EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — A popular event is coming to an end after four decades, according to organizers.
The board of East Providence Heritage Days Inc. announced they’re ending their flagship event, the Annual Heritage Festival, which was first held back in 1981.
“We have strived to bring arts and culture to our community and beyond,” the board wrote in a Facebook post. “The past four decades have been an extraordinary learning experience for all of us. In celebrating ethnicity, we know that we are more alike than we are different.”
Every year, the multi-day event filled Pierce Stadium to the brink, offering a wide variety of performances and entertainment for the community.
The festival was originally operated by Joe Crook of the East Providence Recreation Department up until 2007, when it became a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization under the supervision of Alba Curti.
“When you have a volunteer-based organization that relies on people coming together to volunteer and put hundreds of hours into this big production, it gets to be difficult when new people aren’t coming on board,” Curti said.
Board member Clarence Junior Butler told 12 News that after all the years of people volunteering, it’s hard to keep up with the demand.
Mayor Bob DaSilva said the countless hours volunteers and board members put in have taken a toll, but there’s still a plan to try and keep the legacy alive. He’s been in discussions about how they can make adjustments.
“We are hoping that we can work with them to see if we can have it transform into something else,” he said. “We really don’t want to see what they’ve started, what they’ve been able to keep alive for 40 years, just stop and end.”
The board said they’ll be posting pictures and videos on their Facebook page from events past in the weeks to come. That way, everyone can “relive some memories and learn of opportunities to make some new ones.”