If you're not heading to the shore or grilling out in your own backyard this weekend, no worries; there's still a ton to do in our area to help you cope with the early summer heat over the next few days.
South Orange holds their huge annual downtown party, Celebrate South Orange, all day long this Saturday, which includes their famous -- and messy -- Sloppy Joe's Eating Contest, as well as the popular Community Supper feast, a big kid's play zone, retail shopping and arts and craft specials, plus a free health fair.
James Maddock headlines a special Rent Party concert on Friday at the South Orange Elks Lodge, and the SOMBike group leads a unique ride to, and tour of, Folk Engineered Custom Handmade Bicycles in Newark on Sunday morning, (starting out from The Baird).
In Millburn, don't miss Furbish Home's art opening and exhibit of works from the artist Mitu Banga Malhotra on Friday, or the Paper Mill Playhouse's Special Sensory-Friendly Performance of Stone Soup and Other Stories, Saturday morning, designed specifically for the enjoyment of children in the autism spectrum, or with other developmental disabilities.
Finally, in Maplewood, at Words Bookstore, author Steven Petrow will hold a lively reading of his newest, Complete Guide to Gay and Lesbian Manners, Friday night, while Studio B ends a very successful season at The Burgdorff Center for the Performing Arts on Saturday, with Potty Mouths, a stand-up comedy event headlined by SO local, Jessica Kirson, that promises to be over-the-top and laugh-out-loud funny.
Here's this weekend's "hot" list:
: Join Maplewood Memorial Library and help plant the Library Garden with local artist, Susan Brand. The event is suitable for ages 5 to 10 and registration is required. Free, Friday, 4:00pm, Maplewood
: Uma Stewart of Furbish Home invites you to celebrate the artwork of Mitu Banga Malhotra. Meet the artist and enjoy wine and cheese at the opening event. The show will remain on view to the public to July 10. Free, Friday, 6:00pm to 9:00pm, Millburn
: Join Words Friday evening for an entertaining and lively book reading of Steven Petrow's Complete Guide to Gay and Lesbian Manners. This recently published book by Workman Publishing covers proper conduct and etiquette surrounding all of the big milestones for LGBT people. Petrow is especially well suited as a guide to this new century. In addition to writing an earlier book about gay manners (The Essential Book of Gay Manners & Etiquette), he writes the nationally syndicated column “Queeries,” and is a regular contributor to Huffington Post, Advocate.com, 365Gay.com, and Yahoo! Shine, among other outlets. He was also the first curator of the New York Times’ same-sex wedding blog. Free, Friday, 7:30pm, Maplewood
: The CHS Guitar & Song Writing Club proudly presents the 7th annual Guitar Club Concert featuring students and teachers performing a wide range of acoustic, electronic, jazz, rock, blues, and original music at The Black Box Theater at CHS. Doors open at 7:00 p.m. and the show begins at 7:30 p.m. $5-$8, Friday, 7:00pm (doors), Maplewood
: First recognized in the U.S as the front-man for the band Wood, (Songs From Stamford Hill), James Maddock has steadily gained traction in the northeast U.S. with his infectious live performances and accessible touch with his fans. His award-winning 2010 album Sunrise on Avenue C leaves Maddock poised to break through to a mainstream audience in 2011 with his latest, Wake Up and Dream. All proceeds from this show at the South Orange Elks Lodge go to support hunger charities. $25, Friday, 8:00pm, South Orange
: Join the South Mountain Conservancy for a Nature Walk this Saturday. Meet at the Dogwood Hill parking area on Brookside Drive for walk about 2-3 miles, making note of the trees and flowers that grow in that part of the park. The walk will be taken at an easy pace with a fair number of stops to look at the surroundings. Dogwood Hill is 0.6 miles south of the intersection of South Orange Ave. and Brookside Drive. Leader: Dave Hogenauer day of hike only: cell: 973-901-0824. Free, Saturday, 9:30am to 11:30pm, Short Hills
: Paper Mill Playhouse, in partnership with Pushcart Players, New Jersey’s premiere producer of theater for young audiences, will present a special engagement of the live musical Stone Soup and Other Stories on Saturday. Designed specifically for children on the autism spectrum, or with other developmental disabilities, and planned in cooperation with Autism New Jersey and The Douglass Developmental Disabilities Center at Rutgers University, the theater environment will be altered for this performance, providing a sensory-friendly, comfortable and judgment-free space that is welcoming for all families. At this unique presentation, theater lights will remain up, sound volume will be lowered and consistent and children will be free to talk and leave their seat under parental supervision. The show will run about one hour with an intermission. $12-$15 reserved tickets, Saturday, 10:00am, Millburn
: Go to downtown South Orange this Saturday with the annual event that celebrates everything great about the town. CSO kicks off Saturday at 1:00pm, and will include a newly expanded Kid's Zone with a bounce house and other exciting inflatables, plus lots of fun games, arts and crafts, and cool prizes at the Sparkhouse Prize Tent and the huge Touch-A-Truck.
The CSO Main Stage will have homegrown talent featuring live music and dance performances; the Baird Community Center/Pierro Gallery also will host a fun interactive art project called Love Your River: The Rahway River Project; and then shop at the Sloan Street Market, where local businesses, artists and crafters will offer their wares, and visit with town organizations that make our community thrive.
Once again, Main Street South Orange holds the annual CSO/Town Hall Deli Sloppy Joe Eating Contest to crown a King or Queen of the Joe, as contestants battle for the Golden Joe Trophy (and $100 Town Hall Deli gift certificate). And from 6:00pm to 8:00pm, CSO's signature Community Supper feast returns with samples from many of South Orange’s finest restaurants. Advance discount tickets for the Supper are available at Kitchen a la Mode and The UPS Store.
Finally, the South Orange Village Department of Health is hosting their fifth annual free Health Fair for residents and families at the South Orange Fire House at 56 Sloan Street during the early afternoon. Various health screenings and health demonstrations will be conducted and available. Free, Saturday, 1:00pm to 8:00pm, South Orange
: The Children's Music Network and Essex Ethical Culture invite you to a day of workshops for musicians, teachers, parents, grandparents, friends & family. Activities include workshops "Beyond Raffi" and "Using Visuals with Singing" followed by an early potluck dinner and a round robin family concert. Free, Saturday, 1:00pm to 8:00pm, Maplewood
: Studio B is celebrating the end of their first spectacular season with a "wash-your-ears-out-with-soap, rib-aching, thigh-punching" stand up comedy show called Potty Mouths, featuring local comic talents Dina Pearlman, Laura Booker, Jason Good, Jonny Fido, and South Orange native Jessica Kirson, who has appeared on The Tonight Show, The Comedy Channel, and Last Comic Standing. $20, Saturday, 8:00pm, Maplewood
: The Maplewood Club offers a beautiful setting for a game of tennis, parties and gatherings of family and friends, or business and professional associates. Situated within a quiet area of older Colonial-style homes, the club, founded in 1916, is surrounded by trees and shrubbery, providing a feeling of seclusion during warm weather months. The club offers four pristine green har-tru tennis courts (a.k.a. "North American" clay) within a professionally landscape setting, large clubhouse and full time tennis pro on staff. Free, Sunday, 12:00pm to 2:00pm, Maplewood
: The Annual Student Art Show will be held on Sunday afternoon. Go to the new location of Geralyn's Art Studio at 103 Baker Street and view the wonderful array of color and creativity on show. The day will include face painting by Three Sisters Painting and refreshments will be served. Free, Sunday, 12:00pm to 4:30pm, Maplewood
: Help LaChaney's celebrate a successful season of dance and their grand opening of a new facility. Take advantage of their family picnic at Maplecrest Park this Sunday to register for summer and fall classes. There will be free food, games, music, inflatable rides, a playground, and a skate park. Everyone is invited but don't forget to bring your lawn chairs and blankets. Since there are picnic tables in the park, feel free to bring your own folding tables and tents. Free, Sunday, 1:00pm to 5:00pm
: If you've dreamed of owning a custom fitted bike, are curious about what it takes to build a bike, or start an artisanal business, join SOMBike for an up close and personal visit with Folk Engineered Custom Handmade Bicycles in Newark. Everyone will meet-up on bikes at The Baird Center Parking Lot for a ten mile round trip to Folk Engineered and back. Free, Sunday, 2:00pm, South Orange & Newark
: Finding Infinity will be continuing its successful work by holding its second annual concert this Sunday. Peter Ngqibs, founder of the annual benefit concert, has teamed up with local artists in the Maplewood/South Orange area and students from Montclair State University to host the second Finding Infinity annual concert series. The supported organization is Infinite Family, a fresh and innovative non-profit organization that connects caring adults around the world. $10, Sunday, 4:00pm, Maplewood
Tycoon Dog Free All Ages Concert: Tycoon Dog presents a free afternoon of eclectic songs and improv music touching on rock, blues, pop, reggae, hillbilly, soul, funk, jazz and world music. The music is family friendly and fun for folks of all ages and will take place at the Amphitheater in Maplewood Memorial Park, across and down the hill from the train station. Free, Sunday, 3:00pm to 5:00pm, Maplewood
Donald Pun lives in Maplewood and posts the event round-up column here each weekend. Previously, he was a regular contributor for the NY Times' Maplewood, South Orange, and Millburn Local blog section.