Truly Local: Graze Restaurant in Little Silver

Graze in Little SilverChamon Laercio (aka Junior) worked for several years in the restaurant business before deciding he didn’t want to open his own restaurant.

“I intended to have a small catering place,” he tells Local Joan while sitting in a round booth at Graze, the eatery he opened last year in Little Silver. “I didn’t want to do this. It’s a tough business.”

After running a successful catering company for four years, he bought Zoe’s in 2015 and gradually began changing the menu to serve more locally sourced food and less of the standard and ubiquitous “Penne Vodka” type of dish, he explains.Little Silver Graze restaurant

“Most other places can’t tell you where their food came from,” says Junior, noting that New Jersey is catching up with the local food trend and after a difficult transition, he has a “clientele that understands” what he’s trying to do.

Junior’s new clientele is regional, not only local. Friday jazz nights are popular, he says, and Graze just opened for lunch as well as dinner.

My goal is to support local farmers and farmer’s markets

You can typically find Junior either cooking or talking to patrons about their experience.

Classically trained in French cooking but with Brazilian-born parents, Junior reflects his culinary heritage with dishes such as coxinhas: “Brazilian chicken croquettes with green tomato ketchup.” The “Bourbon Glazed Carrot Soup” garnished with micro-celery, is a staple, as are local harvest greens of the day and a four-cheese mac and cheese dish for which he makes not only the pasta, but also the cheese!

Glazed carrot soup at Graze in Little Silver

Bourbon glazed carrot soup is a delectable specialty of Graze’s kitchen.

Junior also does his own butchering and tries to use every part of the animal in his cooking. He points to a pasture raised pork chop.

“You can tell it’s good because it’s red, not white. People think pork is supposed to be white, like ‘the other white meat’ but it’s naturally a red meat.”

Not 100 percent of his food comes from local sources, though. The “toughest part” is that some foods are hard to get in the Garden State year round, although greenhouses make it possible to find, for example, heirloom tomatoes in winter.

“I do the best I can.”

He works with Harvest Drop, a local middleman, and uses about 30 different farmers in total. A born teacher, Junior says he hopes to advocate and raise awareness of the desirability of local food, both for its freshness and to support local business.

“My goal [in purchasing] is to support local farmers and farmer’s markets,” he says, adding that there are more than ever before. There are a great many local farms in New Jersey that people don’t realize exist.

Where did Junior get his interest in food? Both his parents have the cooking gene. His mother cooked for the Brazilian consulate at one time and his father owned a bakery in the U.S. and a dairy farm in Brazil.

His mother’s are “the only leftovers I’ll eat!”


Tell your local friends about Local Joan by sharing this post.




Be a Rookstar This October For Children’s Cancer

This October 11, Rook Coffee Roasters is hosting its second annual Rook Run for children’s cancer.

Rook Coffee Roasters, founded by Shawn Kingsley & Holly Migliaccio, is expanding rapidly. When we first wrote about it in February 2014, there were four Monmouth County locations. Now it’s eight and soon to be nine!

This year’s event will again benefit The Valerie Fund, a children’s cancer program established by Ed and Sue Goldstein in honor of their daughter Valerie. The second annual Rook Run has already raised $120,000 at press time of its total goal of $150,000. At press time in late September, 1581 runners have entered, divided into 138 teams, including “Rookstars,’ ‘Cup of Joe,’ ‘Crossfit Delirium’ and ‘Run Like You Stole Something.’

The benefits of being a Rook runner or race volunteer:
1. You can give your team a zany name;
2. You can wear a crazy costume while you run;
3. You can get fresh air and sunshine on a beautiful fall afternoon;
4. You will give hope and life to a young person struggling with a disease;
5. You can eat and drink merrily during the awards ceremony;
6. You can have fun with your friends all day while doing something for a worthy charity.

In the first Rook Run, held last November, 1076 people competed. It was won by Victor Vientos of New York City for the Men and by Chelsea Callan of Ocean Grove, NJ, for the Women.

This year’s 5-K race kicks off at 10 am at the Great Lawn at Pier Village and registration is $35. Complete race details are published on the Rook Run’s interactive site. In addition, there will be Rook Run hoodies, bumper stickers and t-shirts available for sale at the Rook Run.

Come and join the fun!

What’s Made In Monmouth? Find Out This Week at the County Fair

recycled billboard vinyl mat

DorDesign creates unique furniture and other household items out of recycled, weatherproof, billboard vinyl.

At the County Fair this week, you may meet Doreen Catena of DorDesign Sustainable Home Goods who makes furniture, floor and table mats and wall hangings out of recycled billboards.

“I never know what the next billboards will be or what they will become,” says owner and former graphic designer Catena.


High Strung Studios makes jewelry out of guitar strings, for musicians and music lovers.

Local musician Jenny Woods recycles guitar strings to make funky and fashionable jewelry at High Strung Studios.

Or talk to former state senator Ellen Karcher, owner of Pleasant Valley Lavender Farm in Morganville, New Jersey’s only commercial lavender nursery.

The creativity and resourcefulness of these Monmouth County residents, among others, will be on display at the Monmouth County Fair at the East Freehold Park Showgrounds in Freehold this week. Try to stop by and support our locals who are bringing revenue into our local economy.

Made in Monmouth vendors feature art, jewelry, baked goods and jellies, stationery and bath and body products that are all made locally. Jersey shore (the beach, not the show) themed goods include Jersey Girl Barefoot Sandal and Sea You Again.

The fair is a traditional county fair, complete with blue ribbons, a pie-eating contest and amusement rides. The county will offer an interactive display of real public works equipment for kids, including its popular “Touch A Truck” display and Sheriff’s Ident-A-Kid program.

The fair runs Wednesday through Sunday, July 22-26, from 5 -11 p.m. on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday (July 22-24), from 3-11 p.m. on Saturday, July 25 and from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday. Held at East Freehold Park Showgrounds on Kozloski Road, between Routes 33 and 537 in Freehold Township, admission is $8 per person. Children 12 and under are free. For more information, visit or call 732-842-4000.

Long Branch Rook Run Raises Money For Children’s Cancer Fund

Rook Run Start

Rook Run Director Joshua Ballard signaling the start of the race on the Long Branch boardwalk.

Rook Coffee Roasters, a locally owned business that Local Joan profiled earlier this year, held its 1st Annual Rook Run in Long Branch on November 8, 2014. First place overall went to Victor Vientos of New York City, with a time of 16:23.7. The first female finisher was Chelsea Callan of Ocean Grove, NJ, with 17:57.4.

1076 people participated in the 5K, and it raised $69,200 for The Valerie Fund, which supports comprehensive health care for children with cancer and blood disorders.

We wanted to do something that would help kids in our community,” says Rook co-owner Shawn Kingsley. “The Valerie Fund stood out as the shining star among the group.”

Run director with Rook founders and Valerie Fund children

Joshua Ballard (second from l) and Rook Coffee founders Shawn Kingsley & Holly Migliaccio (at right), meeting The Valerie Fund children Francesca (far left) and Zippy (center). Photo courtesy of Rook.

logo for Valerie Fund

The Valerie Fund is named after Valerie Goldstein, who died of cancer in 1976.Ed Goldstein, founder of The Valerie Fund, said it treats more than 4,000 kids a year, and “No one is turned away.”

Ed and Sue Goldstein started the Valerie Fund to honor their daughter Valerie’s memory and to provide local alternatives to treatment outside of Philadelphia and New York City. The nonprofit is based in Maplewood and has seven locations, including Monmouth Medical Center, Long Branch.

The top team fundraising team was “Olive Rook,” which raised $7080! Its name says it all.

“We’re doing it to use our brand in a positive way,” says co-owner Holly Migliaccio.

The race was held on the Great Lawn section of the Long Branch boardwalk.

The rest of the winners:

Top 3 Men

1. Victor Vientos (16:23.7)

2. Matthew Grogan (16:33.5)

3. Joe Pawlish (16:46.5)

Top 3 Women

1. Chelsea Callan (17:57.4)

Chelsea Callan

Top Woman’s finisher, Chelsea Callan of Ocean Grove. Photo courtesy of Rook Coffee Roasters.

2. Katie Desiere (19:25.8)

3. Allison McQuillen (19:36.0)

Under 14: Nick Hanlon (19:23.7) & Catherine DeSousa (20:33.9)

14-24: Lee Colvin (17:51.5) & Grace Wells (20:32.4)

25-34: Chris Kessler (16:50.4) & Nicole Corre (20:20.1)

35-44: Alejandro Sanchez (17:18.8) & Heather Schlisserman (21:49.5)

45-54: Michael Metlitz (19:47.3) & Cindy Lauer (22:19.9)

55-64: Larry Butynski (20:36.7) & Jan Farnung-Krause (25:05.3)

65+: Ted Freeman (27:47.9) & Ceil Langa (31:29.8)


Excel Travel’s Ted Friedl Works To “Kick Cancer Overboard”

ted friedl at work

Ted Friedl, hard at work on a typical day.

Ted Friedl is known to many as the local travel agency owner with two beaded braids, a Hawaiian shirt, and the memorable slogan: Make Us Happy–Go Away!

When he’s not setting up a honeymoon aboard a Russian Icebreaker to the North Pole or at a chamber of commerce function (he belongs to seven), he raises money for cancer survivors and their families to embark on one-week Royal Caribbean cruises out of Cape Liberty, all expenses paid.

“The recipient’s most important question [on a cruise] is not how to pay for the next medical bill, but whether to play bingo, get a massage or sing karaoke,” says the upbeat CVO, or Chief Vacation Officer of Excel Travel in Long Branch. He and DonnaLyn Giegrich, a cancer survivor and fellow business owner, started “Kick Cancer Overboard” in 2011, and just achieved 501(3)(c) status, making KCO a nonprofit eligible for matching contributions.

Ted’s career has not always had smooth sailing.

KCO button

Kick Cancer Overboard was founded to help people with cancer.

In 1994 Ted and his wife, Joanna Friedl, Excel Travel’s vice president, thought the future looked somewhat grim when newscaster Connie Chung predicted that this new thing called the internet would be the death of the travel industry, he remembers.

Ted and Joanna watched as airlines slashed commissions, many travel agencies folded or consolidated, and internet travel sites proliferated. The business that they’d started together out of a mutual passion for travel was at risk.

Excel pivoted away from mainly business into leisure travel. That shift was an important aspect of its success, Ted notes. Today they have a team of agents, a surfboard for a coffee table, and a binder full of glowing–and unsolicited–testimonials.

“I don’t know what happened to Connie Chung, but we’re still here,” quips Ted, the recipient of two Spinnaker awards from the Eastern Monmouth Chamber of Commerce, for Volunteer of the Year and for Community Service.

“Ted has endured multiple storm Sandy setbacks, including losing his house; maintained a thriving travel business; and served the community in leadership roles without waivering from KCO’s mission,” says his partner, Donnlyn. “It’s an honor to collaborate on his award-winning creation and we’re grateful to our KCO community of staunch supporters who’ve made it possible.”

Ted notes that all of KCO’s donations and sponsorships go to survivors and their families. He and DonnaLyn don’t use any donations for administrative costs, and their overhead is “very low.” Past fundraisers have been sponsored by Tom’s Ford in Keyport, Fred Astaire Dancers, A Kneaded Vacation, Dean’s Natural Market in Ocean, and Rich and Maria Laganga. In December KCO threw a holiday party with partner Rockit.

The majority of the 91 cruise goers have survived, but sadly, one passed away before going on the cruise and nine after returning home.

Amy with hoop onstage

Goodbie Amy vocalist and cancer survivor onstage hoola-hooping. (Her band’s on Facebook.)


The first recipient, Goodbie Amy vocalist Amy Paradise, had breast cancer twice and is now a big supporter of KCO, having hosted several benefit concerts.

Another cruise goer was an oncology nurse who herself developed cancer, and was nominated by her patients at the hospital where she worked. The recipients are chosen by a ten-person team, and are always locals because Ted says there’s no reason to look outside the state. He recuses himself from the selection committee.

So what’s Ted’s secret for staying relevant in a rapidly changing industry? Raising awareness about the value he provides as an independent agent. He enjoys “debunking myths” people hold about travel and guarantees the best prices for cruises or vacation packages, insisting the conventional wisdom that you’ll save money online for travel is wrong.

“There’s not one study saying that it’s cheaper,” says Ted, who has a standing offer of $100 to anyone who can prove otherwise. The commissions that airlines and hotels pay to agents are simply pocketed when people buy online, and the savings are not passed on to the traveler, he explains.

Also, Ted says, the U.S. State Department in Washington issues warnings about Mexico, yet Washington D.C. is four times more deadly than Mexico City.  The chances of contracting a disease on a cruise are miniscule, he points out, because every year 40 million people go on cruises, yet fewer than 1,000 get sick.

Trends he’s noticed in the last year are the popularity of destination weddings, river cruises and family reunions that take place on vacation.

“We’ve shifted to doing more leisure and group travel, safaris, family reunions, destination weddings, cruises,” he says. “It’s more creative. The more complicated and difficult the itinerary, the more valuable our services become.”

Ted's office in Long Branch

Excel Travel in Long Branch has shifted its focus to the leisure travel market.

Ted says he’s thrilled to go to work in a business that brings joy to people’s lives and KCO is a way to spread that joy.

“They’re going to enjoy it a lot more, because they understand how precious life is,” says Ted of KCO’s cruise recipients.

And, he notes, over the last three years, the old-fashioned brick and mortar travel agencies are actually gaining market share back from the web.

So, make Ted happy and go away.

Does Local Joan Shop Anywhere Else?

local bookstoreOne question Local Joan gets frequently is: how can I do all my shopping at only local stores?

This depends upon what you consider to be a local store. Not every business that’s “local” is limited to one location. For example, a franchise such as True Value or Ace Hardware may belong to a network of locally owned businesses that use the same local suppliers. Although located in other states, some national outlets make notable efforts to support the local community. Kohl’s department stores, for example, runs a program, “Associates in Action,” in which employees volunteer for local children’s charities.

Local Joan’s mission is to help small business, but it also advocates for nationally owned businesses or franchises who are good neighbors in the local community and use fair hiring practices.

One of our key missions is to help you distinguish between  businesses that invest in the community and those that take money out of it. That’s the most important difference. We realize it’s not easy to draw that distinction, or to find local commerce for all our needs, especially when they typically have miniscule advertising budgets, but that’s where Local Joan comes in.

Joan’s philosophy is not about making your life difficult or limiting your choices. Joan simply wants us to shop responsibly and to be aware of which stores contribute to their communities, and to reward them for doing so by giving them our business. Be aware of the barriers that locally-owned stores face against larger competitors who don’t give back, and give those local companies a chance to meet your needs before shopping elsewhere.

Similarly, many professional services are locally owned and have close ties to the communities where they are based. An understandable exception is to go to another state or region for a specialist who has expertise that isn’t represented in your community. But be aware of the plethora of resources available locally, especially in the New York area, and when all else is equal, choose local.

When you shop, notice whether the business is making an effort to be a good neighbor by supporting local charities and by hiring locally. Do their profits all go to out of town causes or do they outsource their labor unnecessarily? That is what hurts us where we live. Let’s say a local businesswoman opens a franchise of a national chain restaurant. It’s likely the store’s menu and advertising and signage are all developed at a national headquarters that may be far away. But the food may be bought locally, which helps local farmers.

Starbucks and Panera Bread are examples of nationally owned chain eateries that make an effort to help their communities. Each has a community bulletin board and sponsors local nonprofit events. Panera locations in Shrewsbury and Ocean, for example, donates their leftover bread to local religious organizations and nonprofits who help the needy. These efforts to support the local community are laudable.

Let’s shop wisely and with discretion. Let’s give our dollars to those who support our local economy and workers, and pay a living wage to their workers, such as Costco.

To learn more about the advantages of local business, we recommend reading The Small-Mart Revolution by Michael H. Shuman.

The Scoop on Gracie and the Dudes’ Ice Cream

strawbewwyWhen you see the ice cream at Gracie and the Dudes, you may be surprised. The strawberry has only a hint of pink, and the other colors are similarly muted. Even the Italian ices they make are pale, in contrast with the vivid palette of the store and the eye-catching cartoon logo.

“Taste it before you judge it,” says Michelle McMullen, co-owner with her husband Brian of Gracie and the Dudes (and Sadie too!).

The shop’s most popular flavor, an intense dark chocolate, resembles Belgian chocolate. Cinnamon oatmeal and chocolate chip cookie taste like chilly versions of their namesake cookies. The flavors are concentrated and remarkably authentic. How does this small family-owned ice cream shop with two locations in Long Branch and Sea Bright accomplish this?

We make enough for our pockets. We want regular families to be able to come and not break the bank.

A ton of hard work testing and developing their own flavors from scratch, Michelle says. Because it lacks artificial flavors and colors, the ice cream has only a two-week shelf life. In the fledgling days of their business, much of it had to be donated or discarded.

“We opened in the winter. I’d just given birth. We had no customers.”

Michelle McMullen scoops a cone of her homemade ice cream.

Michelle McMullen scoops a cone of her homemade ice cream.

Twenty flavors are on display, with more than 65 in rotation, and more to come.

“Customers are very vocal,” says Michelle. Last month olive oil debuted. The general reaction was “ehh.”  Maple bacon was a temporary hit and sweet corn is on its way, by popular demand.

“We’ll need three or four tests to get it right.”

The married couple were successful national franchise owners, using pre-mixed formulas, but began to worry about the ingredients in the treats their kids were ingesting.

In 2009, the eldest, Gracie, was no longer a baby.

“We started thinking about what we were giving her,” Michelle says. They knew they wanted to make something different, something fresher, with high quality ingredients.

Even what’s in Italian ices is “horrendous,” so they created their own, which is technically sorbet, with three ingredients: fruit, water and sugar. The cherry flavor tastes like cherry pie, says Michelle, a former high school English teacher whose language skills are evident in the entertaining copy on her website. Learning the food science behind ice cream was tricky and their biggest challenge.

Sadie (far right) is the newest addition to the family & business too!

Another complication came in the form of a new baby, a girl named Sadie.

Michelle and Brian found themselves with a logo and business name prominently featuring their firstborn and her two brothers, “the dudes.”

When Sadie turned four, she became aware of her conspicuous absence in her family’s business.

Michelle admits the longer name is a bit unwieldy, but what can a parent do when her child wants to know, “Where’s me?”

Another challenge was Superstorm Sandy in 2012.

“We wanted to renovate but not quite the extensive renovation we did,” Michelle says, wryly. But though “devastatingly horrible. . .it really spurred a new community spirit within me.”

Michelle worked toward recovery and rebuilding on the Sea Bright 20/20 Committee, the precursor to Sustainable Sea Bright, a municipal committee.  “We are committed to making Sea Bright sustainable for the future.  We worked to bring a farmer’s market to town as well as having Sea Bright designated a sustainable community by the state of New Jersey,” she adds.

“The one benefit that came out of the storm is my commitment to making Sea Bright the best it can be, as well as the people I’ve met and the dear friendships I’ve formed.” Michelle traveled to New York with Mayor Dina Long to the ask for help.

“We, as a town, are fortunate to have some big fans in large corporations.”

So is healthy ice cream an oxymoron? Michelle nods as if she’s heard this before. “It’s healthier,” she qualifies. Everybody gives their kids an occasional treat, she contends, so why can’t it be from the best ingredients, which also taste the best? The McMullens say they use less sugar than is standard, and have a formula that works.

The store’s cream is from Wisconsin, so shipping costs more than the product itself.  Michelle says that wasn’t by choice; they couldn’t find a local supplier who could adapt to what they needed.

“Our prices are lower,” Michelle claims. “We make enough for our pockets. We want regular families to be able to come and not break the bank.” As for a complaint online about not selling single scoops, she nods.

“It’s been a bone of contention. But when you order, you’re paying for all of it, napkin, cone, all the overhead.”

Franchise offers beckon, but Michelle deems herself “a control freak, like all entrepreneurs.”

“We’re not quite there yet.”

Local and Green: Perfect Together?

Are you a “deep green? Do you wake up every morning thinking: ‘What can I do?’”

Most of us are “lazy greens,” says Shel Horowitz, whose mission is to “make green sexy” and to help environmental sustainability go mainstream.

At the Green Festival in New York, Horowitz extolled the financial advantages of green practices for business owners. Horowitz authored “Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green” with Jay Conrad Levinson, author of the bestselling “Guerrilla Marketing” series.

“It isn’t just good for the planet–it’s great for your bottom line.” Citing data from the Big Green Opportunity report, a study of small business owners who were divided into “three shades of green,” Horowitz notes that the greenest segments of industries across the economy are growing rapidly, and systematically taking market share from the conventional economy.

Shel Horowitz

Shel Horowitz addressing business owners at the Green Festival in New York City.

Seventy-five percent of survey respondents who offer green products or services saw an increase in sales of those products and services during the down economy, from 2008-2011. The green building segment grew during the official recession, and now represents 38 percent of new housing starts.

Local Joan recently spoke with Horowitz about how businesses can be part of a “circular, closed loop,” in which trash and shipping bills are slashed by purchasing locally, then reusing and recycling.

Your waste is somebody else’s asset, he notes. “We can do this. We know so much more than 30 years ago. Business has contributed to the problems and can be a big part of the solution.”

How can a mainstream business be green?

The definition is not limited to niche markets such as solar energy and vegan foods. A green business is any business whose policies and products demonstrate care for the earth, says Horowitz, which translates into tangible human benefits.

The lazy greens “will only live sustainably if we make it easy for them. So make it convenient and market not on the basis of should, but on the basis of benefit to people,” he advises.

“It’s in the community’s self interest to take care of its environment. Talk about values everyone has: clean air and water, reducing asthma, cost and durability.”

“If you’re eating local food, you’re eating food that’s not being trucked thousands of miles and you’re supporting local farmers,” he notes. “[Economic activity] is not just buying and selling, it’s the manufacturing and disposal of a product after it’s used. It’s mostly a linear progression ending in a landfill which creates more waste.”

Wasting resources is costly, he explains. “Seven percent of electricity is wasted in transport and 144 million pounds of food are being thrown away daily. That’s a crime. Green is only more expensive if you look at the short term. We pay for those costs in other ways–health and longevity and taxes.”


Arts and Crafts and Outdoor Tunes: Fun Picks For Fall

Musicians on a Mission logo

Nonprofit Musicians on a Mission is committed to making a difference with its music.

Besides the gorgeous weather, fall brings a multitude of local events worth attending, with musical acts, artisans and food vendors. Local Joan features three outstanding events here, all in scenic outdoor locations and benefiting local causes and small businesses.

Colts Neck Rockfest 2014 is back for its 7th year on September 20. This free concert featuring area bands with talented local musicians is held at Bucks Mill Park on Bucks Mill Road in Colts Neck and is sponsored this year by the Colts Neck Business Association.

The all day event runs from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Event founder and musician Steve Warendorf started Rockfest in 2008. “I had the idea to have a little free concert with a few musical acts,” said Warendorf. “It was basically a backyard barbecue held at the park. There were probably 30 people.”

Today Rockfest has musical acts ranging from reggae to Latin to classic rock to original music. Hand crafted goods and services will be on sale, and food vendors will participate.

Guitarist for the Moroccan Sheepherders, as well as Carnival Dogs, The Working Men – a Rush Tribute Band, and the SMA Project, Warendorf enjoys giving young musicians a chance for local exposure. “With Rockfest, just being able to break even and be able to put smiles on people’s faces, musicians and eventgoers alike is great. The young bands have a great place to bring their friends and families to see them play.” Warendorf and his wife Michelle grew up in Colts Neck and he calls himself a “townie.” His daughter Madeleine, 15, will also be playing at Rockfest with her group, “Three Little Birds.”

bucks mill park

Rockfest is at Bucks Mill Park in Colts Neck.

“It’s a no-brainer having Rockfest in Colts Neck,” he adds. “It’s a beautiful park with grills and a perfect space for the bands to play.”

Next, the Asbury Park Fall Bazaar is an afternoon event to showcase greater Asbury Park’s local artisans and vendors on Saturday, September 27, 2014 from noon to 5 pm at the Grand Arcade inside Convention Hall. For sale will be vintage, handmade items, art, jewelry, home goods and seasonal and Oktoberfest style beers and food at The Anchors Bend.

Indian Summer

Musicians and local crafters join forces on Sept. 27 at the Asbury Park boardwalk.

 This year Indian Summer: Live Music on the Beach joins with the Bazaar to offer a celebration of local music on the beach outside of Anchors Bend. Arcade Radio will serve as the official headquarters for the event with interviews, guest DJ spots, and band merch.

Finally, check out Rock the Farm: Amplify Your Life, at Regan’s Hollow Farm in Farmingdale on Saturday, October 11, from 2 to 11pm.  Bands include The Thousand Pities and Harper’s Fellow.

An admission fee of $15 goes to raise funds for CFC Loud N Clear, a Farmingdale charity that helps people in recovery re-integrate into society, closing the gap between rehab and everyday life.

Hosted by Musicians on a Mission, a group of civic-minded musicians who organize and provide entertainment for monthly events, this outdoor musical festival features food, drinks, vendors, volleyball, horseshoes, song circles, an auction and a bonfire. BYOB.

Don’t be a sofa spud this September. Get out and support our local musicians, charities, vendors and craftspeople by attending at least one of these wonderful events, staffed by volunteers who donate their time and talents to help our local community.


Local Chefs Serve Up Lobster and Libations at AC Seafood Fest


dog in lobster costume“If you like seafood, and you like the Jersey Shore,” says festival producer Jon Henderson, “You’ve got to come to the Atlantic City Seafood Festival.”

Local Joan concurs. Where else can you find all these things in one place?:

  • A triathlon award ceremony and a “Smokers’ Haven” cigar tent
  • A dog dressed in a lobster costume
  • Sword fighting shows and a bar with pirate-inspired cocktails and “live pirate music”
  • Kids’ fun park with face painting and animals
  • Cooking demos with local chefs
  • Painting classes with local artists from Dwell: An Artist Space (#BottlesandBrushes)
  • A beer “tasting tent” featuring local Jersey brews and wine seminars with Wine Director Michael Green
  • Live music from Jo Bonnano and the Godsons, the Burnsiders, and the Crawdaddies, among others.

You don’t need to go anywhere near the casinos (au revoir, Revel, we hardly knew ye) to have a good time.

local beer tasting tent

Try out locally brewed beers at the beer tasting tent.

The festival takes place September 13-14th at Bader Field in Atlantic City, and pets (see top) are welcome. In its third year, the weekend holds a variety of activities along with 50 restaurants offering their seafood specialties. A chowder cook-off for local chefs (below) benefits the Community FoodBank of New Jersey.

Free admission is thanks to the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA). Parking is $10. Some of the classes have fees, such as the interactive wine seminars.

What else? “Sandman” Matt Deibert will help kids with their own creations, and observe a crab cake eating contest sponsored by Phillips Seafood. For skateboarders, an onsite skate park and naturally, visits from the Cape May Zoo, home of the popular snow leopards.


One suggestion: Before you arrive, don’t eat!bowl of chowder

Social media & sharing icons powered by UltimatelySocial