Arts & Entertainment

Bernards Twp.'s Charter Day Celebration is Saturday, May 20

Dressed in period costume, Paula Axt will welcome visitors to sign a copy of the Charter creating Bernards Township. Credits: Courtesy of THSSH
Credits: Courtesy of Bernards Township
Each year, the town crier opens the Charter Day celebration. Credits: By Linda Sadlouskos
The Ridge High School athletic clubs host booths at Charter Day each year. Credits: By Linda Sadlouskos
Cutouts from a coloring book on the history of the Somerset Hills, by Linda Arnold. Credits: Courtesy of THSSH

BERNARDS TWP., NJ - Charter Day, which will celebrate the 257th anniversary of the founding of the Township of Bernardston, is scheduled to be held with an all-day street fair with foods, rides and live music on next Saturday, May 20, with some new historic events from The Historical Society of the Somerset Hills.

This will be the 23rd year that the Bernards Township Department of Parks & Recreation will coordinate the event with entertainment, art and history displays, food and amusements. The annual street fair each year draws about 10,000 visitors to downtown Basking Ridge.

Visitors to the Charter Day Street Fair and the Brick Academy can also sign a large replica of the Charter that King George II drew up to form the Township of Bernardston in 1760, before the American Revolution.

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The Brick Academy at 15 W. Oak St., which is the headquarters and museum for The Historical Society of the Somerset Hills, is set to be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Charter day. Local artist Linda Arnold is due to be on hand from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. to sell and sign copies of her new "Somerset Hills Coloring Book," a fundraiser to promote local history for kids.

Live music planned again

This year's evening concert will be held from 6 to 9 p.m., said Jennifer Gander, director of Parks & Recreation. Six area bands with young musicians have signed up for the Charter Day Idol competition, she said.

The street fair begins at 11 a.m. and features booths hosted by local businesses, non-profit organizations, school groups, service organizations, and crafters. "We are proud to be a community focused event with nearly 85% of our street fair vendors being Bernards Township based businesses and organizations," Gander said. "We have quite a variety of vendors with many new groups participating this year.  

There will be plenty to eat all day long with food vendors open from 11 a.m. until 8:30 p.m. near the main stage including many of the crowd's favorite fair foods: hot dogs, hamburgers, cheese steaks, sausage sandwiches, funnel cakes, pulled pork, gyros, pierogies, pizza, ice cream and more. Visitors will also find a few other food vendors located throughout the street fair and on the Oak Street School field along with the amusements.

View the event map and schedules at or visit the Charter Day booth at the intersection of Henry Street and Finely Ave to pick up a schedule at the event. The Parks & Recreation booth will also feature information on membership to the Coakley-Russo Memorial Golf Course and Pleasant Valley Pool and information on summer recreation programs and special events.  Other municipal committees and departments are also participating:  the Bernards Township Library, Police Department, Health Department, Municipal Alliance, Agricultural Advisory Committee, Environmental Commission and Shade Tree Commission.  

Charter Day also provides an opportunity to support volunteer fire and first aid squads. The Basking Ridge and Liberty Corner Fire Companies and First Aid squads will have vehicles on display. 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.  

Entertainment on the main stage will begin at 11:30 a.m. prior to the official Opening Ceremonies at noon. Located at the intersection of Finley Ave and Oak Street, the Main Stage features performances and demonstrations by students and local groups all day.  Returning this year are performances by the Pettet Sisters, professional performers from Broadway, movies, and television, and singer-songwriter Gordon Thomas Ward. The main stage will also welcome back performances by the Somerset County YMCA, Gotta Dance, The Tree House Child Caring Center, the Whitehouse Wind Symphony and more.

Our evening concert at 6 p.m. welcomes back a returning favorite, Hoi Polloi.  Since 1991, Jersey's Own Hoi Polloi ('s pronounced "HOY-puh-LOY") has performed in hundreds of venues in the New York area, and even as far away as Boston, Dallas, Key West and Bernards Township. They are sure to keep the crowd dancing in the street until 9 p.m.

Charter Day Idol returns for its second year, featuring musical talent composed of middle school and high school students on the Henry Street Stage at Oak Street School. The competition will include bands and solo acts.  Cash prizes will be awarded for first, second and third place. With event support by the Bernards Township Municipal Alliance and Wavelength Audio Video, Idol begins at 1 p.m., awards will be presented following all performances at approximately 5 p.m.

Westminster Hall, at the Presbyterian Church of Basking Ridge, will once again feature the Student Art Show and Photography Competition exhibit. The hall will be open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. to allow visitors to view the art on display created by local students. The Parks & Recreation Department's 7th annual Photography Competition entries will also be on display.  

The Brick Academy, located just off the town green, will again display exhibits including the mock schoolhouse on the top floor. Gifts and keepsakes will be available for sale.  

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

Parking is available at Ridge High School located at 268 South Finley Ave and the Bernards Township Municipal Building located 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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