Newport is ready to host 5 big events this fall. This is how they're dealing with COVID.

NEWPORT – Organizers of big fall events continue to find themselves dealing with COVID protocols, restrictions, and perhaps pending mandates.

© Daily News file photo The Newport International Boat show was scheduled to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2020 before the event was canceled because of the pandemic. The milestone celebration is being planned for 2021.

The Newport International Boat Show annually draws around 25,000 people during its four-day exhibition and sales, while the Audrain Concours drew 67,000 people during its week-long event in 2019. The Newport Seafood Festival is expected to help draw 8,000 to 9,000 people in total to Bowen’s Wharf for its weekend, and the Newport Music Festival will attract hundreds to its three concerts this fall. Festa Italiana has a big draw for its events, attracting around 1,500 people for its Festival in the Park and hundreds more to the Italian Heritage Parade and other offerings.

Almost all statewide coronavirus restrictions for the fully vaccinated were lifted in late May this year when people felt life was opening up again, but the Delta variant has doused hopes that the pandemic was receding quickly behind us. While there are no state or CDC mandates yet for the fall events, organizers are being cautious and implementing their own measures.

Newport Music Festival

First up on the calendar is the Newport Music Festival which is presented the Thalea String Quartet at the Emmanuel Church Recital Hall on Friday, that was followed by an outdoor concert by The Westerlies in Miantonomi Memorial Park this past Sunday. Wrapping up this series will be Kristin Lee at Emmanuel’s Recital Hall on Friday, Oct. 8, at 7:30 p.m.

People attending one of the two indoor performances will be required to show proof of full COVID-19 vaccination, with at least 14 days having passed since the final dose. If they don’t have that, they will need proof of a negative COVID-19 PCR test taken in the prior 72 hours, or a negative COVID-19 antigen test taken in the prior six hours.

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Maximum capacity for the Recital Hall has been reduced to allow for social distancing between households. All patrons regardless of vaccination status must wear a mask over their nose and mouth at all times. Concert programs will not exceed 90 minutes and do not have intermissions.

NMF has contact-less touch points for ticketing and entry. Tickets are distributed via email and can be displayed on a mobile device or printed out in advance. Paper tickets will be available only upon request when necessary.

The pandemic’s status remains fluid and the organizers may change this policy based on updated recommendations from the CDC, state Department of Health and the federal Department of Health and Human Services at the time of the concert, the Newport Music Festival says on its website.

Newport International Boat Show

The Newport International Boat Show will take place Thursday through Sunday, Sept. 16-19, from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. each day. It is mostly an open-air event spanning 13 acres around the Newport Yachting Center Marina on Commercial Wharf. Temporary docks are anchored out into the harbor to hold all the yachts, powerboats and sailboats on display.

“Though mask-wearing outdoors has not been mandated in the state of Rhode Island at this time, we recommend that they be worn inside the tents and inside the seminar classrooms,” the Boat Show says on its website. “We will update everyone should CDC guidelines change.”

Festa Italiana

The first event of the Festa Italiana celebrations will be the John Panaggio Ziti Night on Fri., Sept. 24, 5-7 p.m. at the Vasco DaGama Hall, 15 Fenner Ave.

Shirley Ripa of the Order of the Sons and Daughters of Italy said a total of 100 tickets will be sold, inclusive of those sitting down in the hall and those with dinner takeout. Reservations are required for everyone. Masks will required inside the hall, but not at the tables when people are eating of course, she said.

Festa Italiana’s Festival in the Park will take place at Touro Park on Saturday, Oct. 2, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. This is outdoors so there are no masking requirements. There will be a free vaccination clinic there from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m. and the Providence Vet Center will have a tent to advise veterans on mental health.

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CineFesta, screenings of Federico Fellini’s La Strada starring Anthony Quinn, will take place at the Edward King House Senior Center on Tues., Oct. 5, with seatings at 1 p.m, 4 p.m and 7 p.m. Registration is required.

Carmela Geer, the center’s executive director, said registration is required and only 10 people will be seated for each screening, spaced 5 or 6 feet apart. All participants must show proof of vaccination if they do not want to wear a mask. If the proof is not handy or people are not vaccinated, masks are required.

Vantarsi dell’Italia: Bragging about Italy, Interesting Facts and Anecdotes, will take place at the Edward King House on Thursday, Oct. 7, at 7:30 p.m. This will be in a bigger room than where the film will be shown, so 25 people can be accommodated and spaced, Geer said. Registration is required and the other restrictions also apply.

The Italian Heritage Parade will step off from City Hall on Monday, Oct. 11, at noon, and continue to the Christopher Columbus statue on Memorial Boulevard, just east of Bellevue Avenue. This is an outdoor event so there are no requirements like masking.

The Meatball Challenge and the Italian Heritage Concert, both staples of past Festa Italiana events, were postponed this year until 2022 because it was difficult to keep the number of people down, have adequate spacing, and still be cost effective, Geer said.

Audrain Newport Concours & Motor Week

The Audrain Newport Concours & Motor Week takes place at different venues, but mostly at the Audrain Auto Museum and International Tennis Hall of Fame from Wed., Sept. 29 through Sunday, Oct. 23.

The organizers have been in constant contact with the state Department of Business Regulation and Department of Health, according to Katelyn McSherry, Audrain’s director of marketing.

© Daily News file photo Organizers of the Audrain Concours & Motor Week have been in constant contact with the state Department of Business Regulation and Department of Health ahead of this year’s event.

“As of right now, there aren’t any restrictions that we have to abide by,” she said. “We’re putting up ‘masks recommended’ signs and setting up hand sanitizer stations everywhere.”

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“We’ll go along with any COVID protocols state government has, but there are not any in place now,” she added. “We talk to someone from the state multiple times a week. We submitted all of our plans, our layouts, and things like that. There has been no concern yet.”

There are about three dozen separate listings of various events during the week listed on the Audrain Concours website. The total turnout for all those events really did draw a total of about 67,000 people in 2019, McSherry said.

“That total came from a research company as well as working with the city of Newport,” she said. “Those are accurate numbers.”    

Newport Seafood Festival

The 30th Annual Newport Seafood Festival will take place on Bowen’s Wharf on Oct. 16-17, on that Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Sunday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

“We are waiting to see if there are any announcements from the state and Department of Health regarding recommendations for outdoor events,” said Adrienne Krueger, Bowen’s marketing communications manager. “I have consulted with the Department of Business Regulation about it. We worked really closely with them on the Oyster  Festival when capacity was limited. That was right on the cusp of everything opening up again.”

Health officials have not made any recommendations on restrictions for the upcoming festival, she said.

“Until then, we are going forward as planned, with a full capacity outdoor event,” Krueger said. “It’s a little different than the Oyster Festival in that we are not selling tickets for the Seafood Festival, which is a free event. That might change in the coming weeks.”

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Attendance at the festival is always weather dependent.

It was a warm, sunny weekend in 2019, when it was estimated up to 9,000 people came through Bowen’s Wharf throughout the weekend, Kreuger said. The total included shoppers, restaurant diners, and sightseers besides those who participated in the festival.

© Sean Flynn/Daily News photo Bowen’s Wharf was packed in May for the Newport Oyster & Chowder festival, the first major event in the city since the start of the COVID pandemic.

“I would estimate 5,000 for the Seafood Festival, spread out over Saturday and Sunday,” she said.

The festival will expand out into Market Square this year because Bowen’s Wharf was able to lease all the parking meters in the square from the city for the event, she said. There are about 15 vendors so far, mostly restaurants and others with a mobile food license.

There is a city-approved traffic plan for the event and there will be a police detail there, Krueger said. “As for masks, that depends on people’s comfort level,” she said. Under the open-sided tents is still considered outside.

“We want to be cautious going into the fall, that’s for sure,” she added.

This article originally appeared on Newport Daily News: Newport is ready to host 5 big events this fall. This is how they’re dealing with COVID.

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