Waterloo Village Music Festival deemed a success

| 30 Sep 2011 | 09:40

BYRAM — Rain did not spoil the Waterloo Village Music Festival on May 14-15. Twenty bands, including the Chapin Family on Saturday night and Molly Hatchet on Sunday, played for the crowds non-stop between the main stage and gazebo in the village. Waterloo Village is a national historic site located on Waterloo Road in Byram and is part of Allamuchy State Park. The site was once a thriving canal town. Twenty-six buildings still stand but are in varying states of disrepair. Most of the buildings have been closed to the public as they are unsafe for visitors. “Connections with the community will help with advertising future events and provides donating opportunities in the future in the form of services and monetary contributions,” said Marie Raffay, Chairwoman of the Friends of Waterloo Village. The organization’s goal is to raise funds for the preservation of the buildings so that they can be opened up to the public. “This event brought us a long way to meeting that goal along with awareness of the situation,” said Raffay. Currently, only the blacksmith building, the Canal Society Museum and the Rutan cabin, which was not original to the site, are open to visitors. During its heyday the site hosted hundreds of school children on weekdays and just as many history buffs on the weekends. “Many of the adults that came out this weekend said they had been here as kids. It was wonderful to reconnect the village with visitors from the past who now want to see the site restored,” said Susan Zellman, Freeholder and Trustee of Friends of Waterloo Village. Byram Mayor James Oscovitch, who volunteered at the festival, added that a key element of the event is to bring the importance of American history back into the minds of people in the area. “I don’t want this fabulous place to be just another roadside marker,” said Oscovitch. “There is too much here to see, walk through, and physically experience for that.” Although overcast skies threatened rain all weekend, it held off and visitors strolled in regularly through the gates. Suzy Von Lengerke and her son Quint, age 10, came to enjoy the festivities. Quint had been to the site before on a family trip through the park and said that he “loves the park because it is nature and freedom without too much pollution.” Quint added that he got to hear some good music and even picked up Bill Griese’s album. The Canal Society was on hand to give tours of the structures that were open, answer questions, and guide visitors through the museum. Despite a poorer outcome than expected, Raffay said the event was a success. “From where we stand now, we will consider doing this type of event again because of the benefits that we have clearly recognized already,” said Raffay. “It also provided great outreach to remind people that any donations made to the Friends of Waterloo Village stay at Waterloo for its preservation and does not get mixed in to the State Treasury.” For more information visit www.friendsofwaterloovillage.org.