NORTH KINGSTOWN – After a fire raged through a building in the Wickford Shipyard Marina last month, a group of North Kingstown residents sprang into action to host a fundraiser for two affected businesses.
The three-alarm fire took place on Sep. 10, destroying the building located at 125 Steamboat Avenue, which housed two businesses: George W. Zachorne Jr. & Sons boat builders’ workshop and Coastal Iron Works.
Nobody was injured in the fire; however, the building and the two business locations were unsalvageable.
But it didn’t take long for surrounding residents and friends to begin drumming up ideas on how to help the owners of the two businesses. Eventually, a group formed a planning committee for a fundraiser, called the Shipyard Shindig, with proceeds going to the families of the two business owners.
The Shipyard Shindig took place at Duffy’s Tavern last Sunday, Oct. 20 from 3 to 7 p.m., and by all accounts was a complete success. It featured live music, donated food from surrounding restaurants, raffle prizes, specially designed apparel and more. Roughly 1,000 people were also estimated to have attended.
To attend the fundraiser, there was a suggested $35 donation to purchase a ticket.
One of the organizers of the Shipyard Shindig, Lori Lyons, said the fundraiser was a true community effort, with residents and business owners coming together to donate time, food, apparel and raffle prizes.
Along with Lyons, other organizers included residents and local business owners ,including Julie Beebe, Carrie Kolb, Amy Sonder, Julia McKay, Jennifer LeComte, Michele Casey and Stuart Tucker.
Lyons said that, almost immediately after the fire, the group started thinking of ways to help the displaced business owners, who she said were “very well known in Wickford.”
They soon began planning the Shipyard Shindig.
“We came together four days after this devastating fire and put together this Shindig,” Lyons said. “We all know each other, we’re a very tight-knit community. The families that owned the businesses are very well known in Wickford.”
The first step in putting together the fundraiser was finding a suitable location, which led them to Tucker, who owns Duffy’s Tavern.
According to Lyons, Tucker didn’t hesitate in lending a helping hand.
“First of all, we had to figure out where to have it, and we contacted Stu Tucker because he has this big banquet facility up in his restaurant,” she said. “He didn’t hesitate. He gave us full reign with everything we needed.”
The group of organizers proceeded to meet every week to recruit local restaurants and businesses to donate food and raffle prizes.
Everything–from the food, to the music, to the raffle prizes–was donated, Lyons said, allowing all of the proceeds from the fundraiser to go to the owners of George W. Zachorne Jr. and Sons and Coastal Iron Works.
“We started reaching out to restaurants for food, and we thought, if we can get everything donated and it doesn’t cost us anything, that’s all the money we can give back to these businesses that so desperately need it,” Lyons said. “And we did. Everything was donated, everyone put a lot of time into it.”
Several local restaurants donated to the Shipyard Shindig, including Duffy’s, Oak Hill Tavern, The Place, Wickford Oyster Company, Shayna’s Place, Matteo’s Bakery, Jitters Cafe, Micky’s Pizza, Dave’s Marketplace, Sonoma Bistro, Tavern by the Sea, Wickford on the Water, Dan’s Carriage Inn and Gardner’s Wharf Seafood.
More than 100 raffle prizes were also featured at the fundraiser, with some “high-ticket items,” Lyons said.
Fresh Mode Screen Printing also designed apparel for the fundraiser, such as t-shirts, hoodies and hats, all commemorating the affected businesses and the Shipyard Shindig.
The apparel was made available online and promoted through the I Love Wickford Village Facebook page, which included a link to purchase the items at shipyardshindig.itemorder.com. Though the link to buy the apparel is currently inactive, Lyons said that the URL will soon be up and running once again, selling the items of clothing.
All past and future profits from the apparel will also go toward the owners of George W. Zachorne Jr. and Sons and Coastal Iron Works.
Three bands also played at the fundraiser, including Ten Rod Ramblers, Black Strap Molasses and the Sweatin’ Betsys.
All in all, Lyons said the amount of people who attended the Shipyard Shindig far surpassed her expectations.
Though the group of organizers had expected around 300 to attend, Lyons estimated the actual number was closer to 1,000.
“We expected a few hundred people,” Lyons said. “But when people started lining up at the door [...] we all looked at each other and said, I think this is going to be amazing.”
“It was standing room only. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many people from North Kingstown in one place at one time, and I’ve lived here my whole life,” she continued.
As for the amount of money that the Shipyard Shindig raised, Lyons said that they had “more than met our goal.”
Updates for more Shipyard Shindig apparel, and where to purchase the items of clothing, will be made on the I Love Wickford Village Facebook page, www.facebook.com/pg/ilovewickfordvillage/posts/?ref=page_internal.