This past weekend was the second annual PVD Fest, stretching from Thursday to Sunday. After last years event, I was excited to return this year and see how the city was able to improve on its initial success. Unfortunately, just before the beginning of the festival, I came down with mono and was too sick to go for the first two days. In the end, I was only able to make it for a couple hours Saturday night, but as such a huge event for the city of Providence, I felt like I had to write something anyways.
When Mayor Elorza announced that the city would be getting it’s own signature festival last spring I was not sure how successful it would be. He said that “This festival will be a way to connect the world-class talent we have here in Providence with artists and performers from around the world.” The festival was part of a focus by the mayor on developing the city’s vibrant arts scene into a tourist spectacle.
Initially called the Providence International Arts Festival, the event last year was a lot of fun, and the buzz surrounding this years version was huge in the months leading up. They changed the name to the much better PVD Fest and it was rumored that they were expecting 100,000 people to attend.
I arrived Saturday night at the skating rink, where an Indian band from Brooklyn called Red Baraat was beginning their performance. Their music was incredibly unique and the energy from the crowd was great. We then moved on to the stage at Kennedy Plaza, where Chachi Carvalho, a rapper from Pawtucket was performing. I also saw Chachi perform at the last festival and he has been the highlight both years. His lyric driven raps are backed by a live band, and his music is influenced by his Cape Verdean roots.
After the set finished, we walked up Washington St and the magnitude of the festival immediately hit me. The streets were lined with food trucks and filled with people. The city lifted the open container laws for the weekend so people were drinking freely, and even playing beer pong in some of the alley ways. The last stop I made for the night was at the Clemence St dance party. There was a DJ playing hit songs and people dancing and socializing. It was a great contrast to the other acts I saw and proved that the festival was out to appeal to a lot of different people.
There were other performers on the schedule that I wanted to see but wasn’t able to make it to as well. The Everett theater performed their amazing Freedom Project at the Roger Williams Memorial, local rapper Jon Hope performed at Kennedy Plaza and the What Cheer Brigade, a Providence classic, performed as well.
I wish I could have experienced more of PVD Fest, but from what I saw it was better than last year. I enjoyed the music that I saw more and felt that the atmosphere was even better. There was music throughout the city, with stages at Burnside Park, the skating rink, two at Kennedy Plaza, the Ruins on Westminster St, and more. I think there was more anticipation for it this year, and next year should build on that. On top of my experience, the weekend was a huge success for the city as well. Mayor Elorza even said that it surpassed his expectations. It had a great effect on local businesses downtown. The owner of Trinity Brewhouse told Projo that they had double the amount of customers than on a normal weekend. Despite the huge crowds and open drinking, there was not a single arrest made at the event for the whole four days.
The success of March Madness earlier this year and PVD Fest this weekend will surly give Providence a good name to out-of-towners who came in. We should hope that the city is able to bring in more events like these to downtown. Even right now, the mayor is working on bringing the X Games to Providence in 2017 or 2018.
I hope that everyone was able to stop by PVD Fest at some point this weekend and enjoy it, and hopefully next year will be even better.