The Beachcomber Fall Festival Guide

Chowder Power: You Be the Judge

Flavors Face Off to Elect Tastiest at 31st Chowderfest
By Maria Scandale | Sep 27, 2019
File Photo by: Ryan Morrill

Beach Haven — Chowderfest Weekend summons thousands from across the state and the country to come together like the cream and the clams of a good broth. Or if they come from Manhattan, like the tomatoes and the oregano.

Besides the Manhattan (red) and the New England (white) categories, there is the Creative, too, in this mix of fall flavors – that would be the lobster bisque, even last year’s clam chowder ice cream that made friends so well that it’s coming back.

The 31st annual Chowderfest Cook Off is Sunday, Oct. 6 at Ninth Street and Taylor Avenue (behind Bay Village) in Beach Haven. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.; or if you’re lucky, you get early admission at 10 a.m. if you upgraded to a VIP ticket.

What to expect on Chowderfest Weekend? Well, first of all, the fest starts Saturday, Oct. 5 with the Merchants Mart blend of bargains, bands, food and fun under the big top tents.

The Cook-Off Classic, the Chowderfest itself, is favorite restaurants facing off for the tastiest chowder. Every ticketholder is a taster and a voter. Luckily for those who can’t make up their minds in this zesty onslaught, there are trophies for 2nd and 3rd places, besides the Grand Prize that the competing chefs covet.

This year the roster of restaurants holds 10 returning competitors and five “rookies” that have never been in the contest before. There’s a Rookie of the Year award, too.

The competitors are:

New England (White) Chowder: Bread & Brine, an invitational entry from Hastings-on-Hudson, NY; Chicken or the Egg; Kubel’s Too; Hotel LBI; Ocean County College Hospitality Team.

Manhattan (Red) Chowder: Bistro 14; Black Whale Bar & Fish House; Cluck’n Crabs; Lefty’s Tavern; Mainland Kitchen & Pub; Shore Fire Grille.

Creative Category, which are twists on seafood-inspired offerings, has attracted Country Kettle Chowda (whose founding owner, John Maschal, brought the idea for Chowderfest from Rhode Island); Cuisine on the Green; La Bamba; and The Woo Hoo, whose clam chowder ice cream collides those two worlds deliciously.

After votes are counted, winners will be announced at closing ceremonies, which are launched at 4 p.m. by Beasley Media Radio Host TJ Bryan.

Where there is chowder, there is beer, cider and wine, which can be purchased along with other taste treats for family and friends who sipped so many two-ounce samples of chowder that they’d like something else. VIP ticketholders receive access to the Bud Lite Big Screen Bar with dedicated food and beverage service. From 2 to 3 p.m., crowd-pleasing live music adds to the mix, with Ted Hammock and Jason Booth, The Pickles and The Impulsives.

Look for Chowdasaurus sightings (he’s there, not a figment of the beer), from 12-1 p.m. Kids of all ages get a kick out of the real-looking reptile. Children’s activities throughout the day feature face painting by Sprinkles the Clown, Suzy Batullo, and Sarah Cannovo; and 5-minute caricatures by James Ditmars.

Tickets for Sunday’s Cook-Off

While the Merchants Mart the previous day is free to browse, Chowderfest on Sunday requires an admission fee. Tickets can be purchased at or by contacting the Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce at 609-494-7211, stopping in to the chamber office at 265 West Ninth St., Ship Bottom, or emailing

Toddlers under age 3 get free admission. Tickets for children age 4 to 12 are $10 each; general admission tickets are $30 each; VIP tickets are $65. VIPs get early access to the Chowder Cook-Off Classic and an official 2018 Taster T-shirt.

While you’re anticipating the day, get the latest news and tips by following Facebook@officialLBIChowderfest.

Thank You, 2019 Sponsors

Presenting Sponsors: Sysco, Barefoot, The SandPaper/Beachcomber, Bud Light, Ritchie and Page, Westminster Bakers Co.  VIP Sponsor: Barlow GMC. Stage Sponsor: DiFeo’s Manahawkin Kia and DiFeo’s Jeep Chrysler Ram Dodge. Voting Tent Sponsor: AtlantiCare. North & South Gate Sponsor: Fantasy Island Amusement Park. Now Serving Sponsor: Hackensack Meridian Health Southern Ocean Medical Center and Health Village Imaging. Supporting Sponsors: Atlantic States Group, Panzone’s, G. Anderson Agency, Anderson Insurance Agency, Ocean County Board of Freeholders, NJ Division of Travel and Tourism.

Chowder for a Cause

For over 30 years, the Southern Ocean Chamber dedicates net proceeds from Chowderfest for local projects, business programs, and tourism promotion targeted to out-of-area audiences. Chowderfest Weekend is also a major time for fundraising for ReClam The Bay. This non-profit organization has partnered with the Southern Ocean Chamber for almost a decade, holding an annual kayak raffle, as well as selling chowder pallets during the festival. This provides the majority of operating funds as the group raises awareness for the health of the bay, while repopulating water-filtering shellfish to keep the waters clean for future generations.

Tips collected for beer, cider and wine servers are donated to Hunger Foundation of Southern Ocean.

For more details on Chowderfest Weekend, see

—Maria Scandale

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