BAYONNE, NJ - From Disney princesses to donut-eating champions to doo-wop bands, the attractions at the Bayonne Hometown Fair’s first day on Saturday drew thousands of residents into 80-degree heat to hang out with old friends and try new things.
“We’re really thrilled,” said Hometown Fair Association Board member Alicyn Perry. “We have more vendors than ever before. There are 108 vendor spaces. We got so much support from the Fire Department and Police Department. They’re going to do a rappelling demonstration later.”
The fair ran from 21st to 25th streets, with a mini-Ferris wheel, games, rides, a dunk tank, giveaways by community groups, canine visitors for adoption from the Liberty Humane Society, and two stages for live music and theater.
Kids, grandparents, and business owners said they’d been coming to the fair for years.
On the Community Stage on 25th street, lifelong resident Barbara Beeman, who plays in her Beeman band with Bill Bannon and Mike Gatton, said, “We played in the first Hometown Fair, quite a number of years ago. The Bayonne spirit is the same.”
They launched into “Germane,” a humorous song written by Bayonne resident John Parrott, chronicling the relationships and the economy during the Clinton years. Bannon said they might record it on their next CD.
“I’ve been going since it started. I enjoy the music,” said Sharon Fulcinelli, who was on the corner listening. She moved to town from Staten Island in 1991 with her husband Robert, who grew up here.
Among the event’s highlights was a donut-eating contest sponsored by Judicke’s Donuts, known for their sprinkly specialties. Sammy LoPresti, a lifelong resident who also ran a table a few blocks down for his beard products company, won the prize for downing nine donuts.
Meanwhile, on the Main Stage, Paul Addie and Friends brought the hard rock.
“You know it’s a good song if you can play it on one guitar at a campfire,” bellowed Addie, who frequently plays Jersey City and Bayonne. “Luckily we have a band.” He launched into a Depeche Mode ditty, then changed it up with a hard-rock arrangement of Flock of Seagulls’ “I Ran.”
After his set, the doo-wop group “Party of Five,” five men who specialize in the 1950s numbers so popular in town, sang what their lead singer termed as an admittedly “senior version” of “Teenager in Love.”
The kids at the fair enjoyed climbing inside a firetruck, tumbling in the bounce house, and trying as many sugary treats as they could.
Genesis Caraballo, 8, enjoyed a Disney Princess singalong with her mom, dad, and younger brother Adriel, 7. “The best part was Arial,” she said at the end, referring to a Disney character. When asked where Arial was from, she replied simply, “The ocean!”
Brother Adriel had absolutely no comment on, or interest in, the princesses. But his eyes lit up when Batman and Supergirl took the stage next.
This was the fifth year in a row of the modern Bayonne Hometown Fair, brought back in 2015 with the support of Mayor Jimmy Davis after local business owner Carrissa Golomb of Reese’s Hair Pieces started a petition of support saying she “loved going as a child,” and wanted to create the same memories with her own children.