The Beachcomber Fall Festival Guide

Cranberry Festival Returns to Chatsworth

By Pat Johnson | Sep 27, 2019
Photo by: supplied GOING STRONG: The historic White Horse Inn in Chatsworth is the longtime beneficiary of preservation funds, thanks to the annual Cranberry Festival.

Chatsworth — The 36th annual Chatsworth Cranberry Festival is held Oct. 19 and 20 this year in downtown Chatsworth, “The Heart of the Pines.”

The Cranberry Festival is a celebration of New Jersey’s cranberry harvest, the third largest in the United States, and offers a tribute to the Pine Barrens and local culture. The main attraction is the diverse showing of many artists and craftsmen, some of which will also be demonstrating their crafts as well as displaying them. The festival is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. both days.

The 19th century White Horse Inn is a familiar landmark as you pass through Chatsworth, and the festival has always been held to benefit the restoration and preservation of the inn. Located on Burlington County Route 563, it was built around 1850 for workers building the Chatsworth Club, an exclusive winter resort on Chatsworth Lake for 600 wealthy New Yorkers and Philadelphians. An Italian prince married a local and built a private lakeside villa that became known as the Princess House. Neither of those buildings remain, just the inn.

Early settlement of the area can be traced back to the late 1700s when iron bog ore deposits were discovered and Speedwell Furnace began operation making pig iron. In the 1820s, settlers came from Ocean County and began farming the land. In the late 1800s the town contained one church, two stores, one school, a wheelwright and blacksmith shop, a railroad station, and about 20 houses. Cranberries were farmed in the late 1800s, and in modern times the cranberry cooperative Ocean Spray was established.

Chatsworth today is little more than a crossroads known for its cranberry bogs and the Franklin Parker Preserve. The preserve, consisting of 16 square miles of former cranberry and blueberry fields, was purchased in 2003 from the DeMarco family by the New Jersey Conservation Foundation. The land is open for passive recreation.

Take a trip to Chatsworth on Cranberry Festival Days, though, and be surprised at how many hundreds of people know and cherish this small but vital town.  —P.J.

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