Thirty-five years ago, those of us in the great Garden State got our first NJ Seafood Festival. Unfortunately, COVID, as it did with so many things, shut the festival down for two years. Now, with most everything back open, it returns. Thousands are expected to attend.

This weekend, May 20-22, the full might of New Jersey’s seafood industry will be fully accessible for nothing but the cost of the food you choose. And, my God, what choices there will be!

Walk around and you’ll see alligator sausage, shrimp po’ boys, lobster and crab fries, hush puppies, lobster rolls, and more. Food will be prepared by local restaurants and on-site food trucks. And, of course, no Jersey festival is complete without funnel cake.

Credit: Cathy Goetz

Vendors will include Ragin’ Cajun, Klein’s, Mr. Shrimp, Federico’s, Coney Waffle, Point Lobster Company, Hoagito’s, and Simply Southern, to name a few.

If you are a food vendor that would like to sign up, you can contact Belmar Tourism officials at 732-681-3700, ext. 214.

Local shoppes and artisans will be open if you would like shopping for something other than food. Now that the venue is set in Downtown Belmar, you will have easy access to the local businesses.

Credit: Christine Cardellino

Live music is a Jersey Shore festival necessity. Acts this year include The Pat Roddy Band, Danny White Band, and Tommy B and the Deep Blue Sea. For a full list of performers and times, visit here.

A two-year hiatus is going to have a big effect on this festival. It is going to be crazy. Parking will be crazy. If at all possible, take public transit. New Jersey Transit’s North Jersey Coast Line goes right into Belmar. How convenient.

We aren’t New England, but we’re a coastal state, and we have a robust seafood industry. This festival not only brings much-needed money to local businesses, but it continues our tradition of being a seafaring, seafood-loving state. We don’t need to travel north. In fact, New Englanders can start coming here for their lobster rolls.