By ANNELISE DEMERS A five-month delay has not stopped the Gaspee Days Committee; their annual Arts and Craft Festival will return on September 11th and 12th. In January 2021 the committee was not sure if they could even host the festival but they looked
A five-month delay has not stopped the Gaspee Days Committee; their annual Arts and Craft Festival will return on September 11th and 12th. In January 2021 the committee was not sure if they could even host the festival but they looked ahead to the fall. The festival is the main fundraising event for the Gaspee Day Parade that costs approximately $60,000.
“We are two years behind in our fundraising which really hurt us,” said Erin Flynn, publicity chair of the Gaspee Days Committee. The event usually occurs on Memorial Day weekend, providing for a three-day event.
“Will lose one third of what we usually anticipate,” said Flynn.
Following the festivities on Saturday will be a block party in Pawtuxet Park from 6:00 to 11:00 pm. The party is limited to individuals 21 years of age or older. The admission is $5 per person and can only be purchased with cash. Drink tickets will also be for sale and are cash only. The money raised will be used to help kick off the parade. The lineup is Salter ’s Groove and Neil and the Vipers.
Steve Miller, incoming president of the Gaspee Days Committee, and his wife Tracy have put the block party together. Police will be in attendance and noise ordinances will be followed.
“I am all for it,” said William Foley, a councilman from Ward 1.“I love the crowd, I love the people.”
The committee is welcoming back vendors and new ones. As of now, around 100 vendors will line Narragansett Parkway. They will be closing the down the Parkway from Peck Lane to Canonchet Ave. The application for vendors has closed with the exception of novelty vendors. Novelty vendors have until August 15 to apply. Due to the high concentration of festivals in the fall, some of the usual vendors will not be returning but this is allowing new groups of vendors to step in.
According to Tina Bingham, chair of the Arts and Craft Festival, this year's vendor line up is heavily Rhode Island based and only 16 vendors are from out of state.
“I am excited to see how it comes out,” she said.
On both days bands will be playing in Pawtuxet Park during the festival, families are encouraged to bring their chairs and enjoy the music.
“I'm hoping we see different people, they take the time to visit our event and other events across Rhode Island,” said Flynn.
The funds raised from will support the 2022 Gaspee Day Parade that marks the 250th anniversary of the burning of the Gaspee.
“The country nationally will be celebrating the burning of the Gaspee. We are happy to be kicking off the celebration in Rhode Island,” said Flynn.
Bingham, a president of the committee in ‘06 and ‘08 will serve as head of the 250th parade. She shared her excitement for the upcoming year as the first parade float has already been
booked and has a special place in her heart.
The festival and parade are put together solely by volunteers. Flynn is always looking for more volunteers and this year's numbers are looking small. She highlights the fact that they have volunteers who she nicknamed “Gaspee Elves ” who show up for the events and make them happen.
“The vibe on social media is really positive,” said Flynn on the community’s feedback regarding the event. Along with the rest of the committee, Flynn is looking forward to welcoming back the Arts Craft Festival after a tough year. According to Flynn a benefit of having the event in the fall is “It might be a little cooler.”
A fall festival is a first for the group. The Memorial Day Weekend Arts and Craft Festival will be returning in 2022. When asked if a fall festival will become a permanent addition to the Gaspee Day events Flynn had only three words.
“Never say never.”