Autumnfest, Woonsocket's biggest annual celebration, gets started tonight with the Autumnfest Grand Marshal Ceremony at 6 p.m. at St. Ann Arts and Cultural Center.
Mayor Leo Fontaine will officially present Autumnfest Grand Marshal Bob Picard with the first Autmnfest button during the dinner ceremony. The event will be catered by Gary McLaughlin of Deli Encounters, the long-time caterer for the Grand Marshal Ceremony, Picard said.
Picard, chairman of Woonsocket Senior Services and a long-time Rotary member, should draw a big crowd to this year's ceremony, said Autumnfest organizer Tim Paul. "I'm expecting quite a lot of people there," Paul said, "He knows everybody."
The venue - which comes pre-decorated with historic frescoes starring members of the Woonsocket community from yesteryear, is nothing to sneeze at, either. "It's a really, really nice place to have it this year," Paul said.
Starting Saturday, the Midway, concessions, rotary stage, beer garden and kidsfest will all be open for business. Check out the Autumnfest website for details. Here's a list of the highlights throughout the celebration:
Thursday, Oct. 4
After tonight, the next Autumnfest event will be the Thursday, Oct. 4 opening of the Midway by Fanelli Amusements at World War II Memorial Park, with a third more games this year than last time, Paul said.
Since the tennis courts were removed this year, he said, there was a lot more room available to organizers, and he managed to fill it up with more rides for the Midway.
The Midway opening will coincide with a fundraiser, "Bands for the fans" at the AutumnfestBeergarden along East School Street, providing entertainment for a $5 cover that night.
Friday, Oct. 5
A second fundraiser for the Rotary Club will feature Steve Malec & The Electric Flood at 5 p.m., opening up for Doors tribute band, "Through The Doors," at 7 to 11 p.m. Tickets for that night are free. Pizza and beer will be sold inside.
Saturday, Oct. 6 (10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.)
Autumnfest's headliner act, Rock N’ Roll Hall of Famers Charlie Thomas’ Drifters, will perform at 8 p.m.
Charlie Thomas, on lead vocals, takes you through a journey of iconic songs including There Goes My Baby, Under The Boardwalk, This Magic Moment, On Broadway, Save The Last Dance For Me, Sweets for My Sweet, Up On The Roof and more than nineteen albums of recognizable songs.
Sunday, Oct. 7 (10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.)
Race Against Racism - Don't forget to register for the Race Against Racism 5K The entry fee is $25, and $27 the day of the race.
Start/Finish: World War II Memorial State Park in Woonsocket
7:30 a.m. Registration / T-Shirt and Race Packet Pick Up
8:45 a.m. Welcome and Warm Up
9 a.m. 5K Race Start
Fireworks - A pyrotechnic display will be put on by Pyro Engineering, 9 p.m.
Monday, Oct. 8 (10 a.m. to 9:30 p.m.)
Autmnfest parade - The Autumnfest Parade will kick off at 9:30 a.m. sharp on Diamond Hill Road Oct. 8.
This year's parade will feature 18 bands, including the Woonsocket High School Band, Mount Saint Charles Academy Senior Band and the Hills-Mills Comedy Clown Band.
The parade also boosts at least 11 floats from local organizations including the Blackstone Valley Tourism Council, the Knights of Columbus and St. James Baptist Church.
Autumnfest button drawing -Button sales are going well, said Paul. This year's grand prize drawing at 6 p.m. will award the winner a trip to Florida, sponsored by WNRI Radio. The trip includes airfare for two and four days, three nights in Orlando, Fla.
There are also second, third and fourth-place cash prizes: $300, $200 and $100, respectively, Paul said.
Lastly, the 50/50 Autumfest button raffle should be big one this year, Paul said. This year the sales are better than in 2011, when the prize was $800. For 2012, he said he expects the prize to be at least $1,000.