Over 2,500 Attend Sourland Mountain Festival

The Sourland Conservancy announced that the 2019 Sourland Mountain Festival on June 22 was a tremendous success, with over 2500 in attendance.

Sourland Conservancy executive director, Caroline Katmann said, “This year’s Fest attracted more attendees, volunteers, nonprofit partners, vendors, and sponsors than ever before. Our volunteers really did an outstanding job. The weather was gorgeous, and the bands rocked!” 

Festival proceeds benefit the Sourland Conservancy, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect, promote and preserve the Sourland Mountain – 90 square miles of forest, meadows and wetlands in the heart of New Jersey. The Sourland Mountain region boasts the largest contiguous forest in Central New Jersey, providing critical habitat for pollinators, amphibians, birds, animals including many threatened and endangered species.

The Conservancy partners with many local, state and national organizations throughout the year to achieve its mission.  Several of those partner organizations hosted booths at the Festival and engaged guests with games, exhibits and information. Some of the partners brought critters to help tell their Sourland stories to advocate for preservation and protection: insects, bees, turtle, snakes, goats, and alpacas.

This year’s Cool Critters, History Lane and the Education areas had plenty of activities and learning opportunities for people of all age groups. Over thirty nonprofit and business partners introduced guests to Alpacas, The Seeing Eye puppies, insects, goats and more. The Lenape Nation, Stoutsburg Sourland African American Museum, Van Harlingen Historical Society, Swallow Hill Alpaca Farm, and Practical Primitive offered hands-on activities and demonstrations including corn grinding, flinting, tanning, fiber spinning, and more.  Attendees could even discover the history of the geology of the area which has led to the formation of the Sourland region as we know it today.

Volunteers Bob and Judy Czekanski organized the Cool Critters Area again this year. 

“We are appreciative of the many presenters who have returned from prior years and thankful to those who joined us for the first time in 2019,” said Bob Czekanski. “A new addition was Stewgler Farms & Forest who brought goats.  They had five goats with two which were only two weeks old.  They explained how to make goat milk soap and had a milking demonstration which allowed some of our younger participants to participate.  Children were also allowed to bottle feed the younger goats.  In talking with Maria Stewart, who was running this area, she commented how she remembered as a young girl being able to milk a goat and how that experience has stayed with her to this day.  She has a passion to teach others and wants them to have the memories to cherish.” 

Children of all ages enjoyed these activities as well as the bouncy house, climbing wall, electric bike demos, Inclusion Festival, farmer’s market, and vendors. A surprise hit was the scavenger hunt that required participants to ask questions of the representatives at various booths to encourage greater engagement with a variety of presenters.  The most challenging question was, “What looks like a sea urchin but grows on trees?” Answers to this year’s scavenger hunt and lots more photos from the day have been posted on Sourland Conservancy’s Facebook Album.

“We are so pleased and grateful for the tremendous support we received from the community, volunteers and guests. We hope that festival-goers will have a place in their heart for the Sourlands, and know it’s not just a place on the map,” said festival chair, Suzanne Parsons.

For many, the highlight of the Sourland Mountain Festival is the music. The line-up included six very popular bands with local roots: Danielia Cotton, Anthony Krizan, Citizens Band Radio, Mike Montrey Band, The Adventures of Matte Black, and the The Gumbo Gumbas.

“The landscape is beautiful, and playing to preserve the Sourlands is a great cause,” said Mike Montrey.

In addition to the music, guests enjoyed a variety food and drink including gourmet specialties, hot dogs, Thai and Latin cuisine, waffles, ice cream, cheesecake, award-winning wine, craft beer and spirits as well as fresh, organically grown, local produce and juices from Sourland region farms including Martenette Farms, Morganics Family Farm, Marchese Farm and Fairgrown Farm.

‘The VIP area has become a Fest favorite,” said Gery Juleff, Sourland Conservancy Trustee. “The Ryland Inn’s executive chef, Chris Albrecht brought all his passion for good, responsibly grown food to the table.  ‘Delicious’, ‘Awesome’, “Best buffet ever’ were some of the reactions from delighted guests.  The Ryland has already committed to providing the VIP service next year and this is a partnership made in heaven for the Sourland Conservancy, The VIP area was sponsored by Volvo, Sourland Mountain Spirits, Caldwell Banker, the Cherry Valley Country Club, and Senior Retirement Strategies.  Sourland Mountain Spirits, Unionville Winery, and Hunterdon Brewing Company and Flounder Brewing Company all contributed beverages.”

The Festival was once again held on the grounds of the Hillsborough Golf and Country Club. Guests enjoyed the lovely view and the gorgeous sunset over the valley. Ray Disch, Founder of Sourland Mountain Spirits said, “Beautiful weather and people, and lots of great spirits and music made the Festival a true community success.”

Thomas McAteer, chief operating officer at Landmark Hospitality, said, ‘The Ryland Inn is very pleased to be part of the Sourland Conservancy’s efforts to preserve the beautiful Sourland Mountain.  We look forward to being a continuing partner in the preservation and education programs of the Conservancy, and to supporting the Sourland Mountain Festival as its VIP partner.’

“The Sourland Mountain Festival offers a chance to hear great music while enjoying an afternoon and evening in the beautiful Sourlands, learning about the importance of the region, and supporting the Conservancy’s critical work,” said Board President, Dante DiPirro. To view photos from this year’s event, visit the Sourland Mountain Festival’s Facebook page or website www.sourlandmountainfestival.org.

The Sourland Mountain Festival is one the Sourland Conservancy’s two signature events.  The Sourland Spectacular bicycle rally will be held this year on September 7th. For more information about this and other Sourland Conservancy events including this fall’s Train Station Series educational seminars, visit www.sourland.org and click on activities.

The 2019 Sourland Mountain Festival was dedicated to Bryce Thompson. Caroline Katmann spoke on behalf of the Conservancy, “We are saddened by the loss of a staunch supporter of the Conservancy and land preservation in the Sourlands, Bryce Thompson. He loved the Music Fest and always attended, so we dedicate tonight’s celebration of the Sourland Community to Bryce Thompson and his family.”

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