Pine Barrens Jamboree, a New Festival to Maintain Tradition in Wells Mill County Park in Watertown, NJ

Set of sprinklers watering a cranberry bog in the NJ Pine Barrens
Set of sprinklers watering a cranberry bog in the NJ Pine Barrens

The Pine Barrens Jamboree at Wells Mill County Park in Waretown, NJ, may be a new tradition starting in 1995, but it was inspired by the old memories of jam sessions in the pine forest of the southern Jersey reserve.

The Pine Barrens is a 1.1 million acre pineland ecosystem stretching across southern NJ. The U.S. Congress declared it a national reserve in 1978.

In 1991, when the Wells Mills County Park was opened, local residents that attended the inaugurating ceremony began to discuss their longing to revive the music and celebration of amongst the pines enjoyed in times gone by. In 1995 the first Pine Barrens Jamboree was organized by the Department of Parks and Recreation and the event received a warm response; 5,000 people are said to have turned out. Since that time the Jamboree has been held every October.

Wells Mill County Park is the largest park within the Ocean County, park system. It is located on more than 900-acres of oak and pine forest that pertain to the broader Pine Barrens reserve. A three story nature center coordinates various environmental education programs and events in the park. A display floor and library are housed among the three floors in the center.

The Annual Pine Barrens Jamboree at Wells Mill County Park in Waretown, NJ is now a 13-year old tradition. The mainstays of the event year after year are "piney'' blue grass, country and folk music, local Pines Barrens crafts and "piney vittles'' as well as environmental and historical exhibitions based on the Pine Barrens eco-system and its history.

Waretown can be found at exit 69 of the Garden State Parkway. In 2007 it had a population of 1,916 people. The median home cost in Waretown is $367,000. Waretown's cost of living is 19.39% Higher than the U.S. average.

There are about 14 students to each teacher in the Waretown public school system, a system that spends $9,311 per student, over $3,000 more than the national average.

Most of the housing in Waretown is detached but there are also several sizable condominium developments.

The unemployment rate in Waretown is 4.20 percent, slightly below the national average. Waretown sits on New Jersey's coast and is about 36 miles from Atlantic City, 56-miles from Philadelphia, PA and 64 miles to New York.

Several marinas are open to locals and the public. Boating and fishing are the primary interests and major economic activities in this town which developed, from 1700 to 1900 around the shipbuilding industry.

The origins of the Jamboree, rooted in a longing to promote local culture and identity, indicate a community that values its own and undoubtedly gives a warm welcome to those that adopt Waretown, NJ as their own.

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