Make merry at annual Motif No. 1 Day this Saturday

Vincenzo Dimino/File photo/Rockport-based Alek Razdan & the A-Train Orchestra will play for the hometown crowd at 1 p.m. at Harvey Park at Motif No. 1 Day in Rockport. They are just some of the musicians offering free concerts during Saturday's event.

ROCKPORT —  For the seventh year, Rockport Exchange will present the Motif No. 1 Festival, the town's free annual art extravaganza, this Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

For the first time, alcohol will be served on site.

Beer from the True North Ale brewery in Ipswich and wine from Westport River Winery in Westport will be available to purchase from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Harvey Park, in a tent near the music stage.

Sarah Kelly, one of Rockport Exchange founders who now sits on its advisory board, said the exchange chose these two vendors as the event's first alcohol distributors because "we want to highlight local makers" and "they fit the profile."

Guests may also buy non-alcoholic beverages, pizza, burgers and crepes at Harvey Park. Scheduled musical acts include rhythm-and-blues act Alek Razdan and the A-Train Orchestra and Americana band Headlands. 

In addition to food, drink and free music, the festival will feature a slew of painting, writing, movement and other creative programs at no charge at various locations throughout downtown. 

"It's a celebration of the arts in Rockport, more so than any other community event in town," said Robyn Pregent, operations manager at Rockport Exchange. The festival takes place  rain or shine.

Motif No. 1 Day Festival begins with two physical activities, starting with a 5K race at 9 a.m. Afterward, a 1-mile "fun run" will be held for children of all ages. The "fun-run," originally independent from the festival, was organized by local teachers to promote student health. Immediately following the race at 11 a.m., Cape Ann Power Yoga will host a yoga class at the very end of T Wharf, overlooking Motif No. 1. 

From 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., the Community and Nonprofit Fair will be open on Mt. Pleasant Street. In addition, guests may create their own street art at the nearby Chalk Pit.

Dock Square will host events during the 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. block including scavenger hunts, a magic show with magician Kam Diaz and the "Make-the-Motif" recyclable art contest. At 1 p.m., the Good Dog Gallery Pet Parade will step off at 47 Bearskin Neck to benefit for Cape Ann Animal Aid.

Kelly said she is most looking forward to the festival's many poetry programs, specifically "Roving Poetry: Words Before Dinner, " held at 4 p.m. at Dock Square. 

"It closes out the whole event," she explained. "I think people will really enjoy it. They'll get to hear from Rockport poets, and create their own poems and have them read aloud."

The festival, which is about 70 years old, waned in the 1980s and was reinvigorated about 10 years ago, gets its name from Rockport's iconic red fishing house, which has garnered a reputation as being one of the most popular buildings to paint in the U.S. The building that stands today is a replica; the original was destroyed during the Blizzard of 1978.

"When they see it, they think of Rockport," said Pregent. "It's really just an iconic symbol of the town and has attracted a lot of artists to the area."

During the morning road race, parts of T Wharf and Mt. Pleasant Street will be closed to traffic. Parts of Dock Square will also be closed during the festival.

More information and a full schedule of events is available at

 Michael Cronin may be contacted at 978-675-2708, or


What: Motif No. 1 Day celebrates Rockport’s famous fishing shack, the subject of countless paintings and photographs over the last 150 years, across the arts. There is music, food, art, theater, dance and poetry.

When: Saturday, May 18, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine.

Where: Throughout downtown Rockport.

Details: For more information and a schedule of events, visit You can follow Rockport Exchange on Facebook and Instagram.

Events include:

5K and Fun Run -- 9 a.m., T-Wharf.

Rockport Dance Academy performance -- 11:30 a.m., Dock Square.

Pet Parade -- 1 p.m., 47 Bearskin Neck.

Scavenger hunt -- 1 to 5 p.m., beginning at Dock Square.

Magician Kim Diaz, 2 p.m., Dock Square.

All day ---Poetry and performers, live music in Dock Square; and chalk art at Mt. Pleasant Street.

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