Your Columbus Day Weekend Planner

Food, art, comedy and cowboys... get the most out of your long weekend in Rhode Island

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Woonsocket’s Autumnfest runs from October 6 to 9, and features a food row, beer tent, midway rides, sporting events, entertainment, a parade, arts and crafts and fireworks.

The Scituate Art Festival, happening October 7–9 for the 51st year, gathers together over 200 artists and artisans, as well as live entertainment and delicious food.

Nobody celebrates like Federal Hill celebrates, especially at the Columbus Day Weekend Festival, when Providence’s Atwells Avenue shuts down to cars and revelers enjoy delicious Italian food, entertainment, a parade and a carnival midway.

The state’s oldest Columbus Day parade is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year. The Westerly–Pawcatuck Columbus Day Parade happens on October 8, with Grand Marshal Billy Gilman.

And if that's not enough, check out these other great events happening this weekend:

The Rogue Island Comedy Festival is Back

The Rogue Island Comedy Festival is Back

The Rogue Island Comedy Festival is returning to Newport October 5–9. Now in its third year, the festival has seen a huge boom – an organic shift according to the festival’s marketing director, Katie Latimer.

“We didn’t want to go too big too soon,” she says, adding that despite the urge to swing for the fences, the festival’s organizers, which include native Rhode Island comics Doug Key and Rob Greene, preferred to take smaller steps last year, sticking to what had worked for their inaugural run. All ten shows last year sold out, and the fest’s reputation has earned the organizers their first major headliner: Silicon Valley and Deadpool star TJ Miller.

With TJ currently having a moment, the fest needed a bigger venue, so the Jane Pickens Theater will be joining Firehouse Theatre, Studio Three, Dockside and Brick Alley Pub to play host to this year’s nearly 70 comics – including plenty of local talent like Ray Harrington, Andrew Williams and Brian Beaudoin.

This year they’re putting on 14 shows across five days – including a family-friendly “PG-13” set at Empire Tea and Coffee on Saturday, October 7. Despite the success and the attention that TJ Miller is bringing to the festival, Katie, Doug and Rob aren’t getting ahead of themselves. So we’ll do it for them: this year sounds like a game changer for bringing big names in comedy to Rhode Island. Check out the full festival schedule at RogueIslandComedyFest.com

Rhode Island's Giant Pumpkins

Rhode Island's Giant Pumpkins

Richard Wallace of Greene, Rhode Island, has the distinction of having grown the largest pumpkin ever recorded in North America. Coming in at a whopping 2,261.5 pounds, this monster of a vegetable is the one to beat at this year’s Southern New England Giant Pumpkin Growers Annual Weigh-Off, held every October at Frerichs Farm in Warren on October 7.

“I’m hoping to be over 2,000,” Richard said the morning of last year’s event. A humble prediction, but an honest one – no one seemed more surprised than Richard when the pumpkin’s weight was announced to a roaring crowd. He took the crown from his own son, Ron, who previously held the record with a 2,230-pound gourd. That’s a lot of pumpkin pie.

For the growers, the Weigh-Off is the culmination of months of hard work. For the spectators, and you better believe there’s a committed crowd for this kind of thing, it’s a chance to be able to walk away claiming, “I was there” when the biggest pumpkin ever grown was added to the record books.

The Wild West Comes to South County

The Wild West Comes to South County

Here in New England, we’re not exactly known for our cowboy culture. You’re a lot more likely to see people in nautical stripes and anchors than cowboy boots. Some of us, though, need a little Old West in our lives, even in Rhode Island. Enter the Cowboy Rendezvous at Stepping Stone Ranch, which is four days of good old-fashioned boot stomping, cattle wrangling fun on Columbus Day weekend.

“Stepping Stone has always been about a Western theme,” says Heidi Waldron, who owns the ranch with her husband Darrell. “In the 1960s, it used to have showdeos, and country singers like Johnny Cash and Loretta Lynn performed here.”

The Rendezvous continues that tradition, staging performances of horsemanship, line dancing, saloon shows, cowboy dinners and more. There’s even a posse ride, where you hunt down bad guys on horseback. “There is some competition, but it’s just for the fun of it,” Heidi says. “Just come and enjoy yourself with your horse.”

The events are free for spectators, except for the cowboy dinner, which is a ticketed event that’s open to anyone, cowboy or not. “We have this great hall with a 100-year-old bar and a full liquor license,” Heidi says. “We feed people, and we have a saloon girl show. It’s just a whole weekend of fun.” Looks like it’s time to saddle up.