On Saturday, July 28th, Governor Gina Raimondo and Newport Festivals Foundation Chairman George Wein announced that the Rhode Island Department of Environmental Management (DEM) and the Newport Festivals Foundation (NFF) had reached a license agreement that will keep the Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals in Newport for 25 – 40 more years.

On July 17, DEM and NFF entered a 25-year license agreement for the continued presence of the Jazz and Folk Festivals at Fort Adams. In addition, DEM has entered a 40-year lease with NFF for Building 16, the former home of the Museum of Yachting at Fort Adams State Park.

Read more on the agreement here –Done Deal: Newport Folk Festival and Newport Jazz Festival to stay in Newport for another 40 years

I caught up with the Governor shortly after the announcement for a one-on-one (or one-on-WUN) discussion on the announcement;

What’sUpNewp: Why was this deal so important to announce today here at Fort Adams?

Governor Raimondo: “The Newport Jazz Festival and Newport Folk Festival belong in Newport, this is home for them and a point of pride for us. They belong here, I can’t imagine the festivals anywhere else. It’s also great for our economy, 30,000 visitors will come here for this and they will spend a lot of money so it’s great for Rhode Island”.

What’sUpNewp: What makes these festivals different than all of the other festivals that happen across the state?

Governor Raimondo: “First of all it’s huge, second of all its been here since the 1950’s. There’s just something special about it, you get to come down here to Fort Adams to see people perform from all around the world. The festivals are part of our tradition and we want to make sure that forty years from now that they will still be happening here”.

What’sUpNewp: I’ve seen you speak in public alot and make alot of announcements, is it me or does it seem that when you’re up there with George Wein it’s a bit more special?

Governor Raimondo: “It is special. George is amazing, he is a legend and a prince of a guy. It was really special for me to be up there (on the stage) with him and to let him know that his legacy will live on for another forty years (in Newport)”.

What’sUpNewp:  He really has seen the highs and the lows here in Rhode Island, but there’s probably nobody in Rhode Island that has had a greater impact…

Governor Raimondo: “But, do you know what.  They’ve hung in there with us. Even in years when not a lot of people came, they stuck with and he stuck with it and today was a great day.”

My thanks to the Governor for taking the time to chat with us on Saturday.

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here - https://whatsupnewp.com/2021/09/letter-from-the-publisher-some-personal-news/

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at ryan@whatsupnewp.com and 401-662-1653.