Due to a combination of COVID, scheduling conflicts and New Jersey weather, my hometown of Montclair, N.J., has been an almost continuous festival for the last month of so. Here’s a look at where I’ve been spending a good part of my time.
The Montclair Jazz Festival, produced by Jazz House Kids, is now in its 12th year. Pre-pandemic, the festival was a one day affair held in August at a town park. Last year it was cancelled.This year, some events were held at downtown locations through the summer with a grand finale late in September on the town’s main commercial street. Bloomfield Avenue was closed down, with music stages set up on both ends and a street fair in the middle. As usual, Brian McBride, artistic director, was the headliner Saturday night.
The Montclair Literary Festival is the newest of these community events, having been launched in 2017. Normally it is held in March and they plan to resume that schedule in 2022. It is organized by Succeed2gether, a non-profit that provides various educational services to children who need them. Last year the festival consisted of a number of virtual events. The 2021 festival included a full weekend of in person events in early October. Most were held in outdoor tents at the Montclair Public Library and the Congregational Church next door. There were a couple of events held virtually and one large event held inside the church.
Among the best known authors who participated in the festival were Joyce Carol Oates, Colm Toibin and Stevie Van Zandt, who has just written a memoir called “Unrequited Infatuations.”
By Oct. 21, it was time for the tenth anniversary ten-day Montclair Film Festival at three venues around town. The film festival used to be held in May. It was postponed in 2020 until October when it consisted of mostly streamed screenings with a few movies shown at a makeshift drive-in in neighboring West Orange. This year they kept the October date but the films are all screened in theaters. Opening night featured The French Dispatch by Wes Anderson at the Wellmont Theater, an old theater that is primarily used now as a concert hall. I’ll have more on the MFF films in a later post.
(I don’t want you to think we’re running a bunch of superspreader events here. All indoor events required proof of vaccination to be admitted and mask wearing at all times.)