By JOE SAPIA
LONG BRANCH – With this year’s 38th annual New Jersey Friends of Clearwater Environmental Festival, there will be two big changes — location and date. After the last dozen or so years in Asbury Park, the festival — combining environmentalism, food and entertainment — is moving to Long Branch’s Great Lawn, on the oceanfront.
Instead of being held on the third weekend in August, it will be held Sun., Sept. 15.
Moving to Long Branch is “essentially economics,” said Ed Dlugosz, Friends’s president.
The fest moved from Sandy Hook, where it was always held, to Asbury Park to “extend the idea of environmental citizenship to urban people,” Dlugosz said.
At first, there was an admission fee in Asbury Park, but that was eventually eliminated to make the festival more accessible, Dlugosz said. When the economy took a downturn about five years ago, more money was lost, a combination of people not spending and sponsors spending less, Dlugosz said.
“It’s been a real hassle to raise money,” Dlugosz said. “There’s more competition for less money.”
By going to Long Branch, “there’s a chance to recover and get a crowd,” Dlugosz said.
In recent years, the Asbury Park Sunset Park venue drew 4,000 to 5,000 people, Dlugosz said. He said he hopes to attract 25 percent more, or a total 5,000 to 6,250 people.
While Sunset Park was near the ocean, it was not on it.The Great Lawn, just north of Pier Village, has the added appeal of being on the oceanfront, Dlugosz said.
“Long Branch has long been courting us,” he said.
With Long Branch being an urban area, the Friends of Clearwater remain true to their bringing of environmental issues to cities, beyond the tradtional non-city areas, Dlugosz said. As for moving away from the August date, it was unavailable in Long Branch. So, Friends will see how the September date works he said.
It’s the end of summer, there’s probably (still) some beachgoers,” Dlugosz said.
What was once a two-day festival has been a one-day fest for the past two
“We’re hoping to go back to two days, once we get established in Long Branch,” Dlugosz said.