Sunny skies draw thousands to Fairgrounds for Sussex County Day

Classic cars, helicopters, barbecued meats and much more

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  • Atlantic Air 3 on its landing approach to the Sussex County Fairgrounds, during Sussex County Day, held Sunday, September 16, 2018. Photos by Mandy Coriston

  • Chef Don Ross of Mountain Creek participates in the Sussex County Chopped cooking competition

  • Jennifer Ann Cooper-Cullinane paints the Mona Lisa in spicy mustard and barbecue sauce. The owner of JACCS Art Studio was promoting recycled art as part of Sussex County Day

  • A photo booth full of props was just one of the great photo-ops at Sussex County Day

  • Sussex County Day, organized by the Sussex County Chamber of Commerce, included displays from municipalities, county services, and law enforcement, which were set up in the newly renovated Richards Building at the Sussex County Fairgrounds in Augusta

  • Popular WSUS radio host Steve Andrews took a turn on the mechanical bull

  • Atlantic Air 3 on the field at the Sussex County Fairgrounds

  • Atlantic Health Systems, the premier sponsor of Sussex County Day 2018, filled Barn 5 at the Sussex County Fairgrounds with information stations and activities as part of their community health outreach.

  • A life-size game of Operation drew attendees to try their hand at "surgery" during Sussex County Day

  • Bridget Guziewicz, a senior at Newton High School, performs during the Sussex County Idol talent competition

  • Classic cars on display during Sussex County Day

  • Attendees lined up to sample barbecue from various vendors vying to be the People's Choice Winner

  • A 1981 DeLorean on display at Sussex County Day, held Sunday September 16, 2018 at the Sussex County Fairgrounds. The owner, Louis Troiano, said the car attracts a lot of attention from movie buffs

By Mandy Coriston

— The sun shone, the smell of barbecue wafted through the air, and conversation buzzed as local residents converged on the Sussex County Fairgrounds for Sussex County Day, held Sunday, September 16, 2018. The afternoon was highlighted by cooking competitions, a car show, the Sussex County Idol talent show, and interactive fun for all ages. Dozens of community groups and services, as well as law enforcement agencies and representatives of local government set up displays and activities designed to inform and entertain visitors. The festivities were organized by the Sussex County Chamber of Commerce and sponsored by Atlantic Health System, ThorLabs, JCP&L, and Service Electric, among many others.

Inside the newly-renovated Richards Building, visitors mingled amongst tables highlighting Sussex County municipalities and a group of law enforcement officers offered information and advice on proper car seat installation. “A lot of people are confused about the new state laws,” said Ptl. Stephen Rovetto of the Vernon Police Department, “We want to get this information out there so people make safe choices for their kids.” A nearby table was set up to hand out free bicycle helmets to children and teach tips on proper fitting. Another big attraction in the Richards Building was a mechanical bull, sponsored by Branchville Family Chiropractic and EarthCare Environmental. Steve Andrews, popular radio personality from WSUS, took a turn while a colleague streamed his ride onto Facebook Live.

The classic car show included entries such as antiques farm trucks and gleaming Corvettes and GTO’s, but it was a shining symbol of the 1980’s that may have drawn the most attention- a 1981 DeLorean, owned by Louis Troiano of Milford, PA, proudly boasting the vanity plate 2-Future. Troiano said he bought the car in 1982 and he enjoys bringing it to local events. “It’s something a little bit different from the other classics,” Troiano said, “It really draws the attention of movie buffs.” Troiano said his car was the 1,621st of the approximately 9,000 DMC-12 models built between 1981 and 1983 in Northern Ireland. The stainless steel cars with the distinctive gull-wing doors soared in collector value after being featured as a time machine in the 1985 film Back to the Future.

Atlantic Health Systems took over Barn 5 with tables and activities highlighting services ranging from behavioral health and maternity care, to diabetes management and cancer care. A life-size game of Operation, complete with comically large tweezers, invited visitors to try their hand at “surgery”. Laura Hawkins, the Community Health Coordinator for Atlantic Health’s West Division (Newton and Hackettstown), said, “We’re so happy to be here today. This is all about building a healthy community. It’s important that we take this information and these services outside the walls of the hospitals.”

The other barns were full of local businesses and vendors hanging out information on goods and services. While many of the booths offered activities, perhaps the most unique was at the booth of JACCS Art Studio. Artist and owner Jennifer Ann Cooper-Cullinane was painting a recreation of the Mona Lisa- in condiments. “We do a lot of recycled art,” she said as she offered a palette of spicy mustard and barbecue sauce to a passerby to try his hand, “and I just thought this would be a lot of fun for today.” Cooper-Cullinane said she collected leftover condiment packets for the project, because she wanted to offer a truly free activity during the event. JACCS Art Studio opened its doors in Hardyston on Groundhog’s Day this year and offers art classes and parties for all ages.

The Sussex County YMCA fitted out a barn with a colorful obstacle course for kids, to encourage physical activity in the community. “A lot of kids aren’t getting the recommended 150 minutes of activity a week,” said Wellness Director Alma Dhuryetter, “So we’re just out here today trying to promote that idea.” The Sussex County YMCA was built in 2005, and is part of the Metro of the Oranges YMCA Association. “We offer over 100 classes a week,” Dhuryetter said, “so we’ve got something for everybody.” The YMCA was also offering information on their LiveStrong Cancer Survivor program. “We’ve got a new session starting soon,” Dhuryetter said, “and it’s a 12-week program that’s free to cancer survivors. They can work with personal trainers to focus on regaining health and strength after treatment.” Dhuryetter also encouraged parents of middle school children to check out their free memberships for 6th, 7th, and 8th-graders.

New to Sussex County Day this year was Sussex County Chopped, a cooking competition modeled after the popular Food Network show. Taking a break after plating his appetizer (a grilled peach dish with roasted garlic hummus), Chef Don Ross from Mountain Creek said he was happy to be there. “Orlando Rodriguez (of Perona Farms) contacted me and asked me to do this, and I jumped on board.” Ross previously worked with Rodriguez at Perona before moving to his position at the ski resort last year. The other three inaugural contestants were Eric Pearson from Pearson's Crawdaddy's in Newton, James Young from Lake Mohawk Golf Club in Sparta, and Sam Masih from Tanti Baci Caffe in Sparta. The competition was sponsored by Neilson Ford.

Sussex County Chamber of Commerce President Tammie Horsfield was busy overseeing the festivities but took a quick moment to talk, saying she was thrilled with how the afternoon was going. “We’ve got the grill competition and Chopped, so there is so much happening with really good food. We’ve got so many activities for the kids- it’s just such a great day,” she said, “And we couldn’t have asked for better weather.” At the sound of approaching aircraft, Horsfield was off again, hopping into a golf cart to greet Atlantic Air Three as it set down in the field adjacent to the Fairgrounds Administration Building. “Helicopter’s landing,” she said, “Gotta go!”

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