Music festival and carnival to benefit hungry children

On Saturday, June 13, the Stella Maris Knights of Columbus Council based in Erma will host the third annual Rock for Kids festival, a rollicking family event that the group hopes will become a Cape May County family tradition.

The combination live music concert, carnival and barbecue raises funds that benefit Catholic Charities’ Cape May County food pantry.

“I want people to be aware of the need for food in our community, as well as I think it’s important for families to have things to do together. This is a community event and it’s meant to bring about some togetherness and maybe spark some interest in spending more time together as a family,” said Deputy Grand Knight Dan Gilliam, who is the lead organizer of the event.

Last year, the event raised $2,000 that the Knights used to purchase food and baby goods for the food pantry, specifically with the children of Cape May County in mind.

The Council donates food to Catholic Charities’ Cape May County food pantry throughout the year, with members bringing bags of foods and baby goods to meetings. Since last year’s festival, the council has donated 17,000 pounds of food to the center, kicked off by the 9,000 pounds they were able to purchase with funds from the festival last June.

“The Knights of Columbus always come in for us at the right time. They’re a blessing. We’re in such a poor area and the food is so needed. It comes in and goes right out,” said Cheryl King, coordinator of Catholic Charities’ Cape May County center. The center serves an estimated 550 food pantry clients each year.

About 10 percent of the county’s residents live below the federal poverty level, accounting for over 2,600 children. The resort region faces high unemployment during the off-season winter months. Feeding America estimates that 13 percent of the county’s population lacks adequate access to food.

Food pantries fill that gap for families, King said. The Catholic Charities pantry is located in Rio Grande, one of the poorest communities in the county, with a poverty rate that jumps to 16 percent of residents.

“It’s a wonderful family day,” King added of the festival. “There’s something for everyone there.”

The festival will be held at The Moose Lodge on Seashore Road in Erma from 12 noon to 6 p.m. The day features five local professional bands who will perform throughout the afternoon. Games and rides like a bounce house and dunk tank will provide kid-friendly entertainment. New this year are a car show and additional vendors to add to the carnival atmosphere.

Tickets include all-you-can-eat food and drinks (provided by the Knights council) and all rides and games. They are priced at $20 for adults and $10 for teenagers aged 13-17. Children aged 12 and under will be admitted free. Tickets can be purchased in advance by calling the Council Hall: 609-884-9643, or Dan Gilliam: 609-408-3004.

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