WOONSOCKET – After nearly a year of planning and more than a month of setup work, the 35th edition of the city’s annual Autumnfest celebration appeared ready to blast off on Wednesday.
Autumnfest Steering Committee Chairman Tim Paul said he was finally feeling that everything needing to be done had been addressed or would be shortly, and all that remained was to get the festival running at World War II Veterans Memorial State Park with its opening events over the next couple of days.
“It’s looking good. The park is looking great, the pond is filled with water and the electricians have been working to put everything together for the past week,” he said.
The park grounds will be looking much brighter at night this year thanks to the new lighting the Woonsocket Rotary Club brought in with its electricians’ help and a grant from the Austin T. Levy Foundation, he said.
Fanelli Amusements Inc. had also arrived at the park Wednesday and set up a half-dozen major rides for the festival, as well as number of others around its midway and children’s ride area.
The rides will be the focus of the very first event of Autumnfest 2013, when the Mayor’s Family Appreciation Night is held from 6 to 10 p.m. with all rides at $2 a ticket, according to Paul.
Friday night will also offer a ride special with an all-night ride band offered at $25 per person.
The Beer Garden also opens Friday evening and will feature two bands, Steve Malec & Electric Flood and Through the Doors.
As part of the Friday night Beer Garden opening, Jennifer Jolicoeur, CEO of Athena’s Home Novelties on North Main Street, and her employees will be collecting donations and bras for the company’s Athena’s Cup fundraising efforts to fight breast cancer.
Autumnfest opens officially at 10 a.m. on Saturday, and its lineup of entertainment and special events will follow over the three-day Columbus Day weekend.
Goodwill Industries will be holding a computer equipment recycling collection as part of the festival on Saturday at the Woonsocket Senior Center, the old Save-Rite store, at Social and Pond streets from 3 to 7 p.m.
The Autumnfest Kids Challenge 2013, sponsored by The Call and Simon Chevrolet, will be held at the Park Beach and on East School Street Saturday, with the first race going off at 11:05 a.m.
The third annual Race Against Racism, sponsored by the YWCA on Blackstone Street, will be held Sunday morning at the park grounds at 9 a.m.
And the Mega War team tug-o-war organized by Richard and Cheryl Savaria and sponsored by Ciro’s Tavern on Cherry will held Sunday at 1:30 p.m. at the Park Beach.
The 35th annual Autumnfest 10-division parade with Dave Richards as grand marshal will step off from the Walnut Hill and Woonsocket plazas on Diamond Hill Road at 9:30 a.m. on Monday.
Parade organizers Linda Plays and Tina Go said Wednesday they have everything in place for another great parade this year. “It’s going to be a great event, and we step off at 9:30 with the help of the Woonsocket Police Department,” Plays said. Woonsocket Police Det. Sgt. Kevin Greenough has worked out a safety plan for the parade that will include signs directing participants to their assembly areas before the parade and a road closing for the route at 8:30, she said.
Go noted that the Woonsocket High School Senior Band has been selected as this year’s headliner band for the tenth division and will help the parade keep its focus on the Woonsocket community as part of the city’s 125th anniversary celebration. The Woonsocket Middle School band will be leading off in the first division for the same reason, and all of the area high school bands and longtime parade participants will be back to make this year’s parade a memorable one, Go said. “They were so surprised and so honored to be asked,” Go said of the Woonsocket High School Band’s selection for the final division.
The Beacon Charter High School for the Arts and Mount St. Charles Academy will also be helping out with the parade, as will be area Scouting groups. and community organizations enter all the special floats.
This year will also see the addition of a performance by the Eastern Medicine Singers Native Youth Group during Autumnfest on Saturday, and the return of the popular activities of the past such as the rock climbing tower, paddle boats on the pond, and more than 100 arts and crafts booths. The ever popular food booth court staffed by community organization volunteers and regular festival vendors will be up and running once again and featuring offerings from Chan’s Fine Oriental Dining, The Broaster House, AJ’s Catering, DeCiantis Ice Cream, the Chowder Bowl and many more.
The main stage for Autumnfest will be a busy place following the opening ceremonies from 10 to 10:30 a.m. on Saturday.
The John Worsely Swingtime Big Band will start out the entertainment lineup, playing from 10:30 a.m. until noon. Ocean State Dance Academy follows at noon, with a dance performance running until 12:30 p.m.
The oldies band the Reminiscants is up next from 12:30 to 2 p.m., followed by Krylo Dance Studio at 2 p.m., and Jeff Gamache and Runaway Train at 2:30 p.m.
The Humming Bird Trio will appear at 4 p.m., Sound Check at 4:30, and Hummingbird Trio again at 5 p.m.
The headliner show, the Doo Wop Spectacular, begins at 6 p.m. and will run until 9 p.m., followed by a meet and greet with the performers until 9:30.
Performing as part of the Doo Wop Spectacular will be the Legendary Teenagers, the Chiffons, and Dicky Doo and The Don’ts featuring Gerry Granahan. The groups will all perform with the Coast-to-Coast band, emceed by Todd Baptista.
On Sunday, the Rich Bobinski Orchestra will begin the day’s entertainment with a polka music show, beginning at 10 a.m.
Kim Oaks & Friends will perform at 11:30 a.m., followed by a Zumba workout at noon, and the Niteflies Band from 12:30 until 1:30 p.m.
The Fancie Dancers take the stage at 1:30 p.m., the Big Nazo Band at 2 p.m., Studio 25 at 3 p.m., the Ways & Means soul and R&B band at 3:30 p.m., Dance Creations at 4:30 p.m., and Ways & Means again at 5 p.m. The St. Ann Arts & Cultural Center singers will perform at 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Sunday evening, Heidi Nirk will sing from the stage at 6:30 p.m., and the popular area oldies band King’s Row will greet the crowd at 7 p.m. Jeff Gamache will be back on stage at 7:45 p.m., and King’s Row will return to continue at 8:15 p.m. to play up to the fireworks show beginning at 9 p.m.
Following the Autumnfest Parade Monday morning, the New Providence Big Band will perform at 1 p.m., French Canadian singer Josee Vachon at 2:30 p.m., and the Northeast Groove rock band at 3:30 p.m.
The Academy of Tap, Jazz & Ballet will have the stage at 4:30 p.m. and Northeast Groove will begin the final band performance of the 35th annual Autumnfest at 5 p.m. and conclude at 6 p.m.
Over on the Kidfest Stage, events will begin Saturday morning at 10:45 a.m., with Dennis the Magician, followed by the Bwana Iguana reptile show at 11:15 a.m. and a Flippo the Clown stage performance at 12:15. Flippo will hold a meet and greet and make balloon animals at 1:15 p.m.
The Zabiniski Music Studio will perform at 2:15 p.m., Krylo’s Dance Studio at 3 p.m., Gabby the Clown at 3:30 p.m., Family Karate at 4:30 p.m., and Zac Richards will appear as Justin Bieber at 5:30 p.m.
On Sunday, Flippo the Clown is back at 11:00 a.m. and will be making balloon animals at noon, along with the Bwana Iguana reptile show.
The local band of Mounties, Or I Might Explode, is on stage at 1 p.m. on Sunday, and Gabby the Clown at 2 p.m. Dennis the Magician performs at 2:45 p.m. Sunday, Dance Creations at 3:30, and Bwana Iguana at 4 p.m. Mia Padula, a pop singer, is on stage at 5 p.m. and Zac Richards will be back at 5:45 p.m. as Michael Jackson.
After the parade on Monday, Gabby the Clown will perform on the Kidfest Stage at 12:30, Dennis the Magician at 1:30 p.m., Bwana Iguana at 2 p.m., Or I Might Explode at 3 p.m., and Zabinski Music Studio at 4:15 p.m. Mia Padula will return to the stage at 5 p.m., and Zac Richards as Justin Bieber will appear at 5:45 as the final act.
On the Beer Garden stage, Steve Malec and Electric Flood will perform at 6 p.m. Friday evening and will be followed by Through the Doors from 7:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Friday.
On Saturday, Ruckus will perform in the beer garden from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m., and Steve Smith & the Nakeds from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
On Sunday, the Schwarze Schafe German Band will perform from 1 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Brass Attack from 6 p.m. until 10 p.m.
On Monday, the Beer Garden stage will host The Niteflies from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m., when the 35th annual Autumnfest will come to a close.