It's called a ‘Rondy'

| 30 Sep 2011 | 08:33

    Following the ways of old, traditionalists practice their crafts at overnight stay, By Chris Wyman HIGHLAND LAKES, N.J. — Bill Becker’s 160-acre High Breeze Farm on Barrett Road is known for its organic produce, free-range eggs and pork and its grass-fed beef. However, it is now becoming well-known for something else — its Garden State “Rondy.” For the second consecutive year, the farm hosted the Garden State Black Powder Association’s annual rendezvous or “Rondy” as it affectionately known by its participants. Becker says he’s excited about having the group make the farm its new home and about making the event an annual tradition at the farm. Although not generally advertised, each of these events is open to the public. The Association’s wood and canvas structures covered two of the farm’s open grazing fields as nearly 50 GSBPA members and their families came out for the annual event. Many who came for the encampment weekend are regulars at the various historically oriented events that take place across Northern New Jersey. The camaraderie of the friendly and fun-loving group of friends is instantly evident as these men, women and children share their enthusiasm for both black powder muskets and America’s past. Each of the props for the re-enactors represent American life prior to the 1840s, some representing the post-revolutionary period, some representing life as it was during the Revolution and some depicting Colonial American life. To remain true to the various time periods, the individual groups camp separately, so that the eras they and their equipment remain distinct and true to each historical period. Some spend the nights in teepees and tents, others camp in lean-to’s and open structures. A quiet spot High Breeze Farm is perfect for the group, says the Association’s president Paul Vanella of Oakland. At night, there is a quiet stillness, a sky full of stars; in the daytime there are breathtaking views of Orange County, N.Y., below. This year, the group’s overnight stays on Wawayanda Mountain included the area’s very first taste of frost, with pockets of frozen water droplets forming in low depressions on the ground and on raised surfaces. According to Becker, when he awoke Sunday morning his thermometer indicated 40 degrees, but a walk out into the cold confirmed the first frost. Becker has been embracing Vernon Township’s direction toward promoting ecotourism and he is trying to shape the farm’s activities and offerings to reflect that goal. To keep residents aware of what is happening on the historic farm and of upcoming events, he offers a monthly newsletter on the farm’s Web site. High Breeze farm is on Barrett Road farm, a short drive from downtown Vernon and Warwick, N.Y.