Farnsworth Avenue, the main road that runs through Bordentown City, has been blocked off completely as thousands of people gather in the streets to sample the crafts and food the annual Ocean Spray Cranberry Festival vendors have to offer.
“It’s [The Cranberry Festival] one of the only juried crafts shows in New Jersey,” explained April Sette, head of public relations for Downtown Bordentown, “and by that each of these artisans have to submit in their pieces and pictures and they have to be approved by a board in order to participate.”
“If you walk down you’ll see everything’s handmade. We do food, we do Jersey fresh wines, and the crafts are all handmade,” said Sette.
The items that line Farnsworth Avenue being sold by vendors range from jewelry, to clothes, to wines, to homemade sauces and soaps, to country style home decor, to baked treats for pets, as well as a wide variety of other merchandise that appeal to anyone who is interested in unique handmade items.
For those not interested in shopping the festival also offers plenty of options for food as well as a corner for kids where they can make crafts, get their faces painted, or take a pony ride. Charities also line the street in the hopes to fund their programs such as adoptions through Bordentown City Cats and the Spc. Benjamin G. Moore Education Scholarship that helps raise money for those graduating high school who wish to become firefighters or EMTs.
A car show can be seen on the way into the festival as well and live music can be heard playing throughout the day.
Jackie Reed and Patti Desantis have lived in Bordentown their whole lives and are the two women responsible for organizing the Cranberry Festival. Reed has been integral to the planning of the event since its beginnings 23 years ago.
“Three of us ladies that had businesses here were sitting in one of our friend’s homes drinking wine and trying to figure out how we could get more people to come to Bordentown to shop,” said Reed, “and since Ocean Spray was the biggest business here everybody wanted to emulate them.”
Ocean Spray had been, up until recently, located in Bordentown City but with its recent upheaval and relocation many questioned whether or not the festival would continue.
“Absolutely,” said Desantis, “there will still be a Cranberry Festival.”
The Cranberry Festival continues tomorrow from 11am to 5pm.
I decided to dive headfirst into my blogging experience by doing an interview with an art gallery owner in Bordentown. I originally thought I’d try to speak to the owner of The Artful Deposit about the new Tom Kelly exhibition. The more I thought about it though, the more uncomfortable I became. I could not help but think as a young broke college student just getting into journalism I would feel completely out of my element at a gallery that was so far out of my price range and artistic taste (though I do appreciate the artistic talent of those showing in the gallery.) That is when I landed on the eclectic gallery that is Square Peg Round Hole.
My own brother, Ryan Moore, 26 of Bordentown, has been drawing since as far back as I can remember but his artwork is tailored for a specific type of audience and would normally not fit into the galleries in Bordentown because of their particular aesthetic qualities.
Then one day he happened upon a chance to show his artwork to Cindy Ridolfino, a co-owner of Square Peg, an artist herself, and a recovering addict. He landed two spots in the gallery and, more importantly, received what every artist is looking for: validation. The idea that knowing someone out there actually sees something worthwhile in your stuff.
I suppose that’s what I like so much about Square Peg and the owners. They have the ability to make you feel supported in your endeavors. I called the gallery to request an interview (my first real attempt at journalism outside of the Rowan University campus.) I was nervous, I repeated myself a lot but when I asked, co-owner Woody Speakman responded immediately, “Absolutely. When can you be here?”
Woody Speakman is also a recovering addict, having successfully been sober for 12 years. He informed me that the gallery has been open for about a year and is a two mission store. Half of the store is for art consignment. Anyone accepted into the gallery can hang their art on the wall, free of charge and at their own pricing. The commission from any piece sold is split, for the most part, 50/50 between the artist and the gallery.
The other half of the store is for recovery. The recovery side contains gifts, coins, apparel and literature for all the 12 step recovery. An idea which is heavily influenced by Ridolfino’s and Speakman’s pasts with battling addiction.
When I asked Cindy what particularly interests her when deciding to choose a piece of art she said, “I don’t particularly look for traditional art because you can put that anywhere. I like stuff that’s different because it helps a person,” a theme that goes along with the mantra of recovery. But don’t get it wrong, anyone can come to the gallery to try to show their art whether they are recovering from addiction, currently using, or never even touched any substance in their life. Square Peg Round Hole is about the art itself. “We are just like everybody else,” says Ridolfino.
Square Peg is very connected to the idea of positivity and good vibes. It’s a bright gallery with a mixture of art mediums as well as lovely jewelry display. The thing I noticed most of all, however, was the amount of people who stopped in to say hi. The store seems to radiate a welcoming glow for anyone from any walk of life. According to Ridolfino, “We have art here from a 13 year old girl to a 90 year old woman.” There’s no elitism and no attached stereotype of what someone would typically expect an art gallery to be like. Square Peg Round Hole is what it is, it’s as simple as that.
If anything, Bordentown is known for its historical background having played host to the likes of Thomas Paine, Clara Barton, and Joseph Bonaparte as well as the first female sculpture in the United States, Patience Lovell Wright.
The tradition of art continues through to today. Farnsworth Avenue, the town’s main street, has three art galleries on the short span of road as well as another gallery that branches off of Farnsworth on Walnut Street.
The Artful Deposit gallery showcases higher end art by, according to their blog, artists who are on “international, national, and local” levels and have established reputations. One such artist is Tom Kelly, a resident of Hamilton, who has consistently displayed his art at The Artful Deposit. Today (Sept. 29) at 2 p.m., Kelly will be showcasing and talking about his newest exhibit at the gallery entitled “The Zodiac Series.” According to Kelly, the series is based on Greek myths and their connection to everyday life. The exhibit will last through Oct. 21.
The Farnsworth Gallery is located just down the block from The Artful Deposit. The galleries have similar aesthetics to each other with most of the art being more high end and classically influenced such as impressionist paintings and still life. Every third Friday anyone interested in art and the art community can gather at the gallery for friendly conversation and food. (On a more personal note, my boyfriend lives in the apartment above this gallery and I can testify that there is, indeed, a steady flow of people in and out of The Farnsworth Gallery. The art community, particularly in this gallery, is alive and well.)
Square Peg Round Hole Art and Recovery Emporium is the newest gallery to come to Bordentown, located at 212 Farnsworth Ave. Unlike the other two galleries, Square Peg is unique in that it features more reasonably priced artwork that is significantly more modern. The art varies from traditional, to photography, to surreal, to sculptural, to pop art and everywhere in between. The co-owners, Cindy Ridolfino and Woody Speakman, are both recovering addicts which has influenced the “recovery” side of the gallery that features books on the 12-step program and other inspirational knick knacks.
Local artist, Eric Gibbons, runs The Firehouse Gallery located at 8 Walnut Street. The gallery had previously hosted a wide range of artists but now has become strictly for housing Gibbons artwork as well as becoming a classroom for young artists in the making.
Gibbons is taking a step towards exhibiting again by showing a duel exhibition of his work along side the work of Bob Gherardi. This exhibition as well as Tom Kelly’s are both opening just in time for the upcoming Cranberry Festival on Oct. 6 and 7. All of these galleries will be open during the festival so make sure to come out and keep local art alive.