Spring Is In The Air And Fun is Everywhere

With spring officially upon us and the winter doldrums steadily moving into the rearview, it’s time to get out and experience all that our area has to offer. Luckily for us, there’s a lot going on to help us do just that.

After months of dull drab grayness, what better way to shake things up than to surround yourself with acres and acres of vibrantly-hued flowers – tulips to be exact.

That’s exactly what you’ll find if you venture out to Dalton Farms on Oak Grove Road in Logan Township.

Their weeks-long Tulip Festival runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day between April 1 and April 23.

Tickets to the event get you access to the farm grounds, where you can take in the natural and cultivated beauty and much more.

“The tulips are the main attraction, but we have other things happening on the farm during that time for our customers,” said the farm’s owner Keith Dalton.

Dalton said his extended family’s ownership of the farm property can be traced back to 1790, but it’s current use came into bloom much more recently.

Dalton came into ownership of the property in 2018 and began searching for a new direction for the farm. It was a relationship, centuries in the making, that brought it all into focus.

Dalton said it was family friend, Chris Viereck, who specializes in agri-tourism marketing, who came up with the plan for the farm. “Chris is full of great ideas,” Dalton said of his partner Viereck. “Our families have known each other for a couple hundred years.”

Viereck said he drew inspiration for Dalton Farms’ current model from an operation elsewhere in the state. “We went and checked out another farm that does it in North Jersey, and we saw how popular it was,” Viereck said.

Now in their fourth year of flower production, the new direction is proving to be popular here in South Jersey as well. Along with the acreage of beautiful flowers, visitors to the farm during the Tulip Festival can expect to find something new to do and see practically every day of the event.

The property boasts a six-acre lake where paddle boats can be rented. Dalton said the farm has become a popular destination for photographers looking for a scenic location for their shoots.

On Saturday, April 8 they’ll be hosting their Easter Egg Hunt, included with the price of admission, with two sessions – one for ages five and under at 10:30 a.m., and one for ages six through 10 at 11 a.m.

The Easter Bunny will also be there that weekend, and available for pictures on Saturday and Sunday.

Weekends during the festival are when things really heat up with a rotating slate of live musical performers, beer and food from local vendors such as The Red Hen, Il Fuoco Dentro, House of Cupcakes, and offerings from Wagonhouse Winery and Salem Oak Vineyards.

For a full listing of the farm’s attractions during the festival, check out their events calendar on their website at www.daltonfarms.com.

Even more food and beverage options will be on tap when the farm plays host to the Two Bridges Festival on April 22.

From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. that day, 11 members of the Two Bridges Wine, Beer & Spirits Trail collective will gather at the farm to share their products with the waiting crowd. (See list of participating beverage producers below).

This will be the second year for the festival at Dalton Farms, and Two Bridges Executive Director Bo Rains said last year’s inaugural event was an overwhelming success in providing exposure to the region’s producers in the growing beverage industries.

“Our main goal is to make sure that these businesses have other opportunities outside of their tasting rooms to get people to try what they’re producing,” Rains said.

She said the organization is an advocacy group started in 2016 that now represents over 20 wineries, breweries and distilleries from Salem, Gloucester, Cumberland, and Camden counties.

“Our job is to do small business advocacy and marketing initiatives,” she said.

Visitors to the festival, Rains said, can buy drink tickets from the festival organizers which are then used to purchase drinks from the participating providers.

Along with the adult beverages offered during the festival, there will also be food options and other vendors, as well as performers on hand throughout the day.

For more information about the Two Bridges Wine, Beer & Spirit Trail, visit their website at www.twobridgestrail.com.

One local Two Bridges member winery, and one of the smallest in the state, is gearing up for a big spring with events of their own in the coming weeks. Julie DiBella said her namesake vineyard is still a seasonal operation, but that once April hits, they’re ready to go.

Last year, DiBella said, they tried a novel idea for an event on the farm, and the concept really took off.

It’s an Easter egg hunt, but this one is for the adults instead of the kiddies. Yes, there are candy-filled eggs, but there are also some higher-end prizes like gift cards and cash.

“I try to get sponsored prizes from local businesses to get people in their doors as well,” DiBella said.

Unfortunately for anyone just finding out about this DiBella Winery event, tickets are already sold out despite adding a second day for the hunt.

The first year they held just one hunt for 150 participants, and all tickets sold out in five days. This year they added a second event and both hunts were full in just seven days. “I guess this was a winner,” she said of the concept.

But don’t fret if you missed out on your chance to be a winner in their hunt, the winery is already planning more events with a country music night with a DJ and someone coming out to teach line dancing, scheduled for May 20.

“It’s not just a line dancing event,” she said. “It’s a country music night where you can dance to country music. The line dancer will be there as an additive, like a bonus. If you ever wanted to try line dancing, she’s going to teach three or four of them so you can see if you like it.”

The winery’s tasting room is typically open only Fridays and Saturdays from 2 p.m.  to 8 p.m. each day, but they’re also planning to extend those hours for the upcoming Mother’s Day Wine Trail Weekend, May 13 and 14, organized by the Garden State Wine Growers Association.

They’ll be open extra for that promotional weekend, with additional hours on that Sunday and plans in the works to bring in a chocolatier for some wine and chocolate pairings.

For more information about DiBella Winery, visit their website at www.dibellawinery.com. And for information about Mother’s Day Wine Trail, visit www.newjerseywines.com.

But if flowers, wine, beer, or booze aren’t your thing, is there anything that says spring has arrived more than the start of the baseball season?

By the time of this publication, many of our local Little League organizations will be well underway, having already had their opening day celebrations.

But one town where you can stop out for some American pastime festivities is Logan, where the Little League opening day will be held April 15, beginning at 9 a.m. at their complex.

“Opening Day is an opportunity to celebrate the beginning of the Little League season,” said Bill Gore, administrator of Little League’s District 15, which encompasses most of the towns in Gloucester County. The kids are looking forward to it, and the league volunteers are ready to see their hard work prepping for the season over the fall and winter pay off.”

Another group looking forward to the hope of spring and the increased activity it brings are the shop owners over in Mullica Hill, where the 15th Annual Antique & Upcycle Street Fair will be taking place April 22, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Barbara Vag, who is the owner of The Parsonage Antiques in Mullica Hill and the events coordinator for the Mullica Hill Business Association, is the organizer for the event.

Vag said the street fair started as an outlet specifically for antique dealers, but in recent years they’ve expanded, adding “upcyclers,” who re-design or repurpose furniture and other items, to the event.

Vag said events like hers are a great way for businesses to introduce themselves to people who may otherwise be unfamiliar.

“A lot of time we get people who’ve never been in town before,” she said. “That’s always the hope – to try and get new people to come in.”

By the time of this article’s publication, Vag said it’s possible they could still have room for additional vendors. Anyone interested in joining the festival can call Vag directly at (856) 534-1963. For more information about the festival overall, visit www.mullicahill.com.

Also in Mullica Hill, but new this year, is the upcoming Gloucester County 4-H Spring Festival.

The organization is known for their annual fair in the summer, but event coordinator, and treasure for the organization, Jennifer Byrnes Cole, said they wanted to try something new after holding an indoor event over the winter.

“We ended up with about 70 vendors at the event indoors,” she said. “It was very crowded, so we decided to try our hand at an outside event since we have the fairgrounds.”

The event is scheduled for May 13, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., when the typical fair fare can be expected.

“It’s a fundraiser to maintain and upkeep the fairgrounds,” Cole said.

She said there are plans to include a car show, a petting zoo, pony rides and other attractions for the young ones.

They are currently in the process of signing up vendors and food trucks, and are looking into the possibility of bringing in a DJ or local bands.

To inquire about becoming a vendor for the event, you can reach Cole directly at (856) 466-0351. For more information about the fair, visit the 4-H’s Facebook page at www.facebook.com/GC4HNJ.

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