fair haven fairIt’s that time of year again as the week-long Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair returns for an extended encampment starting Friday.

082214 fhfair18The rides and midway that transform River Road into a festival of lights and happy crowds. The tantalizing aromas that waft forth from the on-site seafood cafe. The fire truck excursions, “Out Back” snack bar, strolling Super 50/50 ticket vendors, and all of the other sights, sounds and smells that have come to define summertime’s grandest hurrah on the Navesink are back — as the annual Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair returns for an incredible 56th consecutive edition this weekend.

Beginning Friday evening and continuing every night (except for August 30) through September 5, the community tradition commandeers the grounds of the borough firehouse for an eight-day extravaganza that’s come to be described as an “iconic” signpost of summer along the Navesink. At the same time, the fair represents one last bittersweet blast against the encroaching season of back-to-school supplies, summer-love goodbyes, and that first sweater-weather breath of breeze through the window.

The oldest (and, many agree, greatest) of all Shore area carnivals puts down stakes with a collection of old favorites like the kiddie-ride corridor, back-lot beer wagon, and “big kid” rides (Zipper, Wipeout, Rainbow). Then there’s the justifiably famous fresh seafood kitchen and dining room — a beyond-busy operation overseen by the fire department’s Auxiliary, and an attraction for which folks start lining up right about now. All proceeds raised from food sales, raffles, games and ride tickets are dedicated to the operations of the borough’s century-old, all-volunteer fire department — and, as always, all vendors, volunteers and food prep personnel are hometown neighbors.

Several generations of Two River area residents have made this event a must-attend for reconnecting with family and friends — and newcomers to the greater Green may find this Firemen’s Fair several cuts above the traveling-carnival norm, and as spectacular a welcome as you’re likely to find anywhere. Hours for the 2015 fair are 6 pm to 11 pm on Fridays and Saturdays, and 6 pm to 10 pm Monday through Thursday.

Keep it tuned to redbankgreen for ongoing coverage of the 2015 Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair — and check our online archive for highlights from previous editions, including a colorful slideshow from 2010; a 2011 photo essay on the making of the fair’s clam chowder; an informative 2013 video from filmmaker Lori Ersolmaz, and an inside look at the seafood kitchen, from PieHole’s Susan Ericson.