Details are known for the Chowder Festival – the range of food for sale, from chowder to wings and the famous LBI ‘elephant ears’ pastry, a casual seating area to enjoy bands and beers, and a vendor fair and more attractions around the Taylor Avenue Bayfront in Beach Haven on Saturday, October 1.
Admission is free from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., one of the differences with previous gatherings.
Now, the hope for the previous days: Hopefully, Ian will miss the fun. After a blisteringly dry summer, the hurricane dares to threaten New Jersey at the end of the first weekend in October, but this guest is not invited. On Monday, planning for the Chowder Festival was still underway for Saturday.
“We plan everything for Saturday. We’ve contacted different forecasters, and they’re saying if the rain does come, it’ll be much later in the day,” Lori Pepenella, CEO of the South Ocean County Chamber of Commerce, said Monday. “We will be there to get settled on Friday and we plan to be open at 10 a.m. Saturday. We anticipate the full force on Saturday.
The 34th annual event is set as the end of the Chowder Trail, the list of participating LBI and Manahawkin restaurants where tasters can go (until September 30) and purchase sample cups, bowls or pints, then vote for their prefer. Registration and voting are done online at chowderfest.com. The winners of the Red, White and Creative categories will be announced on stage at the end of the festival.
At the festival, the base camp seating area of the Bywatyr shop is new this year and offers increased comfort compared to the old folding chairs. The base camp layout offers conversation pits at the end of the chowder track as well as a pergola with seating and tables, and Adirondack chairs surrounding the stage.
Bywatyr Shop owner Denise Burr said the idea was to create seating with plants and flowers “like an outdoor patio in front of the stage for people to sit and listen to music, drink and eat, a comfortable place to relax”. Festival-goers can always bring their own chairs to sit on if they wish.
Food vendors and restaurants with offers for purchase during the festival include:
• Anna Bananas Bakery, with take-out baked goods, donuts, cupcakes and cookies;
• Barnegat Oyster Farmer Collective, featuring a raw bar of locally sourced oysters;
• Le Poulet ou l’Œuf, selling its competition chowder, wings and other popular menu items;
• Chick-fil-A, with popular sandwiches, fries and soft drinks;
• Country Kettle Chowda, selling its competition chowder, bread bowls and soft drinks;
• Crust & Crumb Bakery, which offers baked goods, elephant ears, cake crumbs and cookies;
• Dockside Diner, with its competitive chowder and menu items;
• Fantasy Island Snack Shop, popcorn, cotton candy, pretzels, soft drinks;
• Ocean County College, with chowder and drinks;
• Slice of Heaven Pizza, with pizza and garlic knots;
• Tide Table Group, selling competition chowder from Old Causeway Steak and Oyster House, and menu items highlighting all of its restaurants, including Old Causeway, Mud City Crab House, Black Whale and Bird & Betty’s;
This year, Michelob Ultra, Jetty Session, Spaten, Oktoberfestbier, Blue Point Toasted Lager and Landshark will be there. Wines and seltzers will also be sold, along with Babe Rosé and Pinot Grigio.
Sellers offer the ability to “support local” all in one place. A range of local traders are signed up to bring great displays and local produce. And at Bywatyr Shop Base Camp, Casual Comfort brand heavy plastic outdoor furniture is 100% recycled and American-made, for anyone who wants to buy some.
Specially set up for the 2022 Chowder Festival, there are more attractions. Check out the Jetty Pop-Up Shop for limited-edition chowder gear. The Ocean County 250th Revolutionary War trailer will be there with activities for families, as well as its Pup Tent hydration station for pets to rest. It’s stocked with water, treats, and dog collection bags. Crunchy the T-Rex is back for three shows starting at noon. The 13-foot-long, 7-foot-tall animatronic walking dinosaur captivates all ages. Each Bloomin’ Thing Mobile Bouquet Bar will brighten up the celebration.
The 2022 Chowder Festival Sponsors are: Health Village Imaging, presenting musical entertainment (see separate article), Barlow Buick GMC, Richie & Page, Michelob Ultra, The Bywatyr Shop, 609 Security, Reynolds Garden Shop, NJ Division of Travel & Tourism , Ocean County Board of Commissioners, AtlantiCare, Potts Excavating and The SandPaper.
Chowderfest has been a fundraiser held by the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce since 1989 to provide funds for out-of-area marketing, business and nonprofit support programs, and scholarships. It is planned and managed by volunteers from the business community through the chamber’s board of directors and the Chowderfest committee.
According to Chowderfest’s mission statement, “This event has never been produced as a for-profit venture and has always functioned to positively promote the area by bringing in off-season dollars to grow our local economy.” Spanning over three decades, the festival continues to evolve to keep the mission of reaching new audiences, raising awareness of Long Beach Island, and bringing people together for the unofficial end of summer.
Meanwhile, people have until September 30 to explore the Chowder Trail and sample at competing restaurants: Country Kettle Chowda, Daddy O Restaurant and Bar, Dockside Diner, Russo’s Italian Restaurant, The Chicken or the Egg, Tuckers Tavern, Delaware Avenue Oyster House, LaBamba Express and Old Causeway Steak & Oyster House. Instructions for entering and voting are all set out on the chowderfest.com website, along with other information.
— Maria Scandal