2016 GUIDE TO FOOD FESTIVALS

The year ahead offers countless opportunities to explore food and drink throughout the Garden State. Since most parts of New Jersey are within an easy drive for in-state residents, festivals provide an enjoyable day trip destination—or a reason for an extended stay. Here is just a small sampling of upcoming events. For many more, follow us on Facebook and Twitter and sign up for our free e-newsletter at ediblejersey.com.

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PHOTOS, CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT: BY TOM SCHENK, COURTESY SOUTH
JERSEY PUMPKIN SHOW; CRAWFISH FESTIVAL; SJ PUMPKIN SHOW;
AMY ROTH; NEW JERSEY PEACH FESTIVAL

— JANUARY —

FROST BITES WINTER PARTY

  • January 28, 7:30pm

Women’s Club of Upper Montclair, 200 Cooper Ave., Montclair, tickets $75 and up. Taste small bites from 20 top chefs from across Montclair. Food Network star and New Jersey native Amanda Freitag will be making a guest appearance for those who purchase VIP tickets. www.montclairfoodandwinefestival.org

WINTER WINE FESTIVAL

  • January 16, noon

Renault Winery Resort, 72 N. Breman Ave., Egg Harbor, tickets $10 in advance, $15 at door. Taste over 100 wines from nine different New Jersey wineries. Meet the winemakers and learn more about how each vintage is crafted. Food from the chefs at Renault will accompany the wine tastings. 609.965.2111, www.renaultwinery.com

— FEBRUARY —

SIXTH ANNUAL GREAT BEER EXPO

  • February 6, two sessions: 12:30pm or 5:30pm

Meadowlands Exposition Center, 355 Plaza Dr., Secaucus, tickets $45 in advance, $60 in door (if not sold out online). This festival brings together 80 breweries from around the world. Enjoy tastings of over 150 different types of beer and take the opportunity to meet the brewmasters. Beer seminars are also available for those looking to delve deeper into the topic. www.greatbeerexpo.com/meadowlands

WINE AND CHOCOLATE WEEKENDS

  • February 6–7 and February 13–14

Alba Vineyard, 269 Riegelsville Warren Glen Rd., Finesville, tickets $20. Wine and chocolate lovers will enjoy Alba Vineyard’s two weekends dedicated to tastings. The experience includes wine tastings, chocolates, food pairings and cellar tours. 908.995.7800, www.albavineyard.com

— MARCH —

BIG BREW BEER FESTIVAL

  • March 5, two sessions: noon or 6:30pm, with VIP entrance at 5:30pm

Morristown Armory, 430 Western Ave., Morristown, tickets starting at $55. This event features over 200 craft beers with live music and food. This year’s festival features a VIP session with Tim “The Brew Chef” Schafer, who will prepare a beer-infused menu and pairing with New Jersey beers. 973.927.2794, www.bigbrewnj.com

CELEBRITY FOOD & WINE SHOW

  • March 20, 1:30pm

Clinton Inn, 145 Dean Dr., Tenafly, tickets $65. This event is composed of a grand tasting with 30 food and beverage vendors, as well as a celebrity cook-off between Carissa Lawson, morning anchor for News 12 New Jersey, and Sheryl Fody, executive producer of Consumer 411. This festival also includes a silent auction. Proceeds benefit Giants of Generosity. 201.567.2622, www.giantsofgenerosity.org

— APRIL —

NEW JERSEY WINE & FOOD FESTIVAL

  • April 1–3

Crystal Springs Resort, 3 Wild Turkey Way, Hamburg. This gourmet food and wine festival is dedicated to the art of cuisine with tastings, private dinners, meet-and-greet sessions, and seminars focusing on fine wine and food. Chefs from the top restaurants in New Jersey share their expertise, while the wine and spirits sessions showcase brands from around the world. 855.977.6473, www.crystalgolfresort.com/dine/wine-fest

HUDSON COUNTY CASA’S TENTH ANNUAL WINE TASTING

  • April 8

Battello, 502 Washington Blvd., Jersey City. This year will mark the tenth anniversary of this wine tasting, which serves as the largest fundraiser for Hudson County CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocates). In addition to delicious food, the tasting features wines from around the world, spirits and a silent auction. www.hudsoncountycasa.org/wine-tasting

ATLANTIC CITY BEER AND MUSIC FESTIVAL

  • April 8–9 (Friday, 8pm, and Saturday, two sessions: noon or 6pm)

Atlantic City Convention Center, 1 Miss America Way, Atlantic City, tickets $55 in advance, $60 at door. The Beer and Music Festival returns to the convention center for the 11th time and includes favorites from years past, as well as new programs, such as the 5K Hops Trot fun run. In addition to tastings of over 1,000 different brews from 150 breweries, the festival has culinary demonstrations by local chefs, wacky contests, and music. This year’s lineup includes Dashboard Confessional, Manchester Orchestra and Reel Big Fish. www.acbeerfest.com

“TRUCK”ERTON FOOD TRUCK & BREW FEST

  • April 30–May 1

120 W. Main Street, Tuckerton, free admission. Tuckerton Seaport hosts a food truck event with over 20 different trucks sharing their treats. Craft beer and wine tastings are also part of the experience. The seaport location inspires many of the activities, including boat and decoy building and boat rides. 609.296.8868, www.tuckertonseaport.org

— MAY —

27th ANNUAL CHILI & SALSA COOK-OFF

  • May 21, 11am

Washington Street, Toms River, admission is free, chili-tasting tickets are $7. This chili and salsa cook-off is packed with fun events, including chili-eating contests and performances by local bands. There are tables showcasing local vendors and crafters, as well as face painting and inflatables for the kids. www.downtowntomsriver.com

— JUNE —

MICHAEL ARNONE’S 27th ANNUAL CRAWFISH FEST

  • June 3–5, 10:30am

Sussex County Fairgrounds, 37 Plains Rd., Augusta, tickets start at $40. Michael Arnone hosts his annual crawfish festival, which includes food, live music and camping at the fairgrounds. Each day has a minimum of four live performances, as well as a host of additional activities, such as face painting and other family-friendly ideas. www.crawfishfest.com

RIVERFEST

  • June 3–5

Marine Park, Red Bank, free admission. Friday, 5–10pm; Saturday, 11am–10pm; Sunday, 11am–6pm. This three-day event is one of the state’s largest food and music festivals and attracts over 150,000 visitors. In addition to food demonstrations and samples, the family- friendly festival offers everything from craft vendors and river cruises along the Navesink River to the children’s palace with arts and crafts, games, and amusements. www.redbankriverfest.org

SIXTH ANNUAL JERSEY SHORE WINE FESTIVAL

  • June 11–12, noon

FirstEnergy Park, 2 Stadium Way, Lakewood. This two-day event features wine exclusively from New Jersey, as well as food, crafters, vendors and live music. All net proceeds from the wine festival are donated to Sylvia’s Children, a Holmdel-based 501(c)3 organization that supports 1,000 children in the village of Mbirizi in Uganda, Africa. 732.946.2711, www.jerseyshorewinefestival.com

SEVENTH ANNUAL ROCKS, RIBS AND RIDGES FESTIVAL

  • June 25–26, 11:30am

Sussex County Fairgrounds, 37 Plains Rd., Augusta, tickets $35 and up (note ticket prices do not include food and drink). This festival pairs barbecue, some made by some of the area’s top local chefs, with live performances by classic and southern rock bands. The festival includes a BBQ competition (best ribs, best sauce, and more) and craft beer selections are plentiful. www.rockribsandridges.com

24th ANNUAL BAYMEN’S SEAFOOD & MUSIC FESTIVAL

  • June 25–26, 11am

Tuckerton Seaport, 120 W. Main Street, Tuckerton, free admission. The spotlight is on Jersey Fresh seafood at this festival, where clams, crabs, scallops and more are the stars of the show. In addition to food, this festival has live music, craft brew tastings and vendors, along with family-friendly activities such as boat and decoy building and boat rides. 609.296.8868, www.tuckertonseaport.org

food16Fest2
PHOTO COURTESY GARDEN STATE WINE GROWERS ASSOCIATION

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PHOTO COURTESY NJ PEACH FESTIVAL

— JULY —

NEW JERSEY STATE BARBECUE CHAMPIONSHIP

  • July 8–10, free admission

201 New Jersey Ave., North Wildwood. This three-day festival celebrates the spirit of competition with a barbecue competition sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbeque Society. Over $10,000 is awarded to competitors and the champion of this festival is entitled to compete in the American Royal, the only world barbecue competition. The event is held in conjunction with the Anglesea Blues Festival, offering live performances, and benefits the Anglesea Volunteer Fire Company. 609.523.6565, www.njbbq.com

NEW JERSEY STATE CRAB FESTIVAL

  • July 16, 11am

Ice House Restaurant, 4415 Park Blvd., Wildwood. Crab-themed festival with blue claw crabs and whimsical items such as the crabby Bloody Mary. There is even a crab race for the kids. 609.522.0033, www.wildwoodsnj.com

NEW JERSEY PEACH FESTIVAL

  • July 28–31

Gloucester County 4-H Fairgrounds, Mullica Hill. The peach festival is part of the Gloucester County Fair. It’s all about peaches at this event, where a Peach Queen is crowned and a Governor’s Cup is awarded for the best peaches. www.jerseypeaches.com

— AUGUST —

NEW JERSEY STATE FAIR

  • August 5–14

Sussex County Fairgrounds, 37 Plains Rd., Augusta. This annual fair is a summer tradition and includes Garden State food and agriculture, games, rides, entertainment and more during its ten days. www.newjerseystatefair.org

SEAFOOD FESTIVAL

  • August 20–21

Bellview Winery, 150 Atlantic St., Landisville. Celebrate the bounty of the sea at this festival held at Bellview Winery. www.bellviewwinery.com

— SEPTEMBER —

OYSTERFEST

  • September 9–11

Downtown Asbury Park, free admission. Friday, 4–8pm; Saturday, 10am–8pm; Sunday, 10am–5pm. This three-day festival is dedicated to one thing—oysters! It’s a free festival that also includes festival food, live music, children’s rides and games, and craft vendors. www.asburyparkchamber.com

JERSEY FRESH WINE FESTIVAL

  • September 24–25

Burlington County Fairgrounds, 1960 Jacksonville-Jobstown Rd., Columbus. Sample hundreds of locally produced wines from New Jersey’s premier wineries, plus live bands, food trucks and more. Sponsored by the Garden State Wine Growers Association. www.newjerseywines.com

EPICUREAN PALETTE

  • September 25

Grounds for Sculpture, Hamilton, 1pm. Set within the lush acres of this renowned sculpture garden, the Epicurean Palette is an elegant foodie event designed for gourmands who appreciate fine food and wine. www.epicureanpalette.org

food16Fest4
PHOTO COURTESY GARDEN STATE WINE GROWERS ASSOCIATION

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PHOTO COURTESY NJ PUMPKIN SHOW

— OCTOBER —

DEERFIELD TOWNSHIP HARVEST FESTIVAL

  • October 6–9

Deerfield Township, free admission. This festival is ideal for the entire family, with farm tours, food displays, crafts, games, amusement rides and even fireworks. 856.455.3200, www.dthf.org

SOUTH JERSEY PUMPKIN SHOW

  • October 7–9

Salem County Fairgrounds, 735 Harding Hwy., Woodstown. The 13th annual pumpkin festival features the Big Pumpkin Weigh-Off, storytelling about the Headless Horseman, bands, rides, vendors, a haunted barn and more. 856-765.0118, www.sjpumpkinshow.com

—Nancy DePalma

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