RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- The smell of kettle corn, shish kabob, tobacco and the ambitions of Bergen County politicians fiilled the air today at Rutherford’s 40th Annual Labor Day Street Fair.
Occupying a quarter-block near the post office, Candidates Row tents were staffed by volunteers whose candidates roamed Park Avenue.
“It is the traditional beginning of the political season and it has been a great opportunity to talk to people -- talk to voters -- and have some wonderful conversations,” said Democratic Bergen County Freeholder Tracy Silna Zur.
On the opposite side of the political aisle, borough Republican Borough Council candidate Sean Walker said New Jersey’s oldest street fair “is not only about Rutherford. It’s about other communities coming here to visit us....It’s a great feeling because a lot of people come up and ask us questions
“We try to address them the best we can.”
Organizers Cliffhanger Productions expected to attract more than 25,000 for live entertainment, amusements and vendors sketching caricatures, selling comic books and haggling over antique prices.
The original Rutherford Antiques Fair “was strictly antiques, the good stuff,” said borough resident Dee Franich, who’s owned and operated Dee-J’s Western Corral for 46 years. “Now it’s anything.”
That’s not all that’s changed.
When Franich opened her western apparel and accessories business, country music clubs were popular. Now the vendors are more diverse and Park Avenue is “restaurants, hair salons, and nail salons.”
Bob MacDonald of Dumont has been rolling cigars at the fair for a decade.
“They wanted to put me down by the theater and I said, ‘No, we got to be on Park Avenue.’ Every year it’s gotten bigger and bigger.”
Occupying 20 yards in the prime-spot intersection of Park Avenue and Passaic Street was the Rutherford Junior Bulldogs Football tent.
Patrons bought t-shirts, food, and candy to support the borough’s 300 young football players and cheerleaders.
Nearby, the political tents buzzed with campaigners and their candidates.
Resident Carmen Plessel, a lifelong fair attendee, said it was nice to see politicians walking around and introducing themselves.
“But we don’t pay much attention to it,” interjected her husband, Karl Plessel.
She nodded in agreement.
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