Saturday, July 14, marks not only the date of the second annual Jefferson Fest – food truck festival, concert, and fireworks event – but also the 14th annual Irish road bowling contest.

Originated by Jack Kelly, then president of the Jefferson Arts Committee (JAC), and later headed by Tom Hantson and most recently George Damerel, this contest has grown into an exciting event. It is associated with Jefferson’s annual celebration sponsored by the township and the JAC.

The “alley” is traditionally a country road approximately one mile long, which is not officially closed. No improvements are made to the road; it is played “as is” – uphill, downhill, winding, with no bumpers along the edge on either side. There is no stopping the ball when it moves, so players have to watch out for rocks and holes. In Jefferson, the JAC uses Catholic Charities Way off Weldon Road, the home of Wiegand Farms at the Department for Persons with Disabilities facility.

The “bowl” is small, black, and dense – about the size of a baseball but six times heavier, weighing 1 lb. 12 oz. Bowlers may throw it however they see fit, but the most common approach is basically an underhand fast-pitch softball throw with a running start. Team members bowl in rotation. The team completing the course with the least number of throws (similar to scoring for golf) is declared the winner.

All are welcome to try their hand at Irish road bowling by gathering a team of four players, filling out a registration form (see or the Jefferson Arts Committee’s Facebook page), and mailing it to the JAC with a $10 entry fee no later than July 8. Prizes will be awarded to the first, second, and third place teams. For more information, contact George Damerel at 973-697-8898 or

Will last year’s winners be back to defend their titles? Be there to find out, as either a participant or spectator. The competition begins at 3 p.m.

After the road bowling, head over to Jefferson Fest, which officially starts at 5 p.m. on the fields of the Jefferson Township High School (1010 Weldon Road, Oak Ridge).

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