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FAIR HAVEN: FIREMEN’S FAIR TURNS 58

Oh yes, Mr. Teapot, the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair returns for its 58th annual edition starting Friday.

It was the late summer of 1960, and even as storm watchers were keeping tabs on a tropical depression named Donna, the thoughts of most folks were with squeezing the last bit of enjoyment out of another hard-earned vacation season.

The American Football League was still a week or two away from kicking off its first game, and precious few people were aware of a little band named the Beatles, but taking advantage of a change in state laws governing raffles and midway-style games of chance, volunteer firefighters in launched an event that returns for its 58th annual edition this week: the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair.

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A FAIR SIGHT: FAIR HAVEN FIREMEN’S FAIR

fhfiremens-fair-2010The Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair kicks off its traditional week-plus run Friday night.

Touted as the biggest firemen’s fair in New Jersey, the event boasts feel-good qualities galore: brimming bowls of clam chowder, bird’s-eye views from atop a Ferris wheel, dizzying rides and a much-anticipated “super 50-50” drawing. Upwards of 10,000 visitors are expected.

The fair runs from 6 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, and until 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday nights. It’s closed on Sunday, and wraps up Saturday, September 3.

A slideshow of photos from last year’s fair is here. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

FAIR HAVEN: FOOD + FALL = TRUCKTOBERFEST

johnny's pork 061514 4Johnny’s Pork Roll is among the food trucks slated to anchor Fair Haven’s Trucktoberfest Saturday.(Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

[UPDATE, September 29: Because of rain in forecast for Saturday, this event has been rescheduled for Saturday, October 22, and starting and ending an hour earlier than originally planned.]

fh-trucktoberfest-logoOK, so the name turns out not to be as original as organizers thought, given than there was a Trucktoberfest at Monmouth Park less than two weeks ago.

Still, when the Fair Haven version of Trucktoberfest rolls into Fair Haven Fields this Saturday, it will mark the borough’s debut food festival, one with the hipster cred of chow served through a stainless-steel trimmed window.

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FAIR HAVEN: JAEGER TO MEET FANS AT FAIR

jaeger rfh 081316 6Connor JaegerOlympic swimmer Connor Jaeger, whose participation in the Summer Olympics in Rio drew a crowd to Rumson-Fair Haven Regional earlier this month (above), is slated to make a homecoming appearance at the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair Wednesday night.

Fans of the silver medalist in this year’s 1,500-meter freestyle event (and competitor in the 2012 games in London) are invited to meet Jaeger in front of the firehouse between 7 and 9 p.m.  (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

FAIR HAVEN: A FAIR-THEE-WELL TO SUMMER ’16

The area’s longest-running community carnival returns as the 57th annual Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair gets underway Friday night. (Photo and video by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

fh fair 082413 9Generations on the Greater Red Bank Green have known it as a bittersweet occasion — a last dance with the devil-may-care pleasures of the season before that inevitable pivot to thoughts of “back to school” and “where’s my sweater?”

The Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair is all of that and more, and when this oldest (and, many agree, greatest) of all local carnivals puts down stakes for a 57th annual edition that begins Friday evening, it will hold as many different meanings (and represent as many vivid memories) as there are people who have thrilled to its rides, vied for its prizes and stood in line for an order from its celebrated seafood café.

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FAIR HAVEN: LAIRD’S GETTING SQUEEZED OUT

budnicks brounley 071116Bob and Rose Budnick outside their store with longtime customer Katherine Brounley. (Photo by John T. Ward. Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

retail churn smallTucked into the corner of a Fair Haven strip mall, marked with minimal signage, Laird’s Stationery is easy to miss if you’re not looking for it. But locals know it, and know it as a jam-packed emporium of not only paper goods and office supplies, but everything from backpacks to wiffle bats.

“The register never stops ringing,” owner Bob Budnick said early this week, as three customers converged at the front desk to pay for their purchases. “This store is woven into the fabric of a lot of people’s lives.”

But the register is about to stop ringing, here at least, and the business may be doomed, said Budnick and his wife.

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FAIR HAVEN: ALL’S FAIR AT AUGUST CLASSIC

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.

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SEA BRIGHT: ALL FIRED UP FOR THE FAIR

sb-fire-fair-1-2009-500x375The Sea Bright Firemen’s Fair returns Thursday for a four-night stand of rides, music, games and great views.

On paper, the four-evening Sea Bright Firemen’s Fair would seem to have pretty much exactly what you’d expect of any small-town fundraiser carnival: the trucked-in rides, the games of chance, the food vendors, the local music.

But to residents of the greater Red Bank Green, the annual fair always meant something more, signaling as it does the start of the summer fun season, every bit as much as the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair bookends the other side with one last bittersweet blast against the encroaching back-to-school blues.

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FAIR HAVEN: FINE DINING, FAIR-STYLE

082214-fhfair steamersSteamers and pitchers of beer dominate the tables at the Fair Haven Fireman’s Fair. Below, volunteers Raquel Falotico and Christina Schrank. (Photos by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

By SUSAN ERICSON

082214 fh fair aux1It’s time for the first seating in the dining tent at the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair, and the members of the all-volunteer fire department’s Auxiliary are once again organized and ready for the challenge.

It’s 6 p.m., and already there are more people in line for dinner than there are tables and seats. But they patiently wait their turn, some holding plastic cups of beer while chatting with neighbors, many with small children eager to hit the rides. A long line of baby strollers stands parked between the cashier and takeout window.

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FAIR HAVEN: FAIR TRADITION CONTINUES

082214 fhfair33082214 fhfair11The first night of the annual Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair, which returned Friday night is about neighbors re-connecting, kids returning from summer camp to discuss the upcoming school year behind the firehouse, babies being introduced to a rite of passage, and borough residents seeing one another once again maybe for the first and only time of the year. Most of the kids will go to bed with a sugar high as they all seemed to be carrying cones of cotton candy bigger than their heads. The beer flowed pretty freely as well….same as last year.

The fair continues nightly until August 30, except for Sunday, when it is idle. And out photo coverage continues just around the “read more” corner. (Photo by Susan Ericson. Click to enlarge)

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FAIR HAVEN: IT’S MORE THAN JUST A FAIR

Lori Ersolmaz, below, and her new video on the place of the Fair Haven Fire Department in the community it serves. (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

For filmmaker Lori Ersolmaz, it’s all about civic engagement.

Through a growing series of short videos clustered online under the umbrella of Engaging People, Ersolmaz is on a mission to spotlight individuals and groups who volunteer to make the world a better place.

Case in point: the above video, which views the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair – underway now through Saturday – in the rich context of volunteerism and tradition.

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FIREHOUSE COLORING BOOK TO LIGHT UP FAIR

Lisa Toohey at the writing desk in which she created her coloring book about the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair, below.  (Click to enlarge)

By JOHN T. WARD

For Lisa Toohey and her nine-year-old son, Jake, the annual Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair is a captivating marvel of sights, sounds and aromas that never gets old.

“It’s like, a big deal for us,” says Toohey, who used to take off from her Wall Street job the week of the fair so she and Jake could go nightly. “It’s really one of our favorite things about living in Fair Haven.”

But less apparent to a child than the swirling lights and colors is all the work that volunteers put into making the event happen, and that was something Toohey said she wanted her son and other children to appreciate.

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FIRED UP FOR THE FAIR HAVEN FAIR


There’s just enough room to squeeze between the rides and booths that pack the grounds of the Fire Haven firehouse for the annual Firemen’s Fair, touted as the largest such event in New Jersey. On Tuesday, volunteers oiled gears on a truck-themed  merry-go-round and hosed down each car of the ferris wheel, which can be seen from far down River Road.

The fair kicks off Friday at 6 p.m. and runs nightly through September 1, except on Sundays. (Photo by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge.)

A ONCE-IN-A-CENTURY NIGHT IN FAIR HAVEN

Fair Haven’s newly renovated Bicentennial Hall, aka Fisk Chapel, is among the historical landmarks that will play a key role in the borough’s centennial. (Photo by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge)

Its 1.7 square miles boast some of the oldest homes on the greater Red Bank Green, and a classic small-town vibe that’s lamentably lacking in much of stripmall America  — but some may be surprised to learn that Fair Haven, New Jersey isn’t a day over 100.

Carved from the former Shrewsbury Township and officially incorporated in March of 1912 (the current borders, adjusted with neighboring Red Bank, date back just a little more than 50 years), the still-young borough that brought us the area’s most iconic Firemen’s Fair (and served as home field for the legendary Vince Lombardi) is scarcely too old to party in style. And this weekend, Fair Haven throws itself a “Night of the Century” celebration that promises to draw “well over a one-hundred neighbors, local business owners and community leaders who love Fair Haven.”

Scheduled for Saturday night at the Raven and the Peach restaurant on River Road, The Party That Happens Only Once Every Hundred Years is being touted as “a very special occasion for everyone who contributes to the life of this town,” in the words of Centennial Gala co-chair Christine Burke Eskwitt.

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OUTLOOK FAIR FOR FAIR HAVEN FAIR

fh-fair-083011After a hurricane-induced sputtering start, the eight-day Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair enters the home stretch Wednesday night with with an outlook of uninterrupted fun, food and pleasant weather.

The National Weather Service forecasts sunshiney days Wednesday through Saturday, with cool, moisture-free nights through Friday, and a 30-percent chance of rain on the fair’s final night Saturday.

Were you there Tuesday night? Check out the redbankgreen slideshow after the jump…

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WELL, SHUCKS, IT’S NOT FAIR – YET

dsc_0005dsc_0078There’s still a month to go before the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair kicks off its annual eight-day swirl of food and rides, but preparation of more than 150 gallons of homemade clam chowder for the event got underway at the firehouse Monday night.

Shucking and chopping completed, a crew of volunteers gets down to cooking the chowder Tuesday night, after which it will be frozen until the fair, which starts August 26.

More pix after the jump. (Photos by Stacie Fanelli. Click to enlarge)

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FIREMEN’S FAIR: SKYLINE VIEW INCLUDED

sb-fairThe rides and games are staged and ready for the Sea Bright Firemens’ Fair. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

The Sea Bright Firemen’s Fair, if you haven’t been, is pretty much like any other you’d find in the area. Funnel cakes, games of chance, live music are all on tap.

But what sets this seaside celebration apart from most is one killer view.

“We’ve got a huge Ferris wheel and you can look right out into Manhattan,” said Kathy Morris, the borough’s recreation director.

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STARTING TONIGHT: FAIR FAIR HAVEN

ferris-wheelFair Haven Firemen’s Fair gets started tonight and runs through September 4. (Photo by Dustin Racioppi; click to enlarge)

By DUSTIN RACIOPPI

For many, it’s the last shot at summer fun — a chance to scarf down cotton candy and hop into a bucket on the Ferris wheel.

For most, though, Andy Schrank says it’s more like a family reunion.

“Time flies,” said Schrank, a 30-year veteran of Fair Haven’s fire department. “A whole year goes by and now, all of a sudden, all these people are coming out of the woodwork.”

They come each year for the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair, and whatever reason brings them out of the woodwork, the area’s spirited summer closeout gets into action tonight.

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FUN HAVEN, IF DANNY STAYS AWAY

fhfair21Views of the setup at the Fair Haven Fire Department for the fair that runs through Saturday, September 5. (Click to enlarge)

Swirling rides and music to match. Chowder. Conviviality.

The annual small-town tradition known as the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair gets underway tonight, staking its usual claim to the week leading up to Labor Day.

Tonight, that is, as long as Danny keeps his distance.

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FAIR MARKS SUMMER’S BITTERSWEET END

Fairhavenfair_ir

By LINDA G. RASTELLI

The end of summer, when the season is in its final flush of glory, is like no other time. And the Firemen’s Fair in Fair Haven celebrates it with gusto.

On a typical warm night, fairgoers savor the late August air, the whir of excitement at games of chance, the delighted screams of children on garishly painted rides, the canned music punctuated by fire sirens, and — transfats be damned — sizzling, artery-clogging treats redolent of fryer grease.

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WRINGING EVERY LAST DROP OUT OF SUMMER

It’s time for that week-plus-long slice of Americana known as the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair, still billed as the largest firemen’s fair in New Jersey. And how about them tomatoes, below, at the Red Bank Farmers Market? (Photo above by Stacie Fanelli; below, by Jim Willis. Click to enlarge)

Friday, August 23:

RED BANK: It’s the last chance to get your hands dirty at the “Dig Into Reading Wrap-Up Party” at the Red Bank Library. The children of the Summer Reading Club get to create some deliciously earthy treats such as pudding “dirt” and pretzels sticks “in mud.” Featuring games, crafts and more, the party starts at 3 p.m. 84 West Front Street.

MIDDLETOWN: Catch up on “Ender’s Game” by Orson Scott Card, a thrilling science fiction novel about an alien attack on planet Earth. “Ender’s Game” is the book of the month for the Middletown Main Library Teen Book Club. The discussion begins at 3 p.m. 55 New Monmouth Road.

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WEEKEND: CARNIVAL, NATURE WALK, TRI…

The Sea Bright Firemen’s Fair brings cheer to the oceanside town this weekend s it works to recover from Hurricane Sandy. Folk musicians the Blind Tellers, below, are at the Red Bank Public Library. (Click to enlarge)

By ALEXIS ORLACCHIO

Friday, May 17:

LITTLE SILVER: Come shop the annual Little Silver Springtime Sidewalk Sale hosted by the Little Silver Business & Professional Association. The sale runs through Friday and Saturday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Locations vary.

RED BANK: Stores, restaurants and some unexpected places combine to create a townwide art exhibit for Art Walk. Make your own self-guided tour or shadow docents as they guide the crowd through town. The exhibit runs from 6 to 9 p.m. Here’s the map: artwalk_map_only-1

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A CHANGE OF SEASON, A HAPPENING WEEKEND

Red Bank musical movers and shakers Chuck Lambert, Joe Muccioli and the Al Wright Unit’s Ruth Wright pay tribute to the late Ralph “Johnny Jazz” Gatta, in a special outdoor concert Friday.

While there’s still technically plenty of summer sand left in the hourglass, the coming of the Fair Haven Firemen’s Fair to the greater Red Bank Green adds an ever so slightly melancholy touch to the senior-diet Dog Days of August. We detect a nagging hint of Back to School seriousness; a wrapping up of outdoor entertainments; a change of gears and seasons that’s keynoted by a tuneful tribute, a look ahead to Halloween and a merrily Menopausal musical.

redbankgreen has assembled an even dozen diversions in this pre-Labor Day interlude, starting with a handful of things going on beneath the setting sun and stars.

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