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Locale Profile: A Patio with Purpose: Ciro’s Tavern will leave you feeling transported

There is no shortage of waterfront dining in the Ocean State. But there’s a hidden gem of an outdoor patio far from the water in a most unlikely location: Ciro’s Tavern in Woonsocket. 

Located just off Main Street, Ciro’s Tavern looks much like a fairy tale castle from the outside. A heavy, wooden front door leads patrons into the four-story stone structure, depositing them in the main dining area complete with a wonderful old bar and a rich history: Since its construction in 1893, parts of the Tudor-style building have been used as a liquor store, a brothel and a cafe.

Adjacent to the main dining area is the Outdoor Courtyard Patio and Bar, and although it is mere steps from downtown Woonsocket, you can neither see nor hear the hustle and bustle of downtown. Contained within walls and thick shrubs, the patio is a destination unto itself. A deck hosts a full bar and several shaded high-top tables. A few steps away, a huge outdoor fireplace surrounded by couches and soft chairs offers larger parties a comfortable place to sprawl with drinks. More tables intermingled with big potted plants are scattered throughout the rest of the patio. 

Happy hour is alive and well on Ciro’s courtyard. My husband and I recently showed up on a sunny Wednesday at 5:30 and found ourselves in good company with a substantial after-work crowd. We snagged a table in dappled shade, and, after a beer and a glass of wine, decided to go all the way and order dinner. We were not disappointed.

The exquisite harvest salad, which happens to be gluten-free, consists of field greens, warm butternut squash, toasted pine nuts, shaved parmesan, chopped bacon and maple-infused vinaigrette. I ordered my salad with shrimp, and they were jumbo, grilled and delicious. I found myself barely talking while I ate so that I could savor every bite completely.  

My husband ordered the lemon shrimp risotto. Risotto is a tricky dish: Too much cream can overpower the other ingredients and leave you feeling uncomfortably full. This dish, however, achieved what many risottos do not: a perfect balance of creamy and light. Again, the shrimp were standout — large, grilled and juicy. 

We shared our food, left our plates clean and felt transported, thanks to the patio and outdoor ambiance. And that’s really what we all want when we go out to eat, isn’t it? Great food and an experience that feels special — a deviation from the usual time and place we inhabit in our regular lives. And we didn’t even have to fight the beach traffic. 

Ciro’s Tavern, 42 Cherry St, Woonsocket




Made in RI: Randy Andy’s Kingmaker Summer Workshop Recital Debuts Nine New Drag Kings

On Sunday, August 11, from 7 – 9:30pm, Randy Andy’s Made in RI Kingmaker Summer Workshop Recital will debut nine new drag kings through short performative pieces at Askew in PVD. The audience can expect to be introduced to complex drag personas through powerful performances, some of which include lip-syncing. Costume and makeup are critical elements of the event. 

Randy Andy is a PVD-based drag king who has been performing for 19 years. Born in RI, he got his start in Seattle before returning to PVD and working on a range of projects. His last show, “Glittery Rage,” was a fundraiser for children detained at the border. The Made In RI Kingmaker Summer Workshop Recital is the culminating event for a four-week workshop focused on sharing techniques for drag performance with the emerging kings. “My drag is the strongest drag out there, and it is based on performance,” he said. “Any expectations about what kinging is will be blown out of the water.” Put simply, the emerging kings in Randy Andy’s recital are putting on a show.

Randy Andy currently runs three 4-week workshops a year for emerging kings. He is excited to have an “opportunity to teach my art, my way of kinging, to a group of people who have the information, have gone through their own processes and will emerge as kings.” He is equally excited about creating community. His events provide not only entertainment, but a physical space for people to find each other in person. They are intended to be safe, comfortable spaces for everyone as well as opportunities for LGBTQ folks to discover a niche. 

I spoke with one of the emerging kings in the Made in RI recital, an agender persona named Captain Astryd, who said, “I’ve always admired drag for the ways in which we can explore and play with gender while completely turning gender expectations upside down. I’m stoked to make my debut into the drag world so I can play too!” 

For more info on Randy Andy and the Made in RI recital, go to facebook.com/randy.andy.184 or facebook.com/events/1079079052303077; Follow Randy Andy on Instagram @randyisanadjective




¡CityArts! “Around the Table” Conference to Take Place August 14 and 15

The ¡CityArts! “Around the Table” conference on August 14 and 15 will offer educators tools for unifying their classrooms through art. The conference is for public school teachers, teaching artists, artists-in-residency, museum educators and others who work with youth. It will follow the six phases of the ¡CityArts! Cycle: connection, creating a safe space, discovery, ideation, creation and reflection / presentation. Topics to be addressed include, but are not limited to, Implicit Bias Training, Nonviolent Communication Training and Social Justice and Art Integration. I spoke with ¡CityArts! executive director Jennifer Dalton Vincent and program manager Michelle Nugent to better understand their vision for the event. 

Vincent and Nugent were clear that participants do not need to have a background in art in order to reap the benefits of the conference. The focus will be on actively modeling techniques that promote the social-emotional health and well-being of young people and can be applied to any content area in a variety of learning environments. While art is the vehicle, participants do not need to be artists themselves. Vincent and Nugent described the conference, in part, as a time and place for teachers and other youth workers to “share ideas and experiences and better their practices” as well as a “space to network with other creatives.” Their enthusiasm was palpable.

The conference will be highly interactive and will include a lively segment called Seven by Seven, which is a modified Pecha Kucha (seven images as opposed to 20) delivered by select presenters. The overall format is one of modeling and active participation and is predicated on one of ¡CityArts! fundamental beliefs, which is that all students have the capacity to learn about content when they feel safe and have choices. 

¡CityArts! is a non-profit, after school arts provider dedicated to ensuring that PVD youth have equal access to performing and visual arts programs unhindered by socio-economic barriers. Since 1992, ¡CityArts! has offered free in-school, after-school and summer arts programs to thousands of children in PVD. The “Around the Table” conference is the inaugural event for The Rhode Island Teaching Artists Center (RITAC), a partnership between City Arts and the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts (RISCA).    

In speaking with Vincent and Nugent, I could sense the value they place on a spirit of collaboration. They spoke of artists, teachers and youth at ¡CityArts! working together and sustaining positive relationships over time. They were also eager to credit their partnerships with the RISCA and the Rhode Island Foundation for co-creating RITAC. I have no doubt that this spirit of collaboration and their commitment to creating a space in which multiple voices can be heard will permeate the “Around the Table” conference. 

For more information, go to providencecityarts.org/conference




Silly Grown-ups — Summer Is for Kids!: But this guide offers a few opportunities for you to play, too

PurpleFlowerWebNostalgia for the lazy days of childhood. Fear that summer brain drain will put your kid at the end of the class come September. Theories conflict, heart and mind clashes — what’s an overworked, stressed out parent madly in love with their brood to do to make the most of one of 18 short summers with the littles? The answer is everything. A healthy mix of lazy backyard sprinkler days, mind expanding classes and library programs and grand adventures with the whole family will add up to an unforgettable summer. Read on for a few adventurous ideas.

A quick hour drive away in Sandwich, Mass, the Adventure Park at Heritage Museum and Gardens offers five magnificent outdoor obstacle courses complete with zip lines. Once harnessed and armed with an understanding of how to operate the twizzles (locking mechanisms), participants are free to ascend. The forest contains a variety of obstacles suspended among the trees: numerous bridges, tunnels, climbing and balancing apparatus, and, best of all, zip lines. You’ll spend the day among the trees, secured by your harness onto various cables so that you don’t fall down, in some cases, around 30 feet. You’ll get a great workout of both body and mind, and you’ll spend a day in nature — literally. The obstacles are sturdy, but many are made of wood and rope that blend in with the foliage. It’s quiet up in the trees and divinely peaceful. 67 Grove St, Sandwich, Mass; 508-866-0199; heritageadventurepark.org

Closer to home in Warwick, Laidback Fitness offers an excellent indoor ninja workout experience for adults and children. If you’ve ever watched “American Ninja Warrior” and yearned to be one if only for a couple hours, the Jungle at Laidback Fitness is the place to live out your dream. The facility is essentially an urban workout space / semi-industrial indoor playground made from mostly recycled materials. A huge ladder suspended from the ceiling, the rungs of which are wrapped in colorful duct tape, makes a great set of monkey bars. There’s a warp wall, a climbing wall, various ropes and nets, tons of balance equipment and a huge set of rings. The instructors are awesome — really positive and encouraging, but equally willing to just give you some space to enjoy the equipment. 2800 Post Rd, Warwick, 401-871-8436, laidbackfitness.com

Located behind Hope High School with a great view of the football field and the track, the Brown St Park offers a playground with equipment for children of all ages and adults. The standout piece of equipment for adults is the huge set of gymnastics rings. It looks manageable until you actually try to swing from one ring to the next; then you wonder if there are any parents who can actually complete this feat while the little ones scamper around nearby. It’s great for the adult body, but perhaps not the adult ego. There is also a sandbox, a number of interesting sculptures that double as play structures and a community garden. Brown St Park: Brown St., Providence; friendsofbrownstreetpark.org

Located just off Rt. 1, World War I Memorial Park offers a fantastic playground, a massive sandbox, manicured gardens with an enormous slide running down the side of a hill and a small petting zoo. This gem of a park is free. Children of all ages enjoy feeding pellets from the food dispensers to the sheep, ponies, pigs, goats, birds and other creatures in an area near the entrance. A short walk up a paved, shady hill lands you at a lovely garden with a super slide, a sandbox and a modern playground with equipment for both older and younger children. This immaculate park has a number of picnic tables where you can enjoy a packed lunch, and the port-a-potties are as clean as you’re going to find anywhere. World War I Memorial Park, 401 Elmwood St, North Attleboro, Mass.

If you’re tired of fighting the heat and the crowds at the state beaches, you may want to spend a day exploring Sachuest Point National Wildlife Refuge in Middletown. Close to both Second and Third Beaches, Sachuest Point is one of five national wildlife refuges in Rhode Island. Its 242 acres provide sanctuary to a number of migratory birds and are home to harlequin ducks and New England Cottontails as well. A series of flat trails provides breathtaking views of the ocean as well as multiple points of shoreline access. The Ocean View Loop is 1.5 miles long and very navigable (for strollers too, if you have little ones who still need a ride), but if your family isn’t ready for that distance, you can enjoy a stunning view of the Atlantic a mere tenth of a mile from the parking lot (which is free). Huge rocks between the trails and the ocean host a number of tide pools that are home to snails, mussels and the occasional starfish. Kids can spend hours investigating the various life forms in the pools. I recommend bringing a beach bucket or two as well as a picnic lunch. The adults can relax and watch the waves roll in while the kids enjoy the tide pools. Over the years, I have brought innumerable friends and visiting relatives to Sachuest Point, and everyone loves it. It is not only beautiful, but also quiet, save for the sound of the surf crashing on the rocks, and a gentle but steady breeze keeps the temperature very comfortable. Amenities at the Visitor Center (open daily from 10am to 4pm) include immaculate restrooms, trail maps and information about the wildlife and history of the point. 769 Sachuest Point Rd, Middletown; 401-619-2680; fws.gov/refuge/Sachuest_Point

IMG_2743A lesser-known freshwater experience that’s well worth the drive north to Burrillville is Spring Lake Beach. It offers plenty of sand, a snack bar and a delightful old fashioned arcade where you can still play games for a quarter. You can rent a paddle board or a paddle boat to use in a buoyed-off portion of the lake, which is an excellent experience, especially for beginners. A floating dock a ways off shore provides a great swim challenge for adults and kids alike. There are also swimming lessons and lifeguard certification courses available. You can easily spend an entire day at Spring Lake, and you won’t have to deal with any of the traffic that comes part and parcel with all of the ocean beaches. 50 Old Hillside Dr, Glendale; 401-568-9474; burrillville.org/parks-recreation/pages/spring-lake-beach

 




Adventure Within: Stir-crazy kids? Warm weather not coming fast enough? Urban Air Adventure Park has you covered

BluePit Climbing Walls George Eliot wrote, “Adventure is not outside man; it is within.” At Urban Air Adventure Park (UAAP), just north of Woonsocket in Bellingham, Mss, it is both, depending on whether you are child or caretaker of said child. Part trampoline park and part ninja warrior playground with an arcade, rock climbing wall and dodgeball court, UAAP has an adventure for everyone, although for parents, it may be the kind from within if you’re watching your child zoom by on the Sky Rider.

The Sky Rider, also called the Indoor Coaster, is much like a zipline: A pulley with a built-in harness is attached to a metal track in the ceiling of the park. From the top of a massive play structure, an employee locks one child at a time into the harness, instructs said child to hang on to the appropriate parts of that harness and then sends him or her for a ride around the track. Minutes later, the ride ends on another level of the play structure, where a different employee unlocks the child from the harness. My 11-year-old daughter and her friend found the Sky Rider thrilling. “Mom, it’s awesome!” my daughter informed me, eyes gleaming and cheeks flushed with excitement. “You should do it!”  I didn’t, but someone else’s father did, and he howled the whole way around the track to the amusement of everyone there. SpiderWeb

In addition to the truly unique Sky Rider, UAAP offers an impressive ropes course, which also requires a harness, as well as a ninja warrior obstacle course, which does not, because it is built over and around a massive ball pit that is staffed with employees. As sixth-graders, my daughter and her friend found both the ropes course and the ninja warrior course appropriately challenging and exciting, but I did see one much younger child get rescued from the ball pit when he couldn’t seem to climb out on his own. Unperturbed, he raced off to his next adventure.

OrangePitOther attractions include a large trampoline area, where the standard rule of one person to a square applies, and a running track that allows for multiple flips and back handsprings. There’s also a huge arcade, a rock climbing wall and a dodgeball court. The in-house cafe offers much better fare than a standard food court, including some gluten-free options as well as beer and wine. There are plenty of large cafeteria-style tables on the main floor as well as a number of smaller tables and chairs on the second floor, which offers an aerial view of the entire facility, which is enormous and entirely indoors. My husband and I managed to snag one of the second-floor tables, thereby allowing us to watch the kids from above while enjoying a snack; with better planning, it is possible to have something resembling a date while your kids are having a blast. Another unique feature of UAAP is the soundproof rooms for parents with both couches and work stations for those who want to work remotely or enjoy the adventures at the park from within, as George Eliot noted. For this reason alone, Urban Air Adventure Park deserves a spot on the family bucket list.

189 Mechanic St, Bellingham, Mass. urbanairtrampolinepark.com/locations/massachusetts/bellingham




Spotlight: Local Entrepreneurs The Vachon’s Open Olympia Gymnastics Center in Cumberland

IMG_0720Perhaps best known thus far for her tenure as head gymnastics coach for LaSalle Academy’s girls’ gymnastics team from 2001 to 2012, during which time her record-breaking team won 10 consecutive state championships and was the first team in Rhode Island to win the New England championship, Cathy Vachon has also launched and grown a number of gymnastics programs at various gyms in Rhode Island and Massachusetts including Sport Kids, Prestige Fitness and Gymnastics, Gymnastics Learning Center, and Ocean State School of Gymnastics. One of Cathy’s great strengths as a coach is developing high-quality, competitive gymnastics programs that are also fun for the gymnasts, a balance that can be difficult to strike at many gyms with an Olympic sport. Her gymnasts keep in touch with her, often well into adulthood, and many have followed her from one gym to another in order to keep her as a coach. Not surprisingly, when I asked Cathy what the best thing about Olympia is, she immediately answered, “The kids.”

Cathy and Steve opened Olympia’s doors in September 2018 and have grown both gymnastics and ninja programs significantly in just five months. Both the Excel teams and the Junior Olympic (gymnastics) teams have competed successfully in a number of meets already this season, and ninja enrollment continues to increase as well. Of Cathy and Steve’s nine children (ranging in age from 25 to 3), four are involved with Olympia. Their daughter, Samantha Kent, who went to Ohio State University on a full gymnastics scholarship from 2012 to 2016, is an assistant head coach at Olympia (in addition to working full-time at another job and going to graduate school). She won the Impact Award on bars while at Ohio State, a prestigious honor based on high scores and consistent participation in meets. Their son Josh coaches boys’ ninja in addition to going to college, and daughter Nicole, age 9, participates in the girls’ ninja program. Their youngest son Zach, age 3, is, in Cathy’s words, “our mascot.” You can find him at the gym often, usually in the middle of a group of doting gymnasts.

In addition to co-owning Olympia Gymnastics Center with Cathy, Steve Vachon is president and CEO of Vachon Financial Group, which has new offices in Bristol and offers wealth management services to clients throughout New England and beyond. Together, Steve and Cathy are a powerful pair of entrepreneurs, using their distinct skills and experience to create new businesses here in Rhode Island, and, significantly, high-quality athletic programs for kids at Olympia. Cathy’s gymnasts will be at the Rhode Island State (Gymnastics) Meet on March 16, 17 and 24 at Rhode Island College, which is open to the public. I’ll be there rooting for my daughter as well as for the Vachons and their continuing contributions to our little state.

Olympia offers a variety of gymnastics and ninja classes as well as competitive team programs and summer camp. For more, olympiagymnasticscenter.com and vachonfinancialgroup.com




Locale Profile: Eating is Fun at Tumblesalt’s Cafe

 

tumblesaltsIf there’s one thing that Anthony Bourdain taught us about eating, it’s that it should be fun. A meal out shouldn’t be an exercise in snobbery or a touting of who’s who in the culinary scene; it should be great food shared with companions. It’s even better if it’s an adventure, too, whether that means going across the globe Bourdain-style or going across town. But above all, eating should be joyful. I think Bourdain would agree that it should also be interesting.

Tumblesalts Cafe is all of these things. It is also elegant and whimsical and gorgeous. Literally, Tumblesalts Cafe is a combined cafe, restaurant and pub housed in a gorgeous restored Victorian at 1 Morgan Ave in North Providence, just off Mineral Spring. The fun part starts long before you sit down to eat. For me it began when I arrived and started wandering around looking for my lunch companion. Thus also began the adventure. It was a beautiful sunny day, warm but not hot, and my God, I fell in love with one of the terraces the moment I arrived. Beautiful stone work. A babbling fountain. Gorgeous plants and flowers. Shade or sun or dappled. Quiet nooks or bustling center tables. Outdoor furniture that is so beautiful (and comfortable I discovered later) it could live inside. There was even a ceiling fan anchored to a beam in case it got too hot. Once my friend and I got settled, we had an outdoor dining experience that is unrivaled by any other that I have had to-date.

But before all of that, I managed to take a good walk around in search of my friend (who I eventually found exactly where she said she was via text; I think I was so taken in by the surroundings that I walked right past her twice). Inside, there were gorgeously crafted chairs around white-clothed tables, but there was nothing stuffy about the atmosphere. To the contrary, the vibe was pure fun and the folks eating inside seemed to having a great time. I was especially enchanted with the light fixtures; they are works of art chosen with an eye for beautiful design. One of the nooks upstairs has a vaulted ceiling painted with a pale blue sky and wispy clouds; the table under it is large, and this space can be booked for private functions as it is a bit apart from the other areas. And that brings me to the defining feature of Tumblesalts Cafe – the spaces that comprise it. If you’re picturing a big room full of tables, strike that image now. Due to the original Victorian style of the building, Tumblesalt’s Cafe consists of multiple spaces — some larger rooms, yes, but more significantly, lots of nooks and corners and terraces and converted little spaces that are big enough for a small crowd but small enough to be a bit private. Every detail of each space — the craftsmanship and color of the walls, ceiling and trim as well as the tables, chairs and lighting — is exquisite. Just being in such a richly detailed environment made me feel well-cared-for, so deliberate was the choosing and placement of each item. The design itself is a feast for the eyes.

But back to my lunch outside on that beautiful terrace. My friend and I shared the hummus appetizer followed by two side house salads and two bowls of the soup-of-the-day. All were fantastic. The hummus was smooth and delicious, the salads were fresh and crunchy and bright, and the balsamic vinaigrette dressing was perfectly tart and sweet. But the authentic vegetable beef soup with hearty chunks of veggies in a well-seasoned homemade broth was the star. This was a soup from scratch, and for anyone who isn’t sure why this matters or what it means, here’s the deal: Homemade soups differ from commercial soups because of the stock from which they are made. Packaged stock is generally loaded with sodium and other preservatives, often at the expense of flavor. Homemade stocks are made by simmering the ingredients for a long time, and while they may have some salt, the flavor of whatever has been simmering (veggies, bones, seasonings, etc.) dominates (read Bourdain’s bestseller Kitchen Confidential for a more detailed account of stock). We also had two delicious white sangrias per the recommendation of the host, who was welcoming and helpful as I searched initially for my friend, guiding me around and discreetly helping me locate her. Our server was attentive, personable and knowledgeable. The timing of the drinks and food was just right. Even the silverware was notable; the handles were ornately carved and beautiful, yet everything was easy to maneuver. The entire experience was fun. It was interesting. I thought about it for a long time after. I think Bourdain would have approved.

Tumblesalts Cafe, 1 Morgan Ave, N Providence, tumblesaltscafe.com/home.html




Zip Lines, Ninja Workouts and Other Fun Things To Do This Summer

 

Author and her daughter, harnessed and ready
Author and her daughter, harnessed and ready

A Rhode Islander by choice rather than birthright, I live in the Ocean State with my husband and daughter largely because we love the wide variety of fun and interesting things to do here. We’ll try just about anything, and the best part of all is that the list is seemingly endless. Here are some of our recommendations for summer 2018:

1) An hour away in Sandwich, Mass, the Adventure Park at Heritage Museum and Gardens offers five magnificent outdoor obstacle courses complete with zip lines. Participants need to be at least 7 years old and are required to complete a 40-minute training session designed to teach you how to operate your harness, but the experience is well worth the time and effort required for safety training. Once harnessed and armed with an understanding of how to operate the twizzles (locking mechanisms), you are free to ascend. The forest contains a variety of obstacles suspended among the trees: numerous bridges, tunnels, climbing and balancing apparatus, and, best of all, zip lines. You’ll spend the day among the trees, secured by your harness onto various cables so that you don’t fall down, in some cases, around 30 feet. You’ll get a great workout of both body and mind, and you’ll spend a day in nature — literally. The obstacles are sturdy, but many are made of wood and rope that blend in with the foliage. It’s quiet up in the trees. Although you do hear the instructors and the other participants talking, there is no noise pollution from traffic or industry. It is divinely peaceful. The courses are coded by level of difficulty, and there are rules about how many people can be on the platforms (which are built around tree trunks) between obstacles at a time. We found that there was very little waiting around; occasionally we had to pause behind someone ahead of us, but the pace on each course was comfortable for us. We did witness one rescue; if you find yourself stuck, either unable or unwilling to get off a course because a fear of heights has set in, a trained professional will help you if you call down from whatever obstacle you’re on. 67 Grove St, Sandwich, Mass; 508-866-0199; heritageadventurepark.org

2) Located right at home in Warwick, Laidback Fitness offers an excellent indoor ninja workout experience for adults and children. If you’ve ever watched “American Ninja Warrior” and yearned to be one if only for a couple hours, the Jungle at Laidback Fitness is the place to live out your dream. LF’s website describes services and experiences that “specialize in natural movement and emphasize physical competence and play; increased fitness is a side benefit of this practice.” Their approach “builds versatility and adaptability, empowers [our] clients to become more adventurous, and equips them with the mental strength and resilience required to overcome life’s obstacles!” The facility is essentially an urban workout space / semi-industrial indoor playground made from mostly recycled materials. A huge ladder suspended from the ceiling, the rungs of which are wrapped in colorful duct tape, makes a great set of monkey bars. There’s a warp wall, a climbing wall, various ropes and nets, tons of balance equipment and a huge set of rings. During open gym, you are free to use whatever you want, at your own pace. The instructors are awesome — really positive and encouraging, but equally willing to just give you some space to enjoy the equipment. Laidback Fitness offers personal training, group classes, birthday parties and body composition testing year-round. If you haven’t been yet, check it out this summer. 2800 Post Rd, Warwick, 401-871-8436, laidbackfitness.com

IMG_27433) Rhode Island is famous for its coastline, but there’s a lesser-known freshwater experience that’s well worth the drive north to Burrillville. Tucked into the woods, Spring Lake Beach offers plenty of sand, a snack bar and a delightful old-fashioned arcade where you can still play games for a quarter. You can rent a paddle board or a paddle boat to use in a buoyed-off portion of the lake, which is an excellent experience, especially for beginners. A floating dock a ways off shore provides a great swim challenge for adults and kids alike. There are also swimming lessons and lifeguard certification courses available. You can easily spend an entire day at Spring Lake, and you won’t have to deal with any of the traffic that comes part and parcel with all of the ocean beaches. 50 Old Hillside Dr, Glendale; 401-568-9474; burrillville.org/parks-recreation/pages/spring-lake-beach

If you’re looking for kids’ camps this summer, a quick Google search will confirm that RI offers hundreds from which to choose. There are camps for every interest, age group and financial bracket, some full-day, some half-day, some one-week and some two-week. This summer, I share with you a couple of options at my alma mater, Rhode Island College, located at 600 Mount Pleasant Avenue in PVD:

1) The Rhode Island Writing Project Summer Writing Camp runs from July 9 to July 20 this year and offers students in grades K to 12 a supportive and interactive community in which to enjoy writing. The camp is staffed largely by local educators and focuses on a variety of writing models and genres (ric.edu/riwp/Pages/Summer-Writing-Camp.aspx).  

2) The 2018 RIC Summer Sports Camps offer baseball, softball, tennis, lacrosse, basketball, volleyball and gymnastics to children ages 7 to 15 throughout the summer, and there are both half-day and full-day options (goanchormen.com/camps.html).

On a quieter note, don’t forget your local library this summer. Many of RI’s libraries offer summer reading programs and other activities for kids. My local branch in Lincoln (lincolnlibrary.com) offers blogging opportunities, a babysitting course and numerous crafts and other activities, as well as a variety of events and programs for adults. The Providence Public Library (provlib.org), located downtown at 150 Empire St, offers a variety of reading and other learning experiences for both children and adults in a beautiful historic building (which you can tour, preferably on a day that yields scorching temperatures outside). Many libraries offer classes in technology as well. Providence Public has a coding series for teens and everything from Microsoft Office to internet basics for adults. Lincoln regularly runs classes in G-Suite and Microsoft Excel, as well as others. Whatever your town, see what’s available for your family this summer at the local library. And don’t forget, you can have books from any branch delivered to your local branch for easy pick-up.




Wednesday Open Mic Night at Copperfield’s Burger and Beer House

copperI grew up in a restaurant family in New Hampshire, which means that I will happily leave my cozy living room on a dark, snowy Wednesday night in January to attend an open mic night hosted by a musician friend at a bar two towns away from mine. Said friend is Kevin Williams of the contemporary rhythm and blues band Blue Honey, and said bar is Copperfield’s Burger and Beer House in Smithfield. Open mic night is every Wednesday, starting at 7pm.

I am one of those people who has to order a burger at a burger and beer house. I chose the Florentine because the mere thought of sauteed spinach, garlic mayo, sun-dried tomato pesto and fresh mozzarella made me feel like I was embarking on a multi-course Italian meal within my burger, that I was somehow having two wonderful and completely disparate culinary experiences at the same time. I wasn’t disappointed. My burger was fat and juicy with a lightly toasted bun and chunky homemade fries on the side. I could taste the subtleties of each ingredient. It was awesomely Italian and completely American at the same time.

My friend ordered a burger called the Happy Mother. While my Florentine burger included a trip through Italy, hers involved a delicious tour of breakfast. The Happy Mother boasts mayo, arugula and tomato topped with crispy hash browns, bacon and an over-easy egg. All on top of fresh Angus beef! It is Copperfield’s most popular burger as well as owner Karim Menebhi’s answer to my question, “If we could only eat one thing here, what should it be?” The thick golden onion rings on the side were perfect: sweet with just a bit of crunch.

And then the music started. Williams played a few songs on his acoustic guitar — some Jeff Buckley, Hozier, Chris Cornell, Marc Cohn and a little Ed Sheeran. Then, musician Kala Farnham sang and played an instrument called a guitalele, which is small like a ukulele but has six strings like a guitar. Her voice gave me chills. It stopped every conversation at the bar. It was well worth a drive in the snow.

Anyone can bring their talent to Copperfield’s open mic night on Wednesdays. Originals, covers, poetry, karaoke and comedy are all welcome. Copperfield’s also hosts Football Sunday, Trivia Monday, Karaoke Tuesday and live local music Thursday through Saturday. You are likely to see owner Karim Menebhi, whose passion for his restaurant might be rivaled only by his passion for music. He believes in all things local: healthy Rhode Island food free of preservatives (“The only thing we freeze is ice cream,” he told me) and Rhode Island musicians who want to share their passion for music with others. Between the musicians and Menebhi, the energy at Copperfield’s is palpable.

Copperfield’s Burger and Beer House, 9 Cedar Swamp Rd, Smithfield; 401-349-0774




Images from HASCON

HasCon Opening Morning
HasCon Opening Morning

Magic the Gathering
Magic the Gathering

Transformers
Transformers

Littlest Pet Shop
Littlest Pet Shop

Candy Land
Candy Land

My Little Pony Mane Salon
My Little Pony Mane Salon

HASCON at the Rhode Island Convention Center, Friday, Sept. 8, 2017 in Providence, R.I. (Scott Eisen/AP Images for Hasbro, Inc.)
HASCON at the Rhode Island Convention Center, Friday, Sept. 8, 2017.

Luca Mammarell plays with the FurReal RoarinÕ Tyler, The Playful Tiger at the FurReal booth at HASCON on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017.
Luca Mammarell plays with the FurReal RoarinÕ Tyler, The Playful Tiger at the FurReal booth at HASCON on Sunday, Sept. 10, 2017.

Dude Perfect
The guys of Dude Perfect stop by to lend a hand.