SCITUATE – You can “come early, come late, just don’t come during lunch,” according to Scituate Art Festival Committee Chairman Paul Leveillee, who says the 2021 festival this Columbus Day weekend will feature all the nonprofit food vendors visitors have grown to love over the years.
For locals, the Scituate Art Festival is a place to run into old friends and members of the community, eat tasty treats, and buy and sell items on the front lawns of the homes lining the streets near the festival. They join non-locals in enjoying the view of the beautiful fall landscape of New England while surrounded by arts, crafts and much more at what has repeatedly been voted the best art show in Rhode Island.
The festival runs on the Scituate Village Green, 554 W. Greenville Road, this Saturday, Oct. 9, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday, Oct. 10, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Monday, Oct. 11, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Visit www.scituateartfestival.org for more.
Leveillee, a volunteer with the festival for 20 years now, and president for the last 12 years, said the food is a highlight for him, though the festival has brought art, crafts and antiques into his life that he never had before volunteering.
The festival is a juried show, Leveillee noted, to ensure the highest quality and diverse range of arts, crafts and antiques. For those who have never attended, Leveillee said come to be exposed to a variety for everyone.
“Each year, I’m amazed by what people can create. And, the food court is outstanding,” he said.
The food court is hosted by 11 nonprofits returning with festival favorites such as the Scituate Lions Club sausage and pepper sandwich, Boy Scout Troop 2’s meatball sandwiches and Troop 1’s BBQ ribs, and Scituate Preservation Society’s chicken fajitas. There is kettle corn, pretzels, hamburgers, hot dogs, clam chowder, chicken salad sandwiches, and more.
Leveillee recommends coming all three days, bringing both an appetite and a plan.
“We can always end it with the apple dumpling,” he said of the popular treat from the Potterville Fire Department.
Leveillee said vendors will be more spread out than in previous years, adding that about 40 arts and crafts vendors pulled out of the festival this year. He said each year, vendors exit for various reasons, including age and health. He said the 2021 festival will bring about 150 vendors to the festival, as well as more than 100 vendors registered with Town Hall to sell goods in the area around the festival.
The average age of vendors is in the 60s, he said, with some people having attended all 55 years of its existence.
A few vendors pulled out due to safety concerns from COVID. The difference is that this year, the committee did not fill in empty spots from the “backlog,” giving more room to exhibitors.
“It’s not going to affect the show, it will just add more space,” Leveillee said.
After having to cancel the festival last year, Leveillee said the main goal is to keep it as normal as possible, “except for protocol issues” and following state guidelines, including mask use for non-vaccinated people. Masks and sanitizer will be available at each end of the festival. Attendees are also asked to wear masks to all indoor events.
Despite restrictions, Leveillee said the aim of the festival is to bring joy and entertainment after a difficult year.
“We hope that you just might be able to forget about COVID for a few moments,” he said.
The entertainment will be great as well, he said.
In previous years, the festival brought in about 20,000 people per day, if not more. If the weather holds up, Leveillee said he hopes to attract more than 100,000 people over three days.
Parking remains an issue every year, and Leveillee said “it is what it is.” He said he tried to bring in shuttles from the Scituate State Police Barracks or other locations in town, but people said they preferred the walk. Parking is on a first-come, first-served basis along Route 6 and Danielson Pike.
Leveillee said the committee is always looking for volunteers to help plan or run the event. Visit www.scituateartfestival.org/volunteer for more.
The Scituate Art Festival started as a fundraiser in 1966 for the 1831 Scituate Congregational Church, and in recent years, funds raised have been used to power-wash the roof, repaint the exterior, and fix the bells in the tower. Leveillee said the church is in great shape, and he is excited for people to come see it. About $20,000-$30,000 also goes to about 30 local organizations each year.