The new Jefferson Fest--Food Truck Festival, Concert, and Fireworks--was a mouthful to say and some were heard between bites calling it by its new nickname "Jefferson Fest." The organizers, the Jefferson Township Arts Committee, and Jefferson Township, were worried the new event, which replaced the 30-year run of "Jefferson Day," would not be well attended. Maybe when the 50/50 sold out early in the evening, they took a collective sigh of relief.

The crowds built though the early evening as all food truck lines grew with each new arrival. Walking among the lines one saw and heard the community of Jefferson interacting. Some spotted old friends and spent the wait catching up, others were introduced to new ones. If nothing else the lines were a big mixer of residents and visitors, giving all enough time to get to socialize and, of course, communally lust after the special food combinations being offered.

The food vendors were equally delighted. The crowds meant success. They were somewhat surprised at the continued flow of patrons through the night and did their best to feed all who wanted to taste their specialties. Committee members spoke of more trucks next year.

With a bite to eat, most settled on the field in front of the main stage to listen to a “Jefferson Day” favorite – “The British Invasion Years” band. They played their covers of ‘60s era tunes and put the gathering crowd in a good mood, with a few impromptu dance moves breaking out in the audience.

The big event of the evening came when the fireworks went off after dark. Once again, the Jefferson Art Committee did not disappoint. Interstate Fireworks lit the sky with pyrotechnics that did not give a pause to settle the building excitement.  All eyes stayed focused upward as crescendo after crescendo held their grip with optical delights on one’s visual and aural senses.

And then they were done. A risky chance the new format would not be accepted, banished. Ideas flowing to improve next year’s event, started. Praise directed toward the organizers for reinvigorating a special day in Jefferson, for now over three decades, on its way.

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Anthony Lawson is a New Jersey Press Association multiple award-winning photographer. He has been actively capturing the spirit of Jefferson Township for over a decade; first in the “AIM Jefferson” and now in “The Jefferson Chronicle”. A 25 year resident of the township, he has a four-decade long photography career which included event photography, landscape art, and most recently photo journalism. He can be reached at anthony.lawson@thejeffersonchronicle.com.

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