Summer is a time of celebration. It marks the end of another school year, brings with it long-awaited vacations and the sunny weather brightens people’s spirits. This summer also marks the end of more than a year of isolation, uncertainty and hardship. If there was ever a time worthy of celebration, summer 2021 is it.
Rhode Island is rich with the spirit of summertime — South County truly comes alive as people from all over the country are called back to the shores of the Ocean State to savor time in the sun with their loved ones. Now more than ever, “there is excitement to get together with friends and family and resume activities that were missed,” said Kristin Urbach, Executive Director of the North Kingstown Chamber of Commerce.
Now that things are getting back to normal, residents and visitors can get excited because, if you couldn’t already tell, South County is ready for summer. The beaches are open, and many favorite events are back, so mark your calendars and head out to support the organizations that have worked tirelessly to make them happen for their community.
“The chamber events and others in South County are an excellent opportunity to showcase local businesses, artists and products that comprise the fabric and uniqueness of our community. We have all long awaited and look forward to engaging in these fun events that were so missed during the pandemic,” said Urbach.
The following is a list of some of the premier events you can look forward to this summer in South County.
The annual Wakefield RiverFire event is back for 2021. The first fire lighting is on Thursday, June 24 from 6 to 10 p.m. on the Saugatucket River in historic, downtown Wakefield and continues every Thursday evening until August 19. Live music from area bands will perform on stage at the river’s edge and Saugatucket Bridge. Starting at 8 p.m., a RiverFire Cabaret will continue into the evening at The Contemporary Theater Company’s outdoor stage. On Main Street, local artisans and vendors will be selling goods. Local shops and restaurants and the adjacent elementary school playground will also be open. Admission to Wakefield RiverFire is free. A non-perishable food collection site will be provided to benefit the Jonnycake Center for Hope.
Rhythm & Roots Festival
The annual Rhythm & Roots Festival is rocking back to Charlestown from September 3-5 at Ninigret Park. The festival boasts a solid three days of music and four nights of camping — if you are lucky enough to snag one of the limited, highly-coveted camping spots. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit rhythmandroots.com.
Wickford Art Festival
Proudly produced by the Wickford Art Association since 1962, the Wickford Art Association is coming back to historic downtown Wickford on July 10 and 11 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Art enthusiasts have traveled near and far to discover some of the best fine art by renowned artists from Rhode Island, New England and across the nation while strolling through Wickford’s classic seaside village. Admission is always free and as a bonus to fine art collectors, Rhode Island does not collect sales tax on fine art sales. For more information about the Wickford Art Festival, visit wickfordart.org.
36th Annual Charlestown Seafood Festival
The Charlestown Seafood Festival — named a “Top 100 Event in North America” and listed as one of the “10 Best Summer Seafood Festivals in the Northeast” — is thrilled to announce that the 36th Annual Charlestown Seafood Festival will be held this summer on Aug. 6, 7 & 8, at Charlestown’s Ninigret Park. The Seafood Festival is the biggest fundraiser for the Charlestown Chamber of Commerce. Not only are there various dining opportunities to enjoy, but there will also be musical entertainment, fireworks on Saturday night, a car show on Sunday, onsite camping, a carnival, crafters and more. General, daily admission to the Charlestown Seafood Festival is $10 for adults, children 10 and under free, military (with ID) and seniors (65 & older) receive a discounted rate of $7; parking is free. For more information and a detailed schedule of festival events and activities, visit charlestownseafoodfestival.com.
Narragansett Blessing of the Fleet and Seafood Festival
The Blessing of the Fleet is a colorful event featuring a parade of decorated commercial and recreational watercraft, large and small. A local clergyman blesses each vessel as they pass by spectators along the breach way who wave and cheer them on. Attended by almost 30,000 people each year, the festival is a major part of the Blessing of the Fleet celebration. It runs from July 22 to July 24 at Memorial Square (next to The Towers). At the festival, you will find food offered by the Narragansett Lions Club as well as other food vendors, games, rides and live music performed by popular local bands. The Blessing of the Fleet Race — which normally brings thousands of runners, walkers and wheelchair entrants to compete on a scenic 10-mile course through historic Narragansett — will still be held virtually this year. For more information, visit narragansettlionsclub.org.
North Kingstown Chamber of Commerce’s Savor the Sunset Event at Casey Farm
On July 15, the NK Chamber of Commerce is hosting their second Savor the Sunset event at Casey Farm in North Kingstown from 5:30 to 8 p.m.
This event showcases the farm and the produce grown there. Chefs prepare food and beverages from locally sourced ingredients that are available for tastings during the event. Attendees will enjoy participating in lawn games, the photo vignette and educator tours as well.
The Taste of Southern R I.
The Southern RI Chamber of Commerce is hosting a premier culinary event, The Taste of Southern Rhode Island — a dazzling night of food sampling and spirit tastings from Southern Rhode Island’s best restaurants and culinary masterminds. Over 40 local food and beverage vendors typically participate. This event is for those 21 and older. Look for future event details to be announced by The Southern RI Chamber of Commerce.
Wickford Harbor Lights
The Wickford Harbor Lights event is back for 2021 and will be held on June 24, June 29, Aug. 26 and Sept. 30 at 6 p.m. Come enjoy beautiful, historic downtown Wickford as the water is illuminated by floating lights.
Fourth of July Fireworks at Narragansett Beach
Families can celebrate Independence Day with a free concert and fireworks display at the Narragansett Town Beach, 79 Boston Neck Road. Concerts will be held at the North Beach Clubhouse. The Brass Force Band will perform from 2 to 4 p.m. and the US Coast Guard Band will perform from 6:30 to 8 p.m.
Washington County Fair
The Washington County Fair is returning for its 55th season from Aug 11 through 15. Fair gates are open from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., with most activities and vendors opening at 10 a.m. and midway rides opening at noon Adult admission to the fair is $11 and kids 10 and under are free. Step back in time and experience the classic thrills of a day at the fair with amusement rides, classic fair foods, 4-H shows and live music. For more information, visit washingtoncountyfair-ri.com.
Contemporary Theater Company Live Shows
After a year of socially distanced, virtual performances, the Contemporary Theater Company is once again performing in front of live audiences. First on the schedule are their fully improvised patio musicals from June 23 until Aug. 25 at 7 p.m. Next up is Shakespeare on the Saugatucket from June 18-20, 25-27, July 2-3, 9-11 at 7 p.m. Every Thursday in July at 8 p.m., during Wakefield RiverFire, the Riverfire Cabarets will perform on the CTC patio. Other shows during their summer season are Fools of Another Nature from July 16-17, 23-24, 30-31 at 7 p.m.; Bethel Park Falls by Jason Pizzarello from Aug. 6-8, 13-15, 20-21, 27-29 at 7 p.m. CTC is also hosting two special events this summer. The Big Ol’ Clambake is an old-fashioned clambake at Casey Farm on Aug. 7 at 7 p.m. On Aug. 12 at 7 p.m. the long-awaited conclusion to the Wakefield Idol — which was postponed mid-season when the world paused in 2020 — will bring together 2020 contestants and past contestants for one concert to celebrate the unique season. For more information, visit contemporarytheatercompany.com.
Live shows at Pump House Music Works
Pump House Music Works is back to bringing a variety of local, regional and international performers representing all musical genres to their Peace Dale venue. Performing this summer are The Dick Clarks with Steamy Windows on June 4 at 6 p.m.; Soulshot on June 5 at 7:30 p.m.; Dan Moretti & Brazilia on June 6 at 5:30 p.m.; Dan Moretti & Brazilia on June 12 at 5 p.m.; Fellswater on June 12 at 5 p.m.; Bobby Keyes Trio with Tom White Trio on June 20 at 4:30 p.m.; Josh Schurman and Friends on June 25 at 7 p.m.; Sidy Maiga & Afrimanding on June 26 at 7 p.m.; Open Mic on June 27 at 3 p.m. For more information about Pump House Music Works and a full listing of upcoming shows, visit pumphousemusicworks.com.