Ideas, idle gossip and occasionally important odds ‘n’ ends
THIS past weekend, after 13 months of planning, the first annual Cape May Forum: Chautauqua at the Shore blanketed Cape May in a variety of events all centered on the question, “Can Humor Save the World?” Myles Martel, program chair for Cape May Forum, talked about the success of the event. “It was extremely well received – Dr. John Morreall’s lecture even produced a standing ovation,” he said. “For me, the highlight was seeing it all come together. There were months of hard work by nearly two dozen people in this community, including representatives of nearly every major non-profit, that went into making this event a success.”
And, according to Myles, the event lived up to the expectations of its organizers. “The attendance at all events was reasonably consistent with our expectations,” he said, “and Sunday night’s event at the Rusty Nail exceeded our expectations – especially considering that it was competing with both the Eagles and Phillies games.”
On an already busy October weekend, Cape May Forum did more than bring tourists into Cape May out of season – it was a major force in bringing together the many organizations of this community. That’s why we’re happy to hear that Cape May Forum’s executive board members – Ronnie Cohen, Ed Henry, Tom Carroll and Jim Moffatt – are determined to make the event a lasting and meaningful institution for the community and its visitors.
So, what’s in store for next year? “I don’t officially know the theme for next year,” said Jim Moffatt, “but I do know that it has to do with food.” We’re sold on that idea.
The forum had some tough competition. In terms of events, Saturday was one of the busiest days of the year. There was the Lima Bean Festivial (on which there is more below), Victorian Week events, a wine festival at the ferry (which we somehow never get to hear about ahead of time) and Coast Day NJ: A Celebration of the Sea, which was held at the Lobster House (and which also managed to fly under our radar screen). Who says Cape May shuts down in the off-season?
IT MAY be hard to find a lima bean farm in West Cape May these days, but that hasn’t stopped locals from celebrating the magical bean each year with gusto.
We received an edict shortly before the festival (from Lima Bean Czar Diane Flanegan) asking that all participants manning booths give their displays a lima bean theme. This request proved difficult to honor, although the Exit Zero staff did its darndest to come up with ideas on the eve of the festival. We considered a poster rendered in lima bean mosaic, a lima bean crossword, and ultimately settled on a zesty lima bean snack bar. Unfortunately, when we contacted a colleague to pick up the necessary ingredients (we were out of town on an important field trip), she just laughed. So, it didn’t happen.
In West Cape May, however, the lima bean is no joke. We failed to bring anything lima-oriented to the table (although our green, oval-shaped Exit Zero magnets came very close), but we were impressed with the variety of beany goods available in Wilbraham Park. There was lima bean chili, lima bean soup, lima bean earrings, T-shirts and masks, home-made mint and lima bean lip balm, even lima-bean-shaped people. It’s safe to say that this event has done for the lima bean what George Washington Carver did for the peanut.
Even better, the festival brought all kinds of folks together on a beautiful October day. For most of the morning and afternoon, the park was inundated with more foot traffic than we’ve seen anywhere on the island since early September. There were teenagers whizzing by on bikes, older folks from Victorian Towers, locals eager for diversion, and plenty of out-of-towners who’d come down for the Cape May Forum or Victorian Weekend (all of whom we sent away from our table with a fresh copy of Exit Zero).
We’re already looking forward to next year’s festival, where we’ll reveal the biggest, shiniest, most innovative lima bean thingamajig this town has ever seen.
BELATED congratulations to John Cooke, who runs the Victorian Motel and Camelot with his wife Suzanne. John was recently voted President of the Chamber of Commerce, defeating Bill Causey, whose defeat CAN’T have been caused by underexposure (he has been EZ’s most-photographed human being in the last six months).