Bay Avenue is packed with festivalgoers.


SOMERS POINT – From delicious food from an array of vendors to face painting, crafter tents, pony rides and live music, there was something for all ages to enjoy Saturday at Somers Point’s Bayfest celebration.

Throngs of families strolled along historic Bay Avenue, between Pleasant and Annie avenues, to browse vendor tents and taste tantalizing seafood to gyros and barbecue during the all-day event, now in its 35th year.

The festival is the city’s most popular annual event, tracing its beginnings back to the Earth Day celebration in 1989.

Jillian and Martin Walley, of Mays Landing, and their 2-year-old daughter, Iyla, took in all of the sights and sounds of Bayfest and chatted with old friends.

The couple went to Mainland High School.

“I just like to see everybody that we grew up with and all of the vendors,” Jillian Walley said. “We love looking, especially with Iyla now. It’s nice to bring her and let her look at all the stuff. We like to shop local.”

Jillian Walley and her 2-year-old daughter, Iyla, enjoy the day. Dad, Martin Walley is behind them.

Martin Walley added, “It’s a lot of fun. It’s like a high school reunion.”

By noon, the family of three had already grabbed a bite to eat.

“We tried some food out and now we are going to look and shop around for her a little bit,” Jillian noted.

And in a very short time, the Walleys will be a family of four.

“I was due yesterday. Today, I am trying to walk out the baby,” said Jillian, who is pregnant with a baby girl.

Dana Park, of Stone Harbor, and 4-year-old son, Ted, made the most of their first trip to Bayfest.

“We love it,” Park said. “We just got soda from Pirate Pete’s.”

Pirate Pete’s is a popular soda truck with specialty beverages.

“Ted is drinking Blackbeard Black Cherry drink,” Park said.

Ted Park beams his soda smile as mom, Dana Park, smiles.

Looking at Ted, he appeared to have a wide smile, which was true in part, but about an inch long curl up his cheek of red coloring was a black cherry drink mustache.

Ted giggled.

“He is having so much fun,” Park said with a laugh. “He is a real ham.”

Megan Tice, of Hamilton, Mercer County, her 6-year-old son, Aidan, and his “mimi” or grandmother, Anne Marie Narcini, of New Egypt, browsed a crafters tent.

Narcini has a second home in Ocean City.

“We are down here for the weekend and we came over here for the day,” Tice said. “This is our first Bayfest and we are having a great time.”


When asked what Aidan thought about the day, he exclaimed, “I’m having fun!”

People weren’t the only ones enjoying the day. Gabriella Arabio and her father, Mike Arroyo, of Egg Harbor Township, brought their dogs, a dachshund named DJ and a boxer named Rosie, for the celebration.

While other dogs walked down Bay Avenue with their owners, others made their way around the bustling event in doggie strollers.

Throughout the day, visitors to the bayfront extravaganza kept amused, occupied and intrigued.

“The Shore Thing Band” performs.

On one end of Bay Avenue “The Shore Thing Band” played classic favorites. Crowds gathered around, sat and listened, clapped to the beat, sang along and a few people even danced.

At the other end of the avenue there were activities for children, including pony rides. Children were enthralled as they had their chance to ride their own pony, even if it was for just a little while on William Morrow beach.

Adjacent to the pony rides were the performers from the Grateful Dead cover band, Dead Reckoning.

They played favorite “Deadhead” tunes as the crowds danced and even amused themselves with hula hoops spinning around their hips.

Pony rides are among the children’s activities at Bayfest.
Gabriella Arabio and her father, Mike Arroyo, bring their dogs to the celebration.
Festivalgoers line up for gyros.
Megan Tice, at right, her son, Aidan, and her mother, Anne Marie Narcini, browse the vendor tents.
Bayfest is in its 35th year.
Categories: Somers Point

Nanette LoBiondo Galloway

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