LBI ChowderMonth Ends With Champion Style Celebration

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(Photos by Ryan Morrill)

Even without the clamor of a firing at this year’s actual event, a free two-day waterfront festival drew a lively crowd of thousands on October 2-3 at the top of ChowderMonth.

“The two-day festival was the largest gathering on LBI since the pandemic, with more than 10,000 attendees,” said Lori Pepenella, CEO of the South Ocean County Chamber of Commerce, who presented the event.

The 33rd Annual Chowderfest encountered warm, sunny weather that encouraged outings, as did the free open door this year. Everything has gone well in a year where most events are still hybrid in one way or another due to lingering concerns over COVID.

The solution was to keep the chowder tasting spread over a month in individual restaurants as was done last year, but this brought back the festival setting from the past, which had been suspended in 2020. Two days of music, of shopping, food and fun for 2021 were free.

In the month-long soup vote, the Traveling Tasters spent September boosting the economy, visiting restaurants and voting for their favorite red, white and creative champions.

Fans of the Sunday festival were the first to get the scoop on which restaurant chowders won the most votes.

And the 2021 ChowderMonth champions are:

Manhattan: Country Kettle Chowda

New England: the chicken or the egg

Creative: Country Kettle Lobsta

Honorable mentions were also given: Manhattan, Lefty’s Tavern; New England, Scojo’s; and Creative, Dune 18.

An online voting platform counted 2,482 entries at competing restaurants during the month. Tasters from New Jersey, Pennsylvania and New York were chowder lovers from Maryland, Connecticut, Florida, Ohio, Virginia and Texas.

“The Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce would like to thank the community who supported, planned, sponsored, volunteered and celebrated their 33rd Annual Chowder Cook-Off Competition with their very first Bayfront Free Festival. The overwhelming support for the organization and the event was a great way to end the season, ”said Chamber President Chris Schwab.

Competing restaurants have done a lot of work to keep the pot stirring. They were ready for additional chowder requests in a season when the staff is smaller. This year’s contestants were New England: Country Kettle Chowda, Panzone’s Pizza and Pasta, Quincy’s Original Lobster Rolls, Scojo’s, Surf City Hotel, Polly’s Dock and The Chicken or the Egg. Manhattan: Country Kettle Chowda, Lefty’s Tavern, and Roberto’s Dolce Vita. Creative chowders were: Dune 18, Country Kettle, LaBamba, Old Causeway Steak and Oyster House, Quincy’s, and Delaware Avenue Oyster House.

The regional chamber worked with the Borough of Beach Haven to boost business and bring the festival to Taylor Avenue Bay.

“The trust and investment our sponsors have placed in us during such a difficult year have been deeply appreciated,” said Pepenella.

Some of the sponsors that made the event possible included: ChowderMonth Signature Event Sponsor Fantasy Island Amusement Park, Entertainment Sponsor Health Village Imaging, ChowderVote Sponsor Southern Ocean Medical Center, Vendor Village Premiere Sponsor Barlow Buick GMC, Anderson Insurance, Ritchie & Page – Michelob Ultra, 609 Security, Atlantic Shores, NJ Division of Travel and Tourism, Lew Richards of Crust and Crumb Bakery, Ocean County Board of Commissioners, The Sandpaper / The Beachcomber, Beasley Media, Potts Excavating and Reynolds Garden Shop.

Special thanks also went to: Miked Audio Sound, Todd Raup, PBS Travel Host Erik Hastings, Jack & Carly Music, TD Bank, Beach Haven borough, Beach Haven Police Department and Beach Haven First Aid Squad.

A loyal batch of over 150 volunteers helped put the show on in various ways.

The festival also created an opportunity for nonprofit organizations to raise awareness and raise funds. This year it was the Hunger Foundation of Southern Ocean, ReClam the Bay and Soroptimist International of Long Beach Island.

The chamber summed up the event as follows: “Walking tasters, live music, draft beers and a festival of spirit have announced the ChowderMonth 2021 champions with community support to welcome fall in style. traditional.” -MRS

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