The Original Johnny Cake Festival
The Johnny Cake Festival was held annually in October. It allowed visitors to take a step back in time and celebrate the harvest at Kenyon’s Grist Mill in West Kingston, Rhode Island. Folks enjoyed local items from over 125 local vendors, including farms, artisans, restaurants, and businesses. An abundance of free samples were savored and a variety of local food, art, wine/beer, and more was purchased. There were mill tours, live music, animals, and old-world demonstrations along the scenic Queen’s River and waterfall.
The original Johnny Cake Festival was founded in 1973 by Paul Drumm Jr., owner of Kenyon's Grist Mill. The event continued until 1985. It started out as a small village fair and expanded into a nationally known festival. Yet, even in its growth, it still remained a simple country event, run by country people, for visitors around southern New England and afar. This one-of-kind event was revived in 2009, which grew rapidly into a festival with over 200 local vendors and 10,000 visitors. For more history, click here. For older photos, click here.
Please Note: This Event Has Been Cancelled Until Further Notice
In 2014 Johnny Cake Festival at Kenyon’s Grist Mill had been officially canceled. To ensure the success of this event, our small staff at the mill and two main coordinators need to begin planning and developing the event 14 months in advance. It is a monumental project! Over the winter of 2013, the Drumm family suffered a tremendous loss of a loved one - Paul Drumm Jr., caretaker of a Rhode Island tradition and owner of Kenyon’s Grist Mill since 1971. During a very long and trying time, amidst the most critical planning months, the difficult decision to cancel the 2014 festival was made. At this time, the Johnny Cake Festival will be canceled until further notice. We hope to bring it back very soon! Sign up for our Kenyon’s Grist Mill Millstone Newsletter, which we electronically send out 1-2 times a year. This is a great way to keep updated and be in touch.
"We sincerely apologize to all of our fans and friends who look forward to this unique and authentic event! We put so much passion, love, devotion, and time into re-creating it over the years and enjoyed working with and promoting so many wonderful, local businesses. Thank you for your support in the past and your interest and patience for the future. We must now focus on our primary business, Kenyon’s Grist Mill, and continue to keep my dad’s legacy alive and strong."
Sincerely, Paul Drumm III - Kenyon's Grist Mill
Visit Kenyon's Grist Mill's Smaller Events
Twice a year (July and October), Kenyon's opens its doors to showcase what we do. They are much smaller than the Johnny Cake Festival, but still a great way to see the mill and the property. Enjoy free tours, johnny cake samples, and cooking demonstrations. Free admission. Free parking right at Kenyon's Grist Mill. For more information on our tour weekends, click here.
Mission & History
The Johnny Cake Festival is similar to the story of Stone Soup. At Kenyon's Grist Mill in the small village of Usquepaugh, we build a fire, add some water and put in the stones. This creates a venue where local businesses can come together, join a support system, and show off what they do best. The mission is to strengthen the community and local businesses by working together, networking, assisting, cross marketing, and promoting each other. In the past few years, the event has grown exponentially. Originating in 1973, the festival ran until 1985. After a series of smaller events at the mill in 2009 and 2010, the Johnny Cake Festival was recreated in 2011. The event promotes local culinary specialties, agriculture, handmade art, history, and education. The outreach is to those who value the importance of supporting local products. We are proud to source all logistics from local companies. This includes buses, security, signage, facilities, ATM, and so much more. Area businesses also get secondary benefits. All of the event's income goes "back in the pot" to cover a portion of the expenses. Any additional earnings are donated to our benefactors.
Every stir and ingredient is important to making the spirit of this event work. Click here for additional history and photos from the past. Saying thank you to volunteers and Kenyon's Grist Mill's small staff goes a long way! We are dedicated year-round to create something truly unique. Although everyone assists in their own way, our major supporters are listed below. We appreciate Schartner Farms, Healey Farm and Babbling Brook Farm who have supplied decorations. We also thank our musicians, volunteers, photographers, media, and demonstrators. This old-fashioned recipe creates a delicious stew that can be enjoyed by all.