Advance Notice: Briefs

Inaugural giant stuffie to land in Detroit Saturday

By: - September 2, 2023 3:36 am

A sculpture of a giant stuffed quahog and hot sauce bottle will debut in Detroit Metropolitan Wayne County Airport on Saturday. (Courtesy Rhode Island Commerce Corp.)

Updated, 10:41 a.m., 9/7/23

Visitors stopping by the Michigan State Fair will be the first to catch a glimpse of Rhode Island’s latest destination marketing ploy: a giant stuffed quahog.

The long-awaited “stuffie” will make its debut in the Michigan event  on Saturday before continuing a journey to area sports games, and later, in “flight markets” in Atlanta, Baltimore and Los Angeles through the end of the year, Rhode Island Commerce Corp. announced Friday. A second stuffie will appear at The Big E, a regional fair in Massachusetts, later this month, Matt Touchette, a spokesman for Commerce, said in an email on Friday.

The economic development agency first unveiled its plans in April to use sculptures of the iconic seafood dish to attract travelers to the Ocean State as part of a broader, $4.4 million destination marketing budget in fiscal 2023. The stuffie installations cost $38,000 apiece, for a total of $76,000 for two, according to Touchette. They were created by artisans at Symmetry International, a division of Lance Industries in Lincoln.

“Rhode Island boasts a diverse and award-winning culinary scene and many cultural and historical attractions,” Gov. Dan McKee said in a statement. “By bringing a little bit of the Ocean State to our direct fly markets across the country, we are working to increase tourism to Rhode Island which in turn supports our small businesses and continues our economic momentum.”

The full installation includes the quahog sculpture, made by a division of Lincoln manufacturer Lance Industries, alongside a hot sauce bottle. There will also be a TV screen cycling through videos and photos that show how a stuffie is made, quahogging in Narragansett Bay and other images from around the state, according to the release.

Separately, Rhode Island Commerce is also putting a replica of the Newport Mansions inside Brea Mall in Brea, Calif., starting on Sept. 15.

Both installations offer a chance for viewers to engage through an “augmented reality experience” with a chance to win a three-night stay in Rhode Island, the release stated.

“Through our stuffie and Newport Mansion installations we’re paying homage to Rhode Islanders who embody the business behind the state’s beloved seafood dishes and historic notoriety,” Rhode Island Commerce Secretary Liz Tanner said in a statement.

This story first ran in the Advance’s sister outlet, the Rhode Island Current.

Correction: This story has been corrected to update where in Detroit the first stuffie statue will go.

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Nancy Lavin
Nancy Lavin

Nancy Lavin is a reporter covering State House politics along with energy and environmental issues for Rhode Island Current.