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After being canceled for the first time in 57 years due to the coronavirus pandemic, Wickford Art Association recently announced that its annual Wickford Art Festival will be back this July with a new location and 180 artists.

The annual summer event will take place Saturday, July 10 and Sunday, July 11 at Wilson Park. The event is free and open to the public from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days.

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The heat is on in Wakefield this summer.

After a one-year hiatus due to the coronavirus pandemic, the Wakefield Village Association recently announced the rekindling of the Wakefield RiverFire summer event series. The first lighting will begin on June 24 from 6 to 10 p.m. on the Saugatucket River in historic, downtown Wakefield. The event continues every Thursday evening until Aug. 19. 

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As it has for the last year and a half during the COVID-19 pandemic, the University of Rhode Island is relying on its ingenuity, expertise and teamwork to give the class of 2021 memorable, in-person commencement ceremonies that start Friday, May 21 and end Sunday, May 23, at Meade Stadium.

All participating graduates will dress in traditional regalia, have their names announced, cross the stage and have professional photographs taken. To maintain the health and safety of the URI community, in-person celebrations will be limited to graduates only.

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Imagine walking into a new exhibit at the South County Museum that lists as many local commercial fishermen as can be identified — past and present — and features stories of notable fishing families, artifacts of the fishing industry, a parade of historic photographs on large video screens, and even an oral history booth where present-day fishermen and their families can tell their stories.

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In each of us, goes an old adage, is a book. The stories of our lives can offer interpretations and understandings of the world, a piece of advice, or simply just catharsis.

As authors, we weave our understandings and experiences into narratives. They show up in fiction, non-fiction, poetry and imagery, to name a few places. Packaging them as hardcover or softcover books, online ebooks, audiobooks or even CDs and DVDs can bring those narratives to life.

“It is a labor of love,” said Michael Grossman, owner of Ebook Bakery in South Kingstown and advisor to many self-publishing authors. “I’m in publishing because I love words. We do it because we love it. Publishing these works brings people into our lives. It’s exciting.”

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Jayne Merner Senecal says there is a stigma surrounding farming and working with one’s hands, a belief that labor-intensive careers shouldn’t be revered as much as white-collar jobs. Senecal takes issue with that belief, and as the owner of Earth Care Farm in Charlestown, works to convince others of the value of farm work.

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The annual Wickford Art Association’s Small Works: Holiday Sale is taking place from Nov. 20 to Dec. 22 this year, featuring up to 45 member artists selling small works.

“This is an annual event that we have here and basically it’s for the member artists of the organization,” Executive Director Catherine Gagnon said. “They can basically reserve an area of display space within the gallery itself and then it’s their prerogative on how they wish to use the space. They can have as many pieces under 14 inches possible and it is an active show and sale, so as people come in to visit the gallery, they can pay and carry the artwork out with them.”

Artists are able to replenish their space throughout the duration of the show with more pieces that meet the criteria.

In a year where COVID-19 has robbed many artists of the opportunity to sell their works over the course of the spring and summer, many art sales have been canceled or limited with social distancing guidelines.

“It’s generally a very successful sale,” Gagnon said. “Each year, between $10,000 and $14,000 worth of sales occur, so yes, in a year where opportunities have been quite limited for the artists to sell their works at art shows, fairs and in galleries, this year becomes even more critical, so we’re trying to make the sale as accessible as possible.”

In order to do so, the sale will be going on for one extra Tuesday, in addition to the normal Wednesday through Sunday gallery schedule.

“We also added one additional day to the sale on Tuesday, Dec. 22, right before Christmas, so that if people are using this sale as a way to take care of their gift-giving for the holiday season, that is certainly an opportunity,” Gagnon said. “The individual artists who do this for a living, or supplement their income by doing artwork, really do look forward to this particular opportunity each year.”

A virtual gallery featuring one piece from each of the selling member artists will go up in a virtual gallery on the WAA’s website Oct. 31.

The Wickford Art Association gallery is open Wednesdays through Saturdays from noon to 4 p.m. and Sundays from noon to 3 p.m. For more information, visit their website, wickfordart.org. 

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Recognizing the need in its community and the many families struggling due to the ongoing pandemic, Bank Rhode Island (BankRI) will begin its annual “Holiday Giving Tree” program early in hopes of brightening the season for as many local children as possible. The signature effort, now in its 23rd year, collects gifts for underprivileged kids that are distributed by the bank’s nonprofit partners.

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It’s the holiday season, and it might be time to get some gifts for those you love and care about.

If the gift you’re thinking about is a book, it might be easy to select an online retailer or a big box store. But why not consider something close to home that will help out your community and local small business: your local independent bookstore?

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This season, the need to support local businesses is being more keenly felt than in years past. When you shop local you are encouraging your neighbor’s creative outlet, you are helping to send a local child to camp and you are helping to put food on the table of the person whose passion is the business you visited. This contributes to the overall vitality of your town and makes it the uniquely wonderful place it is. Shopping local has an immediate, tangible effect.

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It’s been a strange summer but some things are still as they should be, like the clam cakes and chowder at Aunt Carrie’s, the local eatery celebrating its 100th anniversary. While a lot has changed in the years since Carrie Cooper opened her lemonade stand near the Point Judith Light, some things have remained the same, a testament to quality food and the strength of family bonds.

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With galleries shut down for months and exhibitions canceled, postponed or moved to virtual-only shows, finding ways to express yourself and show off your work has been challenging for artists in Southern Rhode Island this year.

Thankfully, over the last few weeks many local galleries have slowly returned to normal as Rhode Island expands its reopening. For the Wickford Art Association, though, normal isn’t quite good enough.

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