Warren Arts and Quahog Festivals return this weekend

By Ethan Hartley
Posted 9/20/23

Lovers of fine art, fine food, and live music should mark their calendars for Saturday, Sept. 23 and Sunday, Sept. 24, as the Warren Arts Festival and the Warren Quahog and Seafood Festival will be celebrating their 30th and 39th annual outings at Burr’s Hill Park.

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Warren Arts and Quahog Festivals return this weekend


Lovers of fine art, fine food, live music and basically everything that makes life worth living should mark their calendars for Saturday, Sept. 23 and Sunday, Sept. 24, as the Warren Arts Festival and the Warren Quahog and Seafood Festival will be celebrating their 30th and 39th annual outings at Burr’s Hill Park on those dates.

Saturday’s festivities run from 10-6 p.m. and Sunday goes from 10-5 p.m. Live music sponsored by the Warren Rotary Club will perform on Saturday, featuring The Patterson Smith Band from 12-5 p.m. Sunday’s music, sponsored by the Warren Arts Festival committee, includes the Kirk Feather Quintet jazz band from 11-2 p.m., and the Western Stars, which plays a mix of country and swing music perfect for dancing and features Warren resident Jack Ezikovich, from 2-5 p.m.

A big year for the Arts Festival
Kathryn Barry and Kathy Kittell, co-chairs of the Warren Arts Festival, said that there was a realization of bittersweet recognition regarding the popular festival’s 30th celebration.

“I was looking back and thinking of how young I was when it first started. That’s the initial gut-wrenching reaction. It’s harder to get up the hills now,” Barry said with a laugh. “We’re a small group but we’re proud of ourselves…Many of the artists we have have been with us since the first year we started, and many of them have told us that it’s their favorite festival of the year.”

This year’s festival already has 33 artists signed up to display their works, which will be available for sale and for general viewing. Artists can enter the juried competition under five categories (painting; watercolor; graphics; photography; and non-functional sculpture). Cash rewards will range from $35 to $250. There will also be a best in show awarded in each category. Two additional awards in honor of the late Suzanne Hassell and the late Don Primiano will also be granted during the competition.

Warren’s own Linda Megathlin, president of the Imago Gallery, will judge the competition.

In addition to the juried show, participants are encouraged to attend free arts demonstrations open to the public, to be held under the white tent. Two demonstrations are occurring on Saturday, featuring Warren resident Richard Kaiser leading a watercolor lesson from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Warren resident Bill McLane will host a demonstration on acrylic painting from 2:00 to 3:00 p.m.

Sunday will also host a demonstration from Providence artist Mike Brice from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m., also on acrylic painting.

Artists who wish to be included in the festival still have time to pick up an application at Don’s Art Shop (543 Main St. in Warren), provided they return it by the end of day on Thursday, Sept. 21. Those interested may also reach out to Kate Barry at 401-527-2748 or to Kathy Kittell at k.kittellart@gmail.com.

For more information, you can visit the Warren Arts Festival Facebook page.

There will be seafood
The Warren Rotary Club, meanwhile, will put on its 39th annual Quahog and Seafood Festival down the hill.

It will be the second consecutive year of the festival moving from its traditional clam bake to a setup revolving around a beer and wine garden and various local food trucks.

The change is due to a decreasing amount of volunteer participation, according to lead organizer Tim Pray.

“We used to have anywhere from 150-200 volunteers help the Rotary do the food service,” Pray said. “But because the few members of rotary remaining are all over 65, they don’t feel they could put in the full 14 hour days that’s required to provide the food service…Many of us have aged out of the extremely hard work it was putting on this festival.”

Pray further said that with the rising cost of food, particularly seafood, rather than make the sizable investment to purchase a giant quantity of clams (many of which could potentially go uneaten), it would be more responsible to utilize food trucks. “We’re trying to minimize waste,” he said.

Pray said that Blount Fine Foods will be on scene to provide the seafood fix for attendees, and thanked them for their continued dedication to the event.

In addition to the food, drink, and live music, various local businesses and organizations will have booths set up to offer information and services to attendees. Money raised from the event goes to help local community groups and causes supported by the National Rotary Club.

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Jim McGaw

A lifelong Portsmouth resident, Jim graduated from Portsmouth High School in 1982 and earned a journalism degree from the University of Rhode Island in 1986. He's worked two different stints at East Bay Newspapers, for a total of 18 years with the company so far. When not running all over town bringing you the news from Portsmouth, Jim listens to lots and lots and lots of music, watches obscure silent films from the '20s and usually has three books going at once. He also loves to cook crazy New Orleans dishes for his wife of 25 years, Michelle, and their two sons, Jake and Max.