Organizers urge patrons to enjoy East Providence Heritage Days

Photos By Rich Dionne: Carnival workers unpack an egyptian head that goes to a ride called "Pharaoh's Fury/Sea Dragon" while setting up for Heritage Days at Pierce field on Tuesday. Photos By Rich Dionne: Carnival workers unpack an egyptian head that goes to a ride called "Pharaoh's Fury/Sea Dragon" while setting up for Heritage Days at Pierce field on Tuesday.

EAST PROVIDENCE — Though some rancor and unwanted politics has encroached slightly upon the latest edition of the East Providence Heritage Days Festival, those responsible for putting on the 34th annual event July 18-20 at Pierce Memorial Field remain as upbeat as ever about the long-standing city tradition.

Heritage Days Committee President Clarence “Junior” Butler and committee member Joe Medeiros, grounds manager of the Pierce complex, recently discussed the upcoming festival, urging residents to take in the sights and sounds while putting aside any false notions being circulated by some in elected office and the community.

“We just want people to come in, relax and have a good time. Forget about what’s being said,” Mr. Medeiros said.

The committee has introduced a special new feature for the 2014 event. Heritage Days will offer free admission both Saturday and Sunday afternoons, 3-5 p.m. and 1-3 p.m., respectively.

A worker prepares to unload ticket booths for the Heritage Days Festival.

A worker prepares to unload ticket booths for the Heritage Days Festival.

“Everyone is welcome to come and sample the food and atmosphere,” Mr. Medeiros said of the free admission periods. “We’ve heard from people in the neighborhood over the years that they’d like to come in, get a bite to eat and say hello to some friends, but aren’t into the music. This helps people to come over for a little while, enjoy the festival and go home. If they decide they want to stay, buy a ticket, fine. If not, at least they were here for a little bit.”

Another of the new features being introduced this summer is the layout of the festival. Previously, vendors were spread out over the Pierce grounds. This year, just about everything related to Heritage Days will be encompassed within the stadium. The only things outside will be the rides for children, which will remain on the adjacent baseball field.

“The committee felt we needed to change things up a little, consolidate, create a better atmosphere,” Mr. Medeiros said. “We think this will be good for everyone, the guests and the vendors.”

Important hallmarks of Heritage Days, the arts and music, stay the same. The festival once again offers a wide variety of multi-ethnic foods, crafts and sounds.

Concerts include Custard Pie-Celebrating the Music of Led Zeppelin on Friday, July 18. The next evening, July 19, Grammy Award winning producer and Rock legend Rick Derringer takes the main stage. The Pat Travers Band, known for its 70s hit “Boom Boom (Out Go the Lights),” brings the fest to a close Sunday night, July 20. Local rockers Crushed Velvet supports the finale.

Also performing during the weekend are the award winning all-female band Annalivia (Saturday), which pays homage to the music of Ireland and Scotland, the West African inspired sounds of Zili Misik (Sunday), the Mexican-inspired sounds of Veronica Robles & Her Mariachi (Sunday) and the Latin Jazz of South America with MarKamusic (Sunday).

“People should know we feature some great ethnic music. These performers are some of the best in the world,” Mr. Butler said. “Annalivia is an acoustic folk group that plays all over Europe. Veronica Robles has played Carnegie Hall and the Lincoln Center. And Zili Misik won the World Music Award from the Boston Phoenix. These are some great musicians we’re talking about.

“Since our inception the Heritage Days committee has attempted to feature many different cultures through music and food, and I think this year especially conveys that commitment to diversity and culture of the people of this city.”

Tickets for the event are $5 for Friday and Sunday, $10 for Saturday. Both men stressed Heritage Days no longer receives any financial backing from the city as it once did. It is a 501c3 non-profit, all-volunteer organization solely dependent on the goodwill of patrons to ensure that the arts, culture and live performances are preserved and promoted within East Providence each summer in an accessible and affordable manner. The committee will be accepting donations of any amount in addition to the cost of a ticket.

“I believe this our sixth year as a completely self-supporting venture,” Mr. Butler said. “In that time, I’ve had two very big concerns. First is to give the people who attend Heritage Days the best possible experience. And second is to make sure we are funded so we can put the festival on next year. Those two things remain our focus.”

Heritage Days has set up a giving page for those wanting to assist with funding the event at www.gofundme.com/HeritageFest. Advanced tickets for the festival can be purchased online at www.ticketweb.com/snl/Search.action?query=Pierce+Stadium. For up-to-date information on Heritage Days visit www.epheritagdays.com.

34th Annual East Providence Heritage Days Festival

Schedule of Events

Friday, July 18
7 and 9 p.m.: Custard Pie – Celebrating the Music of Led Zeppelin
Fanelli Midway, Ethnic Food & Crafts
Children 12 & under free with adult
Doors Open 6 p.m..
Festival hours 6-11 p.m.

Saturday, July 19
Featuring World Music
4:30 p.m.: MarKamusic (South American/Concert plus Workshop)
6:45 p.m.: Annalivia (American Roots & Branches String Band)
​8 p.m.: Band Of Brothers
9:30 p.m.: Rick Derringer
Fanelli Midway, Ethnic Food & Crafts
Children 12 & Under free with adult
Doors Open 3 p.m.
Festival hours 3-11 p.m.
Free admission from 3-5 p.m. ONLY

Sunday, July 20
2:30 p.m.: Veronica Robles Mariachi (Music & Culture of Mexico)
3:45 p.m.: Zili Misik (World Music & African Diaspora, All Female Band)
5 p.m.: Crushed Velvet
6:30 p.m.: Pat Travers Band
Fanelli Midway, Ethnic Food & Crafts
Children 12 & Under free with adult
Doors Open 1 p.m.
Festival hours 1-8 p.m.
Free admission from 1-3 p.m. ONLY

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