LBI Chowderfest Shines for its 34th Year

Thousands took part to welcome the official end of summer on Long Beach Island

It was a truly coastal experience, as the clouds parted for a sunny afternoon at the Taylor Avenue Waterfront in Beach Haven this past Saturday, September 30. With over 60 artisans, vendors and food court restaurants the free vendor village was at capacity with an estimated 13000 people passing through the gates, enjoying live music, photo op set ups, Bywatyr Base Camp seating area and children activities. The performances started off with the National Anthem performed by the Southern Regional High School Select Choir, and carried the crowd through the day with music by the La Stella Brother, Chevy Lopez, Katfish Lucy and closing out with the Rave Ons. Families enjoyed visits from Jersey Shore Blue Claws Buster, face painting, Bloomin VW Bus,  life size chess, and even an Ocean County Parks area for pets. Since the pandemic, the Southern Ocean Chamber has hosted the Bayfront Festival  with off site chowder tasting  trails and onsite ceremonies. For 2023 the Board of Directors partnered with the Hunger Foundation of Southern Ocean to include on site tasting. 

 At 5pm, the Southern Ocean County Chamber CEO Lori Pepenella, welcomed representatives from the Hunger Foundation of Southern Ocean onto the Health Village Imaging stage for the champion announcements from votes received during the Cook Off Classic that was held with a ticketed tasting featuring 8 competing restaurants Bistro 14, Leftys, Panzone’s and Wally’s for red chowder and Buckalew’s Country Kettle, Delaware Ave Oyster House and Mud City for white. The Hunger Foundation President Chris Schwab and his board shared the 2023 Champions were Wally’s for Red Chowder and County Kettle Chowda for White Chowder.  

“This is a community event made possible by volunteers , restaurants, merchants and sponsors,  thank you to everyone who commits to make this the best day possible.”  stated Pepenella. “ This event has continued to bring  additional dollars into local businesses which is the reason it began 34 year ago”.   As always, sponsor Ritchie & Page had plenty on tap for those 21+ ,the first 3000 beer purchasers received a commemorative mug sponsored by Surf City Marina.  As the vendor village was not a ticketed event, the estimated attendance is based on  reported vendor sales, parking updates and utility demand. The Southern Ocean Chamber thanks Entertainment Sponsor Health Village Imaging,  Vendor Village Presenting Sponsors Barlow Buick GMC and Hackensack Merdian Southern Ocean Medical Center, Mug Sponsor  Surf City Marina, Ritchie & Page, Michelob Ultra, ByWatyr Shop Seating Sponsor, Lodging Sponsor VRLBI, The Sandpaper, Beasley Media Group, McMahon Insurance Agency,  The Hunger Foundation of Southern Ocean, Chowder Cook off  Award Sponsor Southern Ocean Chamber Association, Reynolds Garden Shop, Potts Excavating, Borough of Beach Haven, Ocean County Board of Commissioners, NJ Dept of Travel  & Tourism, Southern Ocean County Chamber of Commerce Board and Staff, Fantasy Island, 609 Security, Beach Haven Police, Beach Haven Volunteer EMS, Beach Haven Volunteer Fire, John Mitchell, Todd Raup, Southern Regional Students, Southern Regional Interact Club, TD Bank , Ocean County Parks Department, Ocean County Sheriff Department and all of  the community volunteers for making this event possible.  For more information, please visit