As much as we may love summer, there’s no stopping the fact that on Saturday September 22, at precisely 9:54 p.m. Eastern Time, we will officially say goodbye to Summer 2018 and usher in Fantastic Fall. While it is always bittersweet to bid farewell to our carefree beach days and (oh!) those summer nights, fall itself can be pretty cool – in more ways than one. Especially now that shore officials, local businesses and event coordinators have planned a plethora of events to keep us coming back to the places we love the most. Foodies and wine lovers will particularly delight in knowing that, beginning this weekend and extending well into the fall, several coastal culinary events have been planned to tickle their taste buds. Here, we break down the events by category and follow up with a chronological listing of these gastric galas so that you won’t miss a chance to fall for food and fun down the shore.
If you savor seafood, you’re in luck – several festivals featuring ocean delicacies are being held in the upcoming weeks. On Saturday, September 22, head to the Seafarer’s Celebration at Sunset Lake in Wildwood Crest. This bayfront street festival includes live music, craft vendors, food, family entertainment, and children’s activities, with a fireworks show at 9:00 pm at Centennial Park. On September 29, plan to come to the Sea Isle Harborfest at Marina Park to celebrate Sea Isle’s fishing and nautical history by featuring delicious seafood, live music, a clam eating contest, crafts and specialty vendors.
During the first weekend of October, seafood festivals will be held in Ocean City (October 6-8), Avalon (October 6-7) and Wildwood (October 7). If you’re not sure which one to attend, why not plan a cruise down the coast on Sunday October 7 and enjoy all three? Start in Ocean City at the Music Pier where the Indian Summer Weekend features seafood venders and boardwalk table sales. Then head to the Avalon Community Hall for the Avalon Chamber Seafood Festival, offering delectable treats from fresh seafood vendors, a chowder contest, live music, vendors and more. End your day at the Seafood and Music Festival hosted by the Greater Wildwood Chamber of Commerce on Atlantic Avenue between Wildwood and Schellenger Avenues. This festival features two stages of live music, crafters, food vendors, a pie eating contest as well as a “Kids Korner” with activities including pumpkin painting, face painting and bounce houses.
Several upcoming heritage fests will provide you with an opportunity to sample fare from Ireland, Italy and Germany. Wildwood’s popular Irish Weekend begins September 21 and runs through the 23rd. The Celtic city-wide event includes entertainment, Irish dance lessons, a 5k run and 1-mile walk, golf tournament, pipe exhibition, food court stage, beer garden, food and craft vendors and so much more, with bus service available to the various events throughout the weekend. While you’re in the ‘Wood this weekend, head to Mariner’s Pier to take part in Oktoberfest, where you can sample Bavarian pretzels, bratwurst, German potato salad, schnitzel and other German treats, as well as a wide selection of beers and tasting flights at an outdoor biergarten, as you enjoy live entertainment by The Oompah-Delics. If you’re just getting adjusted to September and aren’t quite ready to usher in the new season just yet, Oktoberfest at Mariner’s Pier continues on the weekends of September 28-29 and October 6-7.
But Wildwood isn’t the only place to grab a pretzel and a beer and Prost! to good times. Cape May will host an Oktoberfest on September 29 where several streets will be transformed into a German promenade with authentic music and food. Enjoy a famous Bavarian tradition by visiting the beer gardens, food courts and artisan tables selling crafts, antiques and collectibles. And on October 20, Sea Isle City will host an Oktoberfest at Excursion Park, featuring live German music, vendors, free hayrides on the beach, magic acts, pumpkin painting, children’s entertainment and a pie baking contest.
If pasta is more your thing, then you’re in for a real treat. The Olde Time Italian Festival will be held on the weekend of September 28-29 at Fox Park on Ocean Avenue between Burk and Montgomery Avenues in Wildwood. This family festival includes a Procession of the Saints, delicious Italian food favorites, merchandise vendors, games, and continuous live entertainment. A grape stomping contest and spaghetti eating contest will take place as well. On October 6, Kix McNutley’s in Sea Isle will follow up with an Italian Festival of its own, offering a variety of great Italian food, an Italian market with craft and specialty vendors, a cannoli eating contest and live musical entertainment. Finally, Avalon gets in on the fun with the Avalon Lions Club Pasta Night at the Windrift Hotel.
For a different global experience, head to Around the World Social on September 28 at the Sand Bar in Sea Isle City. This event features soft music, butlered hors d’oeuvres, a wine sampling and cash bar.
Food…with a side of FUN! For those not sold on seafood or international fare specifically, several seaside events pair food with just plain fun events – and in some cases, wine and spirits as well. Let’s start with this weekend and work our way into October.
Celebrate the first day of fall on September 22 at the 7th Annual Stone Harbor Savor September Food, Wine and Beer Festival which will be held at the 96th Street Shopping District. Enjoy the best of local wineries & breweries, food, artisans & live music. Festivities include a grape stomping competition, hay slide and more. Heading further south down the coast on the same day, you’ll find the Fall Food Truck & Music Festival at Fox Park across from the Wildwoods Convention Center. This festival features delicious and unique food trucks, music, vendors, and entertainment as well as a Kids Zone with fun and activities to keep the little ones busy. On Sunday, September 23, enjoy a Jazz Brunch at the Inn of Cape May. This Sunday morning brunch buffet features live jazz from The Great American Songbook by renowned jazz musicians.
Ocean City ushers in the first weekend of October with a fantastic Fall Block Party and Fireworks Spectacular on Asbury Avenue from 5th – 14th Streets. Here you will find crafters, food vendors, music and more. In the evening, fireworks will dazzle in the night sky over the boardwalk from 6th – 14th Streets. On October 6, legume lovers may want to head to the cape for the West Cape May Lima Bean Festival at Wilbraham Park to enjoy an array of recipes, crafts, and products featuring the lovely Lima.
On October 14, be a spicy bivalve and help out the Ocean City Firefighters Charitable Foundation by purchasing a ticket to Ocean City’s 3rd Annual Chili Chowderfest at the Music Pier, where you can partake in chili and chowder tastings while enjoying music from a DJ and watching your offspring enjoy the planned kids’ activities. For an “Evening to Die For”, come enjoy a Murder Mystery Dinner at the Inn of Cape May on October 20 and try to solve a murder mystery as you enjoy a four-course dinner.
November kicks off with the Cape May Restaurant Weekend (November 1-4; various times and locations), a four-day event that offers your choice of an appetizer, entree, and dessert for $35 per person at participating restaurants.
Wine and Chocolate
Of course, no celebration of food is complete without a little wine and chocolate. This fall’s wine events include the Cape May Wine Trail on September 21 which begins at the Carriage House Cafe & Tearoom at the Emlen Physick Estate with lunch. Then hop aboard a Trolley and enjoy a brief tour and wine tasting at Willow Creek Winery, a tasting at Hawk Haven Winery, and wine tasting, cheese and crackers (complete with a souvenir glass) at Natali Vineyards. If the wine tours and tastings whet your appetite for more, join the Cape May Wine School class on October 7 at the Washington Inn to learn about wines. Of course, don’t forget to check out all the local wineries to see the events they have planned as well.
For a sweet ending to your tasty “tour de shore”, check out the Cape May Chocolate Lovers Feast on September 22 at The Blue Rose Inn where you will enjoy seven courses of delicious chocolate desserts and hear how each was created from the chef who prepared it. Can’t make it this weekend? No worries – the chocoholics among us will be happy to know that this event repeats October 27 and December 1, as well as other times during the year.
So, as you’re digesting the end of summer and considering what fall has in store for you, we hope we’ve given you enough to chew on. Bon Appetit!
Oh…but first…here’s a listing of all these wonderful events in chronological order so you won’t miss out on any of them.
21 – Wildwood Irish Festival (runs 21st – 23rd)
21 – Cape May Wine Trail
21 – Morey’s Piers Oktoberfest (runs 21st – 23rd; 28-30th; October 5-7th)
22 – Wildwood Irish Festival
22 – Morey’s Piers Oktoberfest
22 – Wildwood Crest Seafarers’ Celebration
22 – The 7th Annual Stone Harbor Savor September Food, Wine and Beer Festival
22 – Cape May Chocolate Lovers Feast at The Blue Rose Inn (repeats October 27th and December 1st)
22 – Fall Food Truck & Music Festival
23 – Wildwood Irish Festival
23 – Jazz Brunch at the Inn of Cape May
23 – Morey’s Piers Oktoberfest
28 – Sea Isle City Around the World Social
29 – Sea Isle City Harborfest
28 – Morey’s Piers Oktoberfest
28 – Olde Time Italian Festival
29 – Morey’s Piers Oktoberfest
29 – Olde Time Italian Festival
29 – Cape May Oktoberfest
30 – Morey’s Piers Oktoberfest
5 – Morey’s Piers Oktoberfest
6 – West Cape May Lima Bean Festival
6 – Sea Isle City Italian Festival
6 – Avalon Chamber Seafood Festival (runs 6th – 7th)
6 – Ocean City Fall Block Party and Fireworks Spectacular
6 – Ocean City Indian Summer Weekend (runs 6th – 8th)
6 – Morey’s Piers Oktoberfest
7 – Avalon Chamber Seafood Festival
7 – Ocean City Indian Summer Weekend
7 – Cape May Wine School
7 – Seafood and Music Festival
7 – Morey’s Piers Oktoberfest
8 – Ocean City Indian Summer Weekend
14 – Avalon Lions Club Pasta Night
14 – Ocean City 3rd Annual Chili Chowderfest
20 – Cape may Murder Mystery Dinners
20 – Sea Isle City Octoberfest
27 – Cape May Chocolate Lovers Feast at The Blue Rose Inn
1-4 Cape May Restaurant Weekend