by June Portnoy
Mark your calendar now for the 31st Annual Shad Festival taking place on Saturday, April 28th and Sunday, April 29th (rain or shine) from 12:30pm until 5:30pm both days. As always, this event will be held along Union and Bridge Streets in Lambertville. Admission is free to everyone of all ages.
“This festival has always been first and foremost a celebration of what our diverse community has to offer,” says Ellen Pineno, Shad Festival Coordinator. “It’s an opportunity for us to show people from out of town what Lambertville is all about and showcase our shops, restaurants and art galleries. Our hope is that once here, people will return throughout the year.“
Regardless of where you live, this Festival has also become a celebration of the inauguration of spring after enduring a long winter. The Shad Festival has evolved from a local art show into a nationally recognized juried show that attracts people regionally and beyond. Hundreds of submissions are received from artists and artisans each year.
This year, 80 craftspeople were selected to participate in the Festival. Each one will have their own booth, where you’ll have the opportunity to buy unique, hand-made artistic creations, such as jewelry, ceramics, furniture, apparel, accessories, home décor and much more!
“We have an exciting collection of artists and crafters this year,” says Ellen. “You’ll see many of the same tried and true familiar faces you’ve seen during previous years, plus lots of new faces as well.”
Non-profit organizations, like the Fire Company and FACT (Fighting AIDS Çontinually Together), will also be manning booths to offer educational information and raising operating funds.
“Offering booths to our local non-profit organizations is our way of giving back to the community,“ says Ellen.
Kids will enjoy face painting, cotton candy, sand art and other activities. And when you get hungry stop by the food court, offering everything from taco salads to fried Calamari. Also, come watch live musical performances by local bands both days!
Over 100 original art posters created and donated by local artists will be displayed during the Festival in the recreation room of the First Presbyterian Church, located at 31 N. Union Street. These posters will be auctioned off on Sunday at 3:00pm.
“To date, our auctions have raised $395,000 in scholarship funds for students who reside in the South Hunterdon and New Hope-Solebury school districts who plan to pursue a career in the arts, “ says Ellen, who defines the arts as fine arts, film, dance, art education and graphic design.
Last year, the auction raised $29,000, and 10 deserving applicants were awarded scholarships.
So, what does the Shad Festival have to do with shad, you might ask? Actually, a lot!
Thirty-five years ago, the Delaware River was so polluted that the shad had stopped coming to Lambertville. Jack Curtin, a local businessman from Lambertville orchestrated the help of state and federal agencies, as well as local citizen watchdog groups to clean up the river, and as a result, the shad returned.
Jack’s response was that if the shad could return to Lambertville, their local businessmen could get the community to come back to life. This was a time when Lambertville was struggling to reinvent itself. Jack, who is credited for establishing the Shad Festival, spearheaded the first festival to showcase the antique shops, art galleries and one-of-a-kind boutiques unique to Lambertville.
Since then, the shad have continued to return to the Delaware River and people have continued to return to the Shad Festival. In fact, the anticipated attendance at this year’s Festival is 40,000 people.
“In order to showcase the importance of maintaining the ecosystem of our riverside community, we will offer fun and educational shad seining demonstrations during the Festival down at Lewis Island, “ says Ellen.
The Delaware Valley Basin Commission will teach spectators how to test water quality.
Also, stop by the Heart the Hearth Cookery booth and learn about Colonial methods of cooking and shad planking, as well as how the Lenape Native Americans cooked and preserved shad.
For more information about the Shad Festival, sponsored by the Lambertville Chamber of Commerce and the Princeton Automobile Company, visit www.lambertville.org or call 609-397-0055.