PVDFest Starts

(9.10) Providence’s free outdoor festival returns, sort of. Our new mayor decided to take a beloved Providence institution, move it to a new time, a new place, and extract all the crazy stuff that made it fun as hell. Now it seems like just another street fair, but it’s still worth checking out I suppose. This year, PVDFest will be taking place in the Innovation District Park, along the river on South Water Street, and on the pedestrian bridge. It has been timed to coincide with a WaterFire being held on Saturday, so it will be like WaterFire only much more crowded. The lighting will begin at 7:05pm following Saturday’s headliner Mavis Staples? She goes on at 6pm! None of the live entertainment goes past 8pm. Mayor Smiley likes to turn in early I guess. (Was there no one in his administration who tried to talk him out of this?)

Organizers did have the good sense to bring back the crowd-pleasing, Pneuhaus, creators of those dynamic, inflatable light installations. This year, washes of color will pulse through Grove, with its twenty-three columns of light “channeled into a single branching network vaulted high into the sky.”

Music over the weekend:

Friday, music ends at 8pm — EhShawnee & Chachi Carvalho and the International Players

Saturday, music ends at 7:15pm — Mavis Staples & Flawless

Sunday, music ends at 6pm — Afrika Nyaga Drum and Dance Festival

An opening night party will be held across Dyer Street at the CIC building for those who want to party with Mario Hilario and view the festival from a comfortable distance “. . . the party will overlook District Park and provide unbeatable views of the new PVDFest footprint.” This way you can tell your friends you saw the festival without actually having to touch any of it. Tickets start at $35, cash bar.

PVDFest used to be a wonderfully chaotic occupation of our city streets, with music stages and art installations tucked in everywhere. Street food and the fest bars kept everyone fat and happy. Did it leave a mess? Yes . . . once a year. So Mayor P. Pooper has moved it all into one confined space, eliminating the fest bars and open containers within the festival footprint. But you can still go to bars and restaurants — like you can do every other night of the year — only now they will be super crowded. So it will be like WaterFire but less fun.

And no smoking! The Guild beer garden will be open, but do not stray beyond the boundaries and don’t light up.

 Restaurants and bars throughout the city will be open to serve you but open container in the festival footprint is prohibited. Smoking is not permitted on any Providence Parks & Recreation property including, but not limited to, buildings, playgrounds, ice or skating rinks and parking lots.

We wrote about this when the changes were first made public. The blowback was immediate and the Mayor did allow that some bars could open their parking lots (and not just the parking spaces) for outdoor fun, but they would have to hire security.

I enjoyed Bradly Vanderstad’s piece in Motif. He gets it. And the consensus around their office: “The drinking in the street has a popular, mildly rule-breaking appeal. Policing/enforcing this will be a hoot.” Amen.

Go here for schedule and map.

Free, PVDFest, Friday thru Sunday, September 8, 9, 10, Innovation District Park (directions)


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