Belmar Kicks Off Summer Early with Start of New Jersey Seafood Festival

Mike Moran, left, and son Jack of Federico’s in Belmar are ready to dish out a full menu at the New Jersey Seafood Festival. Credits: Cathy Goetz
An aerial view of the New Jersey Seafood Festival along Belmar’s oceanfront shows the arrival of visitors on Friday May 19, to the three-day event. Credits: Matthew Doherty
Having a bit of festival fun are Kaitlyn Cooper and Dave Bell of Wharfside in Point Pleasant Beach and Chefs International's other Belmar eateries — Marina Grille, 9th Avenue Pier and Anchor Tavern. Credits: Cathy Goetz
Brian Love of Klein’s Fish Market and Waterside Café in Belmar gets the grill going with some roasted clams at the New Jersey Seafood Festival. Credits: Cathy Goetz
Tables along the banks of the Silver Lake begin to fill up with hungry visitors to the New Jersey Seafood Festival. Credits: Cathy Goetz
Ragin’ Cajun’s Jared Ashton, front, and John Sims cook up some spicy creole creations that have made its Belmar restaurant a go-to destination for years. Credits: Cathy Goetz
Getting ready for the busy weekend at the New Jersey Seafood Festival are from left, Valeri Belke, Kristian Sims and Jess Sims of Ragin Cajun, Belmar. Credits: Cathy Goetz
Early arrivals to the New Jersey Seafood Festival get a chance to browse around Silver Lake Park to see what there is to eat — and there's plenty of it. Credits: Cathy Goetz
From left, Lauren Waricke, Gavin West and Dom Ciociola are under the Mr. Shrimp tent at the New Jersey Seafood Festival, serving up shrimp, of course, from the popular Belmar eatery. Credits: Cathy Goetz
Bobby Quinn and Noelle Latham of Jake’s Downtown are ready for a “shucking good time” at the New Jersey Seafood Festival, expecting the opening of its new Belmar eatery on Main Street in two weeks. Credits: Cathy Goetz
Performing in the gazebo during “locals night” at the New Jersey Seafood Festival is the Manasquan High School Band. Credits: Cathy Goetz
Rasheed Simmons’s Belmar restaurant — Simply Southern Cuisine — is a longtime “fan favorite” at the New Jersey Seafood Festival. Credits: Cathy Goetz
At the New Jersey Seafood Festival’s NJ Lottery booth are Debbie and Charlie Beckman of Beckman’s Deli & Grill in Belmar, known for their award-winning pork roll, egg and cheese sandwiches. Credits: Bridget Franklin
In addition to aisles of places to eat at the New Jersey Seafood Festival, there also are dozens of vendors offering their artisan and home-crafted creations. Credits: Cathy Goetz

BELMAR, NJ — Summer arrived early in Belmar with the start of the three-day New Jersey Seafood Festival.

Under sunny skies with temperatures in the high 80s, the annual event kicked off even before its official 4 p.m. start on Friday, May 19. Dozens of visitors wasted little time browsing around Silver Lake Park looking to find where to stop for their first bite to eat — a decision that didn’t take long to make.

And they had plenty of places from which to choose along the aisles of food vendors set up with grills, portable stovetops and preparation stations — their outdoor mini-kitchens for the weekend event with a view of Belmar’s oceanfront that’s certainly hard to beat.

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Despite the heat and hours of getting ready to start service, everyone was eager to begin dishing out their seafood selections and other fare favorites to the growing hungry crowd. And what was billed as “locals night,” festival visitors were pleased the lines were not too long to place an order.

The festival continues today, Saturday, May 20 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. and tomorrow, Sunday, May 21 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Silver Lake Park, located at Fifth and Ocean avenues.

Billed as “not only a great place to eat, it’s a great place to shop, with lots and lots of great craft vendors to choose from,” the event features seafood favorites from many local establishments, as well as new attractions for the whole family, including live music, a craft beer and wine tent, contests and kids’ activities.

Due to the thousands of attendees expected for the event, there will be limited parking around the venue itself. As a result, free parking will be available at the municipal parking lot at Fifth and River Road, and Dempsey Park on 16th Avenue.

Free shuttles will run through Belmar continuously from 11 a.m. until 8 p.m. on Saturday and 11 a.m. until 6 p.m. on Sunday, with stops at the Belmar Marina and Belmar train station, delivering visitors to the end of Silver Lake at Fifth Avenue, adjacent to the festival.

“Please be mindful of road closures and no parking requirements in the area immediately surrounding the festival,” according to a post on the borough’s Facebook page. “We know what an inconvenience this can be, and we thank you for your patience through what will be an extremely busy weekend.”

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