Community comes together for the Pine Barrens Festival

The Pine Barrens Festival brings rides, games and entertainment for all.

Tabernacle’s Holy Eucharist Church held its 29th annual Pine Barrens Festival last week to celebrate the church and the communities of Tabernacle, Shamong, Indian Mills, Medford, Medford Lakes, Vincetown, Southampton and Chatsworth Woodland.

“It is something that the church really enjoys very much,” Holy Eucharist Pastor Andrew Jamieson said. “It brings the community together — not only the Holy Eucharist community — but it brings the larger community together to experience a great night of fun and food and entertainment.”

The festival featured a variety of carnival games and rides and a series of live bands onstage near the food court.

While lots of families were present, attendees were predominantly teenagers and young adults.

“A lot of our friends around this area come here, and it’s nice to support the church and come to the festival,” said Joey Webb, an incoming eighth-grade student at Indian Mills Memorial School.

Webb and his friend Josh Green, who’s also heading into eighth grade at IMMS, come to the festival every year. Their favorite rides?

“Probably the zipper,” Green said.

Webb agreed. “Definitely the zipper,” he asserted.

However, others didn’t go mainly for the rides. They went for the food.

When asked about what Pine Barrens Festival foods they’d be eating that night, Marlton residents Melissa Jackson, Jamie Smith and Brandon Mackyn had to think about it.

“What are we eating guys?” Jackson asked.

“Popcorn?” Smith replied.

“Funnel cake!” Jackson exclaimed.

Mackyn wasn’t picky.

However, parents enjoyed the festival also.

“At night, after the sun goes down, it’s nice to walk around and see the kids having fun,” said Roseann Musto, who is the mother of Francesco, 11, Alessia, 7, and Lorenzo, 6.

“We don’t belong to the church,” Musto said. “We belong to another church that also has a carnival, but it’s so crowded there all the time. It feels like here there’s more space. It’s more open. You can have more fun with it.”

Gary Williams, one of seven co-directors of the Pine Barrens Festival, said, “We’ve done a lot of work to get it set up, so it’s nice to see it up and running. A lot of people did a lot of things to get to this point, and once you get here, it’s kind of nice to watch it all just fall into place so people have a good time. Good food and good entertainment make it all worthwhile.”

He added that “it’s always a challenge, but it’s always a fun challenge, and you wouldn’t believe what people do to step up to help out their neighbors so it’s really kind of cool.”

On the day The Sun visited, the festival’s opening night on Monday, the evening’s entertainment, TrumpBoyz, was on stage playing country and country-rock covers from artists such as Tom Petty, Merle Haggard and Johnny Cash. The night was cut short by about two hours because of an impending rainstorm, which pounded the area late Monday night.