By Marion Filler
Some festivals are for fun, others support a worthy cause. This one does both.
It’s rain or shine–the event is promoting a swamp, after all–but organizers are not worried about a sophomore jinx.
“Last year’s inaugural live music festival was such a hit, we knew right away this would be an annual event,” said Sally Rubin, executive director of the Great Swamp Watershed Association.
Approximately 400 people braved the rain to attend last year, and expectations are for 500 to 600 this weekend.
Organizers are providing more of everything. Five bands and soloist Jeff Webb should keep the mood upbeat. All have donated their time to the Festival and several are back by popular demand.
Not Enough Jeffs and The Gammon Brothers will be familiar, while Lenox Underground, LogJam and Morristown’s own Purple Hayes are new additions.
The lineup covers all the bases: Classic rock, Motown, blues, Americana, reggae and more.
They will perform at an estate that once was home for the nation’s wealthiest couple, Marcellus Hartley Dodge, president of Remington Arms, and the former Ethel Geraldine Rockefeller, niece of Standard Oil founder John D. Rockefeller.
For years, starting in 1927, the Polo Field hosted the Morris & Essex Dog Show, which reportedly drew crowds of 50,000 to the wilds of New Jersey.
Food for sale on Sunday will include barbecue from the Minuteman Smokehouse, hot dogs and sausage sandwiches from Summer Daze, and pizza from Pie Oh My Pizza. The Lebanon Boro General Store and Friendly’s will take care of desserts.
New Jersey American Water will refill water bottles. Fresh-squeezed lemonade also will be available, and guests with proper ID can buy beer and wine served from an antique fire truck, courtesy of the Washington House Restaurant.
Bring a blanket and folding chairs for the music. Free face painting and games can occupy the children.
Festival proceeds will help the association protect an area that includes the Great Swamp National Wildlife Refuge and portions of 10 towns–Morristown and Morris Township are among them.
Watersheds are vital tracts that channel rainfall and snowmelt to creeks, streams, rivers and, eventually, the ocean.
The Great Swamp feeds headwaters of the Passaic River, which then meanders about 80 miles through 45 municipalities and becomes drinking water for more than two million New Jersey residents.
A lesson in extremes, the river is quasi-pristine in the Watershed’s headwaters and is a polluted Superfund site for the final 17 miles of its path.
Since its founding in 1981, the Great Swamp Watershed Association has expanded to monitor water quality beyond the watershed.
“We are the riverkeepers for the entire Passaic River,” said spokesperson Valerie Thorpe.
The association also funds environmental education for community groups, teachers, and students, with programs about climate change, D-I-Y cleaning products, and tips on eco-friendly gardening without pesticides.
Workshops, hikes, and other activities are listed on its website.
“The Festival is a wonderful family-friendly event to raise money for the health and welfare of the community,” said Director of Development Wade Kirby, noting the Festival is the association’s second-biggest fundraiser.
The association plans to increase its efforts around Summit and Newark Bay, expand its educational outreach, and add testing for micro-plastics to counter new threats to the water supply.
The Great Swamp Watershed Great Music Festival on Sunday, June 9, 2019, runs from noon to 5:30 pm; gates open at 11 am. The historic Hartley Farms Polo Field is at 9 Hartley Farms Road. Tickets: $20 in advance, $25 at the gate; students, $10; children under 13, free. Parking is free. Call (973) 538-3500 for more.