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The Maplewoodstock Volunteer Committee would like to thank our community for continuing to support Maplewoodstock, Maplewood’s signature arts & music festival which marked another successful annual weekend on July 8 and 9, especially this year as the weather was constantly threatening.

We often joke amongst ourselves about the Maplewoodstock “weather bubble”. We’ve had a number of years when it rained all around New Jersey during the festival weekend, but somehow it always seemed to miss Memorial Park…and we almost made it again this year.

Maplewoodstock is a labor of love for the eight volunteers who produce and manage the festival. This is a private non-township sponsored event that would never happen without the support of so many. We’d like to thank all the volunteers who stepped up to help us sell merchandise, work the beer garden, and assist with all that is required to set-up and breakdown each day.

The Committee would like to especially thank the Maplewood Police Department, Department of Public Works, South Essex EMS, the South Orange First Aid Squad, and the other departments that assist and advise us throughout the planning process. The festival cannot happen without their coordination and participation. While this is a private event, it does not happen without the support of the Township.

The crowd from the stage. Maplewoodstock 2023.

Thank you to Mayor Dean Dafis and the entire Maplewood Township Committee, especially our liaisons Nancy Adams and Jamaine Cripe. Ms. Adams and Ms. Cripe not only work with us to help us coordinate with all the Township departments who participate, they are also big fans of the festival. We would also like to thank Maplewood Township Clerk, Liz Fritzen, who is always our first point of contact as we plan each year’s festival. She is definitely the “keeper of the keys”. Also, thank you to the South Mountain YMCA for the use of the Memorial Park Civic House as our “green room”.

Laurellie Jacob Martinez’s all-volunteer sign language interpreters, besides being widely entertaining, have always been a wonderful addition to the festival, allowing more individuals to enjoy our community event.

We would be remiss if we did not mention all the art and food vendors who participated; they are an integral part of the festival. And last, but certainly not least, thank you the South Orange Elks for, once again, managing the beer and wine garden.

Saturday kicked off with local favorite Essex Funk Collective and kept rocking all the way through to our Saturday Headiners; Red Baraat and Maplewood’s own Mihali, co-founder of the band Twiddle.

Louis Cato dodges the rain.

Red Baraat may not have been known by too many folks at the festival, but they sure do know them now! This Brooklyn-based band describe their sound as “merging of hard driving North Indian bhangra with elements of hip-hop, jazz, and raw punk energy. Created with no less a purposeful agenda than manifesting joy and unity in all people.” By all accounts they achieved their agenda!

Mihali is well known in our community, having grown up in Maplewood and attended previous Maplewoodstock festivals. He left Maplewood to pursue his dream and co-founded the band Twiddle, and he is currently also writing and touring as a solo performer. He describes his style as “following reggae’s evolutionary ebb and flow with a balance of other musical influences”. He and the crowd got a bit emotional at times as he reminisced about his childhood in Maplewood. It was a poignant way to end the evening.

Local guitar hero Mihali

Throughout Sunday we had our eye on the weather radar. We were so appreciative to see all the folks who turned up despite the threat of storms and stayed all the way through until we ultimately needed to stop the festival around 7:00 p.m. Every band scheduled to play on Sunday did not let the threat of rain keep them away. It was an awesome day. JB Blues Band, whose tribute to Jim Buchanan, one of the founders of Maplewoodstock and the previous head of the Maplewood Department of Cultural Affairs, was very moving. Jim unfortunately passed away this past year.

As the last band before the headliners, Q-Tip Bandits ended their incredible set (you really need to check out this band), we kept our eye on the radar. The featured act, Remember Jones, saw what we saw and opted to cancel his performance, but thankfully The Louis Cato Band, Sunday’s headliner, happened to be nearby and agreed to go on earlier than scheduled. Unfortunately, the band only got through two songs before the lightning came and the show needed to stop.

We are so grateful!

Time to start the planning process for Maplewoodstock 2024.

— The Maplewoodstock Volunteeer Committee: Katie Clayton, Brad Goldman, Tom Kerns, Tarquin
Learned, Jim Robertson, Susan Rogers, Jamie Ross, and Gary Shippy.

Maplewoodstock – by and for the community!

Maplewoodstock Volunteer Committee (Katie Clayton not pictured)

All photos by Danny Goldstein.


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