The New Jersey Fringe Festival – call it "Jersey Fringe" – is here again, this Friday through Sunday in Hammonton, N.J., The Blueberry Capital of the World. Since its first go, in 2016, it has been a wild, unexpected success.

The guys who run the Eagle Theatre had the idea: Combine a town tour and fringe-style arts and theater festival. Folks enjoy food trucks, street acts, music, local businesses – and anchoring the whole thing is the Eagle itself. Twenty shows will run at 11 venues through town, all within walking distance of the Eagle at 208 Vine St.

Jim Donio, chief strategist of the Eagle and cofounder of Jersey Fringe, says, "The vibe is funky, quirky, interactive."

In addition to being home of the Eagle Theatre and host to the Jersey Fringe, Hammonton is known as the blueberry capital of the world.
Photo by Joe Grasso
In addition to being home of the Eagle Theatre and host to the Jersey Fringe, Hammonton is known as the blueberry capital of the world.

It's part of a national trend, visible at places like the Eagle, People's Light in Malvern, and the Uptown! Knauer Performing Arts Center in West Chester: local theaters becoming regional arts hubs.

Josh Hitchens of Philly-based Going Dark Theatre will be performing Ghost Stories at 1 Trick Pony (251 Bellevue Ave.), which concerns "various paranormal things I've experienced in my life up to the present." Hmmm.

Cameron Grant of Absecon, N.J.-based Aqueduct Productions is writer and director of 3 Egg Creams, playing at Paul Morris DanceXplosion (116 Bellevue Ave). Starring Vince Bandille, it's a one-man show, "five actors, three egg cremes, 70 minutes," an urban Romeo and Juliet with the music of Lou Christie ("Lightnin' Strikes").

The Eagle will host Social Studies an original music starring seven middle-schoolers (Friday and Saturday), and Fire, Famine and Flood, a play about climate equity by students from Hartnell College in Salinas, Calif.

"That's another thing we've tried to be: eclectic," says Donio.

The Jersey Fringe runs Friday through Sunday in Hammonton, N.J. Tickets: $19 daily, $39 weekend passes. Information: jerseyfringe.com.