The Highlands Festival at Waterloo is not only a celebration of the natural resources of the New Jersey Highlands but also the amazing talent of our region’s musicians, artisans, chefs and creative people.
For the second year, the New Jersey Highlands Coalition is excited to present the two-day festival, Sept. 20-21, at the historic, picaresque Waterloo Village. We promise it offers something for everyone.
There are many reasons to attend the Festival, but here are my Top 10:
1. The charming Historic District of Waterloo Village will be open and staffed with knowledgeable guides who will showcase the Morris Canal and the village’s historic buildings. You can visit the working Grist Mill, see a blacksmith at work, tour the quaint 150-year old Waterloo United Methodist Church and learn about the inclined plane on the canal that was an engineering innovation in its time. Hourly walking tours will give a fascinating overview of the area’s history.
2. If you love live music, this is the place to be this weekend! We have non-stop music on two stages in the main festival area, with headliners Jim Weider’s Project Percolator and the Main Squeeze, plus local favorites like Quimby Mountain Band, Citizen’s Band Radio, Nadine LaFond, Mike Esposito, Subcommittee and more. Plus, in the Historic District down by the waterfront, there will be an old-fashioned Front Porch Blue Grass Jam, with local musicians playing acoustic blue grass music.
3. Kids will find lots to do at our Children’s Area, with live performances by Rizzo’s Reptiles, Bobby Beetcut, Big Jeff, Marafany Drum and Dance, and students from Vanguard Music Studio. Plus, kids can make bird and bat houses with volunteers from Home Depot, do hands-on experiments that illustrate the effects of climate change and litter have on our environment, and explore the fields and meadows of Waterloo with guides who can help them identify the plants, insects and animals that live there.
4. Winakung, the recreated Lenape Village, will be open with guides showing how our ancestors on this land lived hundreds of years ago. Many of us have visited there on school trips; here’s your chance to see it with your whole family.
5. As much as I love funnel cakes and other festival food, you won’t find it here. Our Local Food Court will have delicious offerings, from home-made tacos, Southern cooking, savory sausage breads and more. And don’t forget dessert: we’ll have homemade ice cream, cupcakes and made-to-order cappuccino and other gourmet coffee and tea drinks.
6. Speaking of drinks, don’t forget your reusable water bottle. In keeping with our environmental mission, no disposable bottles of water will be sold at the festival. We will have a water tank, courtesy of NJ American Water, at which you can refill your water bottle free all day!
7. There will be five local craft beers for sale as well as wine. The burgeoning craft beer industry here in New Jersey depends on Highlands water and we will have some of the best local craft beers at the festival.
8. This is a “zero-waste” event and we will have stations where you can sort your trash into compost, recyclables and trash. Our goal is to minimize what we put into the landfill, so you’ll find volunteers who can help you sort your lunch leftovers into the appropriate bins. Compost will be delivered to Ag Choise, a commercial composter, and the recyclables will be delivered to ReCommunity.
9. You can visit the booths in our Living Green Expo, Crafts and Fair Trade Marketplace and Cause Crusaders. You’ll see vendors with rain barrels, tower gardens, handmade jewelry, plants, solar options for your home and more. And there will be a number of environmental nonprofits there sharing their work.
10. Most important of all, the Highlands Festival at Waterloo is a celebration of the New Jersey Highlands, a region that supplies much of the fresh, clean drinking water for New Jersey. It is also raising funds for the NJ Highlands Coalition’s Small Grants Program, which helps small nonprofits do their important grassroots work in our communities.
You can buy tickets online and save at HighlandsFestivalAtWaterloo.org up until 6 p.m. Friday, Sept. 19. Tickets will be available at the door for $25. Kids 12 and under get in free.
Lisa Kelly is the Director of the Highlands Festival at Waterloo. The festival is produced by the New Jersey Highlands Coalition. For more information about the festival: HighlandsFestivalAtWaterloo.org