Friday, November 19, 2021

Philcon 2021

     Friday, November 19, 2021: I arrived at the Crowne Plaza Hotel in Cherry Hill, New Jersey to attend the Philadelphia Science Fiction Conference or Philcon. The Philadelphia Science Fiction Society or PSFS has held Philcon since 1936, and it has been at this hotel since 2008—except for last year when it became a virtual convention. Overall, it felt good to be back after two years! Since 2019, I decided that I have seen much that went on at a science fiction convention (SF con) because I have been going to SF cons since 1977. Therefore, I got to the point where I preferred staying in mostly one place and letting the people at the con come past or near me—or letting the con come to me. Nevertheless, despite my staying put, Philcon had something for almost everybody in its programming: panels or presentations about SF literature, SF art, and SF films & TV shows, as well as SF fan activities, costuming, and science. Other activities included writing workshops, gaming, filk singing (putting SF lyrics to popular tunes—mostly folk tunes),  author readings, videos of SF films & TV shows, room parties, a masquerade contest, a hospitality room or con suite, an art show room, and a dealers’ or vendors’ room, etc. There were also fan tables out in the hallways for different groups for different purposes such as people from other future SF cons promoting and selling memberships to their SF cons and our group: The National Space Society (NSS)/Philadelphia Area Space Alliance (PASA). After I registered, I headed first to the Con Suite for a short time. Here, I could talk with other SF fans while those running this room offered snacks and soft drinks in a living room setting overlooking Cooper River Park. Then for the next few hours, I sat at our NSS/PASA table.

     Saturday, November 20, 2021: Before sitting at the NSS/PASA table for the rest of the day, I toured the Art Show room. Inside this room I noticed that about 90% of the artists showed paintings and drawings, and rest exhibited other forms of art: jewelry, sculptures, dishes, and so forth. Around 75% of the art themes displayed fantasy art, and the rest presented SF and space art. 

     Saturday night: The one event I saw was the Masquerade. Altogether, I looked at 15 entries, and aside from two of the contestants wearing SF costumes, the rest wore fantasy costumes. 

     Sunday, November 21, 2021: On this day I went to the Dealers’ Room, browsed around, and bought a magazine. Meanwhile, from what I observed, about half of the dealers sold reading materials of books, magazines, fanzines, and comic books. The other half of the dealers sold other merchandise: artwork, jewelry, and accessories, as well as mugs, sculptures, games, crafts, toys, and so on. Then I spent the last few hours back at the NSS/PASA table trying to recruit more people to join PASA, NSS, or both. Now, I’m looking forward to attending next year’s Philcon.                                                


Saturday, November 13, 2021

Englishtown Auction

     Saturday, November 14, 2021: I decided to make one more daytrip for 2021, and on the above date, I traveled to Monmouth County, New Jersey. My destination became the Englishtown Auction, 90 Wilson Avenue, Englishtown (732-446-9644). Some people told me that this place has been the largest farmers’ market in NJ, and I arrived with high expectations. Nevertheless, when I was there, I noticed a lot of outdoor vendors near both sides of the five buildings that were supposed to contain indoor vendors. Once I entered the different buildings, however, I saw a few merchants in each building, but otherwise, these building seemed quiet and many of the stores were closed. Maybe it had to do with the time of year or covid 19, but unlike other farmers’ markets where the buildings inside could be as active as the outside, this wasn’t the case here. Despite that, I walked quite a bit as I browsed through the areas with the outside vendors! These vendors sold many kinds of merchandise at bargain prices: clothing, jewelry, and accessories, as well as cosmetics, toys, foods, hardware, furniture, electronics, etc. Thus, roaming through here took a few hours or more of my time. So this trip was totally worth it.    

Saturday, November 6, 2021

Sickler's Circle View Farm

     Saturday, November 6, 2021: While we were taking a drive through Salem County, New Jersey on the above date, we stopped at this place: Sickler’s Circle View Farm, 450 Bridgeton Pike, Monroeville (856-712-0849). Unlike other farm market stores that mostly sold produce, this store sold meats of beef and pork from cattle and hogs raised on their surrounding farm. Inside this store, I saw a freezer of meats, and in a nearby refrigerator, they also sold eggs from their chickens and cheese. In addition to their farm products, they also had food products from other nearby farms. Meanwhile, I noticed other foods for sale such as honey, beef jerky, bbq sauce, etc. As for non-edible merchandise, they stocked t-shirts, hats, stickers, and so forth. I bought a few items here and once outside, I looked at the hogs and cattle. Anyway, if you want to try local meats, eggs, and dairy products, this is the place to visit!   

Tuesday, November 2, 2021

The Find

      Tuesday, November 2, 2021: After seeing Cowtown, we drove along Route 40 in Salem County, New Jersey, and we stopped at what looked like an interesting place: The Find Marketplace, 1207 Rt. 40, Woodstown (856-823-5017). Inside, this place contained around 30 plus resale vendors selling furniture, antiques & collectables, and jarred foods. Surprisingly, the jarred foods were cheaper in price than what some of the farm markets wanted for similar stuff! Meanwhile, similar to the antique market in Hammonton, NJ, browsing here reminded me of being in a decorative arts museum—except that this art, too, was for sale. Anyway, this store proved to be an interesting place.  

Cowtown Market

      Tuesday, November 2, 2021: I remembered my parents taking me here as a child and a teen a few times: Cowtown Farmers Market, 780 Harding Highway (Route 40), Pilesgrove (Salem County), New Jersey (856-769-3000). This market and rodeo has been around since 1926. On Saturday nights in the summer, Cowtown presented the rodeo, and back in the 1950s and ‘60s, this rodeo used to be on network TV. My main interest, however, was the year-round farmers market. This large indoor and outdoor market contained 100s of vendors offering bargains in many kinds of merchandise: food, clothing, and jewelry, as well as cosmetics, furniture, accessories, toys, electronics, flowers & plants, luggage, home goods, tools, memorabilia, etc. Whew! Upon arrival, you can’t miss seeing the giant cowboy and cow in front of this market.  

Thursday, October 28, 2021

Salem Historical Society

     Thursday, October 28, 2021: It’s been 20 years since I’ve been to Salem, Salem County, New Jersey, and I visited the same place that I saw back then: Salem County Historical Society, 83 Market Street (856-935-5004). Here in a building from the 1700s in a few different rooms on two floors, I looked at decorative arts and furniture from the 18th-, 19th-, and 20th-century, as well as items from the local Native Americans—the Lenni-Lenapes; a special room honoring the late Salem Oak that died on June 6, 2019 (It was estimated to be over 500 years old.); and a room displaying textiles in clothing and samplers. In addition, I also saw a few rooms with furnishings from the 1700s, work equipment from the different trades practiced in the last few centuries, and glassware. Most of the upstairs rooms showed pictures, texts, and exhibits honoring those who lived in Salem County. Overall, this place was packed with information about Salem County!     

Lapp's Dutch Market

     Thursday, October 28, 2021: It was another day and another daytrip to Salem County, New Jersey! This time we went to a market that didn’t look like much on the outside, but inside, it was a different story. Lapp’s Dutch Market, 23 North Virginia Avenue (Route 130), Penns Grove (856-299-4224) had quite a variety of stuff: different meats that were fresh, processed, and cooked; baked goods; and canned foods; as well as jarred foods; snack foods; etc. Besides local products, I also noticed foods from Lancaster County, Pennsylvania, and some food from Canada. This store has been in business for over 25 years. Therefore, they must be doing something right.