The free, outdoor event will feature dozens of food vendors, two beer gardens, nine live acts, a petting zoo, and activities for children.
By Matt Skoufalos | June 20, 2017
Haddon Township is a community known for the vibrancy of its nightlife, but on Wednesday, it will gather residents, friends, and neighbors in a celebration of the sun.
Building on the success of the Haddon Township Music Festival, the township government, business improvement district, and Westmont Farmers Market are collaborating to host the inaugural Summer Solstice Festival, a free, six-hour party packed with live entertainment, food, and activities for children.
“We’re going to celebrate the first day of summer, Haddon Township-style,” said coordinator Doug Kelly.
Summer is typically the time of year when many locals skip town for the shore, but with a newfound emphasis on community events and some key redevelopment projects put to bed, Kelly said the township is trying to showcase all it has to offer those who remain, and maybe attract some new visitors in the process.
“We want to show them all the positive changes, and all the things that are going on, and encourage them to stay on the longest day of the year,” he said.
Building around the already-humming, midweek Westmont Farmers Market and the success of two years’ prior fall music festival events, the Solstice Festival will also help connect the dots between visitors and the local businesses.
Kelly describes the event as “a regular farmers market on adrenaline,” and with the sheer volume of attractions, it’s easy to see why. The weekly roster of farmers and prepared-food vendors has increased to 52 for Wednesday’s event, including artisans and crafters.
To that will be added 15 food trucks, two beer gardens, A&P petting zoo, and lawn games for children. Then there’s the performances: seven bands, belly dancers, Ethos Physical Theatre circus troupe, and a fire-eater, with everything topped off by a community drum circle at 9 p.m. The festival is free to attend.
The staging for the event also reflects the decision by the municipal government to transform the vacant lot next to the Haddon Avenue Planet Fitness into a pop-up performance space.
With new water, sewer, and electrical hook-ups, the space will complement the performance while providing seating and shade via 100 red Adirondack chairs, red-and-white tents, and community tables.
Framing out the square is suspended, color-changing LED rope lighting at its perimeter.
“We consider the solstice a kick-off for the events that are to occur” at the lot, said Haddon Township Mayor Randy Teague, who views the event as a seasonal complement to the larger, fall festival the township has hosted the past two years.
“It gave us a goal to reach as far as preparing the lot and getting it ready to go for the different entertainment events we would like to do,” Teague said.
The mayor would like to see the lot fixed up more permanently, the better to host pop-up entertainment and community events.
But a request for proposals to do the work only returned two unsatisfactory bids for its seasonal management, and so the local government will wait until next year to solicit a long-term plan for the site.
“We’re going to do it on a case by case basis,” Teague said.
“We’re going to work with anybody who has a unique idea for the downtown, and we’re going to start scheduling them.
“We’d like to see a variety of events.”
Going forward, the township will charge a nominal, $500 fee for use of the space. Teague said that alcohol mustn’t necessarily be a component of the events scheduled on the lot, but that the business opportunity will be available for those who pursue it. He hopes whatever community programming occurs would be built around entertainment, and would help generate foot traffic for local businesses.
“We’re trying to make Haddon Township more of a destination, and we think that an entertainment venue through the summer, in the fall, and on the weekend will help us,” Teague said. “The benefit of opening it up to more than one entity is that you get a lot of different ideas than we could come up with on our own.
“Everything has come about because of the success of the music festival,” he said. “People who are coming downtown are seeing that we have some wonderful restaurants and wonderful places to shop, and they’re coming back.
“I’m excited to see all that’s happening in our downtown, and this lot, I think, is going to be a catalyst for much entertainment in the future, and unique entertainment, which I think the residents are going to be proud of and excited for.”
- 4-4:45 – Stolen Moments
- 5-5:45 – John Torres Band
- 6-6:15 – Sara O’Brien
- 6:20-6:50 – Andrea Nardello
- 6:55 – Mayor Randy Teague
- 7-7:20 – Belly dancers Krista Sassani & Sherrilyn Billger
- 7:30-8:10 – Preacher
- 8:20-9 – Tara Hendricks
- 9-9:15 – Drum circle, fire-eater Justin Provoncha
- 9:20-10 – The Wayside Shakeup
- Keg & Kitchen
- The Pour House
- Rocket Fizz
- Revolution Coffee Roaster
- Not Your Mama’s Tacos
- PJ’s Wing Truck
- The Cooper River Lunch & Munch Food Truck
- Wanna Pizza This Food Truck
- South Jersey Mobile Café Food Truck
- Mannino’s Cannoli Express Trailer
- Beast of the Street
- Surf and Turf Truck
- Mary’s Mobile Diner
- Kitchen Crewser
- Lil Trent’s
- Charlie’s Crepes
- Hotdog Man
- Silver Spoon Catering
- Victory Tea Company
- Anita’s Guacamole
- Wandering Gnome Concessions
- House of Fudge
- Haynicz’s Orchard View Farm
- Robson’s Farm
- Vierick Farm
- Fandessa Gourmet Baked Goods
- Dulce Artisanal Pastry
- Severino Pasta
- Espressit Coffee shop
- Catalyst Accessories
- Flower Peddler
- Mill Creek Apiary (Honey)
- Hot Cottage Decor
- Hair Cuttery
- Barn & Stone House soaps
- Collingswood Board Company
- ColorTime Face Painting
- Camden County Library
- Community Rocks
- SoHa Arts Building
- Mystical Blossoms
- Haddon Township Crew
- LuLaRoe Clothing
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