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Best things to do in Rhode Island this week: Sept. 29-Oct. 6

This week: Vintage cars, pumpkins, sailing, surfing, beer fest, Oktoberfests (plural) barbecue, a Harvest Fair, and more!

The Jack-O-Lantern Spectacular at Roger Williams Park Zoo in Providence, R.I.Handout

What a week for Rhody sports! A Westerly resident watched a Kansas City Chiefs game, Gronk played basketball at Providence College, and I attempted rollerblading.

Our events calendar looks just as epic. So let’s make like me at the rink and fall right down. I mean dive right in.


As the old-timers say: ‘tis not autumn in Rhody until thee gourds alight at Roger Williams Park Zoo! (Or was that just my uncle?) It’s fall, y’all. The Jack-o-Lantern Spectacular returned Sept. 2 — this is the first full weekend. This year’s theme: Pumpkins Around The World. Nightly 6-10:30 p.m. Online purchase only. Mon.-Thurs. $18 adult, $15 child. Fri- Sun.: $21 adult, $18 child. 1000 Elmwood Ave., Providence. 401-785-3510. Details here.



If you missed Newport homeowner Jay Leno’s induction into the Rhode Island Italian-American Hall of Fame this week, you might catch the car aficionado at this car show: Audrain Newport Concours & Motor Week runs Sept. 28 through Oct. 1 in Newport. Car enthusiasts can find various seminars at locations around town, including, according to event’s website: “Tenuous Connections: Did You Realize That…” with Leno and Donald Osborne (watch ‘em here) Sept. 29 at 2:30 p.m. at the Casino Theatre (from $40) and “Car Sharks with Leno and Robert Herjavec” Sept. 30 at the Casino theater (from $40), along with a gathering. Event prices vary. Download the schedule here. Learn more here.


I celebrate National Coffee Day every day, but if you need an excuse to grab a cup, Sept. 29 is National Coffee Day. Dunkin’ is offering their Dunkin’ Rewards Members free medium hot or iced coffee with purchase, according to their Instagram. But I have so many more suggestions, my fellow Rhody caffeine-lovers:


When I picked my faves in New England, quite a few Rhody shops made the list: Coastal Roasters in Tiverton, The Coffee Exchange, Dave’s Coffee and Bolt Coffee in Providence, and Gray’s Daily Grind in Westport, Mass., on the Little Compton line. Readers loved Beans and Buns in Pawtuxet Village, The Nook Coffee House in East Greenwich, and PVD’s Nitro Bar. We also found three “new-ish cafes’' to work-and-sip here. #NationalCoffeeDay


Tuck into barbecue pulled pork, chicken, cornbread and all the sides, while rocking out to the southern country vibes of the Liz Spencer Band at Bristol’s Linden Place Sept. 29. BYO blankets and chairs. Adults $40, kids under 12 $20, kids under 6 free. Cash bar will be open. 500 Hope St. Details here.


On Sept. 29, The Preservation Society of Newport County hosts a family-friendly Mid-Autumn Festival, “or Zhongqiu Jie, also known as the Moon Festival or Mooncake Festival,” according to their website. The tradition dates back 3,000 years, and celebrates togetherness, they say. Head to the Marble House grounds for “watching a traditional Chinese tea ceremony, eating Mooncakes and participating in various craft stations that will offer lantern decorating, paper folding, book readings and more.” 5:30-7:30 p.m. $10. Kids under 2 free. 596 Bellevue Ave., Newport. Details here.


That’s plural, baby. September means Oktoberfests and we’ve got options:

Narragansett’s Oktoberfest runs Sept. 29 through Oct. 1. Expect “authentic German menu,” a bier garten, live music from TubaFrau and Bavarian Bros, stein-hoisting contests, contests for best traditional dress and best modern dress, and more. General admission is $25 and includes glass stein and beer token. Friday afternoon ticket, no music: $10. 271 Tockwotton St., Providence. Details here and here.


The German American Cultural Society of Rhode Island celebrates Sept. 30 and Oct 1 with a sensory overload: (lots of) authentic beer, bratwurst, leberkase, kartoffelsalat, hot dogs, potato pancakes, Bavarian pretzels, Burgundian waffles, black forest cakes, apple strudel, plum torte, lemon cakes and more. Plus dancing, a stein-holding competition, live music and more. 78 Carter Ave., Pawtucket. Adult admission $10, kids 12 and under free admission. Details here.

Meanwhile Newport Craft Brewing hosts its first Oktoberfest Cookout Sept. 30. Nosh bratwurst or soft pretzels with bier cheese, plus beer, cocktails, and starting at 2 p.m., live music. Free. Noon to 5 p.m. 293 Connell Highway, Newport. Details here and here.


Hops fans, hop on it: tickets are going fast for Beervana Fest Sept. 30 at PVD’s WaterFire Arts Center. Expect some 150 craft beers. General admission, 2-5 p.m. $70. VIP admission from 1-5 p.m., $100. 475 Valley St. Details and tickets here.


Rescheduled from last week, Westerly’s second annual Celebration of Surf Fest at Misquamicut Drive-In on Sep. 30 features live music, vendor market, surf demo, raffle, films and more. See the vibes here. $15. 2-9 p.m. 316 Atlantic Ave. Learn more here and here.



A harvest fair at a bird sanctuary? Well, that’s just too quaint not to mention. Head to Norman Bird Sanctuary for the annual Harvest Fair Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 for sack races, crafter’s tent, live music, and more. $12 adults, $8 ages 3-18. 583 Third Beach Road Middletown. Details here.


Kick off spooky season with “A Walking Tour of Poe’s Providence,” a guided 1.5-mile tour “in the footprints of Edgar Allan Poe and Sarah Helen Whitman, rekindling their stormy romance in historic Providence.” (PVD’s own Whitman has a Wiki worth the read.)

It’s here in PVD where Poe once “procured two ounces of laudanum” for a “poorly attempted suicide,” according to the event description. Also where he sat for daguerreotypes, one becoming “his most infamous photo.” His visits here marked “some of the most incredible moments in his biography. Poe’s relationship with Sarah Helen Whitman proved essential to his legacy, as she became his most staunch defender after his death in 1849.” Sept. 30, 1 p.m. $10. From 88 Benefit St. Details here.


As the kid of two teachers, I love this. Before the full WaterFire lighting Sept. 30 (6:29 p.m.), the Rhode Island Department of Education’s Teacher of the Year awards ceremony will be held in Memorial Park from 2:30-7 p.m. The ceremony concludes “with a 90-person torch procession to the stationary braziers adjacent to Memorial Park,” according to billing.


There’s more: the Gloria Gemma Breast Cancer Resource Foundation hosts the 2023 Flames of Hope celebration “to honor breast cancer survivors at the Rhode Island State House, along with an Illuminations of Life torch procession into the basin of Waterplace Park at 6:30 p.m.,” according to billing.

After that, it’s WaterFire as usual, complete with marketplace, glass-blowing, music, fire-spinning, origami, food, beer and more. Details here.


I also love this: Sail Newport’s 2023 Sail for Hope is donating all proceeds to the Maui Food Bank. Boaters, see details on the Sept. 30 race and after-party here. Whether you plan on racing or watching, you can also donate to Maui Food Bank directly from that page.


Wooly Fair, “a participatory art carnival” that began as “a cathartic backyard talent show” returns after a decade-long hiatus Sept. 30. Expect a “vinyl dance party,” live music, installation and games. What’s a Wooly Fair? According to their website, it “celebrates the human impulse to make a place from your imagination with your own hands, make it with friends, and then throw a party inside it… Every year it is different…Put on some bunny ears.” Interest piqued? Head to 27 Sims Ave. 3-10 p.m. Adults $20. Kids 5-12 $10. Details here.


I’m a fan of thrillers and mysteries any time of year, and this looks like such a fun way to kick off October: Ocean House owner and Rhody author Deborah Goodrich Royce hosts a “Thriller Panel” Oct. 1 and the roster is stacked:

Connecticut’s Megan Collins “Thicker than Water” (so good), Gloucester’s Peter Swanson (I weighed in on “The Kind Worth Saving” here), Providence’s Vanessa Lillie (I interviewed her here) best-selling authors Kathy Reich, Brown alum Wendy Walker, Rea Frey. With wine, finger sandwiches and your choice of one book. $38. 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. 1 Bluff Ave., Watch Hill. Details here.


It’s a match made in heaven. Beeline to Linesider Brewing Company Oct. 4 at 6 p.m. for cheese and beer pairing with Edgewood Cheese Shop and Eatery. Enjoy five beer and cheese pairings. $35. 1485 South County Trail, East Greenwich. Details here.


Fall means apple picking and cider donuts, and Rhody’s orchards are ripe with both. From Greenville to Little Compton to Cumberland, pick a peck of Fujis, Honeygolds and Empires — and grab donuts for the road — with our guide here. Then, of course, post a pic of apple-picking on Insta — I think that’s in the apple-picking rulebook.


Attention, Deadheads: We’re getting into next week’s column territory here, but Pawtucket’s The Met celebrates the music of the Grateful Dead Oct. and 7 with a “Dead of Autumn Weekend.” If you missed Oteil Burbridge there last week, check out Grateful Dead tribute band Playing Dead — featuring former members of Dark Star Orchestra, Slipknot!, and Uncle John’s Band. #TheMusicNeverStopped $15 advance, $20 door, advance weekend pass $24. 1005 Main St. Details here.

Until next week, Rhody: Keep rockin’.

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