BASKING RIDGE, NJ _ Charter Day 2019 began on Saturday with children skipping up South Finley Avenue to the street fair in Basking Ridge, teenagers meeting up with friends, and Town Crier Henry "Hank" Barre again dressing the part and ringing his bell to formally proclaim this year's Charter Day as open.
But perhaps the most welcomed visitor at this year's giant community get-together and celebration of the 259th anniversary of the founding of the township of Bernardston was the sun, which provided picture-perfect weather for the annual event.
Torrential rains had caused Charter Day 2018 to be called off for the entire day, the first time in the event's history.
This year, along with rides and amusements, about 120 street fair vendors were able to set up their booths along South Finley and Henry Street, including multiple food providers who spread the aroma of delicious things to eat all through the downtown.
Jennifer Gander, director of the township Department of Parks & Recreation, which oversees the events, thanked the Charter Day Committee for months of planning ahead, as well as volunteers who were on hand to help set up, and later clean up.
Mayor Carol Bianchi said that the street fair vendors included non-profit organizations, student associations, local businesses and restaurants.
"All around you today, you will see the richness of Bernards Township's history and community," she said.
Each year, the Brick Academy, which opened as a school in the early 1800s, presents historic displays. Westminster Hall at the Presbyterian Church of Basking Ridge hosted a student art school, local photography contest, and photos from previous Charter Days.
Many of the buildings along South Finley now have a different role from that for which they were built, and many have a long story to tell. For example, Bianchi said The Washington House restaurant on the corner of Henry Street and South Finley Avenue had even hosted Township Committee meetings in 1906.
Bianchi later noted that the township's historic white oak, which stood for 600 years before it was removed in 2017 after dying the previous year, is missed _ but lives on in artwork created by "Forged In Wood" using wood saved from the tree.
A wooden guitar made from the tree was featured in a performance in the afternoon by Somerset County musician Alan Grant.