Let’s throw the clocks back and reminisce about the Newport Yachting Center, which became the epicenter of music and cultural activity on the Newport Waterfront. Unfortunately, in September 2014, the center was sold due to various complications within the community, specifically noise.
The following summer, Waterfront Productions, which previously operated the Newport Yachting Center, came up with the ingenious idea to bring a similar experience to the people of Providence at India Point Park in Fox Point.
“Our whole goal was to find a venue where we could do something similar, even if it was a smaller season,” said Michele Maker Palmieri, founder and president of Waterfront Productions. “We wanted something where we could have a lease on space and have some flexibility to have a little bit of a semi-permanent situation.”
However, India Point Park is a public place and Waterfront Productions only had a lease for the property to conduct a few major events per year, including the Waterfront Reggae Festival and the Blues & BBQ Festival. So the India Point solution didn’t create a permanent performance venue.
In 2015, Palmieri glanced across the river and saw prime, undeveloped waterfront property in East Providence. This property, Bold Point Park, was to become Waterfront Productions’ new home for the next three summers. In a 18-month process, Waterfront Productions acquired a three-year lease for the space from East Providence.
“Both are very similar in terms of views and accessibility,” said Palmieri when comparing India Point Park and Bold Point Park. “What Bold Point Park has for us is more flexibility in terms of … having a venue set up for a week.”
The goal with Bold Point Park, for Palmieri, is to create an experience around the events, utilizing the property to develop a sort of three-dimensional assault on the senses that will have fans coming back for more.
This summer, the events outnumber those of last year at India Point Park, with the return of both the Reggae and the Blues & BBQ Festivals, as well as Oktoberfest! and appearances by The Beach Boys on August 9 and Railroad Earth on August 24.
However, for next year, Palmieri is going full steam ahead with plans for a bigger and badder season. “The goal for next season is to be booking shows and starting as early as Memorial Day weekend, if possible,” said Palmieri (this year’s season runs from August to October). “[We want] to get it to the level we were at in Newport when we had a summer concert series.”
After the three-year leasing period is over in Bold Point Park, Palmieri wants to create a semi-permanent, seasonal event complex that would host concerts on a regular basis, similar to the Newport Yachting Center. This would include leasing a tent and creating the illusion of an established location. “We left it that if all is going well at Bold Point Park, and it’s working for the city and it’s working for us, the residents, and the community, we would consider renewing that lease and having something a little more long-term,” said Palmieri.
You can find the list of RI Waterfront Events at newportwaterfrontevents.com.