East Providence Heritage Days Festival gears up for 33rd edition


EAST PROVIDENCE — When the East Providence Heritage Days Festival takes place over three days later in July, members of the organizing committee hope residents of the city turn out in droves while appreciating what the event means to the community.

The 33rd edition of Heritage Days, which runs July 19-21, offers its usual fare of food, rides, activities, arts and crafts and music. The music portion of the event this summer is being billed as "Tribute-mania," featuring cover bands of some of the most noted artists in recent history. The Heritage Days committee also announced a proposed partnership with the rock radio station WBRU fell through.

"We have bands playing some of the most popular music of the last 20, 30, 40 years," said Heritage Days committee member Joe Medeiros. "If you're a fan of U2, of Springsteen, of The Who, we have some great tribute bands coming who are going to put on a phenomenal show. It's a great opportunity to have a fun time. Come out with your family. Meet up with some old friends. Listen to some great musics at a reasonable price. We urge people to come out and join us. It's going to be a great time."

Those used to hearing the work of renowned artists themselves may be a bit disappointed with the cover bands, but in these current economic times it's the best the event can offer.

"As a committee, as the Heritage Days Festival Committee what we're trying to do is perpetuate, continue the festival for years to come," said committee chairman Clarence "Junior" Butler. "And it's important for people to remember we do this without any monetary support from the City of East Providence. And we understand why the city can't support it. People have to understand the days of getting the name acts are gone. We just can't afford them anymore."

Finances are never far from the thoughts of the committee members. Heritage Days is a self-sustaining effort. The event has no ties to government. The money it receives comes from benefactors and the money it makes each year from patrons goes towards future presentations.

"I have to stress this. We're not affiliated with the East Providence city government," Mr. Butler explained. "We're a 501c3 non-profit organization. There are a lot of misconceptions out there that we need to clear up. No money is given to this committee except what we go out and work for. We want to thank all our supporters and our sponsors immensely.

"There are 16 members of the Heritage Days Committee and they're all volunteers. And the work that we put in is a 12 month a year job. We're not complaining, but we're always pushing. Not a month goes by without us meeting and planning for the next one. And if we didn't do it that way, it would go away like everything else that was good in this city. Having said that, the committee did a great job this year putting it together."

(For a complete list of 2013 Heritage Days sponsors and vendors click here...)

The featured performers on the main stage inside Pierce Stadium include "Tramps Like Us," a Bruce Springsteen tribute band (July 19); "Who are You?" and "Unforgettable Fire," performing the works of The Who and U2, respectively (July 20); and "AM/FM" and "Beginnings," playing the tracks of Three Dog Night and Chicago (July 21).

In addition, bands performing Latin, Asian and Afro-Mediterranean inspired music will perform on the smaller stage placed inside the Pierce baseball field each day. Both Mr. Medeiros and Mr. Butler acknowledged the contribution of Alba Curti, who arranged for the entertainment on the baseball field.

"We don't make any money," added Mr. Medeiros. "All the money is either put right back into the festival or is donated to charity.

A percentage of proceeds are donated to city and area charities. In the past, the Heritage Days Committee has presented checks to the likes of CrossroadsRI and Builders Helping Heroes.

Both men stressed the communal aspect of Heritage Days, what is has meant and still means to the residents of the city. With that in mind, there remains a need for volunteers to assist in various tasks throughout the weekend.

"We want to reach out the community," said Mr. Medeiros. "We're always looking for volunteers who can help out a little. We're a bit short staffed this year, so all the help we can get would be appreciated. I've already had people come up to me and say they'll willing to help out. Anyone who wants to give a few hours of their time, it would be appreciated."

Added Mr. Butler, "It's a cultural event for the city. That's what Heritage Days really is. We just want people to know that we're doing the best we possibly can to put on a product they can be proud of and that's worthy of their contribution."

Tickets for the 2013 Heritage Days Festival are $5 on July 19, $10 for both July 20 and 21. Children under 12 are admitted free daily in the company of an adult. There are no weekend passes. Tickets must be purchased separately. For more information about the event or to volunteer email heritagedaysmusic@yahoo.com; visit www.epheritagedays.com or call 401-435-1999. Heritage also has a presence on Facebook, www.facebook.com/epheritage.


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