ROXBURY, NJ – The Roxbury Arts Alliance will not be trying to collect money at Friday’s 11th Annual Roxbury Township Community Beach Blast, an event that used to be the non-profit group’s biggest fundraiser.
In fact, the Alliance will not have any part of the party this time around.
Before last year, people who attended the Beach Blast had to pay a fee to get in, money that went to the Arts Alliance which usually took in about $6,000. The arts group used some of that money to award scholarships.
Up until 2017, the Beach Blast took place on Horseshoe Lake Beach. People brought towels and beach chairs. Kids played in the sand. It was quaint and, sometimes, crowded.
But last year the event was moved off the beach an onto the expansive grass of the nearby Horseshoe Lake Fairgrounds. Carnival rides and attractions were added along with booths for local and county law enforcement officers - who treat the event as their "National Night Out" community interaction event - and the entry fee was eliminated.
The Arts Alliance still had a presence at the 2017 Beach Blast: It set up a table at the entrance and asked for donations. It was worth a try, but not worth repeating, said Alliance members.
“Financially, it was a bust for us,” former Arts Alliance President Genevieve Schmidt said last year. “It was a great time for the attendees and I’m happy about that. But it did not accomplish our goal of raising funds.”
Earlier this year, Schmidt broached the subject with town officials, wondering where the Arts Alliance fit into the revised Beach Blast. “I reached out to the township manager in March,” Schmidt said. “He told me the recreation department and police are running the event and that, if the Arts Alliance wants to become a vendor, I would have to call the rec department.”
Schmidt, who has been replaced at the helm of the Alliance by Sarah Corragio, said the group opted out of that idea. “Since the Arts Alliance is offering four free summer concerts at Horseshoe Lake and three at the library gazebo, we didn’t have enough volunteers to pursue any other free events, so we didn’t pursue the Beach Blast,” she said.
She and Corragio, hope the Alliance will be able to stay afloat through donations and ticket sales for its other planned events. “We have bigger fish to fry” than lamenting the loss of the Beach Blast money, Corragio said.
She said she hopes there will be a good turnout at a June 24 performance by the Austin McMahon and the Joe Davidian Trio. McMahon is a 1999 Roxbury High School graduate and professional musician and teacher. Tickets for that show, taking place at the Investor’s Bank Theater, are available here.
Meanwhile, the planners of the Beach Blast are gearing up. One of them is Roxbury Rotarian Steve Alford.
“It’s going to be a load of fun,” he said. “The band Under a Ton will be playing. Infinity Entertainment DJs are coming back. There will be patriotic music playing during the fireworks. There will be food vendors galore.”
Alford said the township and police department are paying for all the carnival attractions, which will include a climbing wall, laser tag, games and other attractions.
“I’m excited,” Alford said. “I think it’s going be awesome and a great community event.”
The fireworks display is funded by private donations from Alford, Dr. Harvey Siegel and Josh, Fullerton Grounds Maintenance and Garden Center, Gary Ribe ReMAX American Dream, Legends Car Wash, Live the Lake NJ, PJ's Auto Body, Robert and Kathy DeFillippo, Tim Smith and Family and Valley Pharmacy & Surgical Supply Center.