Contributing Writer

CHARLESTOWN – If the only problem with life is that it doesn’t have any background music, then Labor Day weekend is going to perfect things. From Aug. 31 through Sept. 2, the 21st Annual Rhythm & Roots Festival will be bringing Ninigret Park to a rousing musical frenzy once again.

Calypso, jazz, reggae, gospel, soul, blues, swing, folk; if you can dance or dream to it, it’ll be echoing across the fields. Four separate stages will be the scene of a variety of events. The Family Stage draws kids of all ages with comedians, dance lessons, bubble art and hula-hooping. Arts & crafts projects, table games, a costume workshop, Twister, parachute games and nightly movies will command the attention of toddlers to teens. 

The Dance Stage will be the place for those ready to swing and sway their cares away, across a 4,400-square foot tented wooden dance floor.

The Roots Stage will be hosting various workshops. And the Rhythm Stage will host over thirty different musical acts including Americana soul band Dustbowl Revival, Grammy-winning country swing band Asleep at The Wheel, blues musicians Taj Mahal Trio, and the Magnolia Cajun Band. 

Also featured during the solid-packed event will be a Mardi Gras parade, and storytelling by children’s book author Len Cabral, the grandson of a Cape Verdean whaler. An oral history of Rhode Island’s indigenous people will also be shared. 

Handmade gifts will be available for sale as well as food, and you’ll realize quickly that the grub here isn’t carnival-style eats. Kimchi, Thai noodles, smoked meats, potato pancakes and po-boys are just some of the unique selections on the menu, along with meat-free options and craft beers.

Come for a day or stay for the entire experience. Camping on the grounds is available for those who don’t mind roughing it. For those who do, there is the “glamping” option. The latter provides your ten-by-sixteen-foot tent, four cots, a rechargeable lantern, private portable toilet and a decorative throw rug, in addition to other necessities and niceties. 

While on the grounds, feel free to take advantage of the park’s bike paths, swimming pond and playground. The event will include 24-hour security and first-aid.

Ticket prices vary depending on your plans, your age and your needs. From single day tickets, to 3-day teen passes to four nights of sleeping under the stars in style, you can make the call at the gate or save some cash by buying your tickets or making your reservations in advance. 

Ninigret Park is located at 4890A Old Post Road in Charlestown. If you’ve never had the Rhythm & Roots experience, come and discover why tens of thousands of people from all over the United States and Canada venture out to Rhode Island Labor Day weekend to see Mardi Gras done New England style. 

For tickets, reservations or questions, call 1-800-901-7173. 

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