To commemorate Autism Awareness Month, and raise awareness of and funds for autism related services, the Borough of Fanwood will be hosting its second annual Rockin’ For Autism Music Festival on Saturday, April 29, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. at LaGrande Park (Rain date April 30).
Rockin’ For Autism is the brainchild of 15-year-old Fanwood resident Mallory Banks, who since 2011 has raised more than $20,000 for Autism New Jersey in honor of her brother, Ethan (age 17), and all those affected by autism spectrum disorder. Miss Banks, an Autism Awareness Junior Ambassador for the past six years, ranks among the top kids in New Jersey who raise money for Autism Awareness Month. Last year, the festival raised $10,500 – more than doubling the amount of money previously raised by Mallory since 2011.
“Last year’s Rockin’ For Autism Music Festival was unbelievable. While it was an exciting day for many, at the heart of it was the money the festival raised to help people with autism like my brother,” said Mallory. “This year’s festival is going to be even bigger and better than last year’s, and we hope that even more people attend because everyone who comes makes a difference.”
In 2015, Mallory approached Fanwood Mayor Colleen Mahr during the town’s annual Fannywood Day celebration and pitched her idea for hosting a music festival in LaGrande Park. Since then, Mayor Mahr has been working closely with Mallory and her parents, Jeff and Gina Banks, and local government agencies to help facilitate the annual event. “Rockin’ For Autism is an extraordinary event that Fanwood is proud to host. It has something for everyone to enjoy,” said Mayor Mahr. “Last year’s festival exceeded everyone’s expectations, and was a shining example of how the dreams of an exceptional young woman can pull an entire community together for a worthy cause. I am confident that the festival will continue to attract high attendance, creating memories while raising awareness and funds for the autism community.”
The 2017 festival will be even grander than 2016, featuring a variety of local musical acts, food trucks and stands, local vendors and non-profit organizations, autism workshops, a bake sale and merchant tricky tray raffle, a beer garden (2 – 6 p.m.), an obstacle course and more! The festival will also coincide with the Scotch Plains Fanwood Youth Baseball Association Opening Day Ceremony, and feature sports clinics from the Scotch Plains-Fanwood Soccer Association and the Wolves Basketball Academy.
Among the many bands and performers scheduled include: Eric Harrison’s Crash Course, Three-Piece Nugget, Leave the Gun, The Thingama Jigs, The School of Rock and Goodworks. Joining them will be renowned music therapist Jammin’ Jenn and a dance exposition by the Cindy Smith Dance Studio. The event will be MC’d by Main Source DJs.
Many local businesses, organizations and sponsors have signed up to support the festival to date, including: Child’s Play Challenge Courses, Sheelan’s Crossing, Nick’s Pizza, Rocko’s Ice Cream, Red, White and Que Smokeshack, The Empanada Guy, Freppe’s Tex-Mex, River and Rail Cantina, The Juice House, The Max Challenge of Cranford, Cesar Kai Academy, European Wax Center of Garwood, Chloe and Isabel, Alex and Ani of Westfield, DevaCurl of NYC, Create and Blossom, PM Pediatrics, Mt. Bethel Village, Creative Kids of Scotch Plains, Family Investors Company, Kristian Quistgaard Photography, Writer’s Notch College Essay Services, the JCC of Central NJ, Highland Swim Club and more.
Family photo: The Banks Family. From left to right: Jeff, Ethan, Mallory and Gina.