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Highland Design Farm, Hopewell Township

If you already love living in Mercer County, keep reading. If you need more reasons to love it, keep reading still. And, if you’ve never experienced the Hopewell Tour Des Arts, get ready to be transported.

The Hopewell Tour Des Arts is a 2-day self-guided local art tour around the Hopewell Borough area hosted by the Hopewell Borough Economic Development Committee

Last year, I think we only saw the art displayed at the train station. This year we ventured out of the Borough limits to several locations along Van Dyke, Featherbed and whatever West Greenwood becomes as you head up toward the mountains.

As an annual event in October with the colorful leaves changing and the rocky landscape of the Sourland Mountains, it makes Hopewell seem a lot like Woodstock, NY. Plus, experiencing the Hopewell Tour Des Arts was like taking mini-vacation without having to go more than 3 miles and we got to go home for lunch.

Each stop along the tour offered a unique opportunity to visit artists in their own studios, and often their own homes, but also in barns, outbuildings, garages. And no matter where it was, it was other-worldly.

One such stop was the Highland Design Farm, a multi-building artist studio compound. The artists are furniture makers, wood turners, sculptors, painters, mix-media dabblers and all inspirational.

Another other-worldly stop was visiting Charles McCollough‘s barn. His sculptures are religious and deeply emotive. One feels compelled, while meandering through his multi-level studio, to maintain a deferential whisper as if the barn were a church. While Charles, himself was warm and welcoming.

For those with children, it is somewhat child-friendly. We took 2 days to nearly complete the tour (we missed maybe 3 stops) and brought our young kids along for the fun. They are 3 and 6 and fairly well behaved, mostly motivated by the occasional snacks offered at each studio and the chances to chat with the artists. Some of the studios have more fragile items or dangerous machinery so just make sure your kid likes holding your hand.

The event is not just an opportunity to see local art and meet local artists but also a chance to purchase local art at a range of price points — many of them exceptionally affordable. You can support the local art community and have a collection of art in your own home that reflects the varied local culture.

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We will see you next year because the Hopewell Tour Des Arts should not be missed.

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Mary Galioto
Mary Galioto is the founder, publisher and editor of MercerMe, and a lawyer. Originally from Brooklyn, Mary has progressively moved deeper and deeper into New Jersey, settling in the heart of the state: Mercer County. Formerly the author of an embarrassingly informal blog, Mary is a lifelong writer and asker of questions and was even mentioned, albeit briefly, in the New York Times and Washington Post. In her free time, Mary fills her life with excessive self-reflection, photographing mushrooms, and misguided adventures in random hobbies. Mary also works as the PR Coordinator at the Hopewell Valley Arts Council, serves on the volunteer Board of Trustees of the Lawrence Hopewell Trail (LHT), serves on the Hopewell Borough Board of Health, is a member of the Hopewell Valley Municipal Alliance, and holds the elected position as the Hopewell Borough Democratic Committee Municipal Chairwoman.

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