This Week’s Distractions: August 9 to 15

By Mary Kate DePamphilis

August is quickly whizzing by as mid-month approaches and “back-to-school” supplies are covering the shelves at local stores.  It can only mean one thing.  You must soak up as much of summer as you can NOW!

There are some fantastic events going on all over the NoBo region this week, so check them out.  As usual, there are lots of musical, art, and cultural events going on, and even a beer tasting release party.  We’ve got something for the kids, too.  So hurry up and enjoy, before summer slips away!


Lowell Quilt Festival

Today kicks-off a special citywide celebration of the art of quilting.  This event is considered New England’s premier judged and juried quilt show.  For those hard-core quilters out there, you will be thrilled to know that Marianne Fons, founder of the Fons & Porter’s Love of Quilting magazine and TV show, is making two rare appearances at the festival.

Marianne will be appearing in an August 9th evening lecture and slide show along with her daughter Mary Fons, current co-host of the LOQ television show and founder of Hey Quilty, a magazine and website aimed at newer quilters. On Friday, August 10th, the Fons ladies will also appear at a brunch and blue-ribbon panel discussion moderated by the museum’s own curator Pam Weeks.  Seating is very limited so don’t miss your chance to meet this quilting legend!

Aside from Marianne’s appearance, the event will feature a huge schedule of lectures, panel discussions, trunk shows, quilt appraisals, and exhibitions.   Dozens of area galleries and restaurants will be participating and a great covered scenic picnic area will be available for you to chill out and eat out!

When?  Thursday, August 9th and Friday, August 10th, 10-6pm & Saturday, August 11th, 10-4pm.

Where?  Downtown Lowell

Cost?  FREE, for a full schedule of events and location and to register to hear Marianne Fons, log on to get all the details.


Gloucester Blues Festival

Get into the groove this weekend at this good time that will take over Stage Fort Park.  Some of the nation’s top blues performers will take the stage and some fantastic vendors will be offering up their food and crafts.  Local Cape Ann Brewing Company will be serving craft beers at a beer and wine garden alongside Westport Rivers Vineyard & Winery.  All while hanging out at this gorgeous park by the ocean!

If you are a blues fan you will be blown away by the fantastic lineup, and even if you’re not, you still will be blown away!  The festival’s headliner Shemekia Copeland is also known as the Queen of Blues and has recently performed at the White House.  Other performers include Baton Rouge’s award winning Kenny Neal, Chicago’s Eddie Shaw and the Wolf Gang, multi-instrumentalist Lucky Peterson, Dikki Du and the Zydeco Crewe, and Cape Ann’s own popular Henri Smith, who is originally from Louisiana.

Once the festival is over, the party doesn’t have to stop!  There will be an after-party pub crawl on Rogers Street in downtown Gloucester.  Follow the group of blues and brews at Minglewood Tavern, the Pub at Cape Ann Brewing, and the Dog Bar.  Have a blast and don’t forget to arrange for safe transportation!

When?  Saturday August 11th, 11am-7pm.  Gates open at 9am.

Where?  Stage Fort Park, 41 Hough Avenue, Gloucester

Cost?  $40 at the gate, online ticket sales have closed.


Ipswich Ale Brewery 5 Mile Rye Saison Release Party

I have to be honest, when I first heard about this event, I figured a race was involved and that the release party was at the finish line.  Not the case!  You don’t have to run anywhere to enjoy cold, refreshing beer.   The 5 Mile line of brews at Ipswich Ale Brewery are “grown locally, brewed locally for localvores and omnivores alike.”  I’m assuming they must use some ingredients grown within “5 miles” of Ipswich, which makes these beers very local, very cool, and very NoBo.

This weekend, the brewery will release their new and delicious 5 Mile Rye Saison.  Be the first of your friends to taste this truly local brew and buy the beer at wholesale price straight from where it was crafted.  You can also pick up some Ipswich Ale Brewery apparel or sip on a Mercury Soda Pop which is caffeine free, gluten-free and corn syrup free, made with pure cane sugar for a clean and refreshing taste just like all the sodas made at the Brewery.  Try some of their award-winning Oatmeal Stout Mustard made with Ipswich Oatmeal Stout.  The mustard is richly flavored with a good bite and just a hint of sweetness that tastes fabulous on sandwiches and all meats. The mustard is produced at Raye’s Mustard Mill of Eastport, Maine using the time-honored method of stone grinding whole mustard seeds.  Believe it or not but the mustard was voted “Best in Show” at the Napa Valley World Wide Mustard Competition!  Who knew there was a World Wide Mustard Competition?  This stuff must be good.

Complimentary snacks will be served and brews will be flowing from the Tapmobile!  The Tapmobile is retrofitted with 8 taps, showering you with a variety of award-winning beers and old- fashioned soda pops.  How cool is that?  And for future reference, the Tapmobile and smaller (but cooler) Tapmobile pickup truck can be rented out for weddings, birthdays, corporate functions, and backyard BBQs.  That is definitely a unique way to get the party started!

When?  Saturday, August 11th, 12-4pm.

Where?  Ipswich Ale Brewery, 23 Hayward Street, Ipswich

Cost? FREE


Newburyport Chamber Music Festival

This Saturday kicks off a week of wonderful concerts, kids’ events, and rehearsals that can be heard for free!  Some of the best classical musicians in the area can be heard at the festival.  The mission of the Newburyport Chamber Music Festival is to become an integral part of the culture and life of Newburyport and the surrounding area by providing a series of high-caliber and stimulating musical events designed to encourage a sense of involvement and ownership on the part of the community.

 By fostering an awareness of the music-making process and an appreciation of the exceptional architectural spaces available in Newburyport and by providing ample opportunities for casual interaction between artists and residents, we seek to nurture a community of music lovers of all ages while exploring the unique possibilities of live classical chamber music.

There will be four formal concerts held at St. Paul’s Church on 166 High Street in Newburyport and the Union Congregational Church on 350 Main Street in Amesbury.  For the kids, “Harry Potter and the Secret to Musical Masterpieces” will feature an hour of music, costumes, film, and audience participation.  The performances will be held throughout the week for free at local libraries.   Other performances will be done as rehearsals open to the public at various museums, shops, and street corners in Newburyport and Amesbury.  What a very cool and interactive way to bring music to these NoBo communities.  Come and support these great musicians and this great organization!  To see a complete schedule of concerts and rehearsals, log on to

When?  Saturday, August 11th-Saturday, August 18th

Where?  Downtown Newburyport and Amesbury

Cost?  Rehearsals and Kids’ Events are FREE; Formal Concerts are $25 per person


North Shore Arts Association 2012 Gale Preview Party & Live Art Auction

Celebrate and bid on sought-after works of art while supporting the North Shore Arts Association (NSAA) at this fabulous annual event, hosted by Skinner Boston’s Stuart Slavid. Nearly 100 gorgeous works representing a range of genres and mediums by NoBo’s finest artists will be displayed and offered up.  For those unable to attend, you can still get in on the action by online bidding at

While art gazing, you will enjoy creative and delicious hors d’oeuvres by Passports of Gloucester, an open wine bar, and live music by Jazz in the Air Trio.  Sounds like a wonderful evening out in NoBo!

The NSAA is committed to advancing American art in every way possible.  The Association is formed for the purpose of promoting the advancement and preservation of the fine arts by having exhibitions that encourage the viewing and acquisition of the fine arts, presenting educational and charitable programs that benefit members of the Association and the general public, and maintaining an acquisition fund with which works of art are bought, including work from its exhibitions, for inclusion in the Association’s permanent collection.  To maintain the Association’s high level of excellence in the arts, it shall be persistent in its efforts to invite artists to identify themselves with and to actively participate in the Association’s activities.

When?  Saturday, August 11th, 5:30-pm Preview, 7-9pm Auction

Where? NSAA Gallery, 11 Pirates Lane, Gloucester

Cost?  $30 per person. To order call 978-283-1857 or click here to purchase online.


Rockport Rotary’s Annual Lobsterfest!

This very “NoBo” outdoor dining event is held each summer at the American Legion Hall and bandstand in Rockport.  Bring your friends and family to enjoy a hot-boiled lobster, home-made clam chowder, corn-on-the-cob, watermelon, and beverages, all included with your ticket price.  The Cape Ann Jazz Band will chill you out while you get those lobsters crackin’.  For those who aren’t lobster eaters (although I can’t imagine there are any non-lobster eaters in NoBo!), there will be a cash menu with hot dogs, hamburgers, and desserts.  Beer and wine will be served on a cash basis as well.

Proceeds from the event will benefit local community service projects and the club’s scholarship fund.  Lobsterfest will be held rain or shine.

When?  Saturday, August 11th, 12pm-7pm.

Where?  Beach Street, opposite Back Beach, Rockport

Cost?  $25 per person; tickets will be on sale soon from any Rockport Rotarian, at the Legion Hall on the day of the event, or from Granite Savings Bank, John Tarr Store, Rockport National Bank, Village Silversmith, or Bearskin Neck Leathers.


Kids Day

If the kids are getting bored and itchy with August flying by, having already been to the beach many times, to the pool, and mini golfing, this free event is worth a stop by.  MGH Dental Group will be hosting a kids’ event where your kid can be “dentist for a day”, participate in fun, educational activities, play “dental CSI”, and receive some cool, free gifts.  Why not let the kids have fun while subtly relaying the message of good oral hygiene?  Who knew the dentist could be so fun?

When? Monday, August 13th, 2-4pm.

Where?  MGH Dental Group, 104 Endicott Street, Suite 101, Danvers

Cost? FREE, RSVP by calling (978) 882-6600

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