All about community for 15th Pawtucket Arts Festival

All about community for 15th Pawtucket Arts Festival

Famed Taste of the Valley coming Friday

PAWTUCKET - Organizers of the Pawtucket Arts Festival have known for a while that they wanted to make the 15th anniversary edition something special, so for the past year they've worked to make sure the upcoming installment is unlike any before it.

This year's month-long spectacular, which begins this Friday, Sept. 6, and ends Sept. 29, will have a renewed emphasis on what Kristine and Peter Kilmartin had in mind when they jump-started it back in 1999, a strong sense of pride in the good things the community has to offer.

Opening weekend, starting with Taste of the Valley this Friday evening, Sept. 6, will include Exchange Street Open Studios and Arts Marketplace Pawtucket, both running Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 7-8, Chinese dragon boat races on Sept. 7, the First Light ceremony at the Pawtucket River Bridge on Sept. 7, and the Slater Mill Ethnic and Heritage Festival on Sept. 8.

The Pawtucket Arts Festival Executive Committee has announced a complete schedule of this year's events. Find it with this story at .

It was a walk through the 209-acre Slater Memorial Park that originally inspired Kristine Kilmartin to inquire about why Pawtucket wasn't doing more to take advantage of its beautiful green space. All these years later, the Slater Park Fall Festival, coming Sept. 21-22, will leave little doubt that Slater Park is still a destination.

Pat Zacks, a coordinator of the Fall Festival and Pawtucket Arts Festival, told The Breeze that this year's Fall Festival will primarily "showcase the good things in Pawtucket." There will truly be something for everyone at the Pawtucket Arts Festival, said Zacks, meaning even someone who has been to the festival every year since it started will find something they can connect with and enjoy.

"What we're doing is really community-centered, really engaging the community," she said. "We want to keep it fun, keep it lively, and keep it suitable for all ages."

This Friday, Sept. 6, from 6 to 11 p.m. on the grounds of historic Slater Mill Museum, 67 Roosevelt Ave., fans of food and fun are invited to the Blackstone River Party/Taste of the Valley, presented by Schofield Printing. Food and dessert samplings from some of the finest restaurants in Pawtucket and surrounding communities will be available from 6 to 8 p.m., along with a cash bar. Beverage sponsors are Abita Beer and Wine Resources. Slippery Sneakers Zydeco Band heats up the dance floor under the tent from 6 to 8 p.m. Andre Thierry and Zydeco Magic, national performing artists, play music from 8:30 to 11 p.m. The event will be held rain or shine.

Tickets for the Blackstone River Party/Taste of the Valley will be sold at the Blackstone Valley Visitor Center, 175 Main St. The admission fee is $10 for all events. Children younger than 12 are free. For more information, call 800-454-2882.

The Pawtucket Arts Festival is a celebration of arts, culture, and creative enterprise in downtown Pawtucket, Slater Park, and the city of Central Falls. Organized by city workers and volunteers, the Pawtucket Arts Festival "celebrates a legacy of creativity and innovation that dates back to 1790, when a young textile wizard from England, Samuel Slater, made the Blackstone River Valley and the city of Pawtucket the Birthplace of the American Industrial Revolution and the place where 'innovation starts.'"

The 2013 Pawtucket Arts Festival will feature the inaugural "Food Trucks on the Blackstone," offering an opening weekend food fair near Pawtucket City Hall. Another first-timer will be "The Pirates of Penzance," offered by Opera Providence at the Blackstone Valley Visitor Center on Roosevelt Avenue. The performance will join two plays at the Gamm Theatre by British playwright Caryl Churchill, "A Number" and "Far Away."

Also new this year, the In-OVATION Festival at Slater Mill brings Duke Robillard to the stage as part of a lineup of performers and ensembles that spotlights new artists and old friends.

More than 120 arts and craft vendors will be showcased during the Fall Festival, which will feature an 'open air market' of food trucks, farmers market, art and craft exhibitions, music and other activities, with special performances by the legendary Cowsills at 3:30 p.m. and the Rhode Island Philharmonic "Pops in the Park" on Sunday at 5:30 p.m. Concert and fireworks will be sponsored in part by the Pawtucket Teachers Alliance. Art vendors from across New England will join Pawtucket artists for the event, said Zacks.

One of the main attractions at the Fall Festival will be Pawtucket-based artist Philippe LeJeune, who will bring "forms of illusion into reality" with his interactive and engaging outdoor installation titled "Magical Confusion." LeJeune's work, like that of others, is designed to make visitors part of the art experience.

Two new city-based breweries, the Bucket Brewery and Foolproof Brewing, will be among the local attractions at the Fall Festival, said Zacks, even though they won't be serving beer.

With more than two centuries of stories to showcase, the Pawtucket Arts Festival turns the spotlight on the city's contemporary urban campus of restored mills and commercial spaces that now house visual arts and recording studios, galleries, fabricators, and performing arts spaces, such as the Gamm Theatre.

The Pawtucket Film Festival screens new films, and Rocktucket will again fill Main Street with music. The Dragon Boat Races and Taiwan Day Festival, presented by Schofield Printing, are among the opening weekend's events.

During the Pawtucket Arts Festival, the performing arts share the stage with visual arts and fine crafts at Arts Marketplace: Pawtucket and XOS-Exchange Street Open Studios. The curtain is raised on theater and classical music for performances of the Rhode Island Philharmonic, Aurea, Opera Providence and The Gamm Theatre.

Folk music will fill the air during the Labor & Ethnic Heritage Festival at Slater Mill and at the Stone Soup Sampler, hosted at the home of Stone Soup's Coffeehouse in St. Paul Church, 50 Park Place, later in the month.

The British theme returns in the final weekend of the festival when Aurea combines the elegance of classical music and the power of poetry on the stage at St. Paul Church on Park Place. Their program "Illuminations" weaves the music of Britten, Purcell, and Bridge with the verse of Auden, Woolf, Spender, and Isherwood.

The Pawtucket Arts Festival is funded by support from the local business community and from grants from Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. The grants support projects in the arts as well as the work of arts and cultural organizations that contribute to Rhode Island's creative economy.

With the exception of a few events, admission to the Pawtucket Arts Festival is free, and there is free parking all over.

For more about these and other Pawtucket Arts Festival events, visit .