Many varieties of crab inhabit east-central New Jersey's waterways. These crustaceans make for great eating, especially during the summer months, frequently taking the form of the ubiquitous crab cake. Local chefs enjoy competing for the recognition of having the tastiest crab cake on the Jersey shore. If you like crab, seafood and revelry, attend one of these annual festivals to savor some of the bounty of the season.
Shore Chef Crab Cake Cook-Off
For two days in August, Monmouth Park (monmouthpark.com), off exit 109 of the Garden State Parkway, hosts the Jersey shore's premier crab cake competition. Local restaurants vie for the claim of having the best crab cake, as well as the coveted People's Choice Award. This popular, annual cooking event has grown in the years since its inception and currently requires two days duration to accommodate all the participants and attendees. At the time of publication, admission to the park, which includes access to the cook-off area, is a few dollars for adults. Food purchase prices vary and include items such as fried catfish and clam chowder, as well as the much-sought-after crab cake.
Festival of the Sea
Point Pleasant Beach (pointpleasantbeach.com), along the upper reaches of the ocean side of Barnegat Bay, hosts its annual seafood happening every year in September. Since 1975, this admission-free festival is situated around Arnold and Bay Avenues in downtown Point Pleasant Beach in the vicinity of Route 35. From the Garden State Parkway, exit 90 takes you to within 12 miles of Point Pleasant Beach via route 88. Those attending one of this areas most popular events will sample seafood dishes that include paella, chowders and, of course, crab cakes. Shopping at the hundreds of craft booths and entertainment also highlight the day.
Seafood in Seaside Festival
Look to Grant Avenue in Seaside Heights, located midway on Island Beach off the New Jersey coast, for the Seafood in Seaside Festival (seasideheightstourism.com), a free, one-day, yearly gathering that occurs in September. Samplings of such delicacies as seafood kabobs, blackened scallops and crab cakes are presented to tempt attendees' taste buds. In addition to great food, arts and crafts, a cooking demonstration and flea market are also on the agenda. Musical entertainment is showcased to help celebrate this end to the summer season on the shore. To get Seaside Heights, take exit 82 off the Garden State Parkway and follow the signs to the shore.
Annual Baymen's Seafood and Music Festival
The year 2011 marked the 19th occurrence of the Annual Baymen's Seafood and Music Festival (tuckertonseaport.org). Tuckerton is located on the inland side of Little Egg Harbor and is found by taking exit 58 off the Garden State Parkway or by traveling the scenic, coastal Route 9. Fresh shrimp, scallops, crab and clams are among the types of fare listed; and though not mentioned specifically, chances are there will be crab cakes. Festivities continued for the better part of the day -- from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. -- on the 2011 calendar. There was no admission price noted for this activity, which takes place at the beginning of the summer season.
- New Jersey Monthly; Tasty Cakes; Emily Faherty; July 2010
- Point Pleasant Beach: Point Pleasant Beach NJ Festival of the Sea
- Monmouth Park: Shore Chef Crab Cake Cook Off Day One
- Seaside Heights: Seaside Heights Events Schedule
- Tuckerton Seaport: 19th Annual Baymen's Seafood and Music Festival
- Seaside Heights Tourism: Seafood in Seaside Festival
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