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Best things to do in Rhode Island this week: Sept. 1-8

This week: Rhythm & Roots festival, dragon boats, lobster boil, gearing up for PVDFest, and more.

The Blackstone Valley Tourism Council presents the 22nd Annual Rhode Island Chinese Dragon Boat Races & Taiwan Day Festival on Sept. 2 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Festival Pier in Pawtucket, R.I.Blackstone Valley Tourism Council

Sooo remember what I said last week about that super blue moon? That might explain this week’s column. Because once in a super blue moon do all these awesome events align: Dragon boats. Fire-spinners. A days-long music fest. Millions of LEGOs. PVDFest. Beer. Lobster. Grace Potter… I have the lowdown on all these and more. It’s Labor Day Week, and Rhody is going all out, baby.


Rhody’s Labor Day tradition runs Sept. 1-3 and the lineup is stacked. Greensky Bluegrass, Trombone Shorty, JJ Grey & Mofro, The Robert Cray Band, The Infamous Stringdusters, Dustbowl Revival, Curley Taylor and & Zydeco Trouble, local stars Ward Hayden & the Outliers and more. And the food! Find Cajun, Creole, Asian fare, seafood, barbecue, plus pastries, coffee, espresso, beer, wine and more. The three-day fest also includes a camping option. At Ninigret Park. Prices vary. Day pass starts at $59+ fee. Details here.



Central Falls Restaurant Week runs now through Sept. 3. Find delish dishes and sweet specials in what’s billed as “a world of international flavors in just one square mile.” For example, Bubble Waffle Cafe’s Willy Wonka-esque specials include a party crepe and medium milkshake for $11. The buzzy Tuxpan Taqueria’s offers include three tacos for $9.99. Details here.


Cranston’s Garden City Center becomes a pup-friendly “Beer Garden City” every weekend this September, starting with Labor Day Weekend. Each weekend features a different Rhody brewery at the gazebo, along with games and live music. Grey Sail Brewing is on tap Sept. 1-4. Fridays 4-8 p.m., Saturday-Monday, 2-6 p.m. Must show ID to purchase beverage. Details here.


Enough said. I’m in.

… But if you need more info., Blackstone Valley Tourism Council presents the 22nd Annual Rhode Island Chinese Dragon Boat Races & Taiwan Day Festival on Sept. 2 from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. at Festival Pier in Pawtucket. The free fest features a Chinese folk art workshop, Taiwanese arts and craft, Chinese dumpling eating contest (um, winner scores a round-trip plane ticket to Taiwan…) Asian food trucks, vendors, kids’ activities and some 25 teams competing in dragon boat races. Get a sense of the vibe here. Learn more here.



Watch fire-spinners and nosh on local treats at WaterFire’s partial lighting Sept. 2 from Waterplace Park to Steeple Street. Fires burn from 7:17-11 p.m. Because WaterFire. Details here.


Where my fellow “LEGO Masters” fans at? Contestants Manny and Nestor from Season 1 of the show are slated to appear when Brick Fest Live pulls into the Rhode Island Convention Center Sept. 2-3. Expect “over a million bricks on display and ready for play,” according to billing, or take part in “a Guinness World-Record setting mosaic.” From $16.99. Timed-entry, must be purchased online. Details here and here.


“In West Philadelphia born and raised, on the playground is where I spent most of my days. Chillin’ out, maxin’…” Sorry. ‘90s kid Pavlovian response. I can’t see a “Fresh Prince” reference and not sing the theme song. Yes, people, we have a Bel-Air Barbecue. Head to Fish Co. Sept. 3 at 3 p.m. for what’s billed as “the Ultimate ‘90s-2000s Throwback Cookout.” Think DJs, vendors, games, photo booth, and “90s-2000s dress is desired, but not required.” I’ll be there with side-ponytail and pegged jeans. From $15. 15 Bridge St., Providence. Details here.



Alpaca my mat: Little Compton’s “Rhode Island-themed” Hope Alpaca Farm — each alpaca is named for a Rhody town — hosts a yoga class with those furry goofballs Sept. 3 at 8:30 a.m. I’ve met them, and their smiles are contagious. $25 per person, $20 per person for groups of two or more 134 Maple Ave. Details here.


Don’t let summer end without a classic Rhody lobster boil. You might splurge on the luxe Weekapaug Inn’s Labor Day Weekend lobster boil Sept. 3.

Expect local lobster “steamed over a wood fire,” and, according to the sample menu: shrimp cocktail, watermelon cucumber salads, chowder, lobster deviled eggs, duckfat cornbread, corn on the cob with Vermont butter, mac & cheese with gruyere, smoked chicken, baked cod, and more. For dessert? Perhaps Del’s pink lemonade cake pops then s’mores by the fire. Ticket includes buffet, house beer, wine, and soft drinks. $135 adults. $38 kids 6-12; kids 5 and under free. 6-8 p.m. 25 Spray Rock Road, Westerly. Details here.


Don’t let summer end without a classic Rhody clambake. McGrath Clambakes & Catering teams with Ragged Island Brewery for “Get Baked at Ragged” public clambake with live music. Menu includes baked Rhode Island lobster, soft shelled steamed clams, Prince Edward Island Mussels, local corn on the cob, red bliss potato, chourico, barbecue chicken and brews. Adults $65, kids $22. Sept. 4, 4-7 p.m. 54 Bristol Ferry Road, Portsmouth. Details here.



Actually, don’t let summer end without a few more things. Last summer, Globe Rhode Island made a list of 20 Things to Love About Summer in Rhode Island. With Labor Day weekend upon us, it’s time to see how many items you ticked off the list — there’s still time to cram in as much as you can. A few suggestions: Picking wild flowers at Dame Farm and Orchard in Johnston, biking Block Island, catching fireflies at Rocky Point, or soaking up a sunset in Wickford — a summer day trip in and of itself.


Rhody is so packed with authors and stories, 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…

Rhody writing couple Ann Hood and Michael Ruhlman speak at the Ocean House Sept. 6. Ruhlman is the author of award-winning cookbooks and nonfiction narratives, while West Warwick native Hood has written a few books — fiction and non — set in the Ocean State. I interviewed Hood about her memoir, “Fly Girl,” about her life as a flight attendant. $38 per person. Details here.


Rhode Island Center for the Book hosts a “Back to School Book Bash” Sept. 7 at The Guild in Pawtucket for a “night full of books and brews.” According to their website, “Funds raised from this event will provide new, relevant books for schools and libraries across the state.” Tickets from $75. Details here and here.

Rhode Island author Rebekah Bergman discusses her debut novel “The Museum Of Human History,” with Annie Hartnett, author of “Unlikely Animals” at Ink Fish Books Sept. 7 at 6 p.m. Free admission, books available for purchase. Details here.


Trinity Rep opens its 60th Anniversary Season with “The Good John Proctor,” by Talene Monahon, directed by Kimberly Senior, Sept. 7. Described as a “dark dramedy” and a prequel to the events of Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible,” the play “reexamines the Salem witch trials through the eyes of the four young girls at its center,” according to Trinity’s billing. From $24. 201 Washington St., Providence. Details here.


Theater lovers, this is your week. We’ve got another season-opener as The Gamm Theatre launches season 39 with “Topdog/Underdog,” billed as “Suzan-Lori Parks’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play about brotherly love, sibling rivalry, and surviving the American Dream.” Sept. 7-Oct. 1. For mature audiences only. From $25. Details here.


Three-time Grammy nominee Grace Potter brings her “Mother Road” tour to The Vets Sept. 8. When I interviewed her in 2020, the Vermonter told me that at one point, she thought she’d quit music and return to house painting. But while scribbling on the chalkboard-painted walls of her apartment, she found she was writing songs. So, after a divorce, a breakup with her band the Nocturnals, marriage to record producer Eric Valentine, and a new baby, the powerhouse vocalist is bringing down the house instead of painting it. 8 p.m. From $39. Details here.


We’re getting into next week’s column territory here, but PVDFest kicks off Sept. 8, and Mavis Staples (...!) headlines. She’s not playing until day 2, but oh my God how do you sit on that for a week? When I interviewed the legend in 2016, she told me about growing up as a Staples Singer and a marriage proposal from Bob Dylan.

The free outdoor arts kicks off Sept. 8 at 5 p.m. EhShawnee and Chachi Carvalho and the International Players rock the first night, and there’s a ticketed opening night party from 7-9 p.m., starting from $35.

Local happenings tied-in include The Neurodiversity New Play Festival from Sept. 7-9. According to billing, the fest showcases “original works written, produced, and performed by Neurodivergent artists from around the United States. Performances will be held in four venues all within a 10-minute walk of PVDFest.” I’ll have more details as we get into the meat of the fest in next week’s column. Details here.

Until next week, Rhody: Keep rockin’.

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