A Chatham Tradition Continues: Annual Fishawack Festival a Success

Chris Tomaino and Brian Hart at the Chatham Fishawack Festival
The band playing at the festival
Abbey Earle and Onora from Day Dog Designs at the festival
Art Meisler of Knowledge Points at his booth.
Volunteers Cathy Rex and Councilman Joe Marts showing their awards for Lifetime Achievement in Chatham
Cathy Driver displays here metal art work at the Fishawack Street Fair

CHATHAM, NJ - The annual Fishawack Street Festival in Chatham brought many of the town's talented volunteers and vendors out for a beautiful day on Saturday. With entertainment, food, crafts and good times for all, the festivities lasted until the sun went down.

Residents celebrated a Chatham tradition on Saturday, June 12, by supporting local businesses and volunteers who made the event possible. The event was hosted by the Chatham Area Chamber of Commerce and local sponsorship was provided by Simon Fay Landscaping and Pipeworks Services. A majority of the money raised for the Fishawack Festival will go directly back to the community of Chatham. The day's events included children's events at Memorial Park, live music and a multitude of food and craft vendors.

Chris Tomaino, President of Fishawack, Inc, which is the governing body of the festival itself, spoke about the history of the event. "Fishawack began in 1971 as a sidewalk sale that the Chamber of Commerce started," said Tomaino. "Since then it has grown and morphed itself into many different types of festivals where we've had cars shows and arts shows and for years we never had music. Entertainment is a big hit; we've expanded the food court to 13 vendors this year." Tomanio also talked about the day's events: "The festival is located here in downtown Chatham, but we have events at the library for children, spin art and rides in addition to children's plays at the library for children. As predicted, the weather turned out great and our crowds show that so everyone's having a good time!"

Carolyn Cherry, Executive Director of the Chatham Area Chamber of Commerce, was also at the event and spoke about what the event means to the community: "It's a great day for people to come out and see their neighbors that they may not see all the time. It's great for the businesses to have people come downtown and actually see the downtown area," said Cherry. "All the money raised here goes back to the community: Fire Department, Police Department, Scholarships, and Emergency Squads. All the money stays right here in town." Cherry, who was lending a hand at a table set up in front of the music area, wanted to say "thank you" to all the volunteers and vendors who came out to support the festival at Chatham.

One of the featured events at the Fishawack Festival was honoring lifelong volunteers who have been serving the community of Chatham. One of the residents who has been serving the community for many years is Councilman Joe Marts. He was honored at the event as being a life-long member for donating years of service to the Fire Department. Marts was very surprised when he was called onto the stage for his honor. "It was quite a shocker! I was surprised that the mayor pulled this; I thought he wanted me to help hand out the award and it was a surprise to myself and Kathy Rex who is very deserving herself." Both Rex and Marts were given a Lifetime Achievement Award for their work as Chatham Volunteers.

Marts, who has been a resident since 1950, received his award for volunteering at Overlook Hospital in 1958, working as a heavy rescue worker and volunteering for the Fire Department were he is still an active member. Marts also served as the Mayor of Chatham for four years in 1976 and now serves on the Council for Chatham Borough. When asked about his most memorable volunteering moment, Marts said that he remembers when he found a woman alive in a burning house on University Avenue in 1969.

A majority of the event revolved around the many food, craft and service members who come out to meet the community. Art Meisler, of KnowledgePoints, was on hand to educate the crowd about his company and what they can do for students of all ages. "We help kids in school and in life," said Meisler. "It's about helping kids feel better about themselves by doing well in school and paving a way to a successful life." KnowledgePoints is a business geared towards helping students learn in their own way. Meisler spoke about the study skills they teach to students from pre-K to high school: "We help them find the right learning style; often times they are struggling to be told what to do so we have them find their study style and embrace it so they can be comfortable. Things like note taking and study skills are taught. We are about helping kids; that's why we are here! said Meisler. For more information about KnowledgePoints you can visit them on the web at

Other vendors such as Jane Earle, of Day Dog Designs, were at the festival to support the training of service dogs. Along with her daughter Abbey and her Golden Retriever Onora, Earle was informing the public about service dogs that assist disabled residents with everyday tasks. "Day Dog Designs is an operation of my daughter's, she's a 19-year old young lady who has disability and she has a service dog that assists her. My older daughter Morgan works with a crafter in Colorado who makes wonderful ribbon collars and part of the proceeds supports canine companions." Earle runs the website where people can order a variety of collars and leashes that support organizations like the one Onora the dog was trained at.

Cathy Driver, an artist who owns Out of the Blue Crafts from Madison, New Jersey, was also on hand to display her crafts. Driver hand paints metal items such as mailboxes and tin mugs. "I hand paint mailboxes, watering cans and flower pots...[the paint is] baked into the surface so the [items] don't fade, chip or peel," said Driver. "My paint that I put on my mailboxes will outlast the mailboxes themselves. Some of my work is featured on Fairmount Avenue [and] have been there for 10 and 15 years." Driver primarily paints flowers because she attends the top three flower shows in the country and enjoys having her work displayed in Chatham.

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