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‘Winterfest’ Seeks To Educate About Census 2020

Census information was relayed in a number of ways, including through these Census coloring books.

Somerset County brought its Census 2020 roadshow to the township on January 18, offering education under the guise of entertainment at one of the township schools.

The event was called “Winterfest 2020,” a nod to Census 2020 and the county administration’s desire to have as close to a full Census count as possible.

Franklin is one of four Somerset County towns which will host a Winterfest 2020 between now and April, said Kim Cowart, the county’s director of community development.

“The idea is to bring this model to our low response areas,” she said. “We’ve got some Census tracts in Somerset County where as many as 30 to 40 percent of the population don’t answer the questionnaire.”

A Census tract is an area designation that contains roughly several thousand people, and is used by the Census Bureau for analytical purposes.

“Through data collected by the Census, we know where those Census tracts are,” Cowart said.

In addition to Franklin, there will be Winterfest 2020s held in North Plainfield, Somerville and Bound Brook, she said.

The county Planning Board’s Complete Count Committee received a grant meant to fund “creative approaches to educating people about Census,” and devised the Wintefest idea, she said.

“The idea is that we would do an indoor winter carnival with lots of fun things to do, games, prizes and something called the Census Experience, which is where we educate people as to why Census is important,” she said.

The venue was Franklin Middle School – Hamilton Street campus. There were a variety of games with Census themes, as well as Census-specific materials.

Those looking for Census jobs were also able to apply at the Winterfest.

Also attending were representatives from township departments and social service organizations in the county.

“We’re really trying to be all-inclusive and think about everything people might want to know,” Cowart said.

“It’s just fun around why we want you to be counted and why it’s so important,” she said.

Census information – Constitutionally mandated to be gathered every 10 years – is used for a variety of purposes on the federal, state and local levels, not the least of which is to determine the amount of federal assistance towns will receive.

Households will begin receiving Census information in March, and “Census Day” – the day by which the bureau hopes to have received the information – is April 1.

Census canvassers will hit the streets beginning in May to reach those households which did not return their Census forms.

Following are some scenes from Winterfest 2020 at the Middle School campus:

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