By Kelley Anne Essinger
The 26th annual Chowderfest in Beach Haven will honor the global comic book fan convention, Comiccon, by turning the Long Beach Island event into “Clamiccon.” Aside from a comic book-themed booth decoration contest, this year’s soup and shopping festival, to be held during the weekend of Oct. 4 and 5 at Panzone Park, located at Taylor Ave. and Ninth St., will feature a Clamiccon Costume Contest. The winner will receive a family-four pack to Frightfest at Six Flags Great Adventure. Interested participants can sign up on site Sunday, Oct. 5, between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m.
The festival will begin with a Merchant Mart on Saturday, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. The free event features an end-of-season shopping blowout by dozens of local businesses. Live music, costumed characters and locally made specialty foods and beverages will also be offered.
The Chowderfest Cook Off Classic will take place on Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., when local restaurants compete for best red and white chowders. Each restaurant will make 250 gallons of chowder, so all festival-goers can taste enough of the soup to cast their vote for the grand champions.
Those competing for best New England clam chowder include Arcadia Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, Allen’s Clam Bar, The Chicken Or the Egg, Howard’s Restaurant, Phillips Seafood, Resorts Casino Hotel, Stockton Seaview Hotel and TGI Friday’s Manahawkin. The Black Whale Bar and Fish House, Cuisine on the Green, Lefty’s Tavern, Sea Oaks Country Club, Stefano’s Seafood and Pasta, Shore Fire Grille and Southern Smoke Cajun and Caribbean BBQ will compete for best Manhattan clam chowder.
Local music by Hawkins Road will be performed throughout the event. Specialty items to commemorate the day will also be available at the merchandise tent.
“The excitement of the 26th Chowderfest is testimony to the dedicated business community and loyal visitors of Southern Ocean County,” said Lori Pepenella, destination marketing director of Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the occasion. “This event brings thousands of families to our region at a time when local business needs the boost. They stay overnight or longer. They eat in our restaurants and shop in our stores. It generates interest in our area on an international scale, gives us an audience to promote activities to come back for throughout the year and introduces new visitors to the opportunity of falling in love with our destination.”
General admission for the Chowder Cook Off includes 11 a.m. entry, unlimited chowder tasting and more. Tickets cost $20 for adults and children 13 years old and up. Tickets cost $10 for kids ages 12 and under. Admission is free for children 3 years old and younger. VIP tickets, which include 10 a.m. admission plus a taster T-shirt, cost $50 each.
To purchase tickets, visit chowderfest.com, or stop by the SOCCC Visitor Center at 265 West Ninth St. in Ship Bottom. Tickets will also be available at the event.
For more information, call 609-494-7211.
Kelley Anne Essinger is a Jersey Shore native dedicated to sharing the unique stories and events that shape her local community. As a freelance writer for The Forked River Gazette and a staff writer for The Sand Paper on Long Beach Island, she takes her time to get personally acquainted with the subjects f her stories.
Essinger graduated from Richard Stockton College of New Jersy in 2010 with a Bachelor of Arts degree in liberal arts and writing. Her work has been featured in Beachcomber, The Ledgers, Long Beach Island Region of the Jersey Shore Happily Ever After Wedding Guide, Homefront, Atlantic City Weekly and more. Follow her on Twitter @newjersesynative and check out her blog Da’shore.