Fred Lewis, Fisherman

Corrections or additions?

This story by Pat Summers was published in U.S. 1 Newspaper

on April 22, 1998. All rights reserved.

Where Shad & Visitors Meet

The only problem with Lambertville’s annual shad festival

is that it runs for just two days — this year, Saturday and Sunday,

April 25 and 26. There’s so much to do during the 17th anniversary

event that visitors may be compelled to budget their time: now the

demonstration of shad hauling, or of cooking it the 18th-century way,

now the juried arts and crafts show, now the micro-brewery tour, the

poster display, the historical walk, and finally the shad dinner.

Call it "a shad fest," "shad festival," or call it

"an eco-tourism event," as does a spokesperson for the Lambertville

Area Chamber of Commerce — the font of all festival information

and center for the volunteers that make it all happen — the prize-winning

weekend is the place to be in late April. "It takes a village"

or, more accurately, a city, to produce it, but the festival area

is an easily-traversed few blocks in each direction.

About 20 years ago, to the delight of those in Lambertville, along

the Delaware, the shad, the silvery fish related to herrings and indigenous

to Northeastern American rivers, began to return; swimming upstream

to spawn. For years, shad had eschewed the Delaware, and for good

reason: the river was so polluted it wasn’t fit to support shad; it

neither deserved nor hosted the fish.

In the years since then, shad returned with a vengeance — thanks

in large part to the steadily improving condition of the Delaware

and the continuing efforts of those who monitor and tend the river.

Now, in a manner of speaking (and eating), there are shad to burn.

And grill they do, at the Boat Club, on the river behind Lambertville

Station, where visitors can dine on shad al fresco for $10 apiece.

Those preferring to snack, can sample varied offerings of Lambertville

chefs at the food court, in the parking lot of First Union Bank.

The weekend, which quickly grew from a local art show to the 1995

winner of the Governor’s Conference on Tourism Award for Best Event,

aims to please everyone: children and adults, fisherpersons, cooks

(and eaters, of course); the environmentally-concerned, historically-interested,

and arts-appreciating. Not to mention those who like music, micro-brewery

tours and samples, or simply being in an interesting riverside spot

with lots to do on a spring day.

A reasonable starting place is the Chamber of Commerce

information table at the corner of Bridge and Union streets. Here

questions are welcome, official T-shirts (this year the creation of

graphic artist Bob Deverell) are for sale, and maps of festival sites

and lists of entries in the window decorating contest are available.

Then, to help get in the mood, check out the display of more than

100 Shad Festival art posters contributed by area artists. These are

auctioned on Sunday afternoon, with proceeds going to area high school

seniors’ collegiate art studies. Last year’s auction netted over $16,000.

Top Of Page
Fred Lewis, Fisherman

Fred Lewis, the state’s only commercial shad fisherman, will demonstrate

shad hauling on both days at 2 p.m. He’ll use the seine technique

— a vertical net with weights at the bottom and floats on top

— that early settlers learned from the Indians. At the same Lewis

Island site, off Lambert Lane, Susan McLellan Plaisted, author of

"The Besmirched American Shad," will wear clothes of the period

for her demonstration of "shad planking," the 18th-century

style of cooking the river bounty.

River Horse Brewery, at the end of Lambert Lane, will be open for

free tours and samples during Shad Fest. Activities for children abound,

from pony rides to caricatures by Sesame Place artists, and from fish

tales by a storytelling guild member to the kids’ poster display (mounted

with the adults’ festival posters). On both days, in front of North

Union Street’s Five and Dime store, yo-yo champ Tom Parks will show

his technical expertise on the yo-yo, and Sunday features a tournament

with prizes.

At the booth sponsored by the Delaware Riverkeeeper Network, visitors

can meet the American shad (on ice), and buy $1 shares in the Delaware

("which pay dividends in clean water and happy fish"); children

can also opt for fish-face painting. Two daily historical walking

tours begin at the home of John Marshall, the man who started American’s

Gold Rush. And a farmstead museum that focuses on three centuries

in the lives of the county’s rural farmers is accessible via a train


Non-stop entertainment — including folk, rock, blues, and country

music — is promised throughout the weekend, and Saturday night’s

"Shad Fest Boogie" at the Rago Auction Center features Bill

Linderman and the BRB Band, along with Chef Rick Buscavage’s BYOB

buffet — 8 p.m. to midnight for $27.

Lambertville’s Shad Fest necessitates closing some streets to accommodate

pedestrians. Visitors driving in for the event can simply follow signs

to nearby parking areas, and shuttle buses will convey them back and

forth. Parking proceeds benefit non-profit local organizations. The

Black River and Western Railroad from Flemington and Ringoes

offers an alternative route to and from Lambertville; advance reservations

are necessary. The shad are already taking their places.

— Pat Summers

Shad Fest, Lambertville Chamber of Commerce, 4 South

Union Street, 609-397-0055. Saturday and Sunday, April 25 and 26,

noon to 5 p.m.

On the Shad Stage: Saturday, April 25. The Shaxe,

12:30 p.m.; Live Bait, 1:30 p.m.; Monkey Works, 2:30 p.m.;

House of Swank, 3:30 p.m.; and Frescura Antigua, 4:30 p.m.

Sunday, April 26: River Ballet, 12:30 p.m.; Machese

Wind , 1 p.m.; Udell Ramirez, 1:50 p.m.; Aftershock,

2:15 p.m.; Herd of Blues, 3:15 p.m.; and Matt Baldwin,

4:15 p.m.

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