Wednesday, September 6, 2023

FARMFEST: Music and Family Fun at the Historic Ross Farm


Two local nonprofits, Music in the Somerset Hills (MISH) and Friends of the Boudinot-Southard-Ross Estate (FOBSR), are teaming up to present FARMFEST—a day of music, food, and family-friendly fun at the historic Ross Farm in Basking Ridge on Saturday, September 9, 2 to 7:30 p.m.

ADMISSION: General admission is $35 for adults, while students through college seniors may attend for free.
Tickets and more information are available at

Guests are encouraged to bring their own lawn chairs or blankets, setting the stage for an afternoon of relaxation and enjoyment amidst the picturesque Somerset Hills landscape. There will be honey from Ross Farm available for sale, lawn games, and volunteers on site for garden tours and chats.

While the sound of music fills the 60-acre farm, so too will mouthwatering scents from three distinctive food vendors; Minuteman Smokehouse, Taxi Cab Burger, and Taco Shelly’s. Festivalgoers are also welcome to bring their own picnics from home to snack on throughout the day.

The gates will open at 2 p.m., ushering in an eclectic mix of live music performances. Kicking off the performance lineup at 3 p.m. is Billy Webster, a musical luminary with an impressive discography spanning 18 years. Collaborating with partner Carl Basler, Webster's portfolio boasts 11 albums of original music, including the rock opera "Bold Enough to Say" and the thought-provoking "Marching Through Georgia," a unique reimagination of Civil War ballads as rock n’ roll anthems.

Following Webster is country singer-songwriter Stacia Thiel. Raised on a blend of Dixieland jazz, '70s rock, and barbershop harmonies in rural Wisconsin, Stacia's classically trained opera background infuses her music with a captivating depth, delving into the raw emotions that unite us all.

Rounding out the lineup just before the grand finale is The Joe Cirotti Quartet, a harmonious string ensemble hailing from the shadows of Northwest Jersey's Appalachian ridge fueled by an unwavering passion for the roots of American folk, country, and bluegrass.

The festival will finish with a flourish with the internationally-renowned Fire & Grace, a collaboration between guitarist William Coulter and violinist Edwin Huizinga. Their work explores the connective musical elements of classical, folk, and contemporary traditions from around the world.

Diving further into the spirit of community, FARMFEST will feature student ensembles from Central Jersey’s Octopus Music School. Talented young musicians will take turns entertaining the audience in between sets, providing them with invaluable performance experience, and providing listeners of all ages with a bonus boost of musical inspiration throughout the day.

This dynamic partnership between MISH and the FOBSR reflects a shared commitment to nurturing the arts within the community.

Their first joint project came in 2022 when they thrilled audiences with Carl Orff’s choral masterwork Carmina Burana, the centerpiece of their Summer Solstice Music Festival.

The 2022 festival combined MISH’s Somerset Hills Chorus and lower Manhattan’s Downtown Voices in a classical tour de force and juxtaposed it with Americana and 60’s rock performed by Just Married as well as modern pop covers by Nick Ryan and the Mess.

FARMFEST now stands as the continuation of this rare and creative journey between the two organizations—a great experiment fusing together multiple genres of excellent music and creating a common space for their fans to share.

Ross Farm Music Committee member Ken Van Baalen expressed his enthusiasm, stating, “We are delighted to build upon the success of the Summer Solstice Music Festival and present this year’s FARMFEST, offering a day of entertainment that transcends age barriers and brings our community closer together. We eagerly anticipate the opportunity to share the rich history of the Ross Farm with both old and new friends.”

Stephen Sands, Artistic Director of Music in the Somerset Hills, echoed this exuberance: “Prepare to embark on an extraordinary musical voyage! Our lineup showcases remarkable local talent with the added thrill of an internationally-acclaimed ensemble such as Fire & Grace. Their seamless blend of virtuosity and passion transcends borders, resonates across cultures, and captures the very essence of the heart.”

With an emphasis on inclusivity, FARMFEST is designed to be both budget-friendly and family-oriented. 

About Music in the Somerset Hills (MISH): Music in the Somerset Hills is a 501(c)3 nonprofit whose mission is to create musical experiences of the highest quality for those who live and work in the Somerset Hills and the surrounding area. They work to curate performances and educational opportunities that positively impact the lives of people from all walks of life. Founded in 2010, the organization is committed to educating and inspiring individuals and communities through music.

About The Friends of the Boudinot-Southard-Ross Estate (FOBSR): Established nearly a decade ago, The Friends of the Boudinot-Southard-Ross Estate, a 501(c)3 nonprofit, introduced The Ross Farm Music Series and Boudinot’s Giving Garden in 2015. Preceding this, a grassroots group of neighbors united to ensure access for Somerset County's Weekend Journey through the Past and school field trips. The Ross Farm Music Series will mark its 10th anniversary in 2024.