WASHINGTON, NJ — A decade before America declared its independence from Great Britain, a local New Jersey man began the process of building the first arsenal of democracy on the banks of the Batsto River.
Using the South Jersey region's native bog iron ore, forests and abundant water power, Charles Read Jr. built an ironworks to create new housewares, tools, and farming implements.It would mark the beginning of Batsto Village, which today is a storied portal to colonial and revolutionary days past.
To celebrate its history, the village will host its annual Country Living Fair on Sunday, October 15, featuring an up-close look at life throughout the decades — from the property's founding in 1766 through present day.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., there will be crafts, exhibits, music, old-time engines and cars, food, antiques, pony rides, farm equipment, chain-saw art, quilting and many more authentic South Jersey country attractions.
Situated in Wharton State Forest on Route 542, Batsto consists of more than 40 sites and structures, including the Batsto Mansion, a sawmill, 19th-century ore boat, charcoal kiln, ice and milk houses, carriage house and stable, blacksmith and wheelwright shop, gristmill and a general store. The Batsto Post Office, established in 1852, still processes mail with a postmark having no ZIP code. The postmaster will offer a special cancellation stamp during the fair.
Batsto Village offers several venues, including the Annie M. Carter Interpretive Center, to help educate visitors about ecological treasures in the area, while a visitors center provides information and displays on how residents lived through the years.
As a New Jersey historic site, Batsto is a listed property on both the New Jersey and National
Registers of Historic Places. Also,the state Department of Environmental Protection is assisted by theBatsto Citizens Committee, Inc., the primary Friends Group of Batsto, to help preserve and promote the village and its many attractions.
The N.J. Park Service has designated additional remote sites for parking and will offer van shuttle services throughout the day to reduce traffic congestion on Route 542. A modest $5 charge per vehicle will be collected by uniformed staff (cash only). A record-breaking 50,000 visitors attended the fair in 2016.