TUNING UP: For decades, the Newport Folk Festival has been one of Aquidneck Island’s strongest tourist attractions. Above is a shot from the 2011 festival.
COURTESY DOUG MASON
BRASS ATTACK: French horn virtuoso Eric Ruske performs at The Breakers in Newport as part of the Newport Music Festival. The classical-music event is now in its 45th season and remains a major draw.
COURTESY NEWPORT MUSIC FESTIVAL
By Rhonda Miller PBN Staff Writer
Music is one of Rhode Island’s top summer draws, headlined by the Newport jazz and folk festivals, which unfold enticingly on the grounds of Fort Adams State Park along Newport Harbor, framed by the Pell Bridge.
The quality of music and the stunning waterfront location attract up to 10,000 visitors a day during the two festival weekends.
“We get international recognition through the festivals, especially the jazz festival,” said Larry Mouradjian, associate director of natural resources for the R.I. Department of Environmental Management.
The jazz and folk festivals had an economic impact of more than $5 million in the state last year, with about 90 percent of festival-goers coming to Rhode Island specifically for those events, a study commissioned by DEM and released last month found.
Music tourists appear to again be enthusiastic heading into the 2013 season, if ticket sales for the Newport Folk Festival from July 26-28 are any indication.
“This year we heard that the folk festival sold out before the whole lineup was even advertised,” Mouradjian said. “People have come to have a high anticipation for the festival. They’re assured of a high-quality [performance], so they’re willing to buy tickets even before they know who’s playing.”
The DEM commissioned the study in order to determine the value of the festivals for the public venue, he said.
“We’re looking at events at Fort Adams as economic drivers for the state,” Mouradjian said.
The internationally known jazz and folk festivals, along with other classical, pop and cultural music festivals around the state, add up to a valuable playlist of music tourism for the Rhode Island economy.
“The travel industry is highly competitive and everyone wants to know what’s new,” said Evan Smith, president and CEO of Discover Newport, the city’s convention and visitors bureau. “Music helps keep us fresh and relevant and vibrant. There’s this constant pressure point to present what’s hot and what’s not, and music is one of those platforms.”