Live music, ‘Dukes of Hazzard’ car to rev up Barnum festivities in Stevenson

Barnum Festival Concert, Carnival and Car Show organizers Greg and Peggi Gnandt, left, with, George Zwally and George Zwally Jr.

MONROE, CT — One year after bringing the former Stevenson Lumber property to life with huge crowds for a car show with amusement rides, music and food trucks, the Barnum Festival fundraiser is back.

The Barnum Festival’s 2nd Annual Car Show Swap Meet and Food Truck Festival, Wheels, Meals and Deals will be held on Friday, June 2, and Saturday, June 3.

Peggi Gnandt and her husband, Greg, are Barnum Festival board members and event co-chairs.

“We are both honored and excited to be hosting in Monroe again this year for the Barnum Festival’s 75th anniversary and the town of Monroe’s bicentennial,” Peggi Gnandt said in a telephone interview Wednesday. “We have two great events for the whole family. There’s something for everyone. This is going to be one exciting weekend.”

The first day will feature a concert, carnival and food truck festival and the car show will be held the next day. Admission to both events is five dollars and children age 12-and-younger get in free.

All proceeds support Barnum Festival events. For example, scholarships were awarded to the king and queen and iPads to younger children in the Barnum Royal Family during The Whistle & Watch Luncheon recently.

Gnandt said there will be plenty of free parking with handicap spaces on the 1545 Monroe Turnpike site.

“We will have a couple of six-passenger golf carts circulating the property for anyone who needs assistance,” she said. “The carts are gas powered, so it can make it up that hill with a lot of people.”

Gnandt said ATMs will be located throughout the grounds for people’s convenience.

George Zwally, owner of Zwally Hauling, LLC, is allowing the festival to be held on his property.

Zwally said those attending the events will enter the site from Production Metals, 421 Old Zoar Road. Jim Reeser, the company’s president, is allowing use of the driveway.

He said parking spaces will be striped and flaggers will keep traffic moving. Zwally also expressed his gratitude to John Kimball and Anthony Galbo for allowing organizers to use their parking lots for the event.

‘The Dukes of Hazzard’

Though the car show will be the following day,  The General Lee, one of the original cars from the popular TV show “The Dukes of Hazzard”, will be on display on the first night, Friday, June 2. Fans can have their picture taken while seated behind the wheel.

John Schneider, the actor who played as Beauregard “Bo” Duke, signed his autograph on memorabilia inside.

The concert/carnival and food truck festival on June 2 will be from 5 to 10 p.m. The bands Hazzard County and Badboy will perform.

A ferris wheel and other rides will be provided by Marenna Amusements, which is based in Orange.

“This year will be larger than last year,” Gnandt said. “They’re going to have gaming as well and more rides.”

There will be face painting for kids on both days.

Among the entertainment, Gnandt said people can visit Big Dog’s Mobile Axe Throwing Truck, a veteran-owned business.

A beer and wine garden by the stage area will be like a block party, providing a place for friends and neighbors to gather, according to Zwally.

Gnandt said they will have wrist bands verifying customers are age 21 and older and a VIP wrist band, which is five dollars, will get concertgoers closer to the stage.

“It’s called Cookie Cloud 9. They have perfect chocolate chip cookies. You can get them in a bucket and they are so delicious.” — Peggi Gnandt

The event will have security on the premises, including Monroe police officers.

“Officers did an awesome job providing traffic control and a great police presence, with friendly interactions with members of the community,” Zwally said of last year’s event, adding town firefighters and members of the Monroe Volunteer Emergency Medical Service also provided a strong presence.

Among the dozen food trucks, Sammy’s Hot Stone Pizza will be having its grand opening. The owner has a restaurant background, Gnandt said.

“A cookie truck was at the Durham Fair and I had to have them,” she gushed. “It’s called Cookie Cloud 9. They have perfect chocolate chip cookies. You can get them in a bucket and they are so delicious.”

That Friday night, special guest Sandy Quinonez will sing “The Star-Spangled Banner” and, on Saturday, Sheila Fabrizio will sing the patriotic song to start the festivities.

The Greatest Car Show on Earth

On Saturday, June 3, “The Greatest Car Show on Earth” is coming to Stevenson with rides, food trucks and the beer and wine garden from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. The rain date is Sunday, June 4.

Registration for the car show starts at 8 a.m. and cars, trucks and motorcycles are welcome. Entrants will enter the site from the main driveway on Monroe Turnpike (Route 111).

Gnandt is making 300 goody bags for first 300 to register. Registration costs $20. Entrants will fill out forms, pay their fee and a card will be placed on their windshield.

Judging begins at 12 p.m. with a trophy ceremony at 2:30 p.m.

Jeff Hunter will be the event’s deejay and the MC. The day will also feature live music by the Tony Ferrigno Trio and, “back by popular demand”, the ReBoots.

Radio station I-95 FM, starring personalities Large Dave and Lou Milano, will do a live broadcast from noon to 2 p.m. with giveaways.

“Tune into I-95. It will have two radio spots leading up to the event,” Gnandt said.

During the events, a raffle tent will host 50/50 raffles with gift certificates to local restaurants among the prizes. “I just bought a 55 inch smart TV to raffle off,” Gnandt said of another prize she and her husband are donating.

Among the prizes are two tickets to Barnum Sails the Sound, a $100 Home Depot card, a large stand-up Crown Royal cooler and a cornhole game to name just a few of the items.

There will be a strong Barnum Festival presence that weekend with appearances from Ringmaster George Estrada and members of the Royal Family. Monroe First Selectman Ken Kellogg will be among the elected officials.

“It turned out to be a really wonderful event last year,” Gnandt said. “It was a sea of happy, smiling faces. It was really nice. Everybody enjoyed themselves.”

For information, visit the Barnum Festival Car Show, “Wheels, Meals and Deals” Facebook page and the

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