If you’re from South Jersey, you’ve probably passed through Woodbury more than a handful of times—on your way to 295, the Red Bank Battlefield, Rowan or the Deptford Mall. Or maybe, lucky you, you had jury duty at the Gloucester County Courthouse in Woodbury.
Increasingly, though, Woodbury’s becoming far less of a pass-through destination, in large part due to its growing art scene, cultivated by located residents.
One of those local residents is Tara Moughan, who came to Woodbury from Minnesota. She is a board member of the FAF, an organization based in Woodbury that promotes arts and culture in the city. Prior to living in Gloucester County, Moughan had lived in Minneapolis, New York and Toronto, so Woodbury was… an adjustment.
Moughan was drawn to Woodbury because of its proximity to 295 and Philadelphia International Airport, but ultimately fell in love with the city’s small-town charm. To get to know her new digs better, Moughan volunteered in town and became deeply involved with the FAF, which gets its name from the Woodbury Fall Arts Festival.
“Fall Arts Festival was a lot to say ,so people just started to call it the FAF,” says Moughan.
The FAF is involved in several creative avenues in Woodbury such as live music, art and event spaces in town. One of the more popular events the FAF puts on are concerts at Lot 323 in Woodbury.
“We host a mix of established artists and up-and-coming artists,” explains Moughan. “We ask that the artists do original songs along with covers. It’s a nice mix of trying out new material and giving people familiar tunes.”
Lot 323 is a pop-up park in Woodbury that hosts the summer concert series and other events.
“We host six concerts a season, and we start them in the beginning of June and end them in the middle of July,” says Moughan. “We don’t do them in August because we discovered that August is really hot and a lot of people have vacations.
“Even though we host the concerts, people think of Lot 323 as a park. We have a lot of play equipment, and we do a lot with art as well. We have mural artists painting live. It’s incredible because you are watching art being created.’’
One of those mural artists is Loren Dann, a Woodbury native, and founder of South Jersey Artist Collective.
“It’s really fun for me because we get a lot of support, and people will stop by and talk,” says Dann. “It’s fun, hot and stressful, but there is live music, so that makes the event really great.’’
Recently through Dann’s South Jersey Artist Collective, a mural created by Dann’s collective was put up at Woodbury City Hall/Library. The mural is called “Youth in Support of Black Lives Matter.”
“A couple weeks ago we had 30 volunteers to help us hang up all these photos,” says Dann. “It was an international project done with several different countries. During the last couple of weeks at Lot 323 last year we took pictures of kids in the community who were in support of Black Lives Matter. We used those pictures to create a mural.”
For Gloucester County native and Woodbury resident Kaitlin Rattigan, diversity is important to her, and is a main part of her work with FAF.
“I would like to see the town’s diversity celebrated more,” says Rattigan, a labor organizer. “We have a lot of diversity in our school system, and it’s part of the reason why I moved there since my family is multiracial.”
In June, Rattigan helped organize Woodbury Pride through FAF, and it was an event that Rattigan was honored to help put on.
“One of our target demographics is the LGBTQ community in Woodbury,” says Rattigan. “A lot of people we spoke to said that they wanted something for Pride. People wanted a place to feel celebrated and affirmed, and on June 24 we did Woodbury Pride, and we did at Lot 323.”
During the Pride event, there were several different events for people of all ages to partake in.
“We had Pride crafts for kids and rainbow bracelets,” says Rattigan. “The big thing we did for Pride was that we had a blank banner, and it said on the top, ‘What does Pride mean to you?’ and people could write or draw a picture of what Pride means to them. It was absolutely amazing to see the things that people wrote, and it was inspiring. The banner will become a traveling art piece that travels all throughout Woodbury to make spaces in Woodbury more LGBTQ affirmative.’’
“We thought we could pull it off since there was a need and a want, and it was really beautiful to see how many people came out.’’
Lot 323 has two concerts remaining this season, July 15 and 22. For more information of the FAF, go here.