Annual Music Fest is held in Cranford

Photo by Jennifer Rubino Katherine McCarthy, vocalist and guitarist, performs at the Music Fest.
Photo by Jennifer Rubino
Katherine McCarthy, vocalist and guitarist, performs at the Music Fest.

CRANFORD, NJ — There was a strong sense of community as families and friends gathered at Lincoln School on Thomas Street to support Centennial Village Group’s annual Music Fest. Children played on the swings, neighbors sat on their lawns and bicyclers rode by as people crowded to the school to hear the music play.

A feeling of nostalgia filled the air as citizens of Cranford welcomed the arrival of the autumn season. Memories of reuniting with the community for Halloween and the start of the school year were brought to mind.

On Saturday, Sept, 17, Centennial Village Group hosted its ninth annual Music Fest to raise funds for the beautification and streetscaping of Centennial Avenue. The group plants flowers in the spring and hang decorations in the winter. The group also provides funding for lamp posts and banners on Centennial Avenue, and they are working on a mural as a long-term project.

“We want the work of local artists to be painted on a mural alongside the Butcher Block building,” Centennial Village Group member Jackie Carr told LocalSource.

“There is a lengthy process involved to get it approved, but we think it would make the town look more welcoming. We hope to have the project completed by next spring.”

The annual Music Fest features performances by local talent, and the event attracts approximately 300 people each year.

This year’s performers included Katherine McCarthy, Mike Young, Christopher Kamie, Jim Mustillo and Joe Khory. Bands included Alden Street, Hugo Furst and headliners Chris Turner and Steel Rail Blues. Dancers Valerie Sisco and Alexis Martinez, of Arthur Murray Dance Studio, also performed. Other fundraisers included a bake sale, face painting and raffle. A selection of barbeque, wraps, pizza and drinks were also sold.

McCarthy took the stage first with her guitar and sang popular tunes such as, “Torn,” by Natalie Imbruglia. The audience sang along with her as she strummed the chords on her guitar. Young took the stage with a keyboard performance of softer melodies such as, “Chasing Cars,” by Snow Patrol. Performers took the stage beginning at 4 p.m. and played until the headliners, Chris Turner and Steel Rail Blues took the stage. The final performance ended at 9 p.m.

“We usually get a pretty good turnout,” said Eric Kamie of Centennial Village Group. “I’m the MC Coordinator this year so I’m introducing the performers and helping them set up the stage. All the performers are local.”

“We all work together to bring awareness to this area of town,” said Centennial Village Group member and event organizer, Chiara Siliato. “Our goal is to improve it through beautification and revitalization. Our immediate goal is to install the lamp posts and hang banners along Centennial Avenue.”

“This event is a great way to bring the community together,” Carr told LocalSource. “We have received so much positive support. In the past 10 years, there’s been such a significant difference made to the corridor, which is the entrance of Cranford. We’ve come such a long way.”