By PHILIP COZZOLINO
PROVIDENCE – A seafood-based bash taking place in Narragansett every September has been named an official event of the State of Rhode Island. On Tuesday, the Rhode Island Senate passed a resolution in support of the Rhode Island Calamari Festival, which celebrates its fifth anniversary this year.
“…Rhode Island is home to the second-largest fishing fleet in New England, the fishing industry is not only vital to the state’s economy, but also essential to the culinary wellbeing of all who enjoy eating local, fresh-caught seafood,” the resolution reads.
Held on the first Saturday after Labor Day every year, the Rhode Island Calamari Festival has become both a local and statewide staple. Taking place at Veteran’s Park in Narragansett, the event offers live music, a calamari cook off, food trucks, a cash bar and vendors. The festival was started in an effort to bring awareness to the local fishing industry and its effect on the statewide economy.
“Our aim in creating the Rhode Island Calamari Festival was to have an annual event dedicated to squid and to bring awareness to the commercial fishing industry, and the squid fishery specifically, and the impact that commercial fishing has on our state’s economy,” said Bethany Lombardo, chair of the festival.
On Tuesday, from the Senate floor, the resolution was moved by senator Susan Sosnowski (D-Dist. 37 – New Shoreham, South Kingstown) and passed unanimously. Sosnowski noted efforts from the local fishing industry that made the yearly squid celebration possible.
Calamari, or fried squid, is the official appetizer of the State of Rhode Island. Last year, the event was attended by “State Plate” host and former American Idol winner Taylor Hicks, who featured the festival on the INSP program for the Rhode Island episode. The festival’s main event, it’s calamari cookoff, sees local restaurants compete for top honors in three categories - “best overall,” “most inventive” and “most spirited team.” The Calamari Festival has included participation from George’s of Galilee, the Mews Tavern, the Coast Guard House and Arturo Joes, among others.
“Now therefore be it resolved that this Senate of the State of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations hereby celebrates the fifth annual Rhode Island Calamari Festival and congratulates and wishes the best success and sated appetites to all participants and guests,” the resolution concludes.
The Rhode Island Island Calamari Festival runs Sept. 7 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine. The cost is $20 per person and children under 12 eat free. To learn more, please visit ricalamarifest.com.