‘Say goodbye’ to historic Rova Farms in Jackson NJ
The Rich History of Rova Farms
Almost a century ago — in the 1930s — a group of Russian immigrants settled in the Cassville section of Jackson Township, N.J. They purchased 1,400 acres of land there, which eventually came to be known as Rova Farms.
Originally housing residential communities, farms, churches, and social centers, the area soon blossomed into a thriving lakeside resort and retreat. Thousands of special events and concerts were hosted there over the decades.
Growing up in Jackson, I have fond memories of shopping at the legendary Rova Farms Flea Market in the 90s. Bought some excellent board games and tech equipment there.
Even Bruce Springsteen played Rova Farms in 1973. The concert is mentioned in his "Born to Run" memoir as "the only full-out bar brawl" he and his band experienced.
Disuse and Disrepair
Unfortunately, in the 2000s, Rova Farms fell into disuse and severe disrepair.
Break-ins and vandalism blighted the buildings, and accelerated the area's deterioration. Eventually, the township determined the structures could not be salvaged.
A New Life for Rova
Jackson Township purchased 34 acres of the land as Open Space in 2019. A volunteer advisory committee was formed to determine the best use for the space.
The big decision: Soon the restaurant and cultural center will be demolished, as Rova Farms transforms to Rova Park.
The goal is to create a community space featuring both active and passive recreation. Officials are also fully dedicated to preserving the significance of the site. So an even more important objective is to maintain historical perspective, with a big educational proponent to the new development as well.
Rova Farms Day
A few portions of the property have already been taken down and cleaned up. The main demolition and renovation is set to begin soon.
So the town decided to hold a Rova Farms Day celebration this Saturday 10/22 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. A flier for the event invites the public to "Say Goodbye, Learn the History, See Future Plans". The official address for the festivities is 120 Cassville Rd in Jackson.
NJ Assemblyman Alexander Sauickie, former Jackson council president and champion of this project, will kick off the event by speaking at 1 p.m. Saturday.
At 1:30 p.m., singer Galina Moore will perform original songs in the style of Belarusian folklore.
At 2:30 p.m., a dance ensemble will take the stage to perform "Inspiration".
And the day will wrap up with a 3:30 p.m. performance by singer Tatyana Hatliskaya.
While it's sad to see a prominent piece of Jackson Township history razed and committed to dust, the future development of Rova Park seems like a smart use of public Open Space funds. And a promising new space for Jackson residents to gather, to play, and to learn about the township's rich Russian heritage and history once again.