Photo: Marianne Lee Photography
If drinking and dining on delicious local fares underneath the stars sounds enticing to you, then you won’t want to miss Hope & Main’s Schoolyard Twilight Party on September 23 from 5-9pm.
The Schoolyard Twilight Party is Hope & Main’s largest annual fundraiser. It’s the perfect time of year to be outside—when the end of summer draws near, the beginning of fall arrives, and you can truly enjoy the in-between-period of twilight as the sun sets. With a backdrop of live music and family-friendly performances, this event is a wonderful way to kick off the new season.
Not only does your ticket allow you to sample small bites and specialty cocktails from 30 local businesses, but you’ll also get to cast your vote to decide the winner of the Sam Adams “Brewing the American Dream” Pitch contest. The winner will walk away from the event with $10,000. “It’s life-changing for a small business,” said Alison Mountford, director of marketing at Hope & Main. And you can witness the dream-come-true firsthand.
What began as fifty contestants has now been narrowed down to two finalists: Amber Jackson of Black Leaf, and Ramon and Frances Hinds of Orisirisi Spice of Life.
Jackson graduated from the 2018 Hope & Main cohort. When she first moved to Providence in 2017, she was struck by a lack of diversity. As a black woman from Chicago, it took time for her to adjust and find a sense of community. In an effort to remedy that, she launched a business that would leverage the communal tradition of drinking tea while also building spaces to engage with and celebrate Black culture. She’s used her platform to launch Young Black Professionals Mixers and Tea Talks, which grew exponentially during the pandemic. And as of October 6, you’ll be able to find her at her new brick and mortar location on Valley Street in Providence.
Each of Jackson’s tea blends is thoughtfully crafted so that whatever you’re feeling, you can cozy up with these loose leaf blends in a spirit of togetherness. At the Twilight Party, she’ll be showcasing two blends: “Glow,” which has hints of turmeric, ginger, lemon peel and black peppers, as well as a new blend called “Tennessee Whiskey,” smoked blacked tea with vanilla and apricot. And because it’s a party, she’ll be transforming these teas into mocktails. “I do cocktails and mocktails all the time,” she said. “My goal is always to have attainable wellness products – wellness should not be something that’s only accessible to the privileged.”
The second finalists are Ramon and Francis Hinds who created Orisirisi (prounced “oh ree-she ree-she”) Spice of Life. Their pepper sauce is an homage to Ramon’s grandmother, who was his primary caretaker growing up. Hinds learned kindness, love, and generosity from her example. “She was always helping people in need,” he said. After her passing, they wanted to do something to honor her. “Orisirisi” means “variety” in the Nigerian Yoruba Tribe, from which she descended. Playing on the adage, “Variety is the spice of life,” they developed Orisirisi Spice of Life.
“Our flavors are amazing – and I’m not saying that because it’s my brand,” Ramon said. “Pepper sauce is like religion in Trinidad. Anyone can make hot sauce, but we have the perfect balance of heat and flavor.” As a native of the Caribbean, he works to capture those flavors in the sauce, creating a little microcosm of culture. And don’t be afraid: they’ve designed their products to be enjoyable to everyone, both lovers of heat and those who prefer it mild.
Carrying on his grandmother’s legacy, Hinds and his wife are also dedicated to giving back. Currently, 5% of their proceeds go to help others, and it’s a percentage they plan to increase over time.
Be sure to arrive early to cast your vote – they’ll begin counting ballots around 7pm.
You can also expect to find veteran businesses, such as Sacred Cow Granola and Bellicchi’s Best Biscotti. Kathleen Bellicchi was in the inaugural graduating class at Hope and Main, and she continues to support others who are building successful home food businesses.
Among those making a first time appearance at the Twilight Party is Schantel Wilchcombe of Maxine Baked. “My bread and butter is custom cakes,” she said, but for the event she’s hoping to focus on desserts from her culture. “My dad is from the Bahamas, so tropical flavors are an emphasis – maybe passion fruit or guava. My mom is from the South, so I hope to include banana pudding and some type of red velvet cake.” She’ll be showcasing several samples to allow people to try new things.
We recommend purchasing your tickets in advance. All of the proceeds go straight back to Hope & Main’s mission, to provide incubation and education programs for entrepreneurs of all means. As Paula Silva noted—a Warren resident, food tour operator, and long-time supporter of Hope & Main—the biggest draw is seeing how so many vendors have evolved and learning their success stories. “I’ve been coming to this event every year since they started, and I love meeting the new food-preneurs. There’s always a lot of excitement and enthusiasm when makers are sharing their products.” Come eat, drink, and merrily support your local food businesses this Saturday at the Schoolyard Twilight Party.
Hope & Main: https://makefoodyourbusiness.org/
691 Main Street Warren, RI
Tickets are $60 in advance; $70 at the door; $15 for children 4-12.September 23rd, 5-9pm, rain or shine!