HILLSBOROUGH, NJ  – More than 2,500 people attended last weekend's Sourland Music Festival.

"This year’s Fest attracted more attendees, volunteers, nonprofit partners, vendors and sponsors than ever before. Our volunteers really did an outstanding job. The weather was gorgeous, and the bands rocked,” said Caroline Katmann, Sourland Conservancy executive director. 

Festival proceeds benefit the Sourland Conservancy, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect, promote and preserve the Sourland Mountain – 90 square miles of forest, meadows and wetlands in the heart of New Jersey. The Sourland Mountain region boasts the largest contiguous forest in Central New Jersey, providing critical habitat for pollinators, amphibians, birds, animals including many threatened and endangered species.

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The Conservancy partners with many local, state and national organizations throughout the year to achieve its mission. Several of those partner organizations hosted booths at the Festival and engaged guests with games, exhibits and information. Some of the partners brought critters to help tell their Sourland stories to advocate for preservation and protection: insects, bees, turtle, snakes, goats, and alpacas.

This year’s Cool Critters, History Lane and the Education areas had plenty of activities and learning opportunities for people of all age groups. Over thirty nonprofit and business partners introduced guests to Alpacas, The Seeing Eye puppies, insects, goats and more. The Lenape Nation, Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum, Van Harlingen Historical Society, Swallow Hill Alpaca Farm, and Practical Primitive offered hands-on activities and demonstrations including corn grinding, flinting, tanning, fiber spinning, and more. Attendees could even discover the history of the geology of the area which has led to the formation of the Sourland region as we know it today.

Volunteers Bob and Judy Czekanski organized the Cool Critters Area again this year.

“We are appreciative of the many presenters who have returned from prior years and thankful to those who joined us for the first time in 2019," he said. "A new addition was Stewgler Farms & Forest who brought goats. They had five goats with two which were only two weeks old. They explained how to make goat milk soap and had a milking demonstration which allowed some of our younger participants to participate. Children were also allowed to bottle feed the younger goats. In talking with Maria Stewart, who was running this area, she commented how she remembered as a young girl being able to milk a goat and how that experience has stayed with her to this day. She has a passion to teach others and wants them to have the memories to cherish.”

Children enjoyed these activities as well as the bouncy house, climbing wall, electric bike demos, Inclusion Festival, farmer’s market and vendors. A surprise hit was the scavenger hunt that required participants to ask questions of the representatives at various booths. to encourage people to engage with a greater variety of presenters than they might normally visit. The most challenging question was, “What looks like a sea urchin but grows on trees?” Answers to this year’s scavenger hunt and lots more photos from the day have been posted on Sourland Conservancy’s Facebook Album.

“We hope that festivalgoers will have a place in their heart for the Sourlands, and know it’s not just a place on the map,” said Festival Chair, Suzanne Parsons.

For many, the highlight of the Sourland Mountain Festival is the music. The line-up included six very popular bands with local roots: Danielia Cotton, Anthony Krizan, Citizens Band Radio, Mike Montrey Band, The Adventures of Matte Black, and the The Gumbo Gumbas. "The landscape is beautiful, and playing to preserve the Sourlands is a great cause,” said Mike Montrey.

In addition to the music, guests enjoyed a variety food and drink including gourmet specialties, hot dogs, Thai and Latin cuisine, waffles, ice cream, cheesecake, award-winning wine, craft beer and spirits as well as fresh, organically grown, local produce and juices from Sourland region farms including Martenette Farms, Morganics Family Farm, Marchese Farm and Fairgrown Farm.

Board President, Dante DiPirro, said, “The Sourland Mountain Festival offers a chance to hear great music while enjoying an afternoon and evening in the beautiful Sourlands, learning about the importance of the region, and supporting the Conservancy’s critical work.” To view photos from this year’s event, visit the Sourland Mountain Festival’s Facebook page or website www.sourlandmountainfestival.org.

The Sourland Mountain Festival is one the Sourland Conservancy’s two signature events.  The Sourland Spectacular bicycle rally will be held this year on September 7th. For more information about this and other Sourland Conservancy events including this fall’s Train Station Series educational seminars, visit www.sourland.org and click on activities.