MILLBURN, NJ - This past Saturday at Taylor Park, the Millburn/Short Hills Cultural Engagement Diversity and Arts Committee hosted a Cultural Fair and Food Festival.
With performances celebrated east and south Asian culture, along with traditional Indian food, a key highlight of the event were the millwheels proudly representing different town institutions and businesses.
The history of mill wheels in Millburn goes all the way back to the town’s founding. When founded in 1793, several mills were built, making the town a center for production of linen and paper.
These mills were such a critical part of what made this town successful, that the town was named after them. “Millburn” comes from the word “mill” and the Scottish word for river, “burn,” as early mills were established near water.
At Saturday’s event, there were mill wheels decorated to represent the Millburn Board of Education, the Friends of the Millburn Library, Millburn High School Class of 2020, Paper Mill Playhouse, and more.
No two mill wheels were alike and thankfully, the day turned out to be windy enough to actually see them spinning naturally.
All groups represented decorated their mill wheels by hand, which understandably took a lot of effort and manpower.
When asked why she invested so much time into planning for this event, Neena Jindal, leader of the Friends of the Millburn Library said: “if we invested the time in a mill wheel and spread the word around us to actually also not differentiate because we are just assisting the library, but also make people aware that they need to partner and support and participate.”
The idea of having township residents of all backgrounds take their own artistic interpretation on a fundamental part of this town is a literal representation of Millburn’s growing diversity.
Devon Hampton, Millburn High School student, stressed the importance of celebrating MIllburn’s diverse population, by hosting events like this one.
He said: “Well, it’s good to learn about other cultures besides American because we’re in the Americas, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have to learn about other places.”
Jindal drove home the same sentiment.
“[This event] is about seeing the good in everyone and everything… this is a great way for the community to visually express their diversity and culture.”