RANDOLPH, NJ- Two years ago, Randolph resident and former director of Artworks Studio Kelly Varga had a vision of a festival in Randolph to give local artists, performers, and writers a chance to showcase their talents while bringing the community together to celebrate the arts. That vision became a reality after Varga proposed the idea to Randolph Township and then applied for a Local Arts Grant through Morris Arts.
The Randolph Arts in the Park Committee came together soon after, putting on their first show in 2018, and following that up with more success in year two by almost doubling the attendance.
Morris Arts, in partnership with NJSCA (New Jersey State Council on the Arts) has the mission of building communities through the arts, and Randolph Arts in the Park has received two consecutive grants to make this festival a reality.
The festival was held on Saturday May 18 on the grounds of the Randolph Library and Community center. Vendors, activities, performers and displays were set up inside both buildings and sprawled across the sidewalk and lawn area outside between the two buildings.
Varga credits a talented and dedicated team of volunteer committee members who came together to pull off the wildly successful event. Those members include: Mike Dziomba (visual arts) , Karen Brown, Judy Peo (graphic design), Donna Nathan, Melanie Gerace, Peter Gallo, Nick Saunier, Ela Ravin, Lore Reinhart (Director Randolph Two Library - authors) and Christy Morganstein (web design).
Authors displayed and discussed their books at tables outside the library, while musical performers and dancers took turns on the inside stage and outside in the gazebo. Visual Artists displayed all types of works ranging from photography and painting, to knitting, glasswork, stencil, 3-D art, and more.
“Many of the artists said they were happy to be making local art connections, which is exactly what we were hoping to achieve,” said Varga. “I have also had numerous people reaching out for artist contact info because they hope to buy pieces from those artists.”
The highly decorated selfie rooms in the Rec Center basement were created by the RHS Art Honor Society, especially Naamah Barbut and Annie Reid. Lia Scherr, artist and Pratt student, created the more incredible murals this year.
Local sponsors made it possible to keep this event free. Especially Music Den who supplied sound system, County College of Morris, John Herold Jewelers, Astute Academics, Kabab Paradise, and many more.
Assemblyman Anthony Bucco Jr. came by the festival to present Brundage Park Playhouse with an award for their years of Community performances and contributions to the arts.
Two indicators of the high attendance for the day were the parking lot being constantly full requiring shuttle buses for overflow parking to run all day, and the food vendors actually ran out of food.
“We were really pleased with the enthusiastic response from our community, and the feedback we are getting is that Randolph residents are thrilled to have a yearly free arts festival in our own town,” said Varga. “Performers enjoyed the enthusiastic response as well; so many said they hope to be selected to perform again next year. The visual artists loved showing their work locally, and most sold work.”