Deerfield Twp. Harvest Festival Kicks Off 39th Year
(Original published for SNJ Today on 10/2/2017)
BRIDGETON, N.J. - The 39th annual Deerfield Township Harvest Festival is set to take place on October 5-8. Packed with musical acts, amusement rides, food and more, the event will offer a multitude of activities for a family night out.
“Originally, we just started it to bring the community together after the harvest,” said Linda Ferrara, the festival's assistant publicity chair.
Although relatively new to her position, Ferrara has been involved with the festival's volunteer efforts from the very beginning. Nearly 40 years ago, she was helping put together floats and decorate stands and stages for the event.
Now, she's right in the thick of the action.
This year, the Harvest Festival will feature country star Chase Bryant taking the stage on the final night (Sunday, Oct. 8). Known for his hits “Take It On Back” and “Little Bit of You,” Bryant is currently on tour with Brad Paisley.
The first of the two-nights of music — Saturday, Oct. 7 — will include the band Heroes of Rock featuring Terry Sylvester, Denny Laine, and John Ford Coley. Local bands will get their chance to shine in the afternoon as opening acts.
Secret Sauce and Unfortunate Sons are the two bands set to perform on Saturday afternoon, and Sunday afternoon will include the band Eagle Mania and longtime festival favorite the Sensational Soul Cruisers.
“They've been with us for many, many years,” said Ferrara. “It wouldn’t be a festival without their performance.”
Saturday will also include two tribute bands performing classic hits from several acts including Journey, Mellencamp, Chicago and Tom Petty.
The singing competition SingFest – formerly called “Idol Fest” – will be separated by three age groups with the winner of each group earning a cash prize.
Over the past four decades, the festival has seen tremendous growth. So much so that organizers had to literally double its length.
“When we began the festival, it was a two-day event,” said Ferrara, who added that despite a couple rainy days last year, the festival still managed to pull in more than 30,000 people across its four days.
Two years ago, they were even able to add tours of local farms and vineyards.
The theme for this year’s festival will honor local servicemen.
In addition to paying tribute to fire and rescue members, the festival will also pay tribute to Eugenia Johnson, a longtime festival volunteer who passed away in 2016.
Ferrara sees this remembrance as a time to appreciate all of the volunteers who helped make the Deerfield Township Harvest Festival a reality.
“After 39 years, we still have a lot of the same volunteers that we started the festival with,” said Ferrara.
Now, children and even grandchildren of the original volunteers are involved in the efforts.
With the spirit of volunteerism being passed from generation to generation, the Deerfield Township Harvest Festival appears to show no signs of slowing down anytime soon.