FLEMINGTON, NJ – The annual Corn, Tomato and Beer Festival will return to Stangl Road here on Saturday. The event will be held from noon until 8 p.m.

Thousands attended last year’s staging of the event, which celebrates sweet Jersey tomatoes, heirloom corn, craft beer, live music and family activities. There will be corn and tomato dishes prepared by local restaurants and farmers and the beer garden will feature nine local craft breweries.

But security is also a priority.

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Mayor Betsy Driver told the Hunterdon Freeholders at their meeting yesterday that there will be “a very robust, obvious police presence at the event,” in part as a reaction to the nation’s recent mass shootings.

Security at big events is also a concern for county officials. Freeholder John Lanza noted that the county’s use of GPS mapping – using software designed for the military – is “invaluable” at large gatherings – even if it’s a relatively invisible aspect of event security.

Lanza noted that the shooting at the recent Gilroy Garlic Festival in California “only serves to reiterate our need for vigilance in preparing” for large events. The Gilroy event coincided with Readington’s annual QuickChek New Jersey Festival of Ballooning, where the County’s software by Critical Response Group was “invaluable” by allowing first responders ability to track in real time resources and personnel, Lanza said. While such technology has obvious use in responding to an active shooter, he said it’s also useful for lesser, more common emergencies, such as reuniting lost children with their families.

Lost children were the only security issue at last year’s Corn, Tomato and Beer Festival, with one child tearfully insisting that he wasn’t lost at all - it was his parents that had become lost.

Foodies and fun-lovers will enjoy live bands on multiple stages, kid’s activities such as fire truck rides and face painting, vegetable stands and artisan vendors.

Restaurants and food stands will feature items such as roasted corn, gazpacho, wood-fired pizza, corn salad, homemade empanadas, Mexican street corn, pulled pork, quesadillas, heirloom tomato salad, fresh salsas and gourmet kettle corn.

Festival-goers can complement those choices with refreshing beer, kombucha, fruit smoothies, fresh lemon and limeade, and frozen cheesecake on a stick. Family-style tables with large umbrellas will provide a shady spot to relax.

Performers will include the Michael Geiter Band, Hunterdon Harmonizers, DJ Michael Aversano and nine local musicians on multiple stages.

There will be fire truck and train rides, face painting, hair braiding, sand art, plushie stuffing, water games and a magician, plus visits from the Paw Patrol characters.

Festival admission and parking are free. Take Route 12 to the parking lot entrance near Liberty Village and enter Stangl Road on foot from the south end by the Polo Outlet and Lone Eagle Brewing.

The rain date for the event is Sunday, Aug. 11.