Newport Folk and Jazz Festivals canceled; artists invited back for 2021

East Bay

NEWPORT, R.I. (WPRI) — The Newport Jazz and Folk Festivals are staples in a Rhode Island summer, but this year, the coronavirus pandemic has forced organizers to cancel both events.

Jay Sweet, the executive producer of the Newport Festivals Foundation, said they made the decision to cancel shortly before Gov. Gina Raimondo announced Wednesday that all summer events must be limited to 50 guests or less.

“I’m doing everything in my power to make sure the legacy of the six-decade-year-old events don’t go extinct,” Sweet said.

Sweet said the festivals generate more than $58 million in revenue per year.

“We understand that the impact of us not being able to do that is going to be felt way beyond our foundation, and that’s what keeps me up at night,” he said.

Fans who purchased tickets will have the option of receiving a full refund. Sweet said fans also have the option of putting their purchase toward tickets to the 2021 festivals or they can donate it to the foundation.

Sweet said they will make an announcement soon on alternative plans for when the events were scheduled – at the end of July and the first weekend in August.

The festivals are described as a tight-knit community, which includes the vendors who work the events year after year.

Owner of Keane’s Wood-Fired Catering, Padraic Keane, has worked the festivals for the last four years. Although Keane said they saw this decision coming, he is disappointed that they will miss out on the income they were expecting.

“Everyone is so connected with the festival and it’s a little bit of magic that we are going to miss this year,” Keane said. “We are obviously disappointed but it’s a decision that needs to be respected to keep everyone safe this summer.”

Keane said his business is offering pick-up options at their storefront in Cranston in the coming weeks.

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