BEDMINSTER TWP., NJ - The 15th annual Colonial Christmas fundraiser to continue the restoration and development of the Jacobus Vanderveer House & Museum started off with a bang last Friday, including a demonstration of cannon fire, a performance by the Ridge High School A Cappella choir, appearances by Colonial-era re-enactors and crafters, and more.

One of the new features this year was a tented "Colonial Cafe," where the Ridge singers performed on Sunday afternoon, with refreshments provided by - where else? - George and Martha's restaurant of Morristown.

Colonial Christmas is scheduled to continue next weekend, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sat. and Sunday, Dec. 2 to 3, with some of this past's weekend's to be repeated - the Colonial Cafe, holiday boutique shopping, tours of the home and museum, and a visit by Santa. Admission is $10 at the door; members and children 12 and younger are free.

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Additional performances and activities this coming weekend

There is also more to come this weekend, including a Bedminster Hand Bells performance from 1 to 4 p.m. next Saturday, singing by the Bernards High School Madrigals from 3 to 4 p.m. next Sunday, and a demonstration by Tewksbury Foot Bassets. 

New this year will be an opportunity for children to bring their pets for a photo with Santa. Pet photos with Santa Paws (a $10 charge that includes admission and a treat for the pet) will be available from noon to 2 p.m. next Saturday.

Pre-registration is required for gingerbread house workshops scheduled for either 10 a.m. or 3 p.m. next Saturday. Parents and children can create their own gingerbread house with the help of Gail Paul, owner of Ms. Gail's Kids Cooking. All materials will be provided and space is limited. Cost of the program is $40 per kit, or $50 if there is room for walk-ins. Registration is online at, or by calling 908-396-6053.

Craig Sutherland of Basking Ridge, president of The Friends of the Jacobus Vanderveer House, said that the Colonial Cafe had been implemented this year after requests by visitors. He added that the display has a great collection of vendors this year for holiday shopping.

Each year, Colonial Christmas has grown at the historic site and museum, restored by volunteers from throughout the Somerset Hills, and transformed into an educational center about the key role that the location played during the Revolutionary War.

The Jacobus Vanderveer House, which had been deteriorating before its restoration under the direction of The Friends of the Jacobus Vanderveer House, served headquarters of General Henry Knox during the winter of 1778-79 and the only surviving building associated with the Pluckemin Artillery Cantonment, America’s first military academy.  

The house is a national and New Jersey historic site, and has been furnished to interpret 18th century Dutch-Colonial life as lived by the Vanderveer and Knox families. The story of the Pluckemin Cantonment’s role in helping the Continental Army to defeat the British during the American Revolution, which unfolded as research and on-site archeology took place over the years, is highlighted at the museum.