This Sunday my family and I took a road trip to Hammonton, NJ – the blueberry capital of the world. If this little tidbit about Hammonton is news to you, don’t feel bad. I’ve lived in Jersey my whole life and I didn’t know till a few weeks ago! You can even Google it. Apparently, blueberries are very particular about the Ph levels in the soil and Hammonton’s proximity to the Pine Barrens gives the soil just the right quality to produce world class berries. Who knew, right? Anyway, our excursion this weekend was because the town was holding their annual blueberry festival, which Is now in its 30th year.
We were invited to the festival by our friend Vinny, who is a native of Hammonton and whose father happens to be head of the chamber of commerce. He told us about how the town had suffered through a period of closed businesses and rundown neighborhoods but has been on the upswing recently. The blueberry festival is one of the biggest event each year and draws an incredible number of people.
Vinny, who my Hubby knows through his work, moonlights as a singer in a cover band called “Stealing Savanah.” Guess who was providing the entertainment at the festival? We’ve been to see the band many times at local bars, but this was Miss Dee’s first chance to catch their act. They perform a wide range of songs from the 1980s up to today’s hits. She seemed to be impressed.
[Summer Bucket List item #23. Yay me!]
We arrived around noon and after securing a parking spot in a nearby field that some industrious owners had offered at $5 per car, we followed the sound of Vinnys voice to an outdoor stage on wheels topped with a yellow and white awning. There was another large tent beside it with about fifty picnic tables overflowing with people of all ages eating lunch and enjoying the music. There was all kinds of food for sale but we had packed a picnic lunch and after locating some other friends that we knew were in attendance, we settled in to eat and enjoy the music. The day was rather warm but there was enough of a breeze in the shade of the tent to keep it from being unbearable.
After the band was finished their set, and we’d said hello to Vinny, we went off to explore the many booths and tents offering up crafts and goodies of all sorts. There were a lot of blueberry items, naturally, both to eat and as decorations. We even took a moment to check out the blueberry pie eating contest which looked messy and fun, and treated ourselves to some Italian water ice. Hubby saw some Philadelphia Eagles crafts that I had to talk him out of buying and Miss Dee almost bought her brother a marshmallow shooter as a housewarming present but reconsidered. There were tents with beautiful jewelry and fine glass pieces from nearby Weaton Village as well as doll clothes and face painting.
The festival ran from 11:00 to 4:00 and judging from the crowds, was an outstanding success. Vinny and his dad thanked us for coming and sent us on our way with an entire case of blueberries and a few different baked goods! What a great way to spend our Sunday afternoon. We will have to put it on our calendar for next year. In the meantime, does anyone have any good blueberry recipes?