Since its inception in 2014, Flemington DIY has been helping to grow the arts community in Hunterdon County, an area with plenty of creatives but few maker spaces and all-ages venues that cater to them.
On Saturday, May 14, Flemington DIY will officially reopen in its new location at 26 Stangl Road in Flemington. The highly anticipated grand reopening follows a two-year hiatus, during which the community arts organization operated without a space. The event, scheduled to run from 10 a.m.-10 p.m., will include a “Makers Market” (arts/crafts, unique gifts, vintage goods), live music, auctions, prizes, and more (including the rescheduled International Female Ride Day program, Motos and Photos).
After speaking with Flemington DIY executive director Jeff Hersch, we had a chance to talk with board member and volunteer coordinator Delfina Picchio about the space’s reopening.
NJ Indy: How did you get involved with FDIY?
Delfina Picchio: I got involved as a volunteer back in 2018, I believe. My role back then was just as a community member looking to host a photography show. So I hosted a show back then in 2018 but then I started to help bring about some other programs. From there, my volunteer role just got more and more involved, more responsibility, and then eventually I got on the board a little over a year ago.
NJI: Photography is obviously something you have a passion for or background in then?
DP: Yeah, I’ve been involved with picture-taking or photography since high school, really. It’s always been a hobby of mine. As I mentioned, I did the photo show in 2018, it was called “Bear Witness.”
NJI: What are some of the programs you’ve done in the past?
DP: After I started with that photo show, I hosted a writing program that met maybe every other week throughout the summer and then we hosted an open mic and made a zine of the different members writing. Another program I did, and this was run during COVID the first time, was the “puzzle pursuit:” a community-wide scavenger hunt/race. It was very family-oriented and it was a lot of fun. We did it again this year in the fall and are looking to make it an annual event.
NJI: What do you enjoy most about working with DIY?
DP: Getting to meet lots of different people in the community, seeing people excited about running programs or sharing a skill set with others. I’ve actually gone to a lot of programs [at DIY] and learned a lot of cool new things from people who live in our community; so that’s definitely exciting. Just the feeling of having a space where you can meet new people who may have similar interests as you, whether it be the arts or music. Everybody who goes is usually so nice and friendly. You can always make new friends at DIY.
NJI: What are some of the challenges you’ve faced at FDIY in the past? Any future challenges you’re anticipating, particularly relating to the new space?
DP: Well, right now there’s a lot of excitement and a lot of new people getting involved, which is really great. It’s been a lot for us to work on because there’s just so much stuff happening, though. It’s a really good challenge or problem to have but, you know, we are still only just a few people doing this.
A challenge we’ve had in the past and something we will continue to focus on going forward is our desire to meet the needs of everybody that lives in Flemington; that means making sure we have diverse programming. Offering something for everyone is a challenge and a priority.
NJI: What are you most excited about regarding the new location?
DP: Just to be reopening is a really big thing for us since we were closed [without a space and COVID-restricted] for two years. Getting to be with people again, meeting with the community, I’m just really excited to be back in the groove of being open and having programs in person. I’m also really excited about where we are, how accessible it is for folks that live in the borough; it’s really walkable and then there’s a lot of parking in the area, too, if you don’t live in the borough and have to drive over. There’s a lot of other stuff for you to do in that area [Stangl Road] as well. There’s DIY but then you can get your coffee [Factory Fuel] or ice cream [Humdoo Ice Cream] and more, all in one spot. It’s all really accessible and a really lively area to be in.
NJI: Are there any special programs you want to promote? Any new programs you’re looking to start?
DP: Our “Girls in Gear” program, which is for young riders of bicycles, ages 9-12, who identify as girls. It’s a weekly session where we teach life skills through bike skills including: biking games, bike handling activities, all sorts of things like that and we tie it into social-emotional learning. That’s done in partnership with the greater Girls in Gear organization located in Montclair; we are just one chapter of a greater network of locations. This program was started by a woman named Gabrielle Rossi; I know her and I told her I wanted to start a chapter out here with Flemington DIY. I lead that on Sunday with two other volunteers. Then there’s the International Female Ride Day, which is being organized by Nicole Maniez, she’s another one of our board members and has been involved with DIY for a long time. She’s hosting that program with another volunteer to celebrate International Female Ride Day, which has to do with women representation in motorcycle riding and motorcycle culture. They have a really great event lined up for that [May 14].
NJI: Partnerships or people of interest?
DP: Well, Nicole is definitely someone I’d mention. Like I said, she’s a board member but she also owns an acupuncture clinic across the street from DIY (Jersey Community Acupuncture). We’ve actually done a lot of joint programming between DIY and her clinic, so it’s been a great partnership. The local businesses along Stangl Road: Lone Eagle Brewery, Factory Fuel Coffee, all of the businesses there have offered us support. Everybody has been really collaborative with us, they’ve all been so nice.
NJI: What does Flemington DIY need most right now (apart from volunteers and funding)?
DP: Well, we will be really putting the finishing touches on the space over the next month. Outside of funding and people power, we’ll be putting out a call for some furniture that we need; things to fill the space (couches, etc.). So I’d say, keep an eye out for that and other calls we’ll put out for specific donations, material or otherwise.