WEST KINGSTON, R.I. — An online campaign has launched to raise money to help Kenyon’s Grist Mill after the local institution was denied a spot at the Big E this year, dealing the mill a financial blow.
Local resident Sally Ruggieri has set up “Save Kenyon’s,” a gofundme.com page with the goal of raising $50,000 for the grist mill.
As of Tuesday, 36 donors had pledged $1,875 to the cause.
Ruggieri created the page Sept. 23, after hearing the news that Kenyon’s would not be at the Big E fair in West Springfield, Massachusetts.
“Our great-grandparents, our grandparents and our parents have all at one point relied on Kenyon’s for clam cake batter, cornmeal, flour, breads, muffin mixes,” Ruggieri wrote on the page. “Kenyon’s has had a booth at the Big E for decades, generating thousands of satisfied customers ... but not this year.”
She implores visitors to the page to help the small business.
“I can’t sit back and watch another mom and pop business go down the tubes,” she wrote.
According to Kenyon’s, evidence of a grist mill at the site dates to 1696. But the current mill was built in 1886 and became Kenyon’s in 1909 when Charles D. Kenyon purchased it. The Drumm family has owned the mill since 1971.
Perhaps best known for its jonnycake meal and clam cake mix, Kenyon’s made news several weeks ago when it announced it wouldn’t have a booth at the Big E, where it had served clam cakes and chowder annually for decades.
Kenyon’s said Sept. 13 that the mill’s Big E contract wasn’t renewed, a decision made by the Rhode Island Commerce Corporation.
News reports indicate Commerce Corporation officials and owner Paul Drumm III have met since then. Kenyon’s also forged ahead, attending the Durham, Connecticut fair for the first time Sept. 26-29. The grist mill also will host an open house Oct. 19 and 20 at its 21 Glen Rock Road location.
Carlleen Barrington made a donation.
“I grew up in R.I., Johnny Cakes are a staple and a favorite of mine,” said Barrington, who lives in Florida and always has at least two boxes on hand.
“This grist mill is historic, and it would be horrible to lose this part of R.I. history,” Barrington said.