The back-to-school commercials may have already begun, but summer isn’t over yet. Inside or outside, North Jersey has many options to keep you from hitting a summer slump this weekend.
Dance to live music and enjoy a variety of food at a jazz festival. Take the family on a hike led by a guide from the New Jersey Botanical Gardens. Share your favorite book with a group of book lovers over coffee. Find your inner Zen and your inner balance with paddleboard yoga and meditation.
There are only a few weekends left in summer so be sure to make every minute count. Here are some things to do for the weekend of Aug.13-15.
Thank our troops at a summer festival
Show appreciation for veterans while listening to live music and enjoying tasty food, at the annual Vets Summer Fest in Hackettstown. All proceeds go to Operation Chillout, a volunteer organization working to support homeless veterans in New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island by providing emergency supplies and survival gear.
The benefit kicks off with a motorcycle poker run. Bikers can register with a $20 donation fee the morning of the event from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. at Hackettstown Elks Lodge. Participants will follow a scenic route through Warren County, drawing a playing card at each designated stop. Prizes will be awarded to the best and worst poker hands at the end of the run at Vasa Park.
The rest of the event activities start at 11 a.m. in Vasa Park; the family-friendly music festival begins at 1 p.m. and features bands like Monkey Wrench and Felix and the Cats.
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Stop and smell the roses with the whole family
An afternoon nature hike hosted by the New Jersey Botanical Garden, suited for beginners and children, and will take you through the NJBG trails, woods and Wildflower Garden. The guide will include informational about the surrounding flora and fauna.
The free, hourlong hike begins at the Carriage House Visitor Center at 1 p.m. on Sunday. Wear sturdy shoes and be prepared to carry smaller children if necessary.
Rain cancels the hike. Per state guidance, hikers will be required to maintain six feet of social distancing.
Get jazzed for the Montclair Jazz Festival
Spend your Saturday dancing to live jazz music at a block party brought to you by the Montclair Jazz Festival from noon to 9 p.m. at Lackawanna Plaza. This is the second and final block party hosted by the Montclair Jazz Festival.
The event will feature The Irwin Hall Organ Trio, Lauren Sevian Quartet and student musicians from Jazz House from noon to 6 p.m. Child-friendly activities include crafts and other jazz-related fun. Afterward, from 6 to 9 p.m., the musical stylings of seven-time Grammy winner DJ Brother Mister will cap off the festival
The theme of the party is “Bringing Us Back Together Again,” after the Jazz Fest’s one-year live music hiatus due to the pandemic.
The party is free (with a suggested donation of $10) and requires no tickets. Bring a beach or lawn chair. Free parking at the Lower Lackawanna Plaza parking lot (entrance on Glenridge Avenue).
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Let out your inner bookworm
Read a good book lately that you can’t seem to get off your mind? Literary Café might be just what you need to kick off your weekend. Offered by the Cranford Public Library, Literary Café brings together book lovers to discuss favorite stories and add new ones to their reading list. Bring your favorite books of any genre or decade (if you don’t have a copy on hand, just come knowing the title) and tell the group what makes them good.
Coffee and refreshments provided by the Friends of the Cranford Public Library.
Literary Café will be offered in person this month, but participants are also able to attend virtually. It takes place from 10:15 to 11:15 a.m. on Saturday.
Take deep breaths on a paddleboard
After a long week balancing tasks, take a moment this weekend to balance your body and mind in a paddleboard yoga class. The class is offered by the Franklin Lakes Nature Preserve and starts at 9 a.m. on Saturday or 10 a.m. on Sunday. In the Saturday class, a certified yoga instructor will guide participants through a session focused on strength and endurance. The Sunday class is oriented toward meditation.
Each class is $35 $25 if youbring a personal board and anchor. Reservations are required since paddleboards are limited. To reserve a spot, email [email protected] and include your name, email, phone number, and the date you would like to attend.
Attendees must arrive 15 minutes early to check in. Bring sunblock, a towel and water. In the case of a weather cancellation, participants may join another class.
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Support mental health awareness at a live concert
As the pandemic evolves, it’s a good time to remember to prioritize mental health. The annual “Good Vibes for Good Times” festival can be the first step. The event is hosted by the J-Shine fund, a charity named after firefighter Jonnie Scheiner that aims to spread awareness about suicide and youth mental health.
Coming off of a six-year hiatus, the festival will offer live performances by indie-rock group Reality Suite, comedian Janet Regensburg, and more, plus more than 20 vendors.
The festival goes from noon to 8 p.m. Saturday at Buchmuller Park in Secaucus (In the case of rain, it will be moved to the Secaucus Ice Rink).
Have a blast at the Passaic County Fair
Enjoy four nights of food, rides, live music and activities at the annual Passaic County Fair in Garrett Mountain Reservation. Animal attractions include a petting zoo and pony rides. On Friday and Saturday, weather permitting, fireworks will light up the sky. Hours are 6 pm. to 11 p.m. on Thursday and Friday; 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Check the website for specific times.
Go: Garrett Mountain Reservation, 8 Mountain Ave., Woodland Park; Passaiccountyfair.org
Enjoy a night of theater from local playwrights
It’s the last chance to get a seat at the Jersey Voices series, a festival of original one-act plays written by New Jersey playwrights. Hosted by Chatham Community Players, the Jersey Voices festival is in its 27th year.
The show will be held at Chatham Playhouse and will feature seven shorts ranging from absurdist comedy to emotional dramas.
Curtains rise at 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and 7 p.m. on Sunday. Tickets are $15 per person and can be purchased online. rrive five minutes before the show starts to claim your seat. Audience members who are not vaccinated must be masked in the theater. (Note: The state of New Jersey now recommends that everyone wear masks indoors, regardless of vaccination status) Seating accommodations for those with special needs should be communicated to Chatham Playhouse at least 24 hours before the show.
Go: 23 N Passaic Avenue, Chatham; 973-635-7363; chathamplayers.org/2021-2022/jersey-voices-27th-annual-one-act-festival
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Catch a meteor shower as the Perseids peak
The annual Perseids meteor shower peaks from Aug. 11 to 13 in the hours before dawn, so grab a big coffee and blanket, find a dark sky, look upward and wait. Even in light-polluted North Jersey, your patience will be rewarded if the weather cooperates. The meteors are leftover particles from Comet Swift-Tuttle and bits of broken-up asteroids.
Go:Darkskyfinder.com can help you find a suitable spot, but the meteor show could be as close as your own backyard.