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Best things to do in Rhode Island this week: April 28-May 5

This week: the Newport Beer Fest is back, thousands of rubber ducks return, a dance party on bicycles, and more.

Ducks are poured into the Pawcatuck River during the 2019 race. The 22nd Annual Pawcatuck River Duck Race will be held on April 29, 2023, and will benefit some 40 local charities.Handout Photo

OK, sure, so Providence got a lil’ roasted by John Mulaney this week in his Netflix special “Baby J” — but, hey, all in good fun. We know the real “Providence Special” is balancing a slice of Marvin’s pepperoni, a Del’s and a Knead donut while skateboarding down Thayer. And, baby, we ride into a week of Rhody awesomeness: 20,000 rubber ducks, a beer fest, grape-stomping, Taylor Swift skating, two flower-powered bike rides, and more.


Beer lovers, beeline to Fort Adams for the Rhode Island Brewers Guild’s 11th Annual Newport Beer Fest on April 29. The celebration of Rhode Island breweries (and out-of-state favorites) features 49 craft brewers; food for purchase from Mission Burger, Pour Judgement and Yagi Noodles’ plus live music from The Ravers. Ticket includes souvenir glass and all samples. $65. 21+ with valid ID. Rain or shine. 80 Fort Adams Drive. Details here.



It’s time, baby. One of the most whimsical Rhody traditions: the 23rd Annual Pawcatuck River Duck Race. See 20,000 rubber ducks race the Pawcatuck River in Westerly on April 29 to benefit dozens of local charities. This full-on spectacle is free to watch — plus there are children’s games, rides, food booths, bounce house, and other activities. The event typically raises some $60,000 for groups involved. The fun starts at 11:30 a.m., with a corporate race at 1 p.m., and the main race at 1:30 p.m. Downtown Westerly on the Westerly/Pawcatuck, Connecticut line. Details here and here.


Two Rhode Island filmmakers, Diana Kushner and Stephen Smith, were among a group who ventured to the Arctic to capture the effects of global warming. Their trip through the diminishing Arctic ice flow of Canadian waters via kayak became an award-winning documentary. Now, Climate Action Rhode Island hosts a screening of “Beneath the Polar Sun” April 29 at 6:30 p.m. in Providence. The two will be on hand for a post-screening discussion.


Winner of the Rhode Island International Film Fest’s Green Planet Award, the 2021 doc with a critical message is also streaming via PBS if you can’t make the event — but the screening is a fundraiser with proceeds split equally between the filmmakers’ Enduring Ice Project and Climate Action RI. Tickets from $15. 393 Broad St. Event info. here. Read more on the film and filmmakers here, and watch the trailer here.


Irish singer/songwriter Lisa O’Neill plays Old Colony House in Newport April 29. O’Neill feels so old-school Irish traditional yet so 2023 at the same time. Her timeless voice sounds like Ireland itself — upbeat Celtic melancholy. Watch the video for “Rock The Machine” for a sense. Gutting. With five BBC Folk Awards nominations, she’s finally earning some American buzz. Don’t miss her as she tours for her new record via Rough Trade. 7:30 p.m. Tickets from $35. Washington Square, Newport. Details here and here.


It’s the official State Shell for a reason — Rhody loves quahogs. Quahog Week rolls on through April 29. Find quahog deals at markets like Andrade’s Catch in Bristol, American Mussel Harvesters, or Dave’s Fresh Marketplace, and quahog and clam menu specials at participating restaurants. For example: Trafford in Warren offers their stuffies — minced quahog, linguica, red and green bell pepper, cubed french baguette — Oberlin serves up Ricotta Gnudi, Littleneck Clams, Hammerhead Spinach, Confit Lemon — while Diego’s Newport offers a Quahog Stuffed Jalapeño: Charred Jalapeños stuffed with Portuguese bolo sweet bread, red bell pepper, onion, bacon, corn, chopped local Quahogs and finished with lime crema. Details here.



I’m passionate about books and the Ocean State. Rhody has so many talented local authors and bookstores. I’ve started a little subsection of this column, “Rhode Reads.” If you’re a local author or a bookstore hosting a local signing, hit me up and you just might get featured. In this week’s Rhody Reading News … April 29 is Independent Bookstore Day, and we’ve got some gems.


Celebrate spring by hopping on a bike for a free 4-mile “roving dance party on bicycles” with Providence Bike Jam April 29 from 1-4 p.m. This sounds awesome: The party on wheels starts and ends at Peace & Plenty Park, and features free adaptive bikes via Bike-On, free e-bike via Spin, pre-ride decorating, snacks, drinks, and music. I’m there. #FlowerPower. Rain date April 30. Details here.


… Beetlejuice, Beetlejuice! Have to say it three times, I don’t make the rules. Yup, the musical comedy based on the Tim Burton classic — or as we elder millennials know it: the Saturday morning cartoon — runs through April 30 at PPAC. From $72. 220 Weybosset St., Providence. Details here.



Get your grape-stomping on at the 20th Annual Newport Vineyards Spring Fest. Hop on it: there are still tickets left for both April 30 sessions: 11:30 a.m.-2 p.m., and 2:30-5 p.m. Both sessions feature live music from the Real Weird Band. Expect wine and beer bars, bites from their kitchens, pie-eating contests, grape-stomping contest and more. 909 East Main Road, Middletown. $33 general admission. Kids 15 and under are free. Details here and here.


Missed out on Tay Tay tix? The next best things: a Taylor Swift Skate Night at United Skates of America April 30. Skate to your fave tracks, and Swifties, rejoice: you could win tickets to see the Westerly resident in concert at Gillette. There are three skating sessions — 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m., 2 p.m.-4:30 p.m., and 5 p.m.-7:30 p.m. — and they’ll giving away a pair of tickets at each. 75 New Road, East Providence. Tickets from $15, advance ticket highly suggested. Details here.


Ready… aim… cornhole! Ragged Island hosts their 2nd Annual Cornhole Tournament April 30 from noon to 2 p.m. Play or watch teams of two vie for the prize in a double-elimination bracket, plus raffles, brews and food for purchase. Play is $40 per team, and proceeds benefit the nonprofit Girls on the Run Rhode Island. 54 Bristol Ferry Road, Portsmouth. Details here.


It’s not all coffee milk and stuffies. Warwick hosts the Taste of Rhode Island May 3 at Crowne Plaza. Think signature bites from local chefs, restaurants and “hidden foodie gems” plus wine, beer, spirits and live music. Admission includes samples from all wineries, breweries, distilleries, restaurants, and food purveyors. They warn this will sell out — grab advance tickets here. General admission $60. 801 Greenwich Ave., Warwick. Participants and details here.



Quahog week might end in April, but the mollusk love lives on. Take an Oyster Farm Tour with Matunuck May 3. Tour starts at the Matunuck Oyster Bar with introductory discussion about aquaculture and fisheries, then head to the shellfish farm in Potter Pond to see shellfish in various stages of growth. $26 per person. 11 a.m. 629 Succotash Road, South Kingstown. Rain or shine. Details here.


Food from a truck just hits different. Charlestown hosts a food truck night at Ninigret Park May 4, with live music, and local wine and brews via Trinity Brewhouse. BYO blankets and chairs. 5-8 p.m. 5 Park Lane. Details here.


I can’t be the only one picturing E.T. right now. Apparently bikes don’t fly, but you can ride under a full moon with Bike Newport. They host a free 15-mile moonlight bike ride on the full moon of each month. May 5 is the “Flower Moon” — that’s more flower-powered biking in Rhody. Gather at 6:45 p.m., ride starts at 7:15, with sunset at 7:47, and moonrise at 8:04. They recommend arriving 20 to 30 minutes before the start of each ride. Free. 18+ Equality Park Place, Broadway, Newport. Details here.

Until next week, Rhody: Keep rockin.’

Lauren Daley can be reached at Follow her on Twitter @laurendaley1.