RI officials kick off music & arts festival in Providence

Providence Mayor Jorge Elorza and U.S. Sen. Jack Reed spoke at City Hall on Friday to kick off “PVDFest.” Drummers and performers from a street theater group led them to the podium.

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) — Rhode Island officials are welcoming an expected 100,000 people to Providence for an arts and music festival.

The event, which runs through Sunday, features local and international artists and musicians.

On Saturday, which Elorza called the “showcase day,” there will be more than 500 artists, 13 stages, 30 food trucks and 11 local arts organizations downtown.

The Democratic mayor stressed that the festival is free so it’s accessible to everyone.

“I want to invite all of the residents of our city, state and region to visit our capital city as it’s transformed both into a stage and into a canvas,” he said.

Reed, a Rhode Island Democrat, said the arts strengthen communities.

“Arts are the great unifying element,” he said. “It’s so important. It creates a sense of opportunity, a sense of community. And there’s no greater example than PVDFest.”

Last year’s festival was called the Providence International Arts Festival. It drew about 100,000 people to the city.

Organizers shortened the name this year and they’re expecting similar or larger crowds.

Traffic delays and detours are expected because streets will be closed for performances.

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Online: http://pvdfest.com