NEWS

Volunteers, community boost Gaspee Days Fall Festival

By ALEX MALM
Posted 9/15/21

By ALEX MALM It was four months later than usual, but the annual Gaspee Days Arts and Crafts festival was worth the wait, according to event organizers. Not knowing what regulations may be in June, the Gaspee Days Committee made the decision in March to

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NEWS

Volunteers, community boost Gaspee Days Fall Festival

Posted

It was four months later than usual, but the annual Gaspee Days Arts and Crafts festival was worth the wait, according to event organizers.

Not knowing what regulations may be in June, the Gaspee Days Committee made the decision in March to postpone the event until the second weekend in September.

The festival is the primary fundraiser for the annual Gaspee Days, which will commemorate the 250th anniversary of the sinking of the Gaspee in 2022.

“It went very well,” said Tina Bingham, the co-chair of the festival. “From what the vendors told us everybody was very happy, we got a lot of compliments.” 

Traditionally, the festival is three days and takes place over Memorial Day weekend. Bingham said that since it is a rain or shine event it worked out well for vendors and those in attendance since it rained all throughout Memorial Day and during the weekend. The change in schedule allowed it to be held during perfect weather conditions.

On the volunteer front, Bingham said that she was very lucky as well.

“I had more people frankly than I knew what to do with, which was great,” she said.

Bingham credited the fact that they weren’t able to have the event for two and a half years, and because people are busier in the spring for why the turnout of volunteers.

After being on the committee for 28 years, Bingham has seen the amount of work that it takes to put on the event, and why volunteers are needed.

“What you don’t see is that there is so much that goes on behind the scenes,” she said.

One of the difficulties that the organizers had was making sure the Public Safety Committee approved the vendors in time.

Bingham said that because they only meet once a month in the summer she had to make July 16 the deadline for vendor applications. Once they submit names to the city, they aren’t able to add any more vendors.

She said that people contacted her at the last minute looking to set up at the event.

If they had another couple of weeks to accept applications, they could’ve sold out, according to Bingham.

In total they have six blocks worth of sites for vendors, which equal 133 spaces. This year they had 98 vendors in total. Normally vendors are charged $225 for three days but this year they paid $150 since it was only two days.

She also noted that many of the other spring arts and crafts shows were postponed to the fall making it more difficult to get vendors.

One thing that was unusual this year was the number of people who signed up but had to cancel.

Bingham said that normally they have about 40 percent of their vendors from out of state but only had 19 total this year. Out of the eight that had to drop out, they were all from out of town.

She said that some people didn’t tell them why they had to cancel while others said it was COVID related.

On a normal year they usually only have about one to two people who have to cancel.

The type of vendors they had this year was also different.

“One of the things I was really excited about is that we had a lot more art this time,” Bingham.

Those in attendance also felt the same way, she said.

“People were thrilled. They loved the fact that we had more art, so I’m hoping that these people will come back in May,” Bingham said.

She doesn’t plan on being a co-chair for the Arts & Crafts Festival in 2022 because she will instead be in charge of the parade, something that she did in 2002 and 2004.

“To be able to do the 250th is a huge honor. I’m so excited,” she said.

Steve Miller, president for the Gaspee Days Committee, wasn’t sure how much was raised from Arts & Crafts Festival or from the Block Party that also took place last weekend.

He said for the Block Party the attendance was less than in the past but not a “significant” difference.

About 700 people attended the Block Party, according to Miller, while they usually draw a crowd of about 1,000 people.

While they are still working on the details of different events for this year’s event he said that they expect to host a fundraiser in February at Rhodes on Pawtuxet and hope to expand the parade to make it “bigger and better.”

“It was defiantly a successful weekend,” Miller said.

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