Nature, Music, Indie Films and Family Fun are on the Schedule for September and October
Somerset County, in the heart of New Jersey, is also the heart of family-friendly festivals. As fall approaches, Somerset County Tourism is reminding the public of the following events that bring together area residents and visitors to share common interests and explore new aspects of life, past and present, in the region. Somerset County is within a one-hour drive from the New York and Philadelphia metro areas.
“Somerset County is rich in historic destinations and environmental education programs that draw visitors from throughout New Jersey, but many people outside of our county are still discovering the annual festivals we host,” said Jacqueline Morales, director of Somerset County Tourism. “Our proximity and easy access to both New York City and Philadelphia make these events great day trips or easy overnights for families looking for free or low-cost activities this fall.”
Somerset County’s fall festival lineup is as follows:
- Jazz aficionados will flock to downtown Somerville on Saturday, September 14 and Sunday, September 15 for the Central Jersey Jazz Festival on the Somerset County Courthouse Green at East Main and Grove streets. On Saturday from 12:00 p.m. through 7:00 p.m., Venture to Zen, John Busse and The Tyrone Stackhouse Project will perform. There will also be art competitions, performances and demonstrations, an artisan market and children’s art workshop starting at noon. The Sunday lineup, from 1:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., will be tenor saxophonist Javon Jackson, vocalist Brianna Thomas and Nat Adderley, Jr., well-known for his work writing, arranging and producing many Luther Vandross hits. Additional performances will be by NJPAC Jazz for Teens.
On both days, there will be a food court with dishes from Somerville restaurants, a wine and beer garden sponsored by Verve and a craft beer garden sponsored by Tapastre. Visit centraljerseyjazzfestival.com, Facebook, DowntownSomerville.com or call 908-541-1600 for event details or extreme weather notifications.
- The weekend of Saturday, October 5 is the debut of Ville Film Fest, Somerset County’s first independent film festival and one of only a few such events throughout New Jersey. Over 200 films were submitted by filmmakers for consideration and over 30 films, including documentaries, narrative features and shorts will be screened. The event is being launched by Ville Fest Inc., a non-profit organization co-founded by Steve Chiocci and Kyle Marino, co-owners of Cheech’s Own Coffee Company in Somerville. The main event—film screenings, entertainment and activities—will be on Saturday, October 5 with an exclusive opening night party on Friday, October 4 and a closing ceremony and awards event on Sunday, October 6. Full event details regarding titles, schedule and locations, tickets and sponsorship information are at villefest.org.
- Visitors will step back in time on Sunday, October 6 at the Somerset County Lord Stirling 1770s Festival at the site of Lord Stirling’s Manor in Basking Ridge, from 11:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. The interactive day re-creates colonial life in the 1770s. Interpreters in colonial-era garb will present live demonstrations of period trades and crafts, and activities for children will include clay pottery, butter churning, basket weaving and working a cider press. Farm animals will be there, courtesy of Somerset County 4-H. Visitors may also do a self-guided tour of the manor’s original 18th-century cellar. Suggested donation is five dollars per person. In the event of rain, the programming will be in the Environmental Education Center.
- Saturday, October 12 and Sunday, October 13 will give visitors even more opportunities to visit various eras of the past with the 13th annual Weekend Journey Through the Past. Thirty participating historic sites, some dating as far back as 200 years, will be grouped into three convenient tours in the northern, central and southern parts of the county, and will be open to the public at no charge. Weekend Journey Through the Past reveals the people and places that made history throughout Somerset County. There will also be contests and special offers for attendees. For updates and details, visit http://bit.ly/WeekendJourney.
- At the annual Duke Farms Creature Fest on Saturday, October 19, visitors traverse a 1.5-mile trail and learn about plants and wildlife that may seem a little creepy but are good for the environment. Those include giant reptiles, a bat, skunk and opossum; fungus, carnivorous plans and a dead tree that shows how natural decay rejuvenates soil and plant life. Tickets will be available for two start times, 5:00 and 6:00 p.m., at dukefarms.org.
- Bedminster Charities Fall Fest, on Saturday, October 26 is a family fun day with live music and entertainment, classic car show, food trucks, a beer & wine garden, and children’s games, rides and activities. The event, from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. is held at River Road Park in Bedminster and is a major charity fundraiser for: Pottersville Volunteer Fire Company, Far Hills-Bedminster Fire Department and First Aid Squad, The Center for Contemporary Art, Friends of the Jacobus Vanderveer House, Friends of the Clarence Dillon Public Library and Bedminster School Parent Teacher Organization.
The emergency services organizations will give live demonstrations; children’s activities include bounce houses, games of chance, face painting and hay rides; and there will be vendor booths, giveaways and a silent auction to benefit the charities. Admission is five dollars per person (free for children ages three and younger) and includes full access to all the activities. More information is at bedminstercharities.org.
- Children and their families are invited to come in costumes and celebrate Halloween at the Somerville Spooktacular, Thursday, October 31 from 3:00 to 6:00 p.m. There will be music, family-friendly activities, entertainment and trick-or-treating at participating merchants along Division Street, Main Street and at Borough Hall in downtown Somerville.
Links to major events in Somerset County are listed at https://visitsomersetnj.org/2019-major-events/.