Fall Festival Season Begins in South NJ!

Last Saturday was South Jersey’s unofficial start to the fall season. Despite preconceived notions about the state, southern NJ is filled with small towns with 1930s era Main Streets, lush farmlands, and artisans and crafters galore. An amazing display of this New Jersey could be seen at last weekend’s fall fests.

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Photo courtesy of Uptown Pitman Business Bureau

The weekend started with Pitman’s Fall Craft Fair. Pitman is a tiny town with a rich history as a resort location for northerners. Only an hour from NJ’s famous beaches, 20 minutes from Philadelphia, and filled with charm, Pitman attracts those looking to live in its eclectic mixture of historic-era homes. The town is known as one where “everyone knows everyone” but I never mind that. Broadway, the center street of action in town, has been revitalized in recent years. It now includes multiple restaurants, antique shops, paint studios and galleries, and the famous Broadway Theatre which shows live action productions on weekend evenings.

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The Fair is a mile long event stretching down Broadway and to the surrounding streets. Some favorite vendors arrive each year like Pennsylvania Soy Candle Co. The owner is so sweet and has my Pumpkin Roll candle melts ready for me each year. Other artisans include those making dainty sterling silver earrings, the coolest wind chimes made from old beer cans, and a countless number of fall decorations. Local businesses also open so the fair is a great way to see the town for how adorable and homey it truly is.

Insider’s tips:

  • DO bring cash, a tote bag, and a light jacket.
  • DO opt to take the shuttle instead of parking.
  • DO avoid strollers and dogs. (They may seem like a great idea in theory but these are tiny, old streets we’re talking about.)

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After the craft fair, I was ready for food. Not that there wasn’t any offered at the fair- all the local spots put out a spread and offer indoor seating- but I had in mind what I was after. You see, that same day about 10 minutes away in the adjacent town of Glassboro was the Italian Festival on Rowan Blvd.

Glassboro is a friendly neighbor to Pitman. Having humble beginnings, the town’s heart was in the glass factory which gave it its name. The employees eventually helped truly colonize the area and those outlying towns. In fact, families which still reside in Glassboro and have been there since the factory era are affectionately called “Townies”. Though now more recognizable as a college town, the home of Rowan University, there are still strong ties to the surrounding community.

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Rowan, originally founded in the ’30s as the Glassboro Normal School for teacher education is now one of the premier universities in the southern part of the state. A generous donation was made to the college a decade ago which has been used to create one of the top ten engineering schools in the region, two medical schools (awarding MDs and ODs) and a large, developed street which connects the college to downtown. This physical connection was the final step in cementing the highly symbiotic relationship between the college and the town.

It was down this street, Rowan Blvd, that the Festival took place and boy was it a blast. On the BN green space, a band played and people brought out their chairs to listen. Local restaurants brought out their best sellers. There was a food tent with cocktail tables, carnival games, and local vendors displaying their products. Rowan gear could be seen everywhere but clearly there were many out-of-towners attending as well, based on the fullness of the free parking lot.

Insider’s tips:

  • DO bring a lawn chair.
  • DO try the mac and cheese bowl with fresh pulled pork from PB’s. (I know, I know, it’s not Italian.)
  • DO bring your kids along to this one! The little ones will have plenty to do and the security presence will make you feel free to let them run.

The Pope himself even made an appearance!

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(Love you, mama!)

If you live in the area, you should definitely put these events on your to-do list. They are a great representation of the NJ I grew up to love and cherish. These events are also an amazing opportunity to shop small and support mom and pop businesses which employ locals and put money into your economy.

Happy fall, y’all!

-BGB

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The Art of the Last Hurrah

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I am, innately and unabashedly, a writer. I have a huge journal that I’ve been hacking away at for years, along with my blog, social media accounts, and bits and pieces on paper in pockets, shoved in notebooks, and in my phone’s reminders section. These tidbits are all leads, ideas, and inspirations for stories yet to come. I use writing to express myself in every event of my life. Only in recent years have I come to incorporate photos into this expression.

So when I go through something mentally and emotionally traumatizing (ie: a breakup), writing is my first method of defense as well as my primary source of healing. I look through my entries of good times, write about the bad times, and start to use that as a way to make it through the haze.

A lot of times at the end of a relationship (especially a long one), I feel this need to share my final thoughts on the subject. I don’t do it because I am trying to rekindle a love lost or to prove a point or make the other person feel guilty. (It’s really a combination of the three.) Honestly though, I just want to feel a sense of closure and until that person has all of the facts and feelings in the raw and in front of them, I don’t feel like I can really move on. So I tend to have a habit of writing down said thoughts, good and bad, and handing them over to the latest chapter in my history book.

I’ll tell him about that time we went to eat and he was truly the most attractive man in the world for three whole minutes. I’ll tell him how his cupcakes are actually heinous and should be considered cruel and unusual torture. How I loved his dad, how I hated his cat, how I don’t actually like hardboiled eggs. I’ll tell him how insecure I felt next to him at times. How much I appreciated him being there for that honors banquet. I’ll tell him all the little things I probably should have told him along the way.

Then I feel like I’m off the hook. I was able to say everything I wanted without confrontation or tears or eye contact. I can be like an anonymous kidney donor who just drops a bomb on you that enlightens the whole world like BOOM! Kidney. Only mine is BOOM! You’ve got mail. (Donors, you are amazing.) What I mean is, I want that letter to change the receiver’s life, much in the way an organ donation can. I want it to make him question everything. I want him to doubt himself, learn something, and relive the whole experience through my eyes, even for just half a second. Because then maybe he would get it.

I have come to call these letters my last hurrahs. That’s how I see them. They are my last stage of mourning, my first stage of healing, and the first step in a new direction. They mean that I have come to a place where “our song” is a normal song again, I can eat at “our place” and not be miserable, and I have turned my sights toward a new future.

I sometimes wonder how these last hurrahs are met. If the receiver bursts into tears, laughs it off, shreds it and never even reads it. It really doesn’t matter. My hurrahs are just that: mine. The receivers are only a part of my process.

Good luck out there, heart throbs. You’ll get ’em next time.

-BGB