EGG HARBOR CITY - In the long list of new vendors participating in this year's Hometown Celebration on Saturday, one stood out to organizer and Councilwoman Hazel Mueller.

"My favorite is Acadia Antlers," she said. "They sell recycled, shed moose antlers for dog chews."

The company is coming from Ramsey, Bergen County, to participate in an expanded, daylong Hometown Celebration along Philadelphia Avenue.

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For years, the celebration, which started as a Bicentennial party in 1976, was held over two evenings in Lincoln Park near the train station, Mueller said.

It attracted about 15 local vendors, Mueller said. There were rides and fireworks at the end, but it was a small affair.

More than 90 vendors have already signed up for this year, the first time it will be held downtown and during the day. It's also the first time the Greater Egg Harbor City Chamber of Commerce will kick it off with an 8 a.m. 5K run, followed by a pancake breakfast at Mario's Uptown Grill, 126 Philadelphia Ave.

The vendors are selling everything from food and hot sauces to handmade crafts and jewelry, Mueller said.

"I owe a great deal of thanks to the girls from Simply Sweet Cupcakes. They brought us a lot of vendors," Mueller said of the business, which opened in 2012 at 132 Philadelphia Ave., next to the Atlantic County Library.

Sisters-in-law Jacquelin and Gina Ciaburri recently became local celebrities after winning on an episode of the Food Network's Cupcake Wars. They have run ads, used social media and some old-fashioned methods - like going to other festivals and handing out fliers to vendors - to bring more vendors to this year's event.

"We wanted to make the Hometown Celebration bigger than it's ever been," said Jacquelin Ciaburri. "Since Cupcake Wars aired, we get tourists. Somebody from Rhode Island came in yesterday. They go out of their way to find us from the show.

"Now is the prime time for everybody to take advantage of it," Ciaburri said.

They'll be selling cupcakes of all kinds from their store during the street fair - but they can't sell them from a tent outside for fear their creations would melt, Ciaburri said.

They'll also run two cupcake-eating contests, one for men and one for women, she said.

Carol Plescia, owner of Acadia Antlers, said she heard about the city's fair online and could not afford to make the trip for anything less than an all-day event.

"I have been trying to get into the Atlantic City-Jersey Shore area," she said, adding that she goes to festivals up and down the East Coast to sell sections of antlers, which are long-lasting even for pit bulls and other large dogs. The antlers are collected fresh from the forests of Maine.

Mueller said she wants the bigger celebration to show out-of-towners the appeal of her hometown and recommends visitors bring a lawn chair to sit in and listen to music.

"There are good things happening here," Mueller said. "I would walk anywhere in this town at 3 a.m. I have lived here forever. My kids went to school here. My daughter is a college professor. She did OK."

Local vendors will also be there. The Egg Harbor City Moravian Church will sell its popular funnel cakes, and the Knights of Columbus will run a dunk tank, Mueller said. She has a lot of vendors coming in from Hammonton, and a jam maker is coming from Long Beach Island.

Other longtime traditions continue, such as a bike parade. It will be held 11 a.m. down Philadelphia Avenue. The Little Mr. and Little Miss Egg Harbor City pageants will be held 3 p.m. on the stage by the Atlantic County Library branch at 134 Philadelphia Ave., where musical performers will play all day, she said.

The fireworks that have long been a part of the Hometown Celebration will still go on, but will be held the following Saturday, at dusk June 13, at the Egg Harbor City Lake and Campground.

The Ciaburris are active in the Chamber of Commerce and spend a lot of time trying to lure good businesses to locate in Egg Harbor City, said Jacquelin Ciaburri.

"All I want to do is see every business thrive," Ciaburri said. "I think we're headed in the right direction. I really do."

Contact Michelle Brunetti Post:


If you go

Egg Harbor City Hometown Celebration, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 6 in the 100 and 200

blocks of Philadelphia Avenue. Admission free. More than 80 vendors. Music and entertainment all day. Parking on the empty Fanny D. Rittenberg Middle School site, 500 block

of Philadelphia Avenue, and in lots at train station and behind library.

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