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Cigar Smoke, Political Hopes In Air At Rutherford Labor Day Fair

Rutherford's annual street fair is NJ's oldest.
Rutherford's annual street fair is NJ's oldest. Photo Credit: Simon Galperin
Bergen County Freeholders Steven Tanelli, Tracy Zur
Bergen County Freeholders Steven Tanelli, Tracy Zur Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Candidates and supporters flooded Park Avenue.
Candidates and supporters flooded Park Avenue. Photo Credit: Simon Galperin
The smell of kettle corn, shish kabob, freshly rolled cigars, and the political ambitions of Bergen County’s elected representatives filled the air.
The smell of kettle corn, shish kabob, freshly rolled cigars, and the political ambitions of Bergen County’s elected representatives filled the air. Photo Credit: Simon Galperin
Rutherford Council Candidate Sean Walker
Rutherford Council Candidate Sean Walker Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
Rutherford street fair long-timers say the offerings have changed.
Rutherford street fair long-timers say the offerings have changed. Photo Credit: Simon Galperin
Cliffhanger Productions, which organized the event, expected to attract more than 25,000 for live entertainment, amusements and vendors sketching caricatures, selling comic books and haggling over antique prices.
Cliffhanger Productions, which organized the event, expected to attract more than 25,000 for live entertainment, amusements and vendors sketching caricatures, selling comic books and haggling over antique prices. Photo Credit: Simon Galperin
River Edge Councilwoman Daisy Ortiz-Burger
River Edge Councilwoman Daisy Ortiz-Burger Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
The fair “is not only about Rutherford,” he said. “It’s about other communities coming here to visit us.”
The fair “is not only about Rutherford,” he said. “It’s about other communities coming here to visit us.” Photo Credit: Simon Galperin
The fair “is not only about Rutherford. It’s about other communities coming here to visit us.”
The fair “is not only about Rutherford. It’s about other communities coming here to visit us.” Photo Credit: Simon Galperin
Rutherford Mayor Joe DeSalvo
Rutherford Mayor Joe DeSalvo Photo Credit: Skip Pearlman
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.”
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.” Photo Credit: Simon Galperin
Bob MacDonald of Dumont has been rolling cigars at the fair for a decade.
Bob MacDonald of Dumont has been rolling cigars at the fair for a decade. Photo Credit: Simon Galperin
“They wanted to put me down by the theater and I said, ‘No, we got to be on Park Avenue’."
“They wanted to put me down by the theater and I said, ‘No, we got to be on Park Avenue’." Photo Credit: Simon Galperin
"Every year it’s gotten bigger and bigger.”
"Every year it’s gotten bigger and bigger.” Photo Credit: Simon Galperin

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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