The most talented artisans on the East Coast will exhibit and sell their unique hand-crafted creations at the upcoming Chester Fall Craft Show, which will take place on September 9th and 10th at Municipal Field in Chester, NJ. This year marks the 44th anniversary of the award-winning ‘rain or shine’ weekend event.
Produced by the Historic Chester Business Association (HCBA), this event is a nationally-recognized community tradition and one of the largest craft shows in the state. Sunshine Artist, respected magazine of American arts and crafts, has rated it among the Top 50 “Best Craft Shows in the Nation” and #1 in New Jersey. Artisans from across the East Coast, representing a wide range of craft-working disciplines, will exhibit over the weekend. Prior Shows have broken attendance records, the town receiving thousands of craft-enthusiasts who come to share their passion.
According to HCBA President Kathy Barbieri, “For the past 40+ years, Chester has been the home to one of the Northeast’s most celebrated arts and crafts event. This is the perfect time for attendees to join in the celebration and kick-off their holiday shopping with one-of-a-kind gifts.” Visitors will enjoy creations in home furnishing and decor, jewelry, clothing, wood and metalworking, ornaments and more. These masterfully-done, handmade wares are of highest quality and the artists will partake in a juried contest.
Since the Show is located on the east end of Main Street, visitors are also mere seconds away by brick sidewalks from Chester’s Historic District. Home to over 80 stores, there shoppers can discover antiques, country gifts, both fine and casual dining, and many shops for unique interests from old-fashioned candies to exotic teas. Chester’s small businesses, preserved early American buildings, and country lifestyle, as well as its vogue and chic Streets of Chester Shopping Center, continue to draw visitors each weekend and all seasons.
The Historic Chester Courtesy Coach service enables locals and visitors alike to enjoy all this historic town has to offer, stopping at two top attractions – Alstede Farms and The Historic Downtown Shopping & Dining District.
The Show will take place from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm, rain or shine, with $5 admission. Children under age 12 may attend for free, but please, no pets. For $1 off a single admission, look out for the Show’s event postcard, its listing on the HCBA website or its coupon in the HCBA Shopping and Dining Guide. Chester is easily reached by major roads; located at the crossing of Routes 206 and 24/513, less than 10 miles from Rt. 80, close to Rt. 287, and with a NJ Transit stop nearby at the Gladstone station.-->
For information about Chester, contact The Historic Chester Business Association (HCBA), local merchants who are committed to the quality of the community and who are a major force in the structuring of events that take place in Chester throughout the year. The Association's members cover all types of retail, dining and service related businesses. The HCBA publishes an annual Shopping and Dining Guide listing valuable information about its member shops and annual events.
Like many Skylands communities, Chester's roots pre-date Colonial times. The native Lenni-Lenape paths along the Black River were the initial generation of trails along which white settlers later established farms, mills, blacksmith shops and cabinet shops.
The place where two of these "great roads" crossed was by 1740 known as Black River, home to a population dedicated mainly to agriculture. By 1771 a weekly stage wagon route extended from Jersey City to the Crossroads. In the early 1800's the new and improved Washington Turnpike (now Route 24) was chartered to run through what had become known as Chester, and the town soon became home to the "Brick Hotel", a succession of taverns and an expanding Main Street economy.
This embryonic tourist trade was profitable until the 1830's when overland roads were improved to the extent that fewer stopovers during long journeys were required, and much of the era's commercial freight had begun to float along the Morris Canal.
In 1867, when a "limitless" line of iron ore was discovered along the north side of Main Street, Chester became a boom town. Iron brought a furnace, railroads, dandy personalities and a Golden Age of carriages and servants to a generation of Chesterites. The town joined many of it's neighbors in making Morris County the third largest producer of iron ore in the nation by 1880. But the bust side of the boom raised an ominous shadow when the infinite ore vein disappeared, and Chester entered the final "ghost town" phase of the mineral rush cycle a mere 25 years after it began.
A relatively sluggish Chester emerged at the turn of the Century; one with memories of opulence fading back to the tranquil economy of the countryside. The deserted village still held a core of tenacious business people who succeeded in attracting a few manufacturers to town. But the town's celebrity began to blur in the face of encroaching suburbanization.
The sparks that turned Chester back to doing serious business with visitors began in the 1950s and 60s. The Crossroads had been moved west a quarter of a mile or so with the cutting of Route 206. From that intersection the owners of Larison's Turkey Farm Inn had undertaken an advertising campaign in nearly every ethnic newspaper in the metropolitan area to bring travelers to dine in one of the oldest buildings in Chester. Come they did; and return they did. The Brick Hotel on Main Street had become the Chester House, attracting hundreds of travelers from New York and Philadelphia each Sunday for duck dinners. In 1969 the Chester Lions Club opened a flea market in town; one whose phenomenol growth would continue to the present day. The Crossroads was alive and well.
In the early 1970's the first "shops for visitors" opened- The Emporium, Academy Awards, and Taylor's Ice Cream Parlor. Chester's shopping environment- streets lined with buildings representing phases of history from the early 1700's- couldn't have been better planned by Disney himself. And the gracious fact that these glorious remnants still stood was almost as earth-shattering as the discovery of a vein of ore.
The visitor is vital, interesting, refreshing and valuable to Chester's shop-keepers. And they know that the visitor is interested in more than 200 year-old headboards. You can get about anything you want in Chester from gourmet coffee to state-of-the-art stereo.
In Chester's case economic pressures have kept history alive. The buildings on Main Street are a large part of what brings visitors to discover a great contemporary shopping experience.
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