609-492-1666 jersearealty@gmail.com

Chowderfest Weekend is almost here, welcoming fall with a heated food competition, where every ticketholder’s vote counts. Sunday, Oct. 1 is the 29th Annual Cook-Off Classic, one of the top food festivals in the Northeast. It is presented by the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce.

“This iconic event has extended the summer season to keep the party rolling a few weeks longer. Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce members have prepared a memorable weekend to kick off fall by pulling out all the stops for a two-day festival,” said the event press release.

“With the expansion of the Chowderfest grounds, look for more to love this year, with more seating, more room under the tents and by the stage,” promises the chamber.

The newest among the new announcements will interest area mainland folks craving a good chowder-tasting. A free water taxi service will run between Tuckerton and Beach Haven on Saturday and Sunday of Chowderfest Weekend, based on first-come reservations. The ride is part of Southern Ocean Chamber’s Downtown Driven program with the boroughs of Beach Haven and Tuckerton. The one-hour boat ride across Barnegat Bay leaves from Tuckerton Seaport and gives passengers 3½ hours before it departs again. Trips are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. For more information and to make reservations, call Tuckerton Seaport at 609-296-8868.

The weekend kicks off on Saturday, Sept. 30 with the free Merchants Mart, joined with a new Make Shift Row Tent for holding handmade products for sale. Dozens of merchants will bring end-of-season bargains, local specialties and gourmet food. The lineup of live music from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. features Jimmy Brogan, White Rabbit and The Impulsives.

For the thirsty, there is a select variety of beers on tap and hard ciders: Bud Light, Landshark Lager, Blue Point Toasted Lager, Spaten Oktoberfest, Goose Island IPA, Stella Cidre, Strongbow and McKenzie Black Cherry.

Children’s entertainment will include hands-on crafts from The Learning Experience, face painting by Sprinkles the Clown, and Crunchy the T Rex in his first-ever Long Beach Island appearance. Crunchy feeding times will be 12-1 p.m. and 2-3 p.m.

Cook-Off Classic,

The Ultimate Taste Test

The Chowder Cook-Off Classic heats up on Sunday, Oct. 1 at 11 a.m. as some of the best restaurants in the area face off for the tastiest chowder. All ticketholders can sample and place votes for their favorite red, white and creative chowders. Those who buy a VIP ticket get early access at 10 a.m. to the chowder tents to taste, and to view competitors’ decorated booths.

Sunday is a ticketed event, and tickets are on sale at chowderfest.com or by contacting the Southern Ocean County Chamber at 609-494-7211, visiting their visitor center at 265 West Ninth St. in Ship Bottom, or emailing info@sochamber.com. Tickets are sold at the gate as well.

Toddlers under the age of 3 get free admission. Ticket cost for the Oct. 1 Cook-Off is: Children to age 12, $10; general admission, $25; VIP, $55; Platinum VIP, $100.

VIPs get early access to the Chowder Cook-Off Classic and an official 2017 VIP shirt. Platinum VIP ticket sales are limited to 150 tickets and give entry to the new Beer Garden with big screen TVs and Bud Girls handing out giveaways.

On Sunday the free Chowderfest shuttle is back to pick up riders at the following locations: Long Beach Township at 42nd, 60th, 68th, 85th, 95th, 133rd streets on the Boulevard; and in Beach Haven at Engleside Avenue. When the cook-off is over, the last bus leaves Chowderfest grounds at 6 p.m.

Maria Scandale, the SandPaper