Charlestown Seafood Festival

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Two more of Rhode Island’s iconic summer events – the Charlestown Seafood Festival and Wickford Art Festival — canceled yesterday (Thursday), the latest victims of COVID-19.

Heather Paliotta, executive director of the Charlestown Chamber of Commerce, announced that the 36th annual Seafood Festival, scheduled for August 7-9, was being canceled in the aftermath of Governor Raimondo’s decree shutting down large summer events. 

The Wickford Art Festival, for years considered the state’s premier art festival, scheduled for July 11-12, announced its cancellation on its website. 

The cancellations are in the wake of a series of cancellations this week – the Newport Folk, Jazz and Music Festivals; the Rhythm & Roots Festival, scheduled for Labor Day weekend in Charlestown; Westerly’s Virtu Art Festival in late May; and the Washington County Fair.

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The Music Festival, the Chamber music event in the mansions of Newport, is planning on events around the winter holidays, and the Westerly Chamber is turning the Virtu Art Festival into a virtual art show.

“I am heartbroken,” wrote Paliotta of the Seafood Festival’s cancellation. “This will be the first time the Charlestown Seafood Festival has not taken place in thirty-five years. We have every intention of returning on August 6, 7 & 8, 2021 with an even bigger and better festival; plans are already underway.”

The Festival has been the Chamber’s major fundraiser, and Paliotta called on the community to continue its support of the Chamber by considering “a donation.  As the economy slowly reopens, and restrictions on travel and tourism are lifted, the Charlestown Chamber of Commerce and Tourist Information Center intends to open for business as usual this season.”

The Wickford Art Association canceled its event for the first time in 58 years. It was to  feature 250 artists, exhibiting paintings, drawings, sculpture, glass, etchings, photography, mixed media and more. 

“We consider the safety of our artists and festival goers our number one priority,” the association said on its website. “We will be posting all accepted artists with their business websites, social media or emails shortly on our website for everyone to browse.”

The association characterized the art festival as its “core fundraiser,” helping to support “young artists through its scholarship program” and educational programs and exhibits. 

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