HAMMONTON - The arts came alive in downtown Hammonton on the weekend during the first-ever official New Jersey Fringe Festival.

The three-day event featured unconventional, extreme art and was organized by The Eagle Theatre. Twelve different original productions were performed at a variety of venues within the Hammonton Arts District where art studios and shops were transformed into theater stages.

The shows were performed several times during the festival, allowing visitors the time to see every production with a weekend pass. Charlyn Moellers of Pittsgrove came to the Fringe Festival with her two children, and everyone had weekend passes.

“It’s fun,” said Moellers on Friday night. “I was really happy to find it. We’re doing the whole weekend. We’ve got it all lined up.”

The original theatrical productions attracted crowds, but even when the shows started, the town was still filled with people who just wanted to check out the scene.

“I’m artistic, so I feel at home here,” said Brandon Howard of Glassboro. “It’s great to be around like-minded people.”

“It’s awesome. It’s a really good atmosphere,” said Kelly Zink of Hammonton.

Second Street became a beer and wine garden and the site of the festival’s street fair. Visitors played games such as giant Jenga, oversized Connect-Four, a bean bag toss and pool. There also were art vendors, food vendors and even a tarot card reader. Live music was performed throughout the festival at the beer garden and strolling musicians were spotted throughout the downtown.

The street fair provided an entertaining and relaxing space to spend time between shows. “It’s cool. We are relaxing here and then we are heading to Rocco’s Townhouse for a show in a little bit,” said Jana Dandrea of Vineland.

The artists were as excited as the visitors at the festival.

Amber Kusching of Cherry Hill wrote, directed and produced “The Maryland Women.” The production took place at the Hammonton Artist Studios, 107 Vine St.

A recent college graduate, Kusching was eager for the experience. “For an emerging artist like me, it’s an incredible opportunity. This space is perfect, and it allowed me to experiment with my writing and to see that connection between the audience and the actors.”

Aftershock Entertainment, based in Turnersville, has been involved with community theater for about six years, and NJ Fringe presented them with the rare chance to perform for several people within a few days. They presented “Almost All My Heart” at The mART, 18 Central Ave.

“We are excited to be part of this. It’s very unique, and we are glad to have the opportunity to participate,” said Karen Kurtz of Aftershock Entertainment.

The festival encompassed the entire downtown, and many wandered into some of the shops as they walked from one venue to the next.

Here is a list of the shows, creators and venues:

“Antihero” by The Tribe of Fools at Eagle Theatre, 208 Vine St.; “It Girl,” by Amanda Schoonover, Brenna Geffers and Anthony Crosby at Eagle Theatre; “Mixtape: An Underground Jam” by Jason Neri and Eagle Theatre at Annata Wine Bar, 216 Bellevue Ave.; “Almost All My Heart,” and “Yo Shortmann!!” by Aftershock Entertainment at the mART, 18 Central Ave.; “Punch and Judy Puppet Show” by Jeff Cleve and Pineland Puppets at Hammonton Town Hall, 100 Central Ave.; “The Divine Lorraine” by Calli Graver and Nick Lombardelli at M.B. Taylor Lodge, 205 Central Ave.; “the Last Five Year” by Dino Pettacio and Ethan Abrams at the Hammonton Family Success Center, 310 Bellevue Ave.;

And “Sex Talk” by Katherine Perry and Shamus Hunter McCarty at Rocco’s Townhouse, 21 N. Third St.; “The Bacchae” by The Phenomenal Animls at Marcello’s Restaurant, 225 Bellevue Ave.; “Noir: The 4D-3D Semi-Cinematic Satirical Thriller” by the Eagle Theatre’s Innovations Factory at the Hammonton Arts Center, 219 Bellevue Ave.; “Samuraization: Learning to Eat Your Sushi and Have it Too” by Pandora Scooter; “The Maryland Women,” by Amber Kusching at the Hammonton Artist Studios, 107 Vine Street; “Panther Hollow” by David Lee White and “12 Under the Lintel” by Terry Gleeson at Stockton University Kramer Hall, 30 Front St.

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