Arts & Entertainment

Thousands Flood the Streets for Bottle Hill Day in Madison

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Crowds flooded the streets for a day of food trucks, vendors and family fun at Bottle Hill Day in Madison. Credits: Lindsay Ireland
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More than 200 vendors lined the streets of downtown Madison on Saturday for the annual Bottle Hill Day street fair. Credits: Lindsay Ireland
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MADISON, NJ – At least 10,000 people gathered downtown on Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 pm., for Bottle Hill Day, an annual street festival featuring more than 200 vendors, a full lineup of food trucks, live music performances and a plethora of activities for all ages.

“The appeal is that there’s a little bit of something for everybody,” said Lisa Ellis, who celebrated her ninth year as Bottle Hill Day’s primary organizer.

Ellis said she and the Downtown Development Commission have added more activities, vendors and stages over the years, and turnout is better than ever.

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“All the little pieces add up,” she said, adding that she received many calls for more information about Bottle Hill Day from people outside of Madison, even one from Long Island.

As the festival has grown, Ellis said, it put Madison on the map to contend with large events such as Festival on the Green in Morristown.

“I think we have to compete at that level and let people know that Madison is a contender,” she said. “We are a great place and a great community, and we can pull something like this off.”

A bus sponsored by the F.M. Kirby Children’s Center shuttled festival goers in a loop from the Madison Community Pool on Rosewood Avenue to the Madison Pharmacy at 66 Main St., the center of Saturday’s festival.

Bottle Hill Day has been a fixture of Madison culture for more than 30 years, and is held on the first Saturday in October. The festival’s name dates back to the 18th century, when Madison was originally called “Bottle Hill” before the locals decided they wanted to move away from what many called a “rustic” name, and in 1715 the village was renamed for the fourth US president.

Check out some of the highlights from this year:

The front lawn of Central Avenue school was what some may call a "kids paradise." Complete with at least one bouncy house, a giant slide, carnival games, sand art, face painting and tasty treats, this corner was a haven for the festival's youngest attendees.

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Kids could experience "Vertical Reality" at the kids corner on Kings Road, where they strapped into harnesses and bounced around on giant bungee trampolines.

The Madison Car Show celebrated its 25th anniversary at this year’s Bottle Hill Day. At least 100 hot rods, trucks, customs, antiques, classics and street machines lined up in the parking lot of the Madison Volunteer Ambulance Corps building at 29 Prospect St. Owners showed off their cars to passersby, and many received awards. 

Traditionally held in conjunction with Madison’s annual Bottle Hill Day, "the Madison Car Show is a hometown gem,” said John Morris, president of the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce.

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Madison Alliance Against Substance Abuse handed out information about opioid addiction and treatment, how to safely store and dispose of prescription pain medicine and the dangers of underage drinking.

The organization also teamed up with the Arrive Alive campaign, which offered a virtual-reality driving experience to show participants the dangers of texting and drinking while behind the wheel.

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Four stages sprinkled throughout the multi-block event hosted musical performances all day long: the Lincoln Place Stage, the Hartley Dodge Memorial Stage, the Investors Bank Stage and the Prospect Bank Stage.

“We have great music on every single one of these stages all day long,” Ellis said.

Pepperville, a New Jersey-based harmony rock band, played classic sounds from the 1960s and 70s at the Hartley Dodge Memorial Stage.

The Morris Music Men, an all-male acapella chorus, sang a wide range of tunes from popular modern hits to country and rock.

Made up of more than 50 members of all ages, this group is the fastest growing chapter in the Mid-Atlantic Region and has been named the Barbershop Harmony Society's Northeast Division AA Champions for 2017.

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