Today I had the opportunity to enjoy one of North Kingstown’s annual highlights: the Wickford
Art Festival. For years the Festival has attracted both outstanding artists and an audience that
loves to look, talk with the artists, and purchase objects of art.
The Festival has traditionally been held on the streets and sidewalks of the Village of Wickford,
an historic setting that improves both the event and the venue. While it makes for traffic
congestion and crowds, it also provides a setting that is unique and memorable. Last year, due
to Covid, the Festival was moved to nearby Wilson Park, where it occupies space in an open
field, and this year it was again hosted there. Presumably at the time the decision was made
for this year it was too early to know that most activities would have returned to some
semblance of normal.
While Wilson Park is a pleasant enough place, it provides no particular distinction. . It could be anywhere, USA. There is little relief from the sun there for exhibitors or viewers, it is not adjacent to any restaurants or shops, and while it may be an easy space to organize, it lacks charm. The exhibitors cannot park on-site, so it makes their lives more complicated. Meanwhile the nearby Village looked mostly empty, with a relatively small group of art patrons making their way through the trails leading into town.
I hope that the Wickford Art Association will seriously consider returning the Festival next year to its original site in the midst of the Village. It would be good for the shopkeepers and restauranteurs, add to the patrons’ experiences, distinguish it from art festivals elsewhere, and reinforce how special our town is. If elected, I would be pleased to advocate for this change in Town Council.