Nothing says “Fall” quite like a bustling art festival full of vendors, artisans and happy attendees. Luckily, RI has some great arts festivals going on this year to quench our thirst for autumnal gatherings.
Burrillville Arts & Crafts Festival (September 17 & 18)
Happening in Burrillville this fall is the annual Burrillville Arts & Crafts Festival, which takes place at the Assembly Theater Grounds, which is only a stone’s throw away from the Harrisville Waterfall. This year’s festival is set to be jam packed with a pretty phenomenal list of activities and entertainment.
One of the biggest events of the festival will be a laser light show, held on Saturday, September 17, at 8pm. The light show will be put on by Dynamic FX, and it is one of director Lisa Bevilacqua’s most anticipated events. In addition to the laser light show, there will be over 150 vendor booths including some local non-profit organizations; one exciting component will be the inclusion of service dogs, with a booth educating people about the benefits of service dogs and how they help the community. The Town Common will also hold a farmer’s market, along with some food trucks and acoustic entertainment. Among the list of acoustic performers will be Real Carpentier, an author who will multitask by selling his books and playing acoustic guitar on Sunday.
Music and live performance, which can be heard all day both Saturday and Sunday, are a major focus this year. The genres performed are diverse: country can be heard from Whiskey Knights, classic rock can be heard from Jailbreak and Wicked Rhode, and some good-old-fashioned Godsmack covers can be heard from Headsmack (which I’m pretty stoked for). Full days of entertainment call for plenty of food and drink, and the festival does provide on this point. A variety of food trucks and vendors will be present selling a range of items, such as kettle corn, hot dogs, tacos and breakfast food. Chris Mishoe, the owner of the local Bravo Brewing Company, will be sponsoring the entire beer tent, serving his own brews and some special items with a portion of the sales being donated to veterans.
Bevilacqua emphasizes how immersive and diverse of an experience this festival will be — with so many vendors, artists, musicians and authors, there is so much to do and so much to see, and who wouldn’t want to visit such a beautiful part of RI?
Pawtucket Arts Festival (September 9 – 18)
This year, the Pawtucket Arts Festival has a ton of diverse events and activities to keep all sorts of crowds engaged. Festival director Anthony Ambrosino notes how the festival is meant to “celebrate the city’s creative and cultural life by presenting vibrant arts events to Pawtucket residents and visitors” in its 10-day timespan, with events spanning music, dance, theater, film and folk-traditional arts that “evoke the City’s historic legacy and diverse communities.”
The opening weekend of the festival is being held on September 10 and 11, and it’s locally known as “Downtown LIVE!” This year’s Downtown LIVE! will feature a YMCA Community Block Party to celebrate local diversity, Empanada Fest to recognize the local restaurant community with a friendly competition, and Windows on Pawtucket, a public art gallery that visitors can either walk or drive by. For the week following, September 12 -16, everyone will be able to enjoy interactive crafts, engaging exhibits, and live performances to highlight “not only New England’s tremendous arts talent but the many beautiful locations featured within the Blackstone Valley.”
Within the greater Pawtucket Arts Festival is the Slater Park Fall Festival, held on both September 17 and September 18 in two parts. Day one will feature the start of their arts marketplace and food court, and will finish off with a highly anticipated performance from the Rhode Island Philharmonic Orchestra and fireworks. Day two continues with some great entertainment, local food vendors and activities – for instance, you can catch the Pawtucket Library Bookmobile on site!
All of the events going down at Pawtucket Arts Festival can be found on their website, pawtucketartsfestival.org.
Scituate Art Festival (October 8 – 10)
Happening on the Village Green this October is the Scituate Art Festival, which will feature original fine art for purchase, interactive crafts, and antiques in an open-air market environment. Throughout the weekend, there will also be showcases of live music, like the high-energy Jesse Liam Band on Saturday, the jazz performing Kelly Lennon Band on Sunday and even an open mic on Monday!
Alongside the festival entertainment and arts offerings, attendees can enjoy a wide variety of foods from the festival’s food court, which is organized by 11 nonprofit groups from the town of Scituate. From the Rotary Club’s doughboys, chowder and fries to the Shepherd of the Valley’s Willow Tree chicken salad, pumpkin pie and pulled pork. There’s a little something for everyone to snack on. Personally, I’m excited for the Potterville Fire Department’s apple dumplings.
With food in hand, you can travel the Village Green to see a range of exhibitors present a range of works, with concentrations in antiques, ceramics, clothing, glass, illustration, jewelry and more. Hopping from vendor to vendor and checking out all of the amazing works on display can surely fill up a day, and in that case, it would be a day well spent!