New Jersey’s state fruit turns 100 this year

Did you know that the blueberry industry got its start 100 years ago in Whitesbog, N.J.?

The 33rd Annual Whitesbog Blueberry Festival will mark the centennial for New Jersey’s official state fruit.

But this time around the town is expanding its party for “bluebs” to two days on Saturday, June 25 and Sunday, June 26. 

It was way back in 1916 when botanist Frederick Coville and Elizabeth Coleman White (of the family for whom Whitesbog is named) joined forces to cultivate the first commercial crop of the highbush blueberry.

Today a billion pounds of highbush blueberry (Vaccinium corymbosum) are produced yearly worldwide and are found in thousands of products from food to cosmetics.

History will be a big part of the festival, with a special presentation from an Elizabeth Coleman White reenactor, history tours by wagon and tours of Suningive (White’s home).

Living history actors will showcase the important figures that built the Whitesbog farm and village. There will also be tours of the cranberry substation (cranberries were the farm’s first crop), historic buildings and the Agricultural Museum.

Of course, the main draw will be blueberries.

Festival goers will find all kinds of blueberry treats like ice cream and baked goods. Punnets of blueberries will also be for sale. Those who want even fresher blueberries can opt to take a wagon ride to pick their own.

Live music is another highlight. On the main stage will be bluegrass, Celtic folk, country and blues from Basement Musicians, Warm Hearted Country, Mary Shannon, Elaine & The Cimarron Sky, plus Bad Dogz.

The Accidental Jug Band will play traditional folk music outside the Agriculture Museum, while the Greater Pinelands Dulcimer Society will be performing on the village grounds.

More than 40 vendors will have crafts, art, antiques and other handmade goods for sale. Barbecue vendors and food trucks will also be on hand, including Big Daddy’s Chicken and Ribs, Bacon Broads and Loco Gringo’s Street Taco Express.

For the kids, there will be a blueberry pie eating contest (yum!), crafts tent, blueberry-themed games, face painting and temporary tattoos (glitter and henna).

Parking is $10 per carload at the Whitesbog airstrip with shuttle buses to bring visitors to and from the festival. Handicap parking is available at the village and drop off is available at the Village Green.

Saturday, June 25 and Sunday, June 26, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. – 120 W. Whites Bogs Rd., #34, Pemberton Twp., NJ.

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