Thirty Years of Chowder Champions Celebrated: Chowderfest Weekend Sept. 29-30

Jul 04, 2018
File Photo by Ryan Morrill

Certain things need to be celebrated in a big way; Chowderfest turning 30 is definitely one of them, says the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce. So save the date of Chowderfest Weekend, Sept. 29-30, in Beach Haven.

The community’s chowder extravaganza has been breaking records and raising the bar for food competitions since the 1980s. The chamber, which presents the event, thanks the exceptional chefs and the restaurants who have served up countless gallons of their signature soup to compete for the coveted popular vote.

The anniversary weekend kicks off on Saturday, Sept. 29 with a free Merchant Marketplace.

Dozens of chamber members will offer end-of-season bargains, local specialties and gourmet food. Live music from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. features a lineup of popular local bands. For the adults, a select variety of beers on tap and hard ciders are also joined with a new wine-by-the-glass selection.

Children can try hands-on crafts and see Crunchy the T-Rex, plus other entertainment.

Last year’s expansion of the Chowderfest grounds proved popular, providing more seating and extra room under the tents and by the stage.

The Chowder Cook-Off Classic heats up on Sunday, Sept. 30 at 11 a.m. as favorite restaurants face off for the tastiest chowder.

The 30th anniversary competitor restaurants include Country Kettle Chowda, Chicken or the Egg, Howard’s, Tuckers Tavern, Wally’s, Lefty’s, Buckalew’s, Stefano’s, Ocean County College Culinary Program, Sunny Rae’s Kitchen, Delaware Avenue Oyster House, La Bamba, The WOO HOO, Blue Water Café, Cuisine on the Green, and the first-ever international entry, Nancy’s Barn from Ballyliffin, Ireland.

All ticket-holders can sample and place votes for the best red, white and creative chowders, with VIPs getting early access to the chowder tents at 10 a.m. VIP ticket-holders also get access to the Bud Lite Big Screen Bar with dedicated food and beverage service.

Crowd-pleasing live music will again be back for Chowderfest; so will activities for children.

Winners of the voting will be announced at closing ceremonies, which are scheduled for 4 p.m.

Though Saturday is a free event, Sunday’s Cook-Off Classic is a ticketed event.

Tickets can be purchased at the website chowderfest.com or by contacting the Southern Ocean County Chamber at 609-494-7211, visiting its Visitor Center at 265 West Ninth St., Ship Bottom, or emailing info@sochamber.com.

Ticket costs are: children age 4 to 12 – $10; general admission – $30; VIP – $65. VIPs get early access to the Chowder Cook-Off Classic and an official 2018 Taster T-shirt. Children younger than 3 are admitted free.

Proceeds earned from Chowderfest Weekend have gone toward providing decades of financial support to hundreds of local charities and events, as well as scholarships to Pinelands Regional, Southern Regional and Barnegat high school students.

In honor of the 30th, last year’s restaurants selected the nonprofit David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation to be the “Chowder for a Cause Charity” that will benefit from net proceeds of the 2018 event.

For more information on the event, contact the chamber office or visit the website at chowderfest.com. For sponsorship or restaurant information, email Chowderfest Coordinator Todd Elsasser at todd@sochamber.com.  —M.S.

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