Arts & Entertainment

Bernards' Celebration That Attracts Thousands - Charter Day - Is This Saturday

Well-behaved pets, along with adults and children - mostly local, with some visitors - throng to downtown Basking Ridge each May for the annual Charter Day celebration. Credits: By Joe Sperling
Basking Ridge thespian Hank Barre traditionally takes on the role of town crier at the opening of the annual Bernards Township Charter Day celebration. Credits: By Linda Sadlouskos
Rides and other amusement structures are put up for each Charter Day behind the Oak Street Elementary School in downtown Basking Ridge; no doubt, the kids would love to have them there every day! Credits: By Linda Sadlouskos

BERNARDS TOWNSHIP, NJ - It's a local birthday party that brings out about 10,000 people - Charter Day, the anniversary of the founding of Bernards Township even before the American Revolution, that each year is a combination street fair, live entertainment, art and history displays, community event and a place to grab some delicious food.

Charter Day is this Saturday, May 16

This Saturday, May 16, is Bernards Township's 255th anniversary. This year's Charter Day event, coordinated by the townhsip Department of Parks & Recreation, begins at 11 a.m. and will run until about 10 p.m. 

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Downtown Basking Ridge along South Finley Avenue and Henry Street will be closed to vehicular traffic while the celebration is underway.

The street fair begins at 11a.m., with tables filled by displays and giveaways by local businesses, non-profit organizations, school groups, service organizations, sports teams and crafters. The TAP Into Basking Ridge staff will be at a table this year, and walking around at the street fair.

"We are proud to be a community focused event with nearly 85 percent of our street fair vendors being Bernards Township based businesses and organizations," said Jennifer Gander, director of parks and recreation. 

"There will be plenty to eat all day long, with even more food vendors open from 11a.m. until 10 p.m. this year near the main stage, including many of your favorite fair foods:  hot dogs, hamburgers, cheese steaks, sausage sandwiches, funnel cakes, pulled pork, ice cream and more!"  Food vendors, including gourmet meals from local restaurants, are scheduled to located throughout the street fair and on the Oak Street School field along with the amusements, according to the parks and recreation department.

The Charter Day booth is the place to stop for event maps and schedules and Parks & Recreation summer program and event information. The Bernards Township Library, police department and health department will also have information to share, along with the Agricultural Advisory Committee, Environmental Commission and Shade Tree Commission. 

The Charter Day celebration is also an opportunity to support the township's all-volunteer fire and first-aid squads! The Basking Ridge and Liberty Corner Fire Companies and First Aid squads will have vehicles on display. Members of the Basking Ridge Fire Company and First Aid Squad will be selling cotton candy during the street fair and glow novelties during the evening concert.  

Live entertainment begins at noon with opening ceremonies on the main stage by the Presbyterian Church of Basking Ridge, and is scheduled to continue all day, and into the night.

Located at the intersection of Finley Ave and Oak Street, the main stage features performances and demonstrations by students and local groups. New this year are performances by the Pettet Sisters, professional performers from Broadway, movies, and television, and singer-songwriter Gordon Thomas Ward. The event will welcome back performances by the Somerset County YMCA, Gotta Dance, The Tree House Child Caring Center, the Whitehouse Wind Symphony and more.  

Rides for children

Rides, inflatable amusements and carnival games will entertain children of all ages on the Oak Street School field between 11a.m. to 6 p.m. Strolling entertainers can be found all throughout the event, according to the parks & recreation department.  

The evening concert at 7 p.m. once again features Funktion 11, who get the crowd moving. Influenced by a variety of musical genres, combined with the band members unique musical backgrounds, F11 has created a sound of their own.

The band's show brings togethe hot grooves, choreography, distinct horn lines, and original material as well as unique arrangements of some of their favorite covers, Gander said. Combining the members writing/arranging and composing style it opens up for a "You never know what you'll get" element that promises nothing less than beauty, funk and raw soul. "It will keep you dancing in the street until 10 p.m.!" she said.

Battle of the Musicians to feature local musical talent

The recently renamed Battle of the Musicians (formerly Battle of the Bands) will take place on the Henry Street Stage by the Oak Street School.  Eight groups of musical talent composed of middle school and high school students are scheduled to perform. Cash prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place. The event, supported by Wavelength Audio Video, is scheduled to begin at 12:30 p.m., with awards to be presented following all student performance. It is scheduled to conclude with a performance by Carolyn Marie & the 7:30 Players between 5 to 6 p.m.

Westminster Hall, at the Presbyterian Church of Basking Ridge, will once again feature the annual Student Art Show and Photography Competition exhibit. The hall will be open between 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. to allow the public to view the art on display created by local students. The Parks & Recreation Department's 5th annual Photography Competition entries will also be on display.  

The Brick Academy, located just off the town green, will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Stop by to see the Historical Society exhibits, including the recreated schoolhouse on the top floor. Gifts and keepsakes will be available for sale.  

Free shuttle bus

Parking is available at Ridge High School, located at 268 S. Finley Ave. and at the Bernards Township Municipal Building at 1 Collyer Lane. A free shuttle bus will make frequent stops throughout the day to bring passengers downtown to the fair.  



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