DENVILLE, NJ-- The Pocono Fairgrounds were alive and abuzz with activityl this past Sunday as the annual Saint Francis Fall Festival took place. The festival is a special event that comes around each year to celebrate the changing leaves and the arrival of the fall season. This year however, the festival had to be rescheduled due to the threat of Hurricane Joaquin.
On Oct. 11, crowds came out by the hundreds to enjoy a beautiful fall day. From craft vendors, delicious food, and a multitude of activities for the kids, the event had something for everyone. Along with a 50/50, the residents of St. Francis were selling crafts they had made, manning the Christmas Barn, and serving up food. Sister Johnice Thone works on planning this event every year.
"We start having meetings in August to plan for this day. As the event gets closer, we meet every week. The hardest thing to do is control the weather," Sister Thone said.
While the kids were riding all sorts of carnival rides, many adults were hanging out at the beer tent. The weather cooperated greatly on the rescheduled date. Sister Thone was advised by the Denville Office of Emergency Management, the Mayor, and the Denville Police to postpone the festival, as Denville has suffered greatly from the impacts of Hurricane Irene and Hurricane Sandy.
"Moving the event was the right call. It was the best call we could have made. We actually called it before the Governor called a State of Emergency," said Sister Thone
The barns were open and in full glory. While some shopped at the craft tent, many were heading into the Christmas Barn. The Christmas Barn has a funky flea market feel. People donate used Christmas items all year long and then at the Fall Festival, volunteers help sell the donated items, such as Christmas trees, ornaments, and decor, at low prices. Santa was even seen!
"I think the most special thing about today is everyone is here having a good time. It's a time we can rekindle old friendships and make new ones. The camaraderie of the whole celebration," Thone said as she watched families walk by.
This year, the Festival brought a new addition. The New Jersey Hall Of Fame Mobile Museum offered the community a chance to look back at the rich history of the Garden State. The museum boasted artifacts like Bon Jovi's iconic jean jacket, a look at all the famous people born in the state, and a chance to learn which politicians came from our area.
With activities going on all day long, those in attendance were treated with music, a live band, a german dance demonstration, and much more. The Kiwanis Club of Denville was running the popular Candy Corner, where kids could buy candy. The kids zone also offered glitter tattoos, face painting, a petting zoo and pony rides. Of course a fall festival is not complete without painting pumpkins and hay rides, which were offered as well.
The day would not have been able to happen without the amount of volunteers that gave their time. Council President Chris Golinski was helping out with the food, while Mayor Tom Andes and his wife were helping to sell souvenirs.
"The volunteers, I love 'em, and I thank them so much. From the volunteers that have started with the chair people of each event to the people who have supported us so much. Our sponsors, the Denville Police Department, the Denville Fire Department, the Denville Office of Emergency Management. Denville Township has been very, very supportive," Sister Thone said.
The proceeds from the event benefit the residents at St. Francis. Sister Thone is already planning next year's St. Francis Fall Fesitval, which is set for Oct. 2, 2016. Thone posted a message of thanks on the St. Francis Fall Festival page.
"As the 2015 St. Francis Fall Festival comes to a close, we would like to thank our sponsors, volunteers and especially anyone who joined us today for a successful event! Please share your photos and experiences from the day."