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Autumnfest fills out entertainment card

September 13, 2013

Chairman Tim Paul, second from right, is putting together another great Autumnfest this year. (Photo/Ernest A. Brown)

WOONSOCKET – Autumnfest Steering Committee Chairman Tim Paul is back in his pre-Autumnfest zone and feeling it.

The 35th edition of the city’s annual festival is coming up fast on Columbus Day weekend, and Paul said Friday that usually means he has started feeling the pressure of getting all the arrangements completed for yet another great Autumnfest.

“Every August you feel the stress, then in September it is the worries,” Paul said.

The good news in September is that the entertainment lineup for three days of stage time at Autumnfest’s World War II Veterans Memorial State Park grounds is largely complete and most of those details are no longer on the Steering Committee’s agenda.

Autumnfest’s special events, such as the new “Mega War” tug o’ war competition organized by Dick and Cheryl Savaria, the Race Against Racism 5K race sponsored by the Woonsocket YWCA on Sunday, Oct. 13; and the Autumnfest Kids Challenge on Saturday, Oct. 12, organized by Nancy Phillips and Call Publisher Mary Lynn Bosiak and sponsored by The Call and Simon Chevrolet, are also ready to go, according to Paul.

“The main thing we are looking for now is more sponsorships,” Paul said. Sponsors who contribute anywhere between $100 to $10,000 for special recognition during the festival help pay the costs of bringing in the entertainment acts on the main stage and also to bring in bands and other participants for the ten-division Autumnfest Parade stepping off from Woonsocket Plaza on Diamond Hill Road on Oct. 14, Paul said.

“We need sponsors because it takes a lot to put on Autumnfest, especially in this economy,” he said. Autumnfest, which typically draws over 100,000 people to World War II Park over the three days, is the largest local fundraising opportunity of the year for the city’s nonprofit community organizations, Paul noted.

The next step in the committee’s preparations for Columbus Day weekend will be getting World War II Park itself ready for the festival, Paul said. The City of Woonsocket and the state Department of Environmental Management will be showing up to start the cleanup shortly, he said.

“It usually happens just in time. How, I don’t know, but usually happens,” he said. The work will include mowing the park’s lawns, picking up trash, and also refilling the park’s pond.

“It happens every year, and I’m hoping the same thing happens this year,’ he said.

Jeff Gamache, who has taken over Autumnfest entertainment from longtime entertainment coordinator Paul Jacob, said this year’s big show for Saturday will set a first for Autumnfest.

“This is the first time we will be having more than one headliner act, so it is kind of exciting,” he said.

The Doo Wop Celebration scheduled for Saturday evening begins at 6 p.m. with Dicky Doo & the Don’ts, featuring Rhode Islander Gerry Granahan. The group will be performing Granahan’s songs “Click Clack” and “No Chemise Please.”

The Chiffons will follow with their doo wop hits such as “He’s So Fine,” “One Fine Day” and “Sweet Talking Guy,” and then the Legendary Teenagers, members of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame, will perform their hits such as “Why Do Fools Fall in Love,” “I Promise to Remember,” and “Goody, Goody,” Gamache said.

“Gerry Granahan just this year made the Rhode Island Hall of Fame himself, so it is nice to have Rhode Island represented in the show,” Gamache said.

The weekend’s entertainment will also once again include popular Rhode Island acts with the Big Nazo Band and puppets, the Reminiscents and the John Marsten Jazz Band appearing on stage again, and Kings Row will be performing before the Autumnfest fireworks show Sunday night, as the band has in the past.

Two acts drawing good crowds at the city’s Aug. 29 Block Party, Nite Flies and Runaway Train, will also be performing.

Runaway Train will perform country western music on Saturday, and Nite Flies Top 40 hits on Sunday.

A longtime Autumnfest favorite from the past, French Canadian singer Josee Vachon, will also be coming to town to perform this year, Gamache said. “She will be returning after an absence of 10 years,” he said.

Like Paul, Gamache is also hoping all goes well as the final days of preparations for Autumnfest 2013 wrapup.

“I think it is going to be a good Autumnfest. We have a lot of returning performers and some new acts as well,” he said.

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