Chowderfest Serves Up A Good Time

Record numbers came out to Beach Haven for last year’s event. (Photo courtesy Southern Ocean Chamber of Commerce)

BEACH HAVEN – This past Sunday brought record breaking crowds to Long Beach Island’s premier end-of-summer event.

The 29th Annual Chowderfest weekend had probably one of the best turnouts this area as seen in a long time. With a record number of approximately 15,000 people in attendance, 300 volunteers, 15 restaurants and according to Todd Elsasser the event coordinator, well over 3,000 gallons of red, white and creative chowders. This year’s Chowderfest has made its way into the history books.

A view of Chowderfest from the air. (Photo courtesy Fraternal Order of Police Long Beach Island)

Glenn Kalina, DJ for WJRZ FM and the MC for the event, stated, “Chowderfest 2017 has gone down in history as the most attended.” The weather was beautiful, the crowd was huge and the smell of chowder was in the air.

The event was split into two days. Saturday marked the Chowderfest Weekend Merchants Mart. This featured a wide variety of vendors, local businesses, great end of summer sales, plus great food vendors and entertainment on the main stage. This year the Merchant Mart captured the “makers” trend with the new Make Shift Row Tent with handmade products for sale.

Live music was provided by Jimmy Brogan, White Rabbit and The Impulsives. Children’s entertainment included hands on crafts from The Learning Experience, Face Painting by Sprinkles the Clown and Crunchy the T-Rex made his first ever Long Beach Island appearance. There was something for everyone at the free Merchant Mart.

On Sunday, the streets of Bay Village and the Taylor Avenue ball field between Ninth Street and Taylor Avenue (across from Schooner’s Wharf) were packed tight with locals and tourists alike getting their fill of chowder, Chowderwear merchandise, beer, and live musical entertainment from bands and artists like The Pickles, Ted Hammock, Jason Booth and Funk Shway & The Dojo Birds.

Participants were encouraged to vote for their favorites. (Photo courtesy Southern Ocean Chamber of Commerce)

Restaurants like The Blue Water Café, Lefty’s Tavern, the Delaware Avenue Oyster House and so many more served up endless amounts of some of the best Chowder in all of the state. These restaurants and businesses lined the field in Bay Village under big white tents featuring themed displays, brilliant enthusiasm and cups upon cups of delicious Chowder.

“Chowderfest extends the economic impact form summer well into October,” said Lori Pepenella, CEO of the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce. “It allows our restaurants to shine and connect with customers they never would have before.”

Chowderfest is Long Beach Island’s big ‘end of summer’ event that helps to extend the summer season here on LBI and benefit local businesses, she said. All the proceeds from this event go directly to the hundreds of local businesses, charities, events and local scholarships.

It was more than just a locally-attended event, she said. Fans from as far as California, Arizona, Colorado, and New Mexico were among the visitors.

“A big thank you to everybody who showed up, the restaurants who make the chowder, everyone who helps us during the event, my wife (Jillian Elsasser, President of the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce), the committee and the guys who are here every day and all week long. Those people are the ones who make this happen,” said the event coordinator Todd Elsasser, as he personally thanked all the individuals and groups that made this event possible.

Crunchy the T-Rex was hungry for chowder as well. (Photo courtesy Southern Ocean Chamber of Commerce)

LBI’s 29th Annual Chowderfest of 2017 may be over but Elsasser said the committee are already planning the next one and are in big hopes for an even bigger turnout for their 30th year.

The Winners

Winners were awarded in several categories.

New England – Grand Champion: Howard’s Seafood, 2nd Place: The Chicken Or The Egg, 3rd Place: Country Kettle Chowda

Manhattan – Grand Champion: Lefty’s Tavern, 2nd Place: Stefano’s LBI, 3rd Place: Black Whale Bar & Fish House.

Chowder! (Photo by William Clanton)

Creative Chowder – Grand Champion: Blue Water Cafe LBI, 2nd Place: La Bamba Mexican Restaurant, 3rd Place: Cuisine on the Green at Atlantis

Rookie of the Year: Delaware Avenue Oyster House

Best Interpretation of the Theme: Country Kettle Chowda

Best Shore Motiff: Buckalew’s Restaurant and Tavern

Most Enthusiastic: Lefty’s Tavern

Most Creative Booth: Delaware Avenue Oyster House

The staff of Lefty’s in Barnegat celebrates their win. (Photo by William Clanton)