Station Avenue will shut down from 3 to 8 p.m. Saturday for a lineup of local music, food, and craft beer.
By Matt Skoufalos
Haddon Heights business owner Joe Gentile believes his hometown is still creating its identity.
Its quaint main street has cachet with Philadelphia transplants seeking a small-town feel. The actual storefronts within that district—a mix of mainstays, relative newcomers, and vacancies—offer a lot of potential, but often struggle to be noticed.
“What is Haddon Heights?” Gentile said. “How are we defined? It’s a nice, friendly place with a downtown. It’s a place that people want to move to because of the community feel.”
Community events can help create that convivial atmosphere, and Gentile believes that a music festival is a good jumping-off point. Taking a cue from last fall’s Haddon Township Music Festival, he is closing down the 500 and 600 blocks of Station Avenue (from the White Horse Pike to 7th Avenue) Saturday afternoon for the Rhythm and Brews Festival, a craft beer, food truck, and live music event.
“These music festivals created the beginning of something that can go year after year,” Gentile said. “If Haddon Township does theirs in the fall, we can do ours in the spring.”
Set against the backdrop of the downtown business district, the event will help to showcase the local small businesses in the community while exposing guests to the performing arts and flavors of the region. Admission is free; guests can buy two, 12-ounce tasting beverages at a time, and walk freely around the 500 block open-air beer garden.
“I believe that that’s what people want the most,” Gentile said. “They want to have that local connection to a brewery that’s right down the street. Let’s take a ride and go see this guy’s brewery. We need this because it’s going to bring people together.”
In the 20 years Fabian Brown has worked in the music industry as a performer, recording engineer, and booking coordinator, Rhythm and Brews marks his first chance putting together an event “at scale.”
“For the first time, I have the opportunity to put the best of the best artists from this area under one roof to complement something that’s been happening for a while,” Brown said.
Brown, who is also a member of Haddon Heights in Progress (HIP), the business and professional group sponsoring the event, said music is the mechanism around which community is often built. Hosting a concert festival in a downtown setting yields residual benefits for local business owners, too.
“The whole reason HIP exists is to support local businesses,” Brown said. “It’s about breaking down these barriers—Haddon Township, Haddon Heights, Collingswood—bringing everybody together to one destination to break bread, enjoy some spirits, listen to some tunes, and build new relationships.
“It’s about putting people on the map.”
- Cape May Brewing Company
- Double Nickel Brewing Company
- Flying Fish Brewing Company
- Lunacy Brewing Company
- New Jersey Beer Co.
- Spellbound Brewing
- Tuckahoe Brewing
- Victory Brewing Company
- Yards Brewing Company
Food & Craft Vendors
- Charlie’s Crepes
- Chickie’s and Pete’s
- Cooper River Lunch n’ Munch Truck
- Mr. Softee
- Oink and Moo Barbecue
- Silver Spoon
- The Square Meal
- Sweet Pea Ice Cream
- Viva Empanada
- Broken Rocket Novelty & Design
- Cannery Works
- Collingswood Board Company
- Party Brews Handmade Tiki Torches
- Somerdale – 3 p.m.
- Preacher – 4 p.m.
- Commiserators – 5 p.m.
- The Wayside Shake-Up – 6 p.m.
- The Unstoppable Hack Beats – 7 p.m.
- Dave Kelly – 3:15 p.m.
- John Rossi – 4 p.m.
- Stolen Moments – 4:45 p.m.
- MONKO – 5:45 p.m.
- Hypersonics – 6:45 p.m.