Thirty years of Chowderfest make Long Beach Island the Chowder Capital of the Jersey Shore. The Cook-Off Classic revels in its 30th anniversary weekend Sept. 29-30 at Ninth Street and Taylor Avenue in Beach Haven.
Started by Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce members in the late 1980s as an enticing way to keep merchants and restaurants open past Labor Day, Chowderfest is now synonymous with the Island itself.
On Sunday, ticketholders taste and vote to pick their favorite chowder entry in Red, White and Creative categories. Each restaurant prepares over 200 gallons of its secret recipe to woo ticket holders with unlimited samples to earn their vote.
Beer and spirits, festival food and bands mix with shopping and kids’ activities in the fall air.
As summer fades, Long Beach Island begins to buzz in anticipation of the iconic event that draws thousands back for their chowder pilgrimage each year. This year, the festival is brimming with more excitement than ever. The lineup of competing restaurants filled up early, with 19 impressive competitors.
They are: (White/New England) Country Kettle Chowda; Chicken or the Egg; Howard’s Restaurant; Tucker’s Tavern, Wally’s; and Polly’s Dock.
(Red/Manhattan) Lefty’s Tavern; Buckalew’s; Stefano’s; Ocean County College Hospitality Program; Bistro 14; Black Whale Bar & Fish House.
(Creative) Delaware Ave. Oyster House; La Bamba; Sunny Rae’s Kitchen; The Woo Hoo; Blue Water Café; Cuisine on the Green; and the first international competitor, Nancy’s Barn of Ballyliffen, Ireland.
By the Day: Chowderfest Weekend
Chowderfest Weekend opens Saturday, Sept. 29, with the free Merchants Mart Marketplace from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dozens of merchants will be selling end-of-season bargains and services under the big tents at the Taylor Avenue Chowderfest grounds.
Live music, gourmet food and good times on tap are all a draw. Beer, hard cider and wine can be purchased by the glass. Get your Chowdawear merchandise to sport the next day at the cook-off.
Parents can bring the kids to see Crunchy the T-Rex and enjoy hands-on children’s crafts and other activities.
On Sunday, Sept. 30, the Chowder Cook-Off Classic is a ticketed event. It heats up for the general public at 11 a.m.; however, those who buy VIP tickets get early access at 10 a.m.
Toddlers younger than 3 get free admission. Ticket costs for the Cook-Off are: Children ages 4 to 12 – $10; General admission – $30; VIP – $65.
VIPs also receive an official Taster’s T-shirt, and entry to the Bud Lite Big Screen Bar with dedicated food and beverage service. The 2018 VIP advantage is brought to you by Southern Ocean Medical Center.
The organization of this epic two-day, rain or shine event is a massive undertaking, which is the task of the Chowderfest Committee headed up by the chamber’s Chowderfest coordinator, Todd Elsasser.
At this 30th year, the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce recognizes longstanding sponsors, including Sysco Foods; The SandPaper/Beachcomber; Bud Light; Ritchie & Paige Distributors; Barefoot Wines; Westminster Bakers Co.; TD Bank, Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders; and N.J. Division of Travel and Tourism.
A special thank-you in 2018 goes to the Volunteer T-shirt sleeve sponsors, which are Panzone’s Pizza & Pasta in memory of the late Chowderfest Chairman Frank V. Panzone Jr., and Atlantic States Group.
North and South Gate sponsors are DiFeo Manahawkin Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram/DiFeo Manahawkin Kia; Double Truss Tower sponsor is G. Anderson Agency; VIP sponsor is Southern Ocean Medical Center; Truss Tower sponsor is Atlantic States Group; and Voting Tent sponsor is AtlantiCare.
For more information on the event, see the website chowderfest.com. For up-to-date info, watch the Facebook page, TheOfficialLBIChowderfest.
Tickets can be purchased at chowderfest.com; by calling the Southern Ocean County Chamber at 609-494-7211; or stopping into its Visitor Center at 265 West Ninth St. in Ship Bottom; or by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.