Bristol Fourth concert series moves to Roger Williams

State denies permission for concert series at Independence Park, so organizers move popular summer tradition to university athletic fields

By Christy Nadalin
Posted 5/6/21

Technically, the 2020 Bristol Fourth of July concert series was never canceled. First, it was delayed until August while the Fourth of July Committee waited to see if COVID restrictions would allow …

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Bristol Fourth concert series moves to Roger Williams

State denies permission for concert series at Independence Park, so organizers move popular summer tradition to university athletic fields

Posted

Technically, the 2020 Bristol Fourth of July concert series was never canceled. First, it was delayed until August while the Fourth of July Committee waited to see if COVID restrictions would allow the series to go on as planned (if later than usual). When that didn’t happen, the series was held online to light attendance.

The committee was determined that wouldn’t happen again, so when the application they submitted to hold concerts at Independence Park, with a typical nightly attendance of about 4,000 people, was rejected by the Rhode Island Department of Health, they quickly moved to make a plan that would be acceptable based on current COVID guidance.

The state’s chief concerns about Independence Park were twofold: there’s no way to restrict access to the venue to one entrance and exit point without jeopardizing public safety, and no way to effectively conduct contact tracing at a venue with access from virtually all points.

Michele Martins, general chairman of the Fourth of July Committee, is grateful to both Roger Williams University and Mt. Hope Farm for stepping up and offering their controlled-access venues for the series; ultimately it was determined that the university’s rugby fields, with better power, lighting and more extensive parking, would be most suitable. She emphasizes this is a decision strictly necessitated by COVID regulations. “We have no intention of permanently moving the concert series,” she said.

She also emphasized, as she did repeatedly in the run-up to last year’s celebration, that everything is subject to change. As of today, the plan is that the state will allow 2,500 attendees, and pre-registration will be required in order to conduct contact tracing. However, there is some hope that guidance will change in the coming weeks, so final numbers and contact tracing plans will not be finalized until June 1.

Unlike last year, the state now has widespread, free testing and vaccinations, and while testing and vaccination cards will not be required for admission, Ms. Martins strongly encourages everyone to test often, and get vaccinated. “Concerts, the carnival, the parade — these are family events and right now, kids can’t get vaccinated yet, so we can’t let our guard down,” she said. “We will get guidance from the Department of Health and we’ll follow it.”

The concert series will be held June 20 through July 3, and the musical acts — many of which kindly rolled over their deposits from last year — will include New Providence Big Band, 88th Army Band, Steve Smith & the Nakeds, Accused, Emily Luther, Back in the day, Barefoot Rebels, Khoury Sisters, 7dayweekend, Jon Tyler, Crushed Velvet, Changes in Latitude, Gerry Grimo, Reminisce, Andre Arsenault, Country Wild Band, World Premier, Sirsy, Colby James & the Ramblers, Charlie Marie, Blue FOs, Bar Fly, and DMB Project. For more information on the lineup, and developing plans, visit www.fourthofjulybristolri.com.

“I’m so excited,” said Ms. Martins. “We made history last year. We got through it. And we will do it again.”

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