., and the gallery will be open until 5 p.m. The association will also host several food vendors and local nonprofit groups on its front lawn along with its painting face-cutouts.
The Lyme Academy of Fine Arts, at 84 Lyme St., will hold its Alumni Art Show and Sale under a lawn tent where alumni will demonstrate cast drawing, plein air painting, and portrait drawing. The “Barn for Artistic Youth” will provide arts and crafts for children, and food options will be available.
From 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m at the academy, Ramblin’ Dan Stevens and Fiery Band will perform a free lawn concert, playing a mix of Americana, the blues and originals — followed by John Brown and the Back Porch Pickers — performing a blend of traditional country, classic rock, and originals — from 1:30 to 4 p.m.
The Florence Griswold Museum, at 96 Lyme St., will focus on art, history, and nature in “Hands-On/M!nds On,” featuring family activities along the museum’s outdoor Artists’ Trail from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Free admission will be available from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. to the museum’s historic boarding house and the exhibition, “Dana Sherwood: Animal Appetites and Other Encounters in Wildness.” The museum shop will also hold its annual Super Sale and several food trucks will be set up on the museum grounds.
The Parading Paws Dog Show will take place on the museum grounds at 10:45 a.m., hosted by Vista Life Innovation. Dogs can register from 10 to 10:30 a.m. to participate, with prizes for best smile, best costume and best trick.
Studio 80+ Sculpture Garden, located at 80-1 Lyme St., features a sculpture installation by resident artist Gil Boro. Open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., attendees can also visit the Summer Sculpture Showcase highlighting large-scale outdoor sculptural works from artists across the country.
A new addition this year is an author talk with New York Times bestselling author Luanne Rice at 3 p.m. at the Old Lyme-Phoebe Griffin Library, 2 Library Lane.
“We are very excited to have Luanne Rice – she is such a beloved local author. This is the first time she is giving a talk and we’re looking forward to her participation,” said Poirier.
Rice will speak about books, writing, and the inspiration she finds for her novels in Old Lyme. Her latest book, “The Shadow Box,” and other titles will be available for purchase and signing. Table seats that include a charcuterie box can be purchased for $50 at oldlymelibrary.org. For general free admission, attendees are encouraged to bring a lawn chair or blanket.
The Old Lyme Library will also host a children’s activity, “Wire Walking with Circus Moves,” from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m. Parents should pre-register at oldlymelibrary.org. The Friends of the Library’s used book store, Phoebe’s BookCellar, will also be open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
The annual Patricia Spratt for the Home Midsummer Warehouse Sale will be held Thursday, Friday and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at 60 Lyme St, with up to 80 percent off of table linens, pillows and other home goods. The sale will also include clothing by Love Lilly and accessories by Ellen Raines Martin.
It’s the 35th year for the festival, which has been held annually since 1986, but not in 2020 and 2021 due to pandemic precautions, Poirier said.
“We’re just happy to bring the festival back after the two-year hiatus. It’s going to be great to see everyone again,” she said.
The Midsummer Festival is a production of the Old Lyme Arts District, a partnership of a dozen arts and cultural organizations and businesses along Lyme Street. Sponsors of the festival include Pasta Vita, Essex Financial Services/Essex Savings Bank, Lymeline, Paul Burdick Oil Company, Old Lyme Marketplace, Caliber Computing, and Zelek Electric.
Parking is available at 5 Halls Road, 46 Halls Road, 84 Lyme Street, and in the High School/Middle School parking lots at 69 Lyme Street. A shuttle bus will be available from 9:15 a.m. to 3:45 p.m.
Events are subject to change.
Click here for festival information and visit the Old Lyme Arts District Facebook page for updates.