Craving warm and buttery lobster rolls? Sushi? Fried clam strips? Coconut shrimp?
You can have them all at the New Jersey Seafood Festival in Belmar, which returns for the first time in two years after a COVID hiatus. Celebrating its 35th anniversary, the festival takes place at Pyanoe Plaza from Friday, May 20, through Sunday, May 22.
Event Coordinator Mary Brabazon, who has been handling the festival for years, is eager for its return.
“We’re delighted to bring the event back. It’s much needed for the vendors and the community,” Brabazon said. ” … We’re hoping for a great weekend.”
Beyond the seafood, the festival will feature live music, shopping opportunities at nearly 60 local craft vendors, a drink tent hosted by Belmar’s 10th Ave. Burrito Co. (featuring wine, beer and margaritas) and more. Hours will be from 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Among the restaurants taking part include Coney Waffle of Belmar, Red Bank, Asbury Park and Long Branch; Brandl of Belmar; Point Lobster Bar & Grill of Point Pleasant Beach; Hoagitos of Belmar and the Oakhurst section of Ocean Township; and Simply Southern of Belmar.
Point Lobster Bar & Grill’s will be serving classic lobster rolls, which are served hot.
“[There is an] amazing outpouring of attendees, not just locally but from all over,” said co-owner Shannon Godwin. “We see a lot of repeat customers who have attended for years, and they travel this particular weekend just for the festival.”
Hoagitos, known for their creative sandwiches, will be serving up shrimp po boys (with fried shrimp, arugula, tomato, pickled onion and house remoulade) and the Dude Ranch sandwich (with panko-fried chicken breast, bacon, arugula, tomatoes, onion, bread and butter pickles and homemade buttermilk ranch).
Simply Southern, which has taken part in the festival since 2003,will be featuring Mom’s Crab Cakes, a homemade secret family recipe by co-owner Rasheed Simmons’ mother Rita.
Simply Southern also will be selling their new fish empanada (with white fish, seasoning and a side of peach-mango hot sauce), and their dessert take on hush puppies (made with sweet potato, topped with powdered sugar and served with a side of homemade apple butter sauce).
“It’s a great honor that they brought the festival back after COVID, and that we get to be a part of it,” Rasheed Simmons said. “We hope that we can help bring it back to its glory days, and be a part of that success. We want to bring people back to town, and to be honest, we all need it from a business perspective.”
The festival will be chock full of fried Oreos and other sweet treats.
Tens of thousands of visitors are expected.
Live musical performances will take place daily. From 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, the Pat Roddy Band takes the stage. Saturday starts with Beach Music Studios Kids Rock Band from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., followed by the Danny White Band from 1 to 2:30 p.m. Holme takes the stage from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. Saturday, and Tommy B & The Deep Blue Sea plays from 6 to 7:30 p.m. On Sunday, Jim Barone’s Elvis Presley Tribute Band performs from 2 to 5 p.m.
Dates and times are subject to change, depending on the weather.
More on new location:Belmar Seafood Festival: New home for decades-old fest
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Aside from additional space, the festival moved from Silver Lake Park to Pyanoe Plaza in 2019 because it is closer to downtown businesses and the NJ Transit station. It is also more accessible to those with disabilities. Moving the festival location was Mayor Mark Walsifer’s idea, Brabazon said.
Pyanoe Plaza is located on Main Street between 9th and 10th avenues.
Admission to the festival is free and does not require registration. Dogs are not permitted on the festival grounds. For more information, visit belmar.com.
Gabriela L. Laracca joined the USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey in 2021 and eagerly brings her passion for cuisine and culture to our readers. Send restaurant tips to email@example.com.