The Keyport GardenWalk Is Back At The Bayshore

Artwork by 2018 Keyport GardenWalk Art Contest winner Billy Green

Artwork by 2018 Keyport GardenWalk Art Contest winner Billy Green

Come with your walking shoes on, your cameras loaded and your appetites ready.

For the seventh year running, the Keyport GardenWalk will attract thousands of enthusiasts to the private and public gardens of this charming town on the southwest corner of the Raritan Bayshore. The event takes place over two days on June 2nd and 3rd from 11am to 3pm and is free to everyone. Visitors should give themselves plenty of time to browse the many dozens of gardens on display. A number of the gardeners of previous GardenWalks have cultivated their gardens once again for this annual event. Indeed, the annual preparation for this event marks the beginning of the gardening season for many of them.

“We are nothing without our generous gardeners,” says Keyport GardenWalk chair, Clare Skeen.

There are many gardeners who are willing to do so year after year and every year there are new resident gardeners who put their homes and gardens on display. The gardens that you will see vary from the sublime to the eclectic and the plants, shrubs and trees within them vary from indigenous to exotic.

The resident gardeners are always willing to discuss their gardens with visitors and some welcome them with soft drinks, light fare and even some live music.

“Our visitors marvel at the generosity of our gardeners and the variety of the gardens,” Skeen adds, “(The visitors) also really appreciate the fact that 99% of our gardens are designed, planted and maintained by the gardeners themselves.”

Photo by Jr. Photographer “Lo” – age 9

The seed for the GardenWalk was planted 8 years ago when Ms. Skeen read an article about the GardenWalk in Buffalo, New York, in the June/July 2010 edition of Horticulture magazine. She then brought the concept to the Keyport Garden Club. From there, the Keyport GardenWalk started to grow from concept to reality. According to Skeen, the organizers of GardenWalk Buffalo “were very generous in their advice” to the Keyport Garden Club members that organized the event. In order to prepare and plan accordingly, the Club decided that the first GardenWalk in Keyport would be in 2012. Since then, the event has grown to be a top tourist attraction, attracting 3,100 visitors to the historic Borough of Keyport in 2017 alone.

Visitors from as far as Dusselberg, Germany have previously visited the dozens of public and privately owned gardens as they walked, biked or took a complimentary pedicab ride through the picturesque borough which is scattered with Victorian-era homes and buildings that add to the charm and appeal of the day.

In addition to walking the gardens, visitors can attend morning GardenTalks at Keyport Borough Hall on topics that include “Gardens of the Cotswolds – Inspirations and Lessons” presented by Kirsty Dougherty of Noble Garden Tours and local garden designer, Erin Koberle and “Backyard Birds and Beyond” presented by photographer and birder, Ed Norman.

Photos by Jr. Photographer “Lo” – age 9

The day will go by quick, and you may not get through all of the gardens on in one day. You can stay overnight at any of the local hotels, but don’t leave town without visiting one of Keyport’s renowned restaurants for a late lunch, dinner and a drink. Vendors from near and far have inquired if they could set up at the GardenWalk, but the response is always, “Thank you for your interest but we want visitors shopping in our year round shops and eating at our restaurants,” Skeen states. The organizers resolute to keep the interests of the local businesses and restaurants in town at the forefront. Local businesses and restaurants are “incredibly supportive of our Club and, in particular, this event,” Skeen adds.

The Keyport GardenWalk is uniquely suited to provide a wonderful opportunity for visitors to support the local businesses in town. It attracts thousands of folks from near and far, and for that reason, Local Joan supports this event and gives it a grade A+.

When you arrive at the Keyport GardenWalk event, be sure to make your way down to the Keyport waterfront gazebo – that is where the Keyport GardenWalk headquarters is. They will have all of the information you will need to start your tour of the gardens of Keyport.

For information on planning your visit to Keyport on June 2nd and 3rd, you can visit the Keyport GardenWalk website which has directions, hotel information and general information about the Borough of Keyport.


Be a Rookstar This October For Children’s Cancer

This October 11, Rook Coffee Roasters is hosting its second annual Rook Run for children’s cancer.

Rook Coffee Roasters, founded by Shawn Kingsley & Holly Migliaccio, is expanding rapidly. When we first wrote about it in February 2014, there were four Monmouth County locations. Now it’s eight and soon to be nine!

This year’s event will again benefit The Valerie Fund, a children’s cancer program established by Ed and Sue Goldstein in honor of their daughter Valerie. The second annual Rook Run has already raised $120,000 at press time of its total goal of $150,000. At press time in late September, 1581 runners have entered, divided into 138 teams, including “Rookstars,’ ‘Cup of Joe,’ ‘Crossfit Delirium’ and ‘Run Like You Stole Something.’

The benefits of being a Rook runner or race volunteer:
1. You can give your team a zany name;
2. You can wear a crazy costume while you run;
3. You can get fresh air and sunshine on a beautiful fall afternoon;
4. You will give hope and life to a young person struggling with a disease;
5. You can eat and drink merrily during the awards ceremony;
6. You can have fun with your friends all day while doing something for a worthy charity.

In the first Rook Run, held last November, 1076 people competed. It was won by Victor Vientos of New York City for the Men and by Chelsea Callan of Ocean Grove, NJ, for the Women.

This year’s 5-K race kicks off at 10 am at the Great Lawn at Pier Village and registration is $35. Complete race details are published on the Rook Run’s interactive site. In addition, there will be Rook Run hoodies, bumper stickers and t-shirts available for sale at the Rook Run.

Come and join the fun!

What’s Made In Monmouth? Find Out This Week at the County Fair

recycled billboard vinyl mat

DorDesign creates unique furniture and other household items out of recycled, weatherproof, billboard vinyl.

At the County Fair this week, you may meet Doreen Catena of DorDesign Sustainable Home Goods who makes furniture, floor and table mats and wall hangings out of recycled billboards.

“I never know what the next billboards will be or what they will become,” says owner and former graphic designer Catena.


High Strung Studios makes jewelry out of guitar strings, for musicians and music lovers.

Local musician Jenny Woods recycles guitar strings to make funky and fashionable jewelry at High Strung Studios.

Or talk to former state senator Ellen Karcher, owner of Pleasant Valley Lavender Farm in Morganville, New Jersey’s only commercial lavender nursery.

The creativity and resourcefulness of these Monmouth County residents, among others, will be on display at the Monmouth County Fair at the East Freehold Park Showgrounds in Freehold this week. Try to stop by and support our locals who are bringing revenue into our local economy.

Made in Monmouth vendors feature art, jewelry, baked goods and jellies, stationery and bath and body products that are all made locally. Jersey shore (the beach, not the show) themed goods include Jersey Girl Barefoot Sandal and Sea You Again.

The fair is a traditional county fair, complete with blue ribbons, a pie-eating contest and amusement rides. The county will offer an interactive display of real public works equipment for kids, including its popular “Touch A Truck” display and Sheriff’s Ident-A-Kid program.

The fair runs Wednesday through Sunday, July 22-26, from 5 -11 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (July 22-24), from 3-11 p.m. on Saturday, July 25 and from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday. Held at East Freehold Park Showgrounds on Kozloski Road, between Routes 33 and 537 in Freehold Township, admission is $8 per person. Children 12 and under are free. For more information, visit or call 732-842-4000.

Arts and Crafts and Outdoor Tunes: Fun Picks For Fall

Musicians on a Mission logo

Nonprofit Musicians on a Mission is committed to making a difference with its music.

Besides the gorgeous weather, fall brings a multitude of local events worth attending, with musical acts, artisans and food vendors. Local Joan features three outstanding events here, all in scenic outdoor locations and benefiting local causes and small businesses.

Colts Neck Rockfest 2014 is back for its 7th year on September 20. This free concert featuring area bands with talented local musicians is held at Bucks Mill Park on Bucks Mill Road in Colts Neck and is sponsored this year by the Colts Neck Business Association.

The all day event runs from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Event founder and musician Steve Warendorf started Rockfest in 2008. “I had the idea to have a little free concert with a few musical acts,” said Warendorf. “It was basically a backyard barbecue held at the park. There were probably 30 people.”

Today Rockfest has musical acts ranging from reggae to Latin to classic rock to original music. Hand crafted goods and services will be on sale, and food vendors will participate.

Guitarist for the Moroccan Sheepherders, as well as Carnival Dogs, The Working Men – a Rush Tribute Band, and the SMA Project, Warendorf enjoys giving young musicians a chance for local exposure. “With Rockfest, just being able to break even and be able to put smiles on people’s faces, musicians and eventgoers alike is great. The young bands have a great place to bring their friends and families to see them play.” Warendorf and his wife Michelle grew up in Colts Neck and he calls himself a “townie.” His daughter Madeleine, 15, will also be playing at Rockfest with her group, “Three Little Birds.”

bucks mill park

Rockfest is at Bucks Mill Park in Colts Neck.

“It’s a no-brainer having Rockfest in Colts Neck,” he adds. “It’s a beautiful park with grills and a perfect space for the bands to play.”

Next, the Asbury Park Fall Bazaar is an afternoon event to showcase greater Asbury Park’s local artisans and vendors on Saturday, September 27, 2014 from noon to 5 pm at the Grand Arcade inside Convention Hall. For sale will be vintage, handmade items, art, jewelry, home goods and seasonal and Oktoberfest style beers and food at The Anchors Bend.

Indian Summer

Musicians and local crafters join forces on Sept. 27 at the Asbury Park boardwalk.

 This year Indian Summer: Live Music on the Beach joins with the Bazaar to offer a celebration of local music on the beach outside of Anchors Bend. Arcade Radio will serve as the official headquarters for the event with interviews, guest DJ spots, and band merch.

Finally, check out Rock the Farm: Amplify Your Life, at Regan’s Hollow Farm in Farmingdale on Saturday, October 11, from 2 to 11pm.  Bands include The Thousand Pities and Harper’s Fellow.

An admission fee of $15 goes to raise funds for CFC Loud N Clear, a Farmingdale charity that helps people in recovery re-integrate into society, closing the gap between rehab and everyday life.

Hosted by Musicians on a Mission, a group of civic-minded musicians who organize and provide entertainment for monthly events, this outdoor musical festival features food, drinks, vendors, volleyball, horseshoes, song circles, an auction and a bonfire. BYOB.

Don’t be a sofa spud this September. Get out and support our local musicians, charities, vendors and craftspeople by attending at least one of these wonderful events, staffed by volunteers who donate their time and talents to help our local community.


Local Chefs Serve Up Lobster and Libations at AC Seafood Fest


dog in lobster costume“If you like seafood, and you like the Jersey Shore,” says festival producer Jon Henderson, “You’ve got to come to the Atlantic City Seafood Festival.”

Local Joan concurs. Where else can you find all these things in one place?:

  • A triathlon award ceremony and a “Smokers’ Haven” cigar tent
  • A dog dressed in a lobster costume
  • Sword fighting shows and a bar with pirate-inspired cocktails and “live pirate music”
  • Kids’ fun park with face painting and animals
  • Cooking demos with local chefs
  • Painting classes with local artists from Dwell: An Artist Space (#BottlesandBrushes)
  • A beer “tasting tent” featuring local Jersey brews and wine seminars with Wine Director Michael Green
  • Live music from Jo Bonnano and the Godsons, the Burnsiders, and the Crawdaddies, among others.

You don’t need to go anywhere near the casinos (au revoir, Revel, we hardly knew ye) to have a good time.

local beer tasting tent

Try out locally brewed beers at the beer tasting tent.

The festival takes place September 13-14th at Bader Field in Atlantic City, and pets (see top) are welcome. In its third year, the weekend holds a variety of activities along with 50 restaurants offering their seafood specialties. A chowder cook-off for local chefs (below) benefits the Community FoodBank of New Jersey.

Free admission is thanks to the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA). Parking is $10. Some of the classes have fees, such as the interactive wine seminars.

What else? “Sandman” Matt Deibert will help kids with their own creations, and observe a crab cake eating contest sponsored by Phillips Seafood. For skateboarders, an onsite skate park and naturally, visits from the Cape May Zoo, home of the popular snow leopards.


One suggestion: Before you arrive, don’t eat!bowl of chowder

D n’ R Carpet Mill Goes the Distance With All Things Flooring

You might miss it if you drive quickly on Route 35. Tucked into the south end of Staples Plaza in Hazlet is a carpet and flooring store that has been around through 23 years of economic ups and downs, the comeback of hardwood flooring, the introduction of Pergo, and the big box invasion of home improvement centers.

carpetstoreownerAlthough it sells hardwood floors, laminates, and now luxury vinyl, carpet remains the most popular choice for flooring, and D n’ R Carpet Mill offers “blow out” prices, money back guarantees and a focus on keeping and training outstanding staff.

D n’ R (dependable and reliable) Carpet Mill was founded in 1991 and is owned by Middletown couple Michele and Joe Colonna. It offers carpet, linoleum, laminate, wood floors, remnants, expert installation and cleaning.

“Most of our clientele buys because they’ve heard of us,” notes Joe, “We’ve been here a while.” The business does a bit of cable and magazine advertising, and has an active Facebook page, but most of its business is repeat business.

What’s its secret?

carpetstore“Installation,” says Joe. “You can have good carpet, but if it’s not installed right, you’ll be unhappy.” He carefully trains his own installers and would rather delay a job than use someone he’s unsure of and risk an unhappy customer.

Michele and Joe enjoy volunteering in their hometown of Keansburg. A sign on their door from the Northern Monmouth Chamber of Commerce says they assisted “Beacon of Hope” with its storm recovery efforts for local residents.

“The local people support us,” says Joe. “So we want to help support them.”

For Yarn Lovers, Moore Yarn Opens At Airport Plaza in Hazlet, NJ


Mitzy Moore, proprietor of "Moore Yarn"

Mitzy Moore, proprietor of “Moore Yarn”

Mitzy Moore learned to knit in school, but didn’t care for it until she became inspired by the Vogue Knitting event in New York City.

“The fashion shows, the beautiful yarns from all over the world–you can do so much that’s exciting,” she said. Her new store, Moore Yarn in Keyport, showcases several of her stunning projects.

Designed as a retreat for “knitters and hookers (that is, those who crochet),” the store features a “man cave” with a television, WiFi hotspot and coffee, monthly “Knibble and Knit” get-togethers and “yarn tasting” events (January features Classic Elite yarn). A “Men’s Closet Knitters’ Club” will encourage men to pick up hooks and needles. A mobile knitting truck, “Yarn on Wheels,” is in the works, which will visit fairs, libraries and nursing homes.

The Color and Creative Atmosphere at Moore Yarn in Hazlet

The Color and Creative Atmosphere at Moore Yarn in Hazlet

We’re building “a hub for lovers of yarn,” said Cliff Moore, Mitzy’s co-owner. The couple also owns the Keyport IHOP and Hazlet Swim Club’s Bellyflop Cafe. Both are tireless local business promoters who give back by helping local causes. Moore Yarn has teamed up with the Linus Project to make hats and blankets for premature babies and seniors.

The store was opened in only 45 days, Mitzi recounted. Years before, she’d casually mentioned to Cliff that she’d love to run a yarn store.

When Cliff told her about a vacancy at Airport Plaza, most recently occupied by Corey Booker’s Congressional campaign, she didn’t hesitate, although the space required massive cleaning and renovation to become the bright, colorful interior that Mitzy lovingly presides over.

“Everything just fell into place.”

Second Life Bikes – School Is Out, Bikes Are In!

I need a bike. I used to think that I just wanted a bike, but I truly need one. Do you need one, too? Well – check out Second Life Bikes in Asbury Park, NJ!

Second Life Bikes is more than just a used bike shop. Way more. They describe themselves as a biking community center in Asbury Park where people connect to each other, build skills, join group bike rides, learn bike safety, and create bike art and custom designs that can support new social enterprises. They say that their “mission is to get more people (especially youth) on bikes.”

Before you go, check this video to see why you really need to support this local business!

21 Main Street
Asbury Park, NJ 07712

The Buy Local Instead Picture Project

Join Local Joan’s “Buy Local Instead” picture project!

Do you own a local business? Do you know someone who does? Send us pictures of your storefronts, fair stands, or products! We’ll be posting them on the website.


Photos will be included in a video campaign coming soon – so we need at least 100 pictures. Post them on our Facebook page at!


Not a Local Business? Well, That Doesn’t Matter….

Costco and Whole Foods Market Support Local With Good Corporate Citizenship

I’ve spent a lot of time looking into how large superstore chains can hurt the economy. From predatory pricing to poorly compensated employees, I decided early on that there isn’t much to like about these conglomerates. They end up doing much more to hurt the local economies surrounding them than helping. Or so I thought….

9512021_sIt is true. There are some conglomerates that will never be good corporate citizens in their local economies. I shudder at the thought of giving them business, but why not? They are local, right? And they do employ my friends, family and neighbors, right?

Yes. But in order to improve their reputation, they need to be active in improving their citizenship status within their communities.We’ve seen examples of this in a couple of our local superstores: Costco and Whole Foods Market.

How do they do it?

Being Too Generous To Their Employees

Back in 2005, Wall Street continually faulted Costco CEO Jim Sinegal of “being too generous to employees.” This was, and continues to be worn as a badge of honor by Sinegal and Costco, and their customers take note, staying loyal to Costco “because they like that low prices do not come at the workers’ expense.” As Sinegal puts it, “this is not altruistic. This is good business.”

Supporting Local Vendors

11259873_sWhole Foods Market has a track record of supporting local companies and selling local products in their stores. While becoming a vendor for Whole Foods Market isn’t an easy task, the process is simplified and can become lucrative for both parties. They are also pretty open about their sourcing efforts in some cases, like this one in Hawaii.

Working To Strengthen Their Community

Even further, Whole Foods Market touts what they call their Commitment to Society. One of the tenets of this commitment is Community Giving which provides a framework that any conglomerate can follow to give back to their communities.

Another tenet which is most impressive is their overt financial support by way of their Local Producer Loan Program. These loans employ rates that rival SBA rates (currently between 5% and 9%). Have a look!

What I Like About Them

The very practice of buying local is intended to strengthen and bolster the local economy. With the support that Costco and Whole Foods Market provide to individuals and their communities, these companies fall within the buying local ecology. I support such companies when local stores can’t provide a job for my nephew or don’t have what I am looking for. If my nephew can’t find a job at a local small business, I’ll send him over to Costco. If I’m going to buy something, I’ll always buy local instead—but if my local grocer doesn’t have the cut of meat or particular vegetable that I am looking for, Whole Foods Market might. And if they do, they probably got it from a local vendor.

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