FLEMINGTON, NJ –It looks like the Central Jersey Jazz Festival will return to Flemington in September.
That marks a change from last year, when it was held at the county’s Deer Path Park in Readington. But there is some confusion about the exact venue.
This will be the annual festival’s ninth year and its fourth staging in Hunterdon; it is also held in Somerville and New Brunswick.
The festival was originally brought to Flemington’s Main Street in 2014 by Megan Jones-Holt, the former executive director of the group that ran Flemington’s business improvement district. She had attended the event in Somerville the year before, and thought it would be good fit for Flemington, too.
Jones-Holt was right – the festival became an instant hit locally.
But Borough Council chose a new group – which became Flemington Community Partnership –to run the special business district a year ago. Some feared FCP wouldn’t be organized in time to sponsor the festival, so a group of Hunterdon Rotary clubs stepped in to pick up the slack. They moved the event to Readington, which some charged was politically motivated. Jones-Holt is the wife of Freeholder Matthew Holt.
At its board meeting this morning, FCP executive director Judy Goodwin said that everything’s on track to return the festival to Main Street here on Sept. 15.
Some wrangling seems to be going on behind the scenes. The festival’s website still lists the Rotary clubs as sponsors of the event and states, “Visitors to the Festival are encouraged to bring their own blankets and chairs as the Festival is lawn seating only,” which would seem to apply to Deer Path, not Main Street.
And at their Feb. 7 meeting two weeks ago, the county freeholders again approved use of Deer Path for the festival, which was in response to a Jan. 23 letter from Rotarian Robert Junge seeking the permission.
“The Hunterdon County Rotary Clubs and the NJ Jazz Society are pleased to once again host” the event, Junge wrote.
"Last year's venue change to the County's Park system at Deer Path proved to be the right move,” Junge’s letter states. “The location accommodated the crowd, as it does with the summer concert series and the requests we made had no negative impacts whatsoever.”
Neither Jones-Holt nor Junge responded immediately to requests for comment or clarification.