Beachcomber Fall Guide

A Classic in So Many Ways, Visit Chatsworth for the Annual Cranberry Festival Oct. 20-21

Sep 21, 2018

In his 1968 book The Pine Barrens, Pulitzer Prize-winning author John McPhee dubbed Chatsworth as “The Capital of the Pines,” where roughly two-thirds of the residents lived off the land or worked various odd jobs, and the back roads of the region were notoriously difficult to navigate. Well, 50 years later, Chatsworth might be a bit more modern in some ways, but its history continues to shine in the form of multiple historic buildings and sites. And it’s also the location of one of October’s most popular celebrations – the annual Cranberry Festival.

Now in its 35th year, the festival will be Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 20 and 21. It helps raise funds to restore, maintain and preserve the historic White Horse Inn – the largest dwelling in town, built  in 1860 and originally named The Shamong Hotel in 1876 – which today serves as a town community center. The festival’s hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day.

A celebration centered around the New Jersey cranberry harvest, the third-largest in the nation according to the United States Cranberry Marketing Committee (uscranberries.com), the Cranberry Festival also is a tribute to the Pine Barrens and local culture.

But beyond that, it simply exudes the great atmosphere of a fall festival, complete with lots of great food, live music, more than 30 antiques dealers, some 160 craft and general vendors, a quilt display and a car show. Admission to the festival is free, but parking in specific locations throughout the area will cost $5 to $10, often depending on the distance from the parking area to the festival center in downtown Chatsworth. Of course, parking along Route 532 has no charge attached, but arrive early to get a spot fairly close to the downtown.

Every year, the festival draws thousands of people from New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Maryland and New York. A look at the reviews on the Cranberry Festival Facebook page reveals the popularity of the event, which is held the third weekend of October every year, rain or shine.

“We travel from northeast PA and the festival is worth the drive,” said Colleen Jarnicki on one 5-star review. “We enjoyed everything about it and can’t wait for next year! Great food, friendly vendors, reasonable prices. All around, it is an enjoyable experience. The buffalo chicken on a stick and buffalo shrimp on a stick are the best! See you next year!”

Darlene Cziraky from Brooklyn, N.Y., is a frequent visitor as well.

“I look forward to this festival every year,” she said in her 5-star review. “Lots of things for everyone. Great food. Good music. What more can you ask for?”

How about some wolves? Wolves from the Howling Woods Farm in Jackson, featured in Disney’s “Sorcerer’s Apprentice,” will be on hand both days from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Or what about breakfast? Breakfast is served each morning from 6 to 11 at the firehouse of the Chatsworth Volunteer Fire Co.

Of course, cranberry delights will abound and often are among the first items to sell out. The White Horse Café will have assorted jams, jellies, breads, baked goods and cranberry ice cream. The Antique and Classic Automobile Show is a Sunday-only event, all day during festival hours, and is expected to feature more than 100 vehicles.

Expect varied weather and be prepared for all sorts of conditions. Earlier in the morning, expect dew on the grassy areas to soak your shoes. And remember, driving through the downtown is permitted during festival hours, so be careful crossing the streets. Parking at the school located off Second Street will be available for a $5 donation, but parking there is limited.

For those interested in history, visit the information booth, where attendees can find a brochure with a brief history about Chatsworth and the White Horse Inn. The new festival website, cranfest.info, provides a brief overview as well.

For more information, including directions or vendor information, visit the website, email chatsworthcranfest@aol.com or call 609-726-0006.

David Biggy

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