Red White & Blue Music Festival coming to Cumberland

Red White & Blue Music Festival coming to Cumberland

CUMBERLAND - As if fireworks, a road race and parade weren't enough this Independence Day week, the town is staging the first-ever "Red White & Blue Music Festival."

It's planned for the renovated Heritage Park across from Town Hall on Saturday, July 6 and will feature Cumberland's own recording rock star Joe Silva along with a line-up of acclaimed musicians.

On tap with Silva will be: Forever Young, Cory Pesaturo, Christian Brooks, and Dixie Diehards Jazz Band along with special guests, street performers, face painters.

Hamburgers and hot dogs on the grill will complete this "all-American" day, suggest the organizers, Silva and Cumberland Director of Planning and Community Development Kelley Morris.

This is a free event that will run from 2 to 10 p.m. and is designed for all ages.

The festival is without sponsors this first year so there will be a small charge for the tattoo and face-painting artists and the food sold by Cacklesberries restaurant.

Cumberland's Heritage Park is the site of the once-thriving Valley Falls Mill founded in 1838 by Oliver Chace, a carpenter for Samuel Slater.

It was two decades ago when the town ambitiously cleared away the overgrowth to expose the mill's foundation, including stone archways and walls and raceways constructed a half-century before Town Hall.

Walkways, ramps and bridges were installed in the early 1990s that meander along the steep slope and through the former mill site.

Complementing the ruins, the old Stillwater Bridge from Smithfield was rescued and placed here.

Interpretative signs, later destroyed by vandals, were installed to explain the industrial history visitors were experiencing.

But while hopes were high, the remoteness of the park on the Central Falls line, and the lack of use didn't serve the park well, Morris says now.

Police, who had difficulty patrolling the area as the shrubbery grew back, reported arrests for drinking, drug use, graffiti and more.

In 2008, the town won a $98,500 state open space grant to tackle it again.

Tapping the fund in recent months, trees and brush were cut back and interpretative signs replaced.

This time, too, lights and a speaker system have been installed with an eye toward better monitoring and more active use.

With those improvements now completed, the July 6 concert is the park's first showcase event.

Perhaps most dramatic will be the red, white and blue flood lights that will illuminate the nearby dam and river with festive patriotism.

Morris suggests that opening the park for more active use will offer it more protection.

In addition to town events, the park will also be available for families and organizations to rent for parties. Lighting color-schemes can change per the needs of each event. Also being added to the park are several permanent outdoor speakers that will broadcast select music daily for visitors.

A music play-list can be customized for each specific event.

Silva describes the new park as a "space where history, beauty and arts converge.

"The result," he said, "is a picture-perfect recreational area that will now include a stage area suitable for live concerts and outdoor theater performances, and pathways for future art shows.

Several new plaques are being installed throughout the walkways in the park, which will allow for informative self-guided tours.

Suggested Morris, "It would be a shame if folks were visiting Heritage Park and didn't know the history of the ruins that they were looking at.

Town officials are suggesting parking for the festival will be available at the nearby parking lots for Town Hall, Club Lusitana at the end of Meeting Street and the Filibuster Club on High Street.