While some long-standing northern Rhode Island traditions were modified in 2020 under pandemic-related restrictions, most were cancelled, a sad reality for organizers, some of whom rely on the events as fundraisers.
Some gatherings, such as Burrillville’s annual Family Fair, remain on hiatus in 2021, but most are back on, with groups promising to bring back all of the fun and community spirit we missed in 2020.
Below is our list of not-to-be-missed summer events in northern Rhode Island.
Event: Ancients & Horribles Parade & Festivities
When: Friday, July 2 – Saturday, July 3
The lowdown: Founded in 1927, the Ancients & Horribles Parade is a one-of-a-kind gem in northern Rhode Island featuring floats, marchers, veterans, fire trucks and often, political satire. When the event was last held in 2019, locals were celebrating the defeat of an effort to build a power plant in Burrillville, and developer Invenergy appeared as a fire-breathing dragon, while a walker dressed as former state Gov. Gina Raimondo wore a price tag and sign stating, “donations accepted.” In 2020, organizers asked locals to decorate their homes to honor the long-standing 4th of July tradition.
Over the years, Glocester’s celebration of Independence Day has grown to include a night of music and fireworks, and a road race, and 2021 is no exception
This year, the town’s celebration begins on Friday, July 2, with music and fireworks starting at 5 p.m. at Glocester Memorial Park, just behind the senior center. Classic rock band Gullet will kick off the show with a performance until 7 p.m., when the Nolan Leite Experience takes the stage. Fireworks are slated to begin at 9 p.m.
Saturday, July 3 begins with Glocester’s Annual Road Race at 9 a.m., and the parade starts at 4 p.m., marching along Route 44 in the village of Chepachet. Guests are invited to show off their artistic talents as well and wear crazy outfits, as they set up lawn chairs and blankets along the route. Prizes will be awarded for Most Ancient & Horrible, Most Patriotic and Best Walking Group.
NOTE: The fireworks and concert scheduled for Friday, July 2 have been moved to Saturday, July 10 due to inclement weather. They will be held at Glocester Memorial Park at 5 p.m. The parade will continue rain or shine on Saturday.
Event: The Riverwalk Times Concert Series
When: Saturdays at 6 p.m. through July & August
The lowdown: Put on by Friends of the Jesse Smith Memorial Library the series had humble beginnings in 2008 with a single act. Originally devised as a way to thank the community for support of the library throughout the year, the series has grown in recent years and will feature seven high-quality acts in 2021. Concerts are held at the pavilion in front of the library, and organizers have also secured a rain venue this year, with events held at Burrillville High School’s Levy Rink in inclement weather.
The 2021 concert season is dedicated to the memory of Clinton O. Remington, in recognition of his contributions to the facility, and guests are invited put on their dancing shoes, and bring blankets and chairs.
- July 10: Jesse Liam Band
- July 17: Brass Attack
- July 24: All About Amy (formerly The Deloreans)
- July 31: Kelley Lennon Band
- August 7: Live Music Band
- August 14: The Aviators
- August 21: The Black Tie Band
Event: North Smithfield Days
When: July 8-10
The lowdown: First held in 2019, North Smithfield Days were cancelled in 2020 and are returning this year as a celebration of the town’s 150th birthday. Three days of events and activities will culminate with a celebration at North Smithfield High School on Saturday, July 10, with music and food trucks, ending with a dramatic fireworks display.
The events begin on Thursday, July 8, when town-based director Christian de Rezendes will bring a special pre-screening of his docu-series Slatersville: America’s First Mill Village to the North Smithfield High School auditorium. The latest segment in the an ongoing series of previews dubbed “The War,” will look at North Smithfield’s contribution to World War II. The full 9-part documentary is slated to premiere on Rhode Island PBS next year.
The screening, which begins at 7:30 p.m., is expected to last around 45 minutes, and is free and open to the public.
That same evening, a free family movie night will take place in the t-ball field at Pacheco Park, starting after sundown around 8:45 p.m.
On Friday, the celebration moves to Goodwin Brothers Farm with Dinner Under the Stars, a chance to enjoy top-notch local food and entertainment in an outdoor setting.
Farm-to-table chef Ryan Sherlock has devised a four-course menu for the event with entrée choices such as “farmer cioppino,” pan roasted statler chicken, and fire-side smore baskets for dessert. A band, including local artist Derek McDonald will play throughout the evening.
Tickets for the dinner cost $100, with proceeds to support future North Smithfield Days. Reservations can be made on Eventbrite.com.
The final day, Saturday, July 10 will start off with a walking tour of Slatersville with Blackstone River Historical Park. The free, roughly one-hour tour of the village will depart from Memorial Town Hall at 9 a.m.
Starting at 10 a.m., families are invited to stay in the village for Kids’ Day in the Park at Pacheco, with free activities to run through 1 p.m. At 12:30, North Smithfield Fire & Rescue will come by with a truck and will open up the fire hose for the kids to run around under and cool off according to organizer April Lombardi.
Saturday night, the grand finale takes place on the high school grounds, where DJ Ray Arruda will begin spinning tunes around 6:30 p.m.
Vendors will include Sunnyside on the Street, Mickey G’s Clam Shack, The ISH, Smoke & Barbecue and a final truck offering cool treats such as ice cream or lemonade, which has still to be determined. Guests are invited to secure their spot for the fireworks, to be lit from the baseball field starting around 9:15 p.m.
Event: North Smithfield Summer Concert Series
When: Select Thursdays in July & August
The lowdown: An annual series put on by the North Smithfield Parks & Recreation Department, the summer concerts have long been held at the Slatersville Congregational Church Common, but have found a new home in 2021. Concerts this year will take place by the Town Hall gazebo at 83 Greene St., the property that once held Kendall Dean School.
Food trucks will also join the concerts this year, sponsored by Navigant Credit Union, and parking will be available behind Town Hall.
- July 22: Scott Fowler & Southbound Band
- July 29: Whiskey Road Band
- August 5: Black Plain Road
- August 12: All About Amy
Event: The Assembly of Food Trucks
When: Sunday, July 18 & Sunday, August 15
The lowdown: A popular event since its inception in 2019, PVD Food Truck Night typically brings out around a
dozen trucks and hundreds of hungry visitors to the grounds of the Assembly Theatre on East Avenue in Burrillville. Enjoy a wine and beer by a scenic view of the Harrisville Dam, along with live entertainment starting at 5 p.m.
Event: Sundays in the Village
When: Sundays July 11-August 1, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The lowdown: Join the Glocester Recreation Department at the pavilion at Kent Field for live music, vendors, food trucks and more.
- July 11: Atwater~Donnelly
- July 18: Gooseberry Road
- July 25: Pete Siner
- August 1: Bob Fat Free
Event: Burrillville Land Trust Fundraiser to Save Sweet’s Hill
When:Sunday, July 25
The lowdown: Part of the Burrillville Land Trust’s ongoing effort to save a 150-acre property on East Avenue of historical and ecological significance, this fundraiser will feature live music by River’s North, raffles and more. Doors at the Townsmen Club at 66 Townsmen Way in Mapleville will open at 3 p.m., with a chicken BBQ dinner served at 4 p.m. Proceeds of the event go towards purchasing and stewarding the property. Tickets are available by
calling (401) 4471560 or sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org
Event: Glocester Summer Concerts
When: Wednesday nights starting at 6:30 p.m.
The lowdown: Another event by the Glocester Recreation Department, the town’s Summer Concert Series has been growing every year, starting in June and continuing for several weeks every Wednesday evening. Concerts are held on the grounds of Chepachet Union Church across from the Glocester Town Hall starting at 6:30 p.m., with the exception of the August 4 show. Guests are invited to bring a blanket or a lawn chair and relax for some entertainment.
- July 7: Vinyl Frontier
- July 14: All About Amy
- July 21: Bill Thibodeau Band
- July 28: Rhode Island Redneck
- August 4: Brass Attack at Kent Field Pavilion
Event: The Burrillville Farmer’s Market
When: Saturdays through September, 9:30 a.m. to noon
The lowdown: Held at the Stillwater Mill pavilion, the weekly market offers local food, art and music. Products include items such as beef, honey, baked good, eggs, cut flowers, plants and wool, and the market often also has entertainment, children’s programs, educational literature and guest experts. For more information visit http://burrillvillefarmersmarket.org/