Thousands turned out for the first day of the Downbeach Seafood Festival, Saturday, Sept. 17.


VENTNOR – There was a steady stream of seafood lovers paying the price of admission to the Downbeach Seafood Festival, which is celebrating its third year at Ski Beach park in Ventnor, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 17-18.

At 2 p.m. on the main stage, Funk Daddy band entertained the crowd gathered near the bay as they munched on good eats and took swigs of craft beers. They were followed by the swaying hips of dancers from the South Pacific Island Dance group. But in between acts, organizer Jon Henderson of Good Time Tricycle thanked Mayor Beth Holtzman and Commissioners Tim Kriebel and Lance Landgraf for the partnership with the city to put on a fabulous weekend of food, beer and fun.

Holtzman thanked the Ventnor City Police and Fire Departments for providing a smooth public safety operation, and Donna Peterson of Ventnor Special Events, who already has the entire summer season of 2023 booked with entertainment.

Peterson said she was on the lookout for vendors to participage in future events, and that she would likely be contacting Funk Daddy to perform at one of Ventnor’s free concerts next year.

“Eat, drink, dance,” Holtzman told the crowd. “Have a great time because that’s what life is all about.”

Landgraf thanked Henderson for working well with the city and being responsive to the needs of the city.

“And thanks for the sea breeze, which is keeping the greenheads at bay,” he said.

The layout was a little different than in prior years, with the Chowder Contest benefiting the Community FoodBank of New Jersey in a long tent on Burk Avenue. Henderson predicted the chowder contest would raise $10,000 for the food bank. Every dollar raised provides three meals for those who are food insecure.

Good Time Tricycle hired four jitneys to transport festival goers to and from the festival and offered free parking at a casino lot on Wellington Avenue.

Linda Peltz of Ventnor was enjoying time with her friends from junior high school. All are now in their mid-70s, but still rocking and rolling and having fun.

“We have been friends for a very long time but haven’t seen each other for awhile,” she said. “We ran into each other here at the seafood festival.”

Brianna Middleton of Pine Hill said her favorite food offering of the day was the Tuna Candy, which she explained is like beef jerky.

“It was really good,” she said.

And Nancy Naulty, who came all the way from Voorhees to experience the festival was on a taste testing mission. She tried lobster rolls from three different vendors, she said.

“They were all good. We also came to see our friend who owns Chimney Brewery,” she said.

The Downbeach Seafood Festival will run from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday. Free parking and jitney service is available on Wellington Avenue. Look for the blue signs.

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Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

Award winning journalist covering news, events and people of Atlantic County for more than 20 years.