No matter what the season, there is always something interesting going on in the Garden State. Most of the events and festivals benefit charities in some way, a testament to the good will of our citizens. Here are just a few of the many events happening across our state:
Here in Readington NJ, the skies fill with the sight of majestic hot air balloons for three days each July. Over 125 Balloons of different shapes and sizes are featured during the festival, which now attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. Mass ascensions take place in the morning and evening (the safest launch times) each day. While the entire festival grounds offer great views of the balloons, many want to know what it is like to float high above the earth. Balloon rides are popular with young and old alike, and early-morning rides provide a unique way to experience a sunrise. Not only are there balloons galore, there is food, music, arts and crafts and a fireworks show. In the evenings the balloons line up on the launch field with their balloons re-inflated. The pilots then ignite their propane burners and the balloons light up with a firefly-like glow that is enchanting. One shouldn't miss this uplifting experience.
The bounty of the Atlantic is the focus of this two-day outdoor festival in mid June. From crab cakes to swordfish sandwiches, fresh seafood dishes draw in hungry crowds every summer (for those who don't like seafood, there are many vendors who supply alternative meals). Celebrity chefs and students from the local culinary academy give cooking demonstrations each day as well. The hints and recipes provided at the Festival will help even the most timid backyard chefs improve their seafood meals. A large amusement area is filled with rides and activities for children, and the Marine Science Pavilion is stocked with exhibits and touch tanks to educate the public about aquatic life. The festival also features live music by local artists, arts and crafts and boat cruises. Much of the proceeds each year go to local charities and scholarship funds, with particular attention paid to marine organizations.
This family-oriented event takes place in Oceanport NJ during the end of May. The six-day event is filled with rides, games, America's largest traveling petting zoo, exhibits, live entertainment and contests. The fair is an official State of New Jersey Agricultural Department event, and the agricultural education tent is packed with informative displays and programs. A large variety of delicious foods are for sale at the fair, but the most popular is usually the Lions Club's Strawberry Shortcake. At the Lions Strawberry Fair; guests can ride a camel, taste locally grown food, and learn all about the community all in one place. All of the Lions Club's fair proceeds go to charitable causes.
Each August New Jersey's farming heritage takes center stage at the annual state fair, as many of the exhibits and shows reflect the agricultural roots of the country. Agricultural events range from flower and garden displays to 4-H exhibits to livestock shows to competitive cook-offs. Also included in the fair is the well-known Sussex County Farm and Horse Show. Featuring barrel races, jump exhibitions, and breed shows; the Farm and Horse Show is always a popular part of the fair. Aside from the agricultural events, one will find a large carnival area, Home economics and arts pavilion, a midway stocked with great fair food, and a number of musical performances throughout the fair.
This has been a tradition since 1937. While this may sound like a grueling march, this unrivaled networking opportunity actually begins with a train ride from stops in Metro Park, New Brunswick, Trenton, Philadelphia and Wilmington to the final destination in our nation's capital. Once there, the 2,000 attendees meet for the annual Congressional Dinner and formal program. The dinner features speeches by New Jersey's most influential political figures, a cocktail reception, comedy show, and an elegant dinner. Organized by the New Jersey State Chamber of Commerce and held each January, the Walk is an incredible opportunity for the state's top business executives to interact with the people shaping New Jersey's present and future. Many top name businesses such as Bank of America, Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey and Verizon Wireless sponsor the Walk to Washington each year.