PHOTOS: ‘SouthNext’ Festival Is the Next Big Thing Coming to South Orange

by The Village Green
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The SouthNext Festival, with the tag line “Create and Collide,” got a big kickoff yesterday with a press event at the South Orange Performing Arts Center.

The festival is back for its second year with a new name (we won’t mention the former one since a certain Austin, TX festival took issue) but with the same idealism and energy — and wtih founder and number one booster Trustee Steve Schnall at the helm.

The festival will run in South Orange venues from June 17 through 19, 2016.

Schnall announced the event, focusing on the idea of “create and collide” surrounded by leaders of the South Orange and Maplewood arts and civic community including Mark Packer and Dee Billia of SOPAC, Marcy Thompson of Studio B, Mike Griot, Greg Burrus, Sandy Martini, Bob Zuckerman and Matt Glass of the South Orange Village Center Alliance, Trustee Walter Clarke and sponsors Ed Ayuso of The Gateway and Mark Slade of Keller Williams.

The Festival is a project of the Village of South Orange, with lead sponsor Saint Barnabas Medical Center (see the full list of sponsors here).

SouthNext will feature 20 creative and interactive sessions, 12 musical performances, and a “Creative Midway” of participatory happenings and community art projects available to the general public. Considered the first such festival in New Jersey, SouthNext focuses on the intersection where art, music, and provocative ideas meet and the creative explosions that come from connecting and collaborating.

For the schedule of events, and to purchase weekend Festival passes visit

Schnall said the theme of the festival draws on the community’s strengths. “’Create and Collide’ is a natural theme for South Orange, where so many different types of people, ideas, and sensibilities collide every day to make something incredibly wonderful,” said Schnall.

The Festival launches at 6 p.m. on Friday, June 17, with the Tech(ing) Ball at SOPAC, in a ground-breaking interactive experience involving jazz musicians and online developers as they create music and build a web application, side-by-side, interacting and improvising with each other. The headline concert on Saturday will feature NJ-based The Smithereens who will appear on SOPAC’s main stage at 8 p.m.

A highlight of the weekend will be a session with David Brancaccio, host of public radio’s business program Marketplace, who will host a panel of local celebrities talking about what it is like to be a “regular” resident in our special towns. Professor Matt Hale from Seton Hall University will “referee” mayors from 3 local towns and their counterparts from decades ago to contrast who had a better Village. This session will be set in a boxing ring as a way to amp up the sense of conflict, yet it will all be peaceful.

Saturday’s programming is scheduled from 10 a.m. to midnight and Sunday’s events run from 11 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.As an added convenience for busy parents, local business operator Work and Play will provide programmed childcare for wristband-holders during the festival.

All- access wristbands for the three-day Festival are $30. The “early-bird” price is $25 until April 21 only. Visit the SouthNext website [] to purchase all-access wristbands and for full details on the schedule of events. Join the fun on Facebook ( and Twitter ( using the hashtag #SOUTHNEXT.


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