2022 Bartender Awards Winners

On August 1st at R1 Indoor Karting, over 100 bartenders gathered to celebrate the art of the pour. And the shake. And the making of drinks. MCs Bettysioux Tailor and Paul Garcia and presenters Thea Engst, Tammy Laforest, Mike Delehanty and Crimson Al-Khemia handed out a select number of awards amid flying aerialists, belly-dancing drum troupers and giant extraterrestrial puppets. Here is a list of the winners.

Fancy Cocktail Bartender

Winner: Rebecca White
Runner-up: Danielle Lasky

Brewery / Tasting Room Bartender

Winner: Mandy Holt
Runner-up: Kolby Goryl

Ronin Bartender

Winner: Neda Khan
Runner-up: Max Prussner

Bartender in Unexpected Locations

Winner: Danielle Tellier
Runner-up: Tyler Williams

New Bartender

Winner: Emma Lundquist
Runner-up: Kyara Vargas

Bartender as Therapist

Winner: Neda Khan
Runner-up: Tyler Williams

Best Multitasker

Winner: Danielle Tellier
Runner-up: Ryan

Local Icon

Winner: Aimee La Rose
Runner-up: Mike Kelly

Sassiest Bartender

Winner: Samm Marble
Runner-up: Wayne Gonsalves

Funniest Bartender

Winner: Tyler Williams
Runner-up: Neda Khan

Social Media Account

Winner: Danielle Tellier
Runner-up: Tyler Williams

Best Beard

Winner: Mike Kelly
Runner-up: Finley

Best Hair

Winner: Jackie Pires
Runner-up: Mandy Holt

Dive Bar

Winner: Scurvy Dog
Runner-up: Nic-a-Nees

Spot for Fancy Drinks

Winner: The Eddy
Runner-up: The Royal Bobcat

Overall Watering Hole

Winner: Lucky Enough
Runner-up: Dusk


Winner: Hamid Akinfolarin
Runner-up: Mike Rigney

Singing Bartender

Winner: Amanda Salemi
Runner-up: Max Prussner

Overall Favorite Bartender

Winner: Danielle Tellier

Favorite Bartender, 2nd Place

Winner: Nada Khan
Runners-up: Max Prussner, Tyler Williams

Live Competition Awards

Wining Down Speed Pour

First Place: Dominique Laren
Second Place: Kyara Vargas
Third Place: Bill Laliberty

Shake That Fizz

First Place: Max Prussner
Second Place: Aline Fraga
Third Place: Dave Sasquatch

Guinness Perfect Pint

First Place: Dave Sasquatch
Second Place: Steve Sharp

A special thank you to our sponsors

R1 Indoor Karting, Guinness, Smoke Lab Vodka, Mancini Beverage, Craft Collective, High Spirits Liquors, RI Spirits, Arielle Arts, Narragansett Brewing, DB Productions, Trinity Brew Pub, Cheer the Moment Balloons, PVD Drum Troupe, Big Nazo, Small Frye Photography, Mike Bilow Photography and The Dust Ruffles.

RKOcon 2022: National Convention Timewarps to PVD

RKOcon 2022 in Providence, held Wed – Sun, Aug 3 – 7, is a worldwide convention for “shadowcasting” theater troupes, hosted by the RI-based RKO Army, one of the largest such troupes in the world with about 30 regular and 15 semi-regular performers. Grounded in the midnight cult movie tradition that has grown up around The Rocky Horror Picture Show, “shadowcasting” is the practice of dressing up in costume and acting out the action on screen as the film runs behind the actors, visible to the audience.

Usually rotating on a three-year cycle, Providence hosted the convention in 2013, 2016, and 2019. Due to the pandemic, the 2020 and 2021 events, which would not have been in Providence, were canceled, so it worked out that the 2019 and 2022 events in Providence are somewhat back-to-back.

“The nature of the Rocky Horror convention is that it is a community con as opposed to a [commercial] comic con. The people mostly know each other, however, we’re certainly open to new people attending and would welcome … their patronage,” said Roy Rossi, cast director of RKO Army. At commercial cons, by contrast, “They’re there to sell, whereas, yes, we have vendors, but we’re not chiefly there for that. This isn’t a vendor con or a vendor-driven con. It’s not a star-driven con. And quite frankly, the stars of this con are the people who come from other casts.… We’re emphasizing the people who are going to be performing on stage.” Attendees can also participate in a number of scheduled panels and competitions.

In addition to Rocky Horror (1975), the convention will “shadowcast” a number of other films, including Shock Treatment (1981, the little-known quasi-sequel to Rocky Horror), Repo! The Genetic Opera (2008), Hedwig and the Angry Inch (2001), Reefer Madness: The Movie Musical (2005), and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog (2008). Most events will be Thursday, Friday, and Saturday (before 5pm) at the Hilton Hotel, 21 Atwells Ave, in downtown Providence, except for the “main event” performance of Rocky Horror at the capacious Stadium Theater, 28 Monument Sq, Woonsocket, beginning at 7pm Saturday.

While seeing various actors from around the world take turns in the stage roles, a practice known as “con casting,” audience members will be encouraged to shout out lines and hurl props at appropriate times during the movie. Prop bags will be sold, $3 each, containing items whose significance will be immediately understood by devotees: toilet paper, a party hat, a sponge, a newspaper, playing cards, a noisemaker, cardboard toast, a paper plate and a non-latex vinyl glove.

Attendance is strong despite the pandemic and consequent two-year hiatus, Rossi said, removing the ability to “ride off the coattails of some of the other big conventions. At this point, we have to create the coattails.” Registrations to attend the full convention are slightly ahead of expectations. “Right now we’re at about 260. I think we’re going to get to 275, which is more than we thought.”

“The lack of a con in the last two years has not helped. If people think there’s a bunch of pent up need to go to a convention, they should think again,” Rossi said. “If you figure every con, you lose people and you gain people, all we’ve done is lose people, because it’s two years of attrition in between.”

RKO invested substantial effort in crafting a COVID-19 policy that is posted on the convention web site. “The bulk of the events are in the [hotel] ballroom and will be mask-mandated. That’s where 85% of the events will be,” said Rossi. The vendor area in the hotel will also require masks. Otherwise, attendees inside the hotel but outside of those two areas will have the option to wear masks or not: “People will still do their own thing outside of the ballroom.” The Stadium Theater has their own policy and does not require masks, Rossi said, and he expects at least an additional 300 tickets will be sold to the general public for the main event on Saturday night.

The cast took a break from performing rather than try to operate virtually during the pandemic. “Shadowcasting has to be done live or it doesn’t really work. We had a couple of those things like ‘The Stay At Home Show,’ but that was kind of a novelty gimmick more than anything else,” Rossi said (“A Toast! RKO Army Raises $4,100 for RI Pride Food Drive”, by Michael Bilow, May 11, 2020).

RKO has been helped enormously by breaking convention habits and expanding the repertoire into other shows. “If we had not made that controversial decision in 2013, and we were just pumping up The Rocky Horror Picture Show with Shock Treatment on Friday, you can scratch out 30% of the attendance, maybe?” Rossi speculated. “A lot of people are coming to the con because they’re getting a chance to interact, not just at Rocky Horror, but other areas. What we’ve discovered is that people like getting up there and not just doing Rocky… and that’s driving a huge part of the excitement of this con.”

Rossi created a video presentation in 2017 called The RKO Horror Show that will be run at the con, a Ken Burns-style moving stills sequence that started as a slide show with actual slides in the 1990s. “It celebrates the movie, the music and a little bit of the history, the local history of The Rocky Horror Picture Show in Rhode Island,” he said.

Rossi is uniquely qualified to elucidate the history of the show, having stayed personally involved since 1981. It first screened locally at the Showcase Cinemas in Seekonk, Mass, in 1978 for a few months, he said, before moving to the Cinerama on Hope St on the East Side of Providence that same year. (The Cinerama was razed years ago and a CVS pharmacy is now at the site.) “It ran there for four years, which at the time seemed like an eternity,” Rossi said. “I was aware of the opening night, but I elected to stay in college. I was focused on getting my degree, so I didn’t actually go until I literally went the week I graduated, Memorial Day weekend of 1980.”

Rather than perform with the Providence cast of the time, Rossi and some friends began what would eventually become RKO Army. “The lineage of this cast begins in Newport, at the Jane Pickens Theater in the early fall of 1981.” A succession of casts started and faded out at the Cinerama, he said, and at the last night the theater operated before it closed down in 1983, Rossi said, “Our cast actually performed in the very last show there.… It was uninvited. We just came in, did it. We found nobody there. We just did it.… That was the very last movie they played.”

Asked whether, out of everybody in the world, he might have seen Rocky Horror performed by a live shadowcast more than anyone else, Rossi said, “There’s a very strong possibility, because I don’t know.” In the early days, the show was twice every week on Friday and Saturday nights, around 100 shows per year. “By 1990, or by 1991, I probably hit 1,000.… I’ve got to be past 2,000.” As almost all of the pioneers retired from involvement, including Rocky Horror Fan Club founder Sal Piro, Rossi said, “I’ve probably done the show more than anybody now.”

Rossi’s friend Bob Andoscia got him into Rocky Horror, he said. The ancient technology of the 1970s was limiting. “[Bob] played the music on the vinyl and maybe we had 8-track by then. Maybe I had a cassette. Just playing the music, enjoying the music, but not going until I graduated,” Rossi said. “It was him going, basically him and his sister… The concept of people getting up there and performing while the movie is going on fascinated me.”

The DIY æsthetic was particularly intriguing, he said, because there were no formalities or restrictions. “We could just get up on our own and start doing something. It was a new phenomenon… and the fact that we could do it, it seemed like a lot of fun.… We didn’t have to go through anybody like [auditions] or something, just get up and do it.” Unlike live theater with scripts and directors, “this was more like going to a club and dancing.… They play songs, and you can dance to them.” Things are more organized now, he said. “Back then we were, I would say, socially, completely uninhibited – for better or worse.”For full information for RKOcon 2022, including schedules and ticketing information: rkocon.com

Rhythm & Roots Goes On: A brief history in Tradition

It’s 1978 and Chuck Wentworth is lugging vinyl records to WRIU to host his Monday night radio show Traditions. For the next 37 years, as the host of Traditions and WRIU’s roots music director, Wentworth will broadcast a weekly dose of renowned and emerging roots music from the towers of WRIU to the radios of RI.

“You know the thing about vinyl,” says Wentworth. “Back then all the stuff that came out was produced by maybe 20, 25 different labels… so you knew when you got some vinyl from one of these record companies it was gonna be good stuff and it was gonna be high quality.”

In 1998, when the opportunity arose to revive a long-running Cajun and bluegrass festival facing bankruptcy, Wentworth partnered with Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival producer Mary Doub to purchase the festival, and together, Wentworth and Doub founded Rhythm & Roots. 

After spending a year in the festival’s Escoheag location, Wentworth and Doub relocated Rhythm & Roots to its current location at Charlestown’s Ninigret Park. With a smoother, more level landscape and ample space for multiple stages, overnight camping and three days of festival parking, Wentworth and Doub were able to elevate Rhythm & Roots to the event they wanted it to be. 

“My company is Lagniappe Productions,” says Wentworth. “It’s a Cajun-French term similar to a baker’s dozen, meaning you get more than you expected. That’s our attitude in terms of working with the public, they buy a ticket to the event and we go above and beyond what they’d normally get in a festival experience.”

Like Traditions, Rhythm & Roots offers listeners everything roots music has to offer—blues, Cajun, zydeco, country, swing. “You name it. It runs the gamut. We try to put a diverse sampling out there for people.” 

Wentworth also assembles festival lineups in the same way he structured his long-running radio show. “I’ve used that knowledge to put together lineups. When I set a daily schedule, I try to get a diversity of styles going and somehow keep it all connected, to find a way to start with a bluegrass band, then go to some country music, then to blues, then some Cajun music, and just keep producing daily lineups like that. The festival has a great vibe. People come here year after year, they meet up with old friends…

“There’s no pressure, people just get to hang. They bring chairs and blankets and spread out. We’ve got about a dozen food vendors. We sell beer and wine and you know, people just relax and wander the grounds. We’ve got three stages, so you can get up and go from stage to stage and listen to different kinds of music.”

In 2015, Doub decided to dedicate her attention to producing the Grey Fox Bluegrass Festival full time and sold her share of Rhythm & Roots to Wentworth. Wentworth continued to build the festival, staying true to his philosophy of giving people more than they expected, of giving them a better festival experience. 

In 2021, health concerns forced Wentworth to step away from Rhythm & Roots and cancel the festival; however, just as he and Doub came to the rescue of that long-running Cajun and bluegrass festival years ago, shortly after announcing the cancellation of Rhythm & Roots, Wentworth received dozens of inquiries from prospective buyers.

“I narrowed it down to this one group out of Hartford, CT, GoodWorks Entertainment. I looked at their history, we talked at length, and I felt they were on the same page with what I’d been doing. Their philosophy is pretty much the same and they’re expressing an attitude that they don’t want to change anything. They want to come in for at least the next couple of years and observe. They’re a family business, they’re active in their community. Those are the major philosophies that I saw and said, ‘Alright, this can work.’”

Although not at the helm for the first time in 24 years, Wentworth played an active role in the booking and logistics of the 2022 lineup; he focused on securing local and regional bands while GoodWorks secured national acts. “They’re handling about half the booking and I’m doing the other half. I’m very comfortable in the role I’m in now, a lot of the stress has been relieved.”

This year’s festival brings together over 20 artisan vendors, a dozen food vendors offering cuisines from all over—Korean chili bowls, Cajun and Creole specialties, Middle Eastern fare, gyros, tacos, ribs, chowder, clam cakes—and most importantly, a lineup of over 20 high quality rhythm and roots musicians from across the country, including Little Feat on their Waiting For Columbus 45th Anniversary Tour. 

“Friday night we’ve got an all New Orleans night… We’ve got four bands that are all from New Orleans, they’ll be kicking off the festival. I’m excited about that night,” says Wentworth. “You know, it’s a pretty solid year. I’m looking forward to seeing this thing go on.”

Rhythm & Roots Festival: Fri, Sep 2 thru Sun, Sep 4 in Ninigret Park, Charlestown. For more information and to purchase individual tickets or festival passes, visit rhythmandroots.com.

Motif’s 2022 Food Truck and Drink Award Nominees

RI has no shortage of fantastic food trucks, breweries and distilleries, and we at Motif can’t wait to celebrate them at our Food Truck and Drink awards this month. With nominees spanning 45 categories, we hope you can discover a new favorite food truck or brewery to try on your next night out. While we encourage voting for your favorites and there can only be so many winners, we appreciate each and every nominee and the creativity and craft they bring to RI’s food and drink scene.

Food Trucks


Haven Brothers

Pit Stop

Rocket Fine Street Food

Everything “AN”

Atomic Burgers

Hot Dogs & Sausages

Big Dog Eats

Dogs on the Go


The Sausage Guy

Muzzled Hot Dogs


Sam’s NY System


GottaQ BBQ

Smoke & Squeal

Supa Dupa

Little B’s BBQ

Binge BBQ

Cheese & Cheesesteaks



Championship Melt

Big Dog Eats

Red’s Street Food

Rhodies Food Truck



Newport Chowder Company

Shuckin’ Truck

Gansett Poke

La Costa Lobster & Tacos

Blount Seafood

Julio’s Gourmet Food Truck

Hometown Poke



La Costa Lobster & Tacos

One2 Taco & More

Poco Loco Tacos

Macs Screaming Corn & Tacos

RaRa’s Surf Shack Beach Wagon

Latin & Caribbean Influences


Gonzalez Food Truck

La Carreta

Gnarly Vines Food Truck


Burrito Bowl

La Guaguita Del Sabor

Bajas Enterprises

JA PATTY RI Catering & Events

Tacos Mi Rancho

La Birria

Asian Influence


Nanu the Burmese Fusion

Lotus Pepper

Ming’s Asian Street Food

Italian Influence

Hook N Ladder Pizza Co.

Bird’s Nest Italian Street Food

Nonnie’s Kitchen

A Mano Pizza + Gelato

Moving Dough Wood Fired Pizza Co.

Mike & Lenny’s Bar Pizza


Nanu the Burmese Fusion

Vegan Suga

Lotus Pepper

Ming’s Asian Street Food

Like No Udder

Basil & Bunny

Juice Junkie


Hot Potato

Friskie Fries

Cluck Truck


Red’s Street Food

Breakfast & Brunch

Lu Lu’s Little Pancakes

Sunnyside on the Street

Oatmiel Café

The Burgundian: Coffee and Waffles


Presto Strange O Coffee


On the Rhode Cafe

The Burgundian: Coffee and Waffles

Café Modesto

The Daily Grind

Presto Strange O Coffee Truck


The Salty Brew

Rise and Grind Coffee Truck


Sarcastic Sweets

La Fruta Loca

Lu Lu’s Little Pancakes

Black Dog Donuts

The Cupcakory

Nessa’s Snack Shop

Jo Jo’s Cupcakes

O Boy

Twisted Churros

Shishkaberry’s of New England

Frozen Dessert

Kay’s Ice Cream

Atomic Blonde Ice Cream

Kona Ice

New England Frozen Lemonade

Chelsea’s Creamery

Tizzy K’s Cereal Ice Cream

Palagis Ice Cream

Hawaiian Jim’s Shave Ice

Mumsy’s Ice Cream

Cosmo’s Fresh & Frozen Treats

Milk Caffe & Catering

Alien Ice Cream

Food Truck with Storefront

Smoke & Squeal BBQ

GottaQ BBQ

Red’s Street Kitchen

Poco Loco Taco

Like No Udder

Friskie Fries


RaRa’s Surf Shack Beach Wagon

Friskie Fries

Championship Melt

Hot Potato

Alien Ice Cream

New Truck

Coffee 911

Hook N Ladder Pizza Co.

Mumsy’s Ice Cream

Vegan Suga


Rise and Grind Coffee Truck

Everything “AN”

Nonnie’s Kitchen

Cosmo’s Fresh & Frozen Treats

All-Weather Warrior

Farm to Sandwich

Red’s Street Kitchen

JA Patty

Rocket Fine Street Food

Other Ethnic

The Village Greek

Pit Stop

The Ish


Bem Bom Portuguese

Flip N Roll

Fieldstone Kombucha


New Bedford Food Truck & Craft Beer Festival

Hope & Main’s Schoolyard Twilight Party

Food Truck Friday at Mulligan’s Island

Warwick Food Truck Nights

Food Truck Friday at Carousel Village

Food Trucks at Narragansett Beach

Providence Flea


The Perfect Sweet Shoppe

Mamma Lasagna’s

Biggest Little Easy Catering

Kenza’s Delights

Dips Dips

Butterbang Croissants

Bites by Bre

Sarcastic Sweets

Portable Not-Quite-Truck

Wally’s Wieners

Sweet B’s Donuts

Newport Chowder Co.

Tricycle Ice Cream

Poppin Minis RI

Outdoor Treat


Iggy’s Doughboys (Various)

Sandcastles Sundaes

Gray’s Ice Cream (Tiverton)

Cold Fusion Gelato

The Inside Scoop

Three Sisters (Hope St, PVD)

The Wright Scoop


Locally Manufactured Food

Rhed’s Hot Sauce

Yacht Club Soda

Ocean State Pepper Company (spices)

Hustlers Swing Sauce

Beautiful Day Granola (granola)

Sacred Cow Granola (granola)

The Backyard Food Company (salsa)

Venda Ravioli lobster ravioli

Del’s Lemonade

Granny Squibb’s (iced tea)

New RI Food Product

Lost Art Kraut-Chi

PVD Pies

Sarcastic Sweets Beernuts

Anchor Toffee

Bootblack Syrup

Farmer’s Market

Lippitt Park (PVD)

Farm Fresh RI (PVD)

Brooklawn Park (New Bedford)

Burnside Park (PVD)

Burrillville Farmer’s Market (Burrillville)

Greene Farmers Market (Coventry)

Armory Farmers Market (PVD)

Goddard State Park (Warwick)

Fishermen’s Memorial Park (Narragansett)

Schoolyard Market at Hope & Main (Warren)

O’Connell Field (Attleboro)

Pawtuxet Village (Cranston)



Ocean Loft by Shaidzon

Rhode Rage by Newport Craft

Stiff Sheet by West Passage

Captain’s Daughter by Grey Sail

Warren G by The Guild

Tonebender by Rejects

You Thirsty by Revival

The All Seeing Eye by Long Live

Liquid Hugs DIPA by Ragged Island


Evolver 4.0 by The Hive

Tiny Truck IPA by Ragged Island

Crawl, Walk, Run by Apponaug

Musik Express IPA by Narragansett

Object Permanence by Buttonwoods

Cranston Thug Life by Union Station Brewery

Galaxy Elixer by LineSider

What Even Is This? By Origin Beer Project

Trendy Name by Moniker

Tendril by Proclamation

Mayday NEIPA by Bravo Brewing

Tropical IPA by General’s Crossing


Ruby by Six Pack

Canal Street Crushable Ale by Grey Sail

Another Room Without A View by Proclamation

Koelsh by Trinity


Japanese Lager by Rejects

Meander Through by Apponaug

Irresistible Delicious by PVD Brewing Company

Is This Still Lawn Boy by Titled Barn

Chair 2 Light Lager by Sons of Liberty

Slater by The Guild

Burnout by Taproot

Donde Esta La Biblioteca by Ragged Island

Small Victories by Origin Beer Project

Mexican Dark Lager by General’s Crossing

Pale Ale

Rise by Whalers

Anthem American Pale Ale by Bravo Brewing

Observatory by The Guild

Doug White Ale by Union Station Brewery

Fox Point Ale by Narragansett

Independence American Pale Ale by The Hive

Sea and Sand by Shaidzon

Honey Hibiscus Wit by General’s Crossing


Pumpkin Spice Ale by Lops Brewing

Blond Jovi by Linesider

Belgian Strawberry by Trinity

Blueberry American Wheat by Crooked Current

Blueberry Ale by Newport Craft

Light Ale

Debut Single by Moniker

Saison Des Fraise by Ravenous Brewing

Fresh Catch by Narragansett

House by Buttonwoods

Golden Ale & Blondes

Blueberry Blonde by Coddington

G’Day Mate by Buttonwoods

The Meg Blonde Ale by Twelve Guns

Golden Ale by Coddington


Station 3 Pilsner by Lops Brewing

Pilsner by Buttonwoods

Pawtuxet Pilsner by Apponaug

Bohemian Pilsner by Narragansett

PVD Pils by Long Live

Kōwhai by Tilted Barn

West Fountain Street by Beer On Earth

Buffalo Czech Pils by Shaidzon

State of Flow by Moniker

Grassroots Italian-Style Pilsner by The Hive

Lenni by Six Pack


Espresso Peanut Butter Porter by Lops Brewing

Blueport by Taproot

Marzanna by Beer On Earth

Reds & Browns

Bienvenu by Ravenous Brewing

Irish Red by Twelve Guns

Neopolitan Brown Ale by Crooked Current

Full Keel Brown Ale by West Passage


Lava Monster by Smug

Pinky Swear by Revival

Mango Vango by Foolproof

Flower Sour by Taproot

Monchito by Whalers

Frozie Cup Donut by Long Live

Sunrise Over Sea by Tilted Barn

Pastry Sour Key Lime Pie by Twelve Guns

Oyster Gose by Newport Craft


Coffee Milk Stout by Ravenous Brewing

Marshmallow Imperial Stout by Lops Brewing

Barrel Aged Imperial Stout by Rejects

White Stout by Crooked Current

Echo Lake Sunrise by Apponaug

Wear It Out by PVD Brewing Company


Summer Sol by Tilted Barn

Summer Wheat by Coddington

Make This Romance Last by Proclamation

Cherry Wheat Ale by Bravo Brewing

Screaming Viking by Trinity

Easy Company Hefeweizen by Bravo Brewing

Holy Mountain by Beer on Earth

Miscellaneous Beer

Oak Aged Cask Barleywine by Norey’s

Stereo > Mono by Proclamation

Big Red Goat by Foolproof

Prosecco by Gooseneck

Malted Barleywine by Malted Barley

Ollie by Six Pack

Cabin Fever by Smug


Peach Seltzer by Ravenous Brewing

Cannon & Anchor Hard Seltzer by Twelve Guns

Drift by Whalers


Orchard Blend All In by Sowams

Rhody Coyote by Newport Vineyards

Blueberry Vanilla by Tapped Apple Cider


Honey Chamomile Flavored Whiskey by Sons of Liberty

Puppy Bourbon by White Dog

Cornucopia Whiskey by White Dog

Bourbon by Working Man Distillers


Rhodium Coffee Black Walnut Vodka by RI Spirits

Ornamental Gin by ISCO

True Born Gin by SOL

Rhodium Forager’s Gin by RI Spirits

Rhodium NRG Gin by RI Spirits

Other Spirits

Lella’s Limoncello by White Dog

Coquito Tropical by Papi’s Coquito and Tropical Juices

Battle Cry Single Malt by Sons of Liberty

Agave by South County Distillers

Favorite Beer Fest

Beervana (Cranston, October)

Craft Beer Races (Newport, July)

Newport Food Truck & Craft Beer Festival (Newport, October)

RI Brew Fest (PVD, January)

Witches Brew Fest (Smithfield, October)

Live Music and Family Fun in the Sun: RI Blues Fest and Nashville RI Country Music Fest come back swinging

“Summer can be brief and fleeting in New England, so we’re always trying to find new ways to make the most of it,” says Michael Freidman, owner of Mulligan’s Island and host of two of RI’s up and coming music festivals – RI Blues Fest and NashvilleRI Country Music Fest. If you’re looking to have some summer fun with live music outdoors, both these festivals have something special to offer.

RI Blues Fest will be on Saturday, July 16 and Nashville RI Country Music Fest on Sunday, July 17, both running from noon to 9 pm and hosted at Mulligan’s Island in Cranston. Featuring line-ups that mix of local musicians and national ones, the festivals have something for everyone. 

As a large outdoor venue, Mulligan’s Island also has room for families to bring games, lawn chairs, tents and all the essentials. 

“People who come, they’ll bring chairs, they’ll bring blankets, they’ll bring umbrellas – sunbrellas,” says Freidman. “This year we’re actually going to be putting up additional tents to provide more shady space to families that maybe want to get out of the sun more, or adults who just love being outside but maybe don’t want as much direct sun.”

All other Mulligan’s Island activities will also be open during this time, including a mini-golf course, driving range, batting cages and more, giving attendees the option to switch things up for a bit during the festival if they so desire to. 

“This year we’ll have more activities for the kids like inflatables and other things,” Friedman adds, noting that while the majority of their attendees are typically a bit older, they want the event to appeal to young families so that they can bring their kids as well. 

Food and drink will be served, including craft beer, barbeque and several other food options. Something that distinguishes the music festivals at Mulligan’s Island from others is that participants are allowed to leave and return throughout the day, so if an attendee wants to dine elsewhere or just wants to get out of the sun for a little while, they have the option to do that and return later.

This year, Mulligan’s Island has also teamed up with the Park Theater so that the festivals will have an indoor alternative should there be inclement weather. 

Since their inceptions, the two music festivals have attracted attendees not just from RI, but from out-of-state as well. 

The RI Blues Fest began in 2018, when Freidman noted that though RI has many music festivals, there was a gap in the representation of some genres. 

“Blues music was not well represented in the spectrum of shows that were being promoted,” explains Freidman. “We went out and we found that we could attract really good talent both locally and nationally … and we just sort of rolled it out there.”

Noting the growth of popularity for country music in the state, it occurred to Friedman that Blues might not be the only genre of music that would benefit from a festival. Thus, in 2019, Mulligan’s Island hosted its first Country Music Fest. “We evaluated [that growth in popularity] as another opportunity to reach out to our audience and find talent that would perform and would appeal to those people who were coming out to Mulligan’s already. It’s been good and it’s been growing.”

This year, the musician line-up for Blues Fest will include Neal & The Vipers, Vintage R&B All-Stars with special guest Sugar Ray, Robin Kapsalis & Vintage #18, and Victor Wainwright & The Train. For Nashville RI Country Music Fest, performing musicians include Lauren King,  Country Wild Heart, Annie Brobst, Houston Bernard, and Tyler James & The Silks.

“Overall we’ve gotten a lot of positive feedback from both performers and the crowds,” Freidman reflects. “We’re always sort of tinkering with it, trying to learn what would be better going forward.”

Because the festivals are outdoors, there are no COVID-19 restrictions in place for these events. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit mulligansisland.com

Hope to See You There: Can we overcome COVID-19 fears and rebuild community? 

A quick flip through the Motif Summer Guide pages will give you a full calendar for the next few months. However, the tumultuous past few years have given some individuals pause about partaking in community events. Even with daily entertainment throughout this beautiful state, it can be difficult to find the motivation to get ready and leave the house. 

Chris Donovan is an events organizer with a background in theater. He moved to PVD eight years ago, adopting it as his home and spending time giving back to the city that helped him thrive. The pandemic caused him to feel disengaged and disconnected from the community; This year, he went to coffee with his friend Ray Nuñez, CEO of digital marketing agency Nuñez, and the two discussed how they both felt disconnected from the world and that many others felt the same. They discussed ideas and came up with the concept: “Hope to See You There.”

“In my journey to re-establish my love for PVD,” Nuñez explained, “I connected with my good friend Chris Donovan to make sure I wasn’t the only one feeling lost. He empathized with me and we agreed that in order to regain that PVD magic, we had to dust off our milk crates and publicly evangelize the need for community building. We wanted to bring together those new PVD transplants, those long-timers who lost their pack and all those who long for connection.”

The goal of Hope to See You There is to give a sense of community to everybody and remind people that they still belong, even after a long absence. Donovan sees this initiative as an invitation for people to engage and feel comfortable with each other, meet someone new and explore the state.

“Rhode Island has a lot of great things, but it’s the people and the community that make this a special place to live,” Donovan says. “Everything we have wouldn’t be here if we didn’t have a community to support it and lift it up. Everybody that has been looking for community feels a stronger sense of investment and pride in Rhode Island and really makes it an even better place to live.”

Hope to See You There is a visible symbol that people can connect to quickly. Participants will be wearing a pin with the logo, which lets others know that they are safe people to start a conversation with. This initiative belongs to the community, and aims to give everyone a feeling of security and the motivation to leave the house and socialize with other community members.

“This felt like the perfect opportunity for me to roll up my sleeves and get involved,” said Julia Brough, a volunteer who hand illustrated the lettering. “I see myself as someone out in the community wearing the Hope To See You There pin, open to connecting with my fellow PVDers. Giving visibility to that line of communication could really be a huge influence on whether a transplant wants to stay here or possibly move elsewhere. This initiative bubbles those opportunities to the surface and I dig that.” 

Hope to See You There plans to be a decentralized way for all communities to get back together. They will rely on community leaders to become ambassadors and spread the message to their individual groups. 

“Our hope is to get enough of these people and have a ripple effect,” Donovan says. “It’s the best possible outcome of a pyramid scheme that we could expect.”

The reception has been positive, and the volunteer list has grown to a dozen. This grassroots effort relies on word of mouth from enthusiastic individuals who believe in this initiative. Nuñez and Donovan have obtained enough support to do the initial launch but are looking for more donations to keep Hope to See You There going.

“Sustainability will be a community response,” Donovan explains. “If people believe in this and want to keep it going, they will. If the community at large believes in this idea, it’s going to find a way. The transformation has already begun. It’s a matter of how big it can get.”

The official launch of Hope to See You There will take place June 5 at the Van Leesten Memorial Bridge (unofficially called Providence Pedestrian Bridge) in the Guild PVD Beer Garden. A team of volunteers will be spreading the word, discussing the initiative and doing personal invitations to people to get kits and a poster that explains the concept.

“We want this event to be an anchor point for people to show up, find out more about the purpose of Hope to See You There, and collect their kits to bring back and become ambassadors to their community,” Donovan says. “We hope people stay and connect with community members that believe in this mission and are doing this work. It’s an anchor point for the members of the community that are going to become ambassadors to come together and embrace the idea.”

The Cultural Flavors of RI: Motif’s mini-guide to summer BIPOC festivals and events

Looking to expand your cultural horizons this summer? Little Rhody has got you covered, with a wide variety of upcoming cultural festivals that will get you to eat, dance and celebrate life in new ways.

Why travel abroad when there’s so much rich diversity in your own backyard? With events like Culture Fest 2022, RI is showcasing its cultural tapestry for all to learn from.

Culture Fest Founder Kobi Dennis is looking forward to starting up the festivities for the first time since the pandemic by bringing people together again to celebrate one another’s differences.

“I want folks to start to get to know each other on a face-to-face basis again, by sharing different cultures, food and music,” he said.

Excited yet? Good! Now read on for a list of festivities coming your way in the next few months.

Roger Williams Park Lights Up Providence with Asian Lantern Spectacular 

Runs now until July 4
Roger Williams Zoo
1000 Elmwood Ave, PVD

Looking for a family-friendly activity with some history? Try the 2nd annual Asian Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Zoo, which is open  until the 4th of July.

With over 50 spectacular glowing lanterns displayed zoo-wide, a kid’s interactive lantern area, savory Asian-inspired cuisine, drinks, handcrafted keepsakes and more, this walk-through event will appeal to families of all ages.

The lantern spectacular is a testament to  Roger Williams Zoo’s commitment to foster inclusivity and build engaging experiences for visitors, as Interim Marketing & Public Relations Manager Corrie Ignagni told Motif.

“We support and celebrate diversity and we are excited to celebrate 2,000 years of tradition during this truly remarkable event that promotes multiculturalism and encourages learning about different customs,” Ignagni said.  “Conservation, community and diversity are at the heart of the Zoo’s core values, and this is an amazing opportunity that brings families together to make lasting memories and engage themselves in new cultural traditions.”

Join the celebration of traditional illuminated lanterns while jamming to music and dance performances held every Friday – Sunday evening by local community organizations and groups.

For more information, visit https://www.rwpzoo.org/lantern.

Jazz Up Your June with PVD World Music at Poindexter Coffee

Friday, June 3, 6 pm – 8:30 pm 
Poindexter Coffee at Graduate Providence
11 Dorrance Street, PVD

Graduate Providence will be welcoming PVD World Music to Poindexter coffee, with musical talent from Africa and around the world. The show will feature Latin Jazz from a Columbian American artist as well as an American Classical Jazz artist. 

PVD World Music Founder Chance Boas described the event as “a new edition” to PVD World Music’s lineup of concerts, since its inception four years ago.

Join them as part of the Institute’s mission to “increase RI’s exposure to traditional music, arts, and cultural heritage.”

For more information, visit pvdworldmusic.com

Caribbean Heritage Month Celebration Kicks off in Narragansett

Saturday, June 18, 3 – 7 pm 
Aqua Blue Hotel
1 Beach Street, Narragansett
Tickets: $40

Food, music, island vibes – Narragansett is celebrating all things Caribbean at the Aqua Blue Hotel, with a mix and mingle at the beach, and music by DJ Malik. This first installment of the Caribbean festivities will continue in PVD with the Heritage Festival on June 25 (more info on that in the next description!).

The heritage month celebration is hosted by Authentic Caribbean Foundation, a not-for-profit organization based in Boston and geared towards transforming the lives of Caribbean children impacted by disabilities and HIV/Aids by providing health and educational support. 

All proceeds from this event support children of Guyana. For more information, visit authenticcaribbeanfoundation.org

Caribbean Pride Takes over PVD at Caribbean American Heritage Festival

Saturday, June 25, 11 am – 6 pm 
The Waterfire Arts Center
475 Valley Street, PVD
Tickets: $10 – $40

The Caribbean American Diaspora community will be celebrating 17 years since the proclamation of National Caribbean American Heritage Month through the heritage festival.

Head to the Waterfire Arts Center in PVD to share the cuisine, beats and cultural milestones of this vibrant community. Attendees will groove to Steel Band Temple International and the Greg Roy band while sampling Caribbean delicacies, all in honor of the rich culture the Caribbean Diaspora community have brought to the state of RI.

“This is a great state, and our goal is to showcase the heritage and culture which has contributed to it,” said Andrew Sharpe, chairman of the Authentic Caribbean Foundation. 

For more information, visit caribbeanamericanheritagefest.com.

Get Ready for Good Vibes at Culture Fest ’22 

Friday, July 1, 3 pm – Sunday, July 3, 11 pm
The Cornerstone Complex
25 Maple Street 
Pawtucket, RI 02860

Pawtucket has a jam-packed weekend of cultural diversity at this year’s Culture Fest ’22. A wide array of cultures will be on display outdoors at The Cornerstone Complex, which Founder Kobi Dennis describes as downtown Pawtucket’s “Black block of businesses” run by women, African American, Latino and BIPOC entrepreneurs.

While most of the festivities will be free of charge, there will also be a few ticketed evening events held indoors. Dennis expects up to 6,000 attendees for this year’s festivities, which is in its second year since the pandemic.

“The goal of the event is to bring people together to start to appreciate one another’s culture,” he said. Attendees can expect a broad range of music including Jazz, Christian and R&B hip-hop, along with food, spoken word and much more.

For more information, visit culturefestri.com, email info@culturefestri.com or visit the Culture Fest pages on social media @CultureFestRI.

Puerto Rican Bayfest is Back at India Point Park

Sunday, July 24, noon –  7 pm
India Point Park
225 India Street, PVD

Looking for grub, infectious smiles and endless dancing? Look no further than the Puerto Rican Bayfest, which is back for the summer of 2022 and will have you saying Wepa! at the array of activities taking place.

Hosted by the Puerto Rican Professional Association of RI, the Bayfest will have kiosks, a kid’s area and food trucks on India Point Park grounds.

For more information, visit prpari.org.

Crave more Latino Flavor? Check out the “Connecting Our People” Workshop Series at Providence Community Libraries

The “Connecting Our People” workshop series is a combination of recreational and informative programs ranging from storytelling to dancing to Latino cooking.

Other events include educational workshops on how to start a small business, and skills courses on sewing, video production, photography and creative writing.

Workshops are held at the Knight Memorial, Mount Pleasant, Olneyville, South Providence and Washington Park community libraries and will run until July.

“There’s something for everyone,” said Latino Program Coordinator Carolina Briones. “The workshops are an excellent way to explore all the free resources offered at the Providence Community Libraries.” 

Below are the workshops being held through July 2022:

Latin Dancing – Bachata/Salsa with Adriana Londono

May 12 – July 9, 6 – 7:30pm 
Providence Community Library – Washington Park 
1316 Broad Street, PVD

Sewing Workshop

May 17 – June 21, 5:30 – 7:00 pm 
Providence Community Library – Mount Pleasant
315 Academy Ave, PVD

For more information, visit communitylibrariespvd.org

Discover the beauty of Asian Dance and Music at Sounds of Korea in PVD

Sunday, August 14, 4 – 9 pm 
Bishop McVinney Auditorium
43 Dave Gavitt Way, PVD

This year, the Korean American Association of RI has a lot in store for its Korea Day Celebration, to commemorate Victory Day on August 15.

Sounds of Korea will showcase Korea’s finest cuisine and performance art at the Bishop McVinney Auditorium.

Admission and food are free for attendees, thanks to generous grants from the RI State Council of the Arts, Expansion Arts Program, Overseas Koreans Foundation and Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Boston.

Korean American Association of RI Director Angela Sharkey is very excited about the upcoming event. “This is the first time we are doing an event of this scale,” she said. “Before this, we did a few smaller events in the community.”

Sounds of Korea will feature performances from Korean traditional dancer Eunjoo Kang and Korean traditional musician Jung-Hee Oh. 

For more information, visit rikorean.org.

Let the Foodie Festivities Begin: Tasty recommendations for summer food and drink events

RI stays true to its community-driven nature as events throughout summer celebrate the culinary wonders of the Ocean State.

Kristen Adamo, President and CEO of the Providence Warwick Convention & Visitors Bureau, says that RI, and PVD in particular, has built a reputation as a culinary capital, which reels in tourists and visitors. 

“Having events really helps us market the destination to people,” says Adamo. “We really are known as a culinary destination across the country.”

The lack of fast food restaurants, especially in the cities, speaks volumes to RI tourists and visitors about the eating habits of residents in the local area, says Adamo. 

This summer there are a slew of events you will want to add to your activities checklist. As the lists can sometimes get overwhelming, we decided to point out a few of our favorites for you.

Coastal Wine Trail’s Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Festival

At the Wine, Cheese & Chocolate Festival in Westport, MA, attendees taste their way through sweet and savory delicacies and try over 45 wines paired with cheese and chocolate. Visitors get to socialize with the vineyard owners and wine makers from the Coastal Wine Trail (which includes southeastern MA, coastal RI and coastal CT) as well as interact with local food artisans and fellow wine enthusiasts. 

After the festival was canceled in 2021, the Coastal Wineries of Southeast New England are eager to get people out and connected for a day of fun. The event runs all day with tickets purchasable for two-and-a-half-hour time slots, giving ample time for attendees to talk with everyone there and taste each local wine. 

The event will be held on Saturday, June 25 from 11am to 8:30pm at the Westport Fairgrounds. Order tickets at eventbrite.com

Craft Brew Races

Who says you can’t have both work and play? Keep your muscles strong and your brew on for the 2022 Craft Brew Race. A pairing of exercise and beer for anyone who likes to run/walk and socialize. 

It’s a relaxed 5k race in Newport as you run or stroll through Fort Adams State Park, followed by a craft beer festival held inside Fort Adams. It features more than 30 breweries, food trucks, music and yard games, and is a 21+ only event, so adults can get a short break from parental responsibilities. For friends of parents, you can drag your pal out for the night and spend some quality time with them.

This event will be held on Saturday, July 16 and is located at Fort Adams State Park. It begins at noon and runs until 4 pm. Purchase tickets at eatdrinkri.com

Bartender’s Ball

Bartending is often an under-celebrated art form. Bartenders across the state are being recognized and awarded for their work, and invited to party like civilians on a weekend at this new industry event. 

Mike Ryan, publisher of Motif, says that Motif hosts the Bartender’s Ball as a chance to present awards to all the bartenders that spend their nights behind the counter, giving them a night to remember. “We are trying to celebrate a profession that brings so much joy to other people,” says Ryan. “We want to bring some joy to them.” 

The Bartender’s Ball will feature live music, food, drinks, arialists, cupcakes, giant puppets, dancing, axes, darts and multiple live-action events and competitions throughout the night. Bartenders will be awarded for a variety of categories – some voted up online in advance, some at the event. For bartenders, this night is also a chance to chat up people in the same profession that can relate on multiple levels. Feel free to get a little dressed up because after all, it is a ball.

Know any bartenders worthy of recognition? Bartenders can still be nominated for awards and voted on at motifri.com/2022-bartenders-ball/

The ball will be held on Monday, Aug 1 from 7 – 11pm at R1 Entertainment Center in Lincoln. For more information, go to motifri.com/2022-bartenders-ball

Food Truck and Drink Awards

Calling all food and drink lovers! For the 6th year, Motif celebrates a multitude of local food trucks and beverage makers at the end of the summer. The awards are a way to acknowledge these business owners and workers who pour their hearts into their business. 

Food trucks have become a vital instrument for social interaction and have exploded in popularity over recent years. Bradly VanDerStad, assistant editor at Motif, says the awards cultivate an atmosphere filled with celebration, community and appreciation for this element of the RI food scene. “It’s definitely a labor of love, so that adds a whole other layer of intrigue to this,” says VanDerStad. “It’s just people really doing this because they care about it.” Motif partners with FoodTrucksIn and R1 Entertainment Center to produce the event, as well as numerous local breweries which pour at the event and trucks which serve their delicious concoctions.

Last year, 35 food truck awards and 26 drink awards were presented to local entrepreneurs. The awards recognize it all, from favorite french fries to an all-weather-warrior, and from favorite porter to favorite drinking space. 

Attendees will walk into a gathering of people celebrating their community with an abundance of food and drinks to try. There will also be live music by local artists, hula hooping and other entertainment. 

The awards will be on Sunday, Aug 14 at R1 Entertainment Center in Lincoln. And don’t let the Sunday deter you – if you work in RI, you probably have the next day off! More at motifri.com

Recurring events

The Guild PVD Beer Garden – featuring locally brewed beer along the PVD Pedestrian Bridge. This new brew installation will also host numerous pop-ups during the season (including some by the artists of Field of Artisans …) theguildpvd.com

Wednesday & Thursday: 4 – 8pm

Friday: 2 – 8pm

Saturday: 12 – 8pm

Sunday: 12 – 6pm

Field of Artisans x Narragansett Brewery:

Monthly Series – visit various featured artists each month combined with a craft beer and food while you stroll around the brewery. fieldofartisans.com/gansett

Last Friday of each month through August at 4 – 8pm

Food Trucks on Fridays

Fridays have become THE day for food trucks, with new weekly gatherings by Ocean State Food Trucks at Mulligan’s Island in Cranston and the long-standing food truck extravaganza Food Truck Fridays at the carousel in Roger Williams Park, you can find dozens of different types of cuisine, a beer garden by Trinity Beer Garden, live music, dessert and lot of activities for the kiddos. Food truck events are a great way to sample different types of cuisine, find new types of food before they go mainstream and get a bunch of different people exactly the kind of food they want at one spot. Check the truck rosters online for these evening events, and maybe skip lunch to save room: foodtrucksin.com and mulligansisland.com every Friday this summer.

WaterFire, Beyond the Lighting: A conversation with Peter Mello

Clear Currents Participants Circle the Basin (Photograph by John Nickerson)

When I moved to PVD my aunt asked, “Have you gone to WaterFire?” I had no idea what she was talking about, and the pairing of words seemed incongruous. So she and my uncle drove down from MA and took me. 

The sky threatened rain all day. But it held off until the sky turned black and a boat named Prometheus came down the river with a torch of fire. A brazier was lit. The sky opened up. It poured. And it was perfect.

All along the river people ran for cover and did so while laughing and smiling. We shared umbrellas and huddled together watching the bonfires roar and the firelight flicker atop the water rippling with raindrops. The air smelled of cedar and pine, and drums beat like a unified pulse.

WaterFire is now in its 28th season. This year there are seven full and six partial confirmed lightings. Lightings attract an international audience and are a significant driver of the local economy. A 2012 economic impact report found WaterFire activity drew approximately one million people to Providence and created $114 million of economic impact, which in turn generated over nine million dollars of tax revenue and supported 1,294 jobs in the community. That study was conducted 10 years ago, and WaterFire, like PVD, has grown since.

To learn more about WaterFire’s growth, I spoke with Peter Mello, managing director and co-CEO (with founder Barnaby Evans) of WaterFire Providence and the WaterFire Arts Center.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

It seems like despite the 19-month break during the beginning of the pandemic, WaterFire managed not only to survive but thrive.

That’s true. The WaterFire Arts Center was part of our strategic plan to diversify from just being the event downtown. It’s an incredible exhibition space that’s unlike anything in the region, except maybe Mass MoCA. We just closed the exhibition Planet Earth, the Environment and Our Future (link to storyxxx) , which featured a 23-foot-diameter sculpture of the Earth by British artist Luke Jerram. It was a spectacular show. 

We also have about a 22,000 square-foot gallery, which is currently displaying T-shirts from 1936 all the way to present day. One of the artists is Joe Perez, who designs for Kanye and other really high-profile performers. 

Last year we created WaterFire Accelerate to provide a year of professional development to artists under 30. They’re given a stipend and attend meetings that help them with things they don’t learn in art school. We had one where we introduced the artists to a CPA who talked about bookkeeping and taxes. We had a session with a major collector, probably the most important art philanthropist in RI for the last fifty years. They’ve had the ability to spend time with Jordan Seaberry, who’s an extraordinary young artist. We have a session coming up on NFTs. 

That’s the type of programming we’re doing at WaterFire that people don’t really know about. Our brand is the event downtown, but the WaterFire Arts Center is a spectacular exhibition space and we’re super excited about these programs.

What other organizations or art forms might people encounter at a WaterFire lighting?

We collaborate and partner with all kinds of cultural institutions and performing arts organizations. We use the hashtag #ArtForImpact, because that’s what WaterFire really is, we’re creating art for impact, both cultural impact and economic impact. 

Years ago we partnered with Dr. Lynn Taylor, who received a grant to try and eradicate Hepatitis C from the state of RI. We approached her and said, “We have the ability to connect you to a greater audience than you might otherwise have the ability to.”

It’s a silent epidemic, a lot of people don’t even know they have it. We partnered with her and Festival Ballet and did testing at WaterFire. Festival Ballet used music that would appeal to the boomer generation, because they’re the demographic most susceptible, and designed a whole bunch of dances set to Beatles music. Anyone who tested positive received a call from Dr. Taylor the following Monday letting them know they tested positive and most importantly letting them know it was curable and how to get on the path to recovery. 

WaterFire Accelerate Artists 2021 (Photograph by Peter Mello)

We’re always providing organizations with a platform to an audience that they wouldn’t otherwise have access to, including the RI Philharmonic. When we had the philharmonic, we broadcast their music throughout WaterFire, and that was the largest audience they’d come across. This is an instance where people who might not buy a ticket to see the philharmonic got access to the experience for free. 

That’s one of my favorite parts of WaterFire. Public art is where it’s at.

You have to realize none of the buildings existed downtown when WaterFire started. The mall wasn’t there, the IGT building wasn’t there, Blue Cross Blue Shield wasn’t there, the Waterplace Towers weren’t there. The only building that was in the process of being built was the Citizens building, but otherwise all those big buildings didn’t exist. 

Barnaby often tells the story of when the mall was being built he ran into a construction worker, and when Barnaby introduced himself as the creator, the guy said, “Oh wow, last weekend we came to WaterFire and brought the whole family. We always take two cars when we travel as a family because you never know what’s going to happen when we go out together, we get into a fight and next thing you know someone’s going home. But we had the greatest time. WaterFire’s amazing.” And then he said, “You know, I don’t want to insult you or anything, but that WaterFire thing — it’s kind of like art.” In this instance, somebody went to experience something, never thinking they were experiencing art.

I love that. People say they’re not into art or don’t see themselves as artists, and it’s like “No, you love art! Look at your fashion, look how you’re styling your hair. You’re listening to music. You’re surrounded by art!”

You’re absolutely surrounded by art. Everything you touch or come into contact with has had the fingerprints of an artist. There’s nothing that isn’t touched by art. Even your cereal box, a graphic designer designed the cover, a product designer designed the box. When kids think about careers they don’t really think about art like that, but lots of kids like art, right? It’s important for them to understand they can make a career being creative.

To learn more about WaterFire’s diverse offerings, including how to apply to WaterFire Accelerate, visit waterfire.org.

Free Your Summer: A guide to some of the best no-charge events around

From concerts in Fall River to grand spectacles in PVD, there is always something fun to look forward to in the heat of the summer in southern New England – especially with life beginning to return back to a semi-normal state after a tough two years. Looking for fun without breaking the bank? Check out these freeing options.


June 4 – September 24

Fire performer, Andrew Lindsay of Cirque de Light at WaterFire (Photograph by Erin Cuddigan)

WaterFire Providence is famous for holding its recurring partial and full lightings along Waterplace Park – and this summer they’re holding a handful of lightings for important causes alongside their routine lightings. 

Every year, WaterFire Providence holds both full and partial lightings on Friday and Saturday nights at Waterplace Park. The lightings are usually just a part of their typical seasonal routine, but there are some valuable causes that WaterFire honors with lightings throughout the summer. For example, the July 3 full lighting is sponsored by the organization RI Defeats Hep C, and the August 13 full lighting is dedicated to celebrating RI’s BIPOC communities. WaterFire’s lightings are even more special to attend when they are representing important organizations and movements! 

In his announcement of the 2022 lighting schedule, creator and co-CEO Barnaby Evans proclaimed that “WaterFire is an opportunity to come and enjoy a historic city reborn, to see an urban center in new light and to celebrate the balance of the old and the new mixed with the romance of firelight.” The WaterFire lightings are a quintessential component of RI and its culture. 

In addition to WaterFire’s regular lightings, they also offer free galleries and exhibitions through the WaterFire Arts Center that shine a spotlight on both local and international artists. The featured exhibition for May is Faded, The Gallery: Exploring the Lineage of Graphic T-Shirts, and many more exhibitions will be featured on their website as they continue to publish their schedule. 

To see WaterFire’s full schedule of lightings, visit their 2022 WaterFire Lighting Schedule. To remain up-to-date with their exhibitions and galleries, visit their WaterFire Arts Center Calendar at WaterFire.org.

Fourth of July Celebrations, Bristol RI

June 12 – July 4

Bristol, Rhode Island, July 4 parade.

Bristol has a reputation of going all-out for the Fourth of July, and this year is no exception. Join them as they continue their tradition of free concerts, races, and tons of other events!

Bristol prides itself on being America’s ”most patriotic town,” and its Fourth of July celebrations are a shining example of that pride. After all, it’s the home of America’s oldest Fourth of July celebration! Starting on June 14 with Flag Day, Bristol holds free events week after week leading up to Independence Day. As one of the earlier celebrations, the organizers hold a vintage baseball game on June 18 in the Bristol town common, along with a block dance party in the same spot on the same night.

Another highlight of the celebrations is the free two-week concert series held every night from Sunday June 19 to Saturday July 2, which Chairman Chuck MacDonough is excited to confirm is finally returning. Last year, the concerts were relocated to Roger Williams University, but this year it is returning to its home in Independence Park. 

More great events include the local Orange Crate Derby on Sunday June 12, and the foot races on Wednesday, June 22. As an added bonus, anyone who participates in the 1-mile foot race is offered free tickets to the carnival, which is a staple of the Fourth of July celebrations. 

To top everything off, the celebrations come to a close with the fireworks extravaganza on July 3 and the parade on July 4. For the parade this year, MacDonough looks forward to inviting back past participating organizations and welcoming in lots of new ones.

To see Bristol’s schedule of events for this year’s celebrations, take a look at fourthofjulybristolri.com

2022 Kick-Off to Summer, Fall River MA

June 18

This June, Fall River’s 2022 Kick-Off to Summer will be a free event where people of all ages can enjoy hands-on arts and crafts, games and casual sports tournaments.

This June, Greater Fall River Re-Creation is reviving their 2022 Kick-Off to Summer in Ruggles Park. This free event will be home to face painting, carnival games, a tattoo artist, free food, a rock wall, a basketball tournament, an obstacle course and a bunch of other activities for the whole family. As a bonus, the event will feature an array of resource tables from various local organizations in the Fall River area. The various activities offered by the Kick-Off are a combination of art, games, movement, and engagement.

The public event will finally be back in full-swing after two difficult years. Executive Director Grace Gerling noted, “We’re excited to be bringing back our Kick-Off to Summer at Ruggles Park here in Fall River. It’s been a couple of years now that we haven’t been able to offer the free event due to COVID-19, and we’re super excited to bring it back. It’ll be a really fun day for the kiddos!” Gerling also announced that the event will be extended by an additional hour, running 11am to 3pm instead of to 2 pm.

To learn more about the 2022 Kick-Off to Summer, check out gfrrec.org