BEACH HAVEN -  All one had to do was travel to Beach Haven during the early afternoon on Saturday and see the massive amounts of people who traveled to Long Beach Island for this traditional weekend at the Jersey Shore.  The Merchants Mart took place on Saturday. The 29th Annual Official LBI Chowderfest took place on Sunday.  There were over 3,000 gallons of chowder served on Sunday.  

"Congratulations to all who competed, voted, and was awarded in the largest ever post season event to take place in on Long Beach Island," wrote Lori Pepenella, Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce President.  "We would like to thank all who supported the 29th Annual Chowderfest weekend that took place September 30 and October 1 2017. With beautiful weather, high energy restaurants, enthusiastic crowds and passionate volunteers; this event surpassed previous events with a record number of 15,000 people in attendance."

"Chowderfest was created to extend the local economy and promote tourism past the traditional Labor Day Weekend. Though it is a home grown event, it reached across the country bringing people in from states such as California, Arizona, Colorado, New Mexico, Nebraska, Georgia, Florida, Virgina, Maryland, and Massachusetts. Major cities such as New Orleans, Houston, New York, St Paul and Philadelphia were also represented in the crowds that spent the day tasting chowder and enjoying the festival experience. Thank you to all of the attendees, who traveled near or far who chose to make Chowderfest part of their weekend."

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Glenn Kallina from WJRZ FM hosted the award ceremony.  Todd Elsasser, owner of Panzone Pizza in Beach Haven and Surf City along with co-chairs, Todd's wife Jillian Elsasser and Christopher Schwab, presented the following 2017 awards to:

New England:
Grand Champion: Howard's Seafood
2nd Place: The Chicken Or The Egg
3rd Place: Country Kettle Chowda

Manhattan:
Grand Champion: Lefty's Tavern
2nd Place: Stefano's LBI
3rd Place: Black Whale Bar & Fish House

Most Creative Chowder:
Grand Champion: Blue Water Cafe LBI
2nd Place: La Bamba Mexican Restaurant
3rd Place: Cuisine on the Green at Atlantis

Rookie of the Year: 
Delaware Avenue Oyster House

Best Interpretation of the Theme:
Country Kettle Chowda

Best Shore Motiff 
Buckalew's Restaurant and Tavern

Most Enthusiastic
Lefty's Tavern

Most Creative Booth:
Delaware Avenue Oyster House

The Chowderfest was successful due to the hard work and preparation of all the restaurants involved.  They include Buckalew’s Restaurant and Tavern, Chicken or the Egg, Country Kettle Chowda, Howard’s Restaurant, La Bamba Mexican Restaurant, Black Whale Bar & Fish House, Lefty’s Tavern, Shore Fire Grille, Southern Ocean Medical Center, Stefano’s Restaurant, Sunny Rae’s Kitchen Food Truck, Blue Water Café, Cuisine on the Green at Atlantis, and Delaware Avenue Oyster House.

In 2018 there will be a non-profit partnership created by the Board of Directors calling the endeavor "Chowder for a Cause." Eligible Non Profit Members submitted applications that were reviewed by the 2017 competing restaurants during their pre event meeting which selected David’s Dream & Believe Cancer Foundation based on a point value. David's Dream and Believe Cancer Foundation will be the 2018 non-profit partner.

The 2017 Presenting sponsors were Sysco, Ritchie & Page, Bud Light, TD Bank and The Sandpaper/Beachcomber. This year’s stage sponsor is Barlow Buick GMC, Vip Sponsor Anderson Insurance Agency, Voting Tent Sponsor AtlantiCare, T Shirt Sponsors Panzone’s Pizza and Jetty. Tourism Marketing Partners: State of NJ, Division of Travel and Tourism and the Ocean County Board of Chosen Freeholders. Oyster Crackers are sponsored by Westminster Bakers Co. Additional support provided by Fantasy Island Amusement Park, Buccaneer Motel, Potts Excavating Inc, Sally’s Seafood, The Borough of Beach Haven, Southwicks Marina, Beach Haven Police, Fire & First Aid Squad, Thundering Surf and Murphy’s Market, Chowderfest Committee, Chamber Staff and Volunteers. A sincere thank you to all the Merchant Mart vendors, Make Shift Union, the fantastic band line up, Starlight Performing Arts Center and the outstanding children’s entertainment.

The Chowderfest Committee has already started planning for the 30th Anniversary Chowderfest next year.