Music, Makers & Historic Mills top the bill at SAM’s Mill Fest
(Pawtucket, R.I.) Slater Mill is gearing up to deliver another fun summer festival in downtown Pawtucket, as the year-round cultural hub readies its historic campus for SAM’s Mill Fest (aka SAMFEST) later this month.
On Sunday, August 27, the public is invited from 12 to 6 p.m. for live music under a tent, artisans and makers, food trucks, fiber art demos, and free tours through the 1793 Old Slater Mill and the 1810 Wilkinson Waterwheel Bay.
“This year, the music is rootsy with a western twist,” says Lori Urso, executive director of the museum. “We are super excited to welcome Juliet Simmons-Dinallo from Nashville, along with three other fabulous acts.”
Simmons-Dinallo, along with husband Michael Dinallo (the guitarist/producer still reeling from the accolades of his most recent work, Feel Like Going Home: The Songs of Charlie Rich), headline the festival as Juliet and the Lonesome Romeos - a folk-Americana quintet recalling Lucinda Williams’ gritty country sound.
Kat Parks & Brad Bensko perform their youthful folk-rock take on 50s-60s pop with guitar, vocals, fiddle, and mandolin. This talented duo were introduced to the festival last year as part of the Paul Richelle and Annie Raines’ band. “Kat has a velvet voice and is a phenomenal fiddle player,” notes Urso. “We really wanted to have them back here so we could hear more!”
Local western swing octet Western Stars, and singer-songwriter Jay Brunelle, round out the lineup. All will perform under a tent aside the Old Slater Mill. Along with the live music, the festival hosts some of Rhode Island’s best makers and do-ers to the historic site. Among them is the Ocean State Makers Mill, whose booth of functioning 3-D printers never disappoints. “In the past they have produced miniature Slater Mills to give to patrons. Last year they even brought a smoke cannon! We’ll see what’s in store for this year,” said Erika Davis, event manager at Slater Mill.
“SAMFEST gives the public a chance to enjoy all that our riverside campus has to offer, including its architecture, thriving herb and vegetable garden, and cultural center,” adds Davis. “This year’s festival will be held in our courtyard rather than the park, bringing guests closer to the old mills and the peaceful sound of the nearby Slater waterfall. It’s a great day for people of all ages.”
People are drawn to the festival for the free live music, but they stick around for the art, drinks and food. Several of Rhode Island’s favorite vendors will showcase their wares, including classic Rhode Island T’s by Milkcan Industries, and colorful candy-themed accessories by SugarHigh Jewels. Joining them for 2017 are LNK Designs Boutique, Sydney Darrow, Freedom Jewelry, Laurel & Mantis, Conjoined Pins, Flarken Good Prints, Cerulean, Charged Glass, Comics by Laurel Lynn Leake, Betsey Swardlick and Penina Gal, and Unamused Apparel. The Rhode Island Spinners’ Guild will be on hand to demonstrate their Rumpelstiltskin-like skills, and the URI Master Gardeners to show off their very green thumbs.
SAM’s Gin Mill will be doling out refreshing libations, including ice-cold brews provided by Foolproof Brewing Company, and their own specially-made “SAM-gria.” Foodies will find Binge BBQ, Elwood’s Doghouse, The Big Freezy and CaFeiNa a fine cure for the munchies.
“This is our opportunity to engage with our surrounding community of artists, and to provide free accessible entertainment for all,” says Davis. “We’re thrilled to show off what we have to offer!” SAM’s Mill Fest is presented in partnership with the City of Pawtucket, the National Park Service, the Carter Fund, the Pawtucket Arts Festival and the Rhode Island State Council on the Arts. For more information, visit slatermill.org.