TOMS RIVER – As the season changes and we move from sand castles to pumpkin carvings, there are a host of fall activities happening throughout Ocean County.
"Fall is always one of the busiest times of year for large events in Ocean County," said Ocean County Freeholder Joseph H. Vicari, who serves as liaison to the Ocean County Division of Tourism and Business Development. "From Chowderfest to the Italian Street Festival, along with Halloween and local farm events, you can find all the attractions right here over the next few months."
One popular event which is in its 31st year, the annual Chowderfest, is scheduled for Oct. 5 and 6, rain or shine. The Merchant Market, is a free vendor fair that is open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Oct. 5. The ticketed Chowder Cook-Off Classic event is scheduled for Oct. 6 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The festival is at the Taylor Avenue ball field, located at Ninth Street and Taylor Avenue in Beach Haven. Those looking for information can visit chowderfest.com to learn more about the festival.
The following weekend is the annual Italian Street Festival in Seaside Heights. The event is scheduled for Oct. 11 through Oct. 13, with the Columbus Day parade scheduled for 1 p.m. on Oct. 13. The festival takes place on Grant Avenue, while the parade marches down the Boulevard in Seaside Heights. For more information on the festival, visit columbusnj.org or visit the Facebook page @TheOceanCountyColumbusDayParadeCommittee.
In addition, the Lighthouse Challenge of NJ is scheduled rain or shine for Oct. 19 and Oct. 20. The annual challenge includes three Ocean County locations, the Barnegat Lighthouse, the Barnegat Light Museum and Tucker's Island at the Tuckerton Seaport. Information for the challenge can be found at LHChallengeNJ.org.
If residents are looking for more seasonal festivities, look no further than the farms that are located throughout Ocean County.
"Ocean County is home to many local farms that host events during the fall season as well," said Vicari. "Whether residents are looking for corn mazes, pumpkin patches, or hayrides, local farms are great for not only fall fun, but it also helps grow businesses that are here in our own backyard."
While numerous farms are located in New Egypt including Hallock's U-Pick Farm, Krowicki's Farm Market and Greenhouse, Emery's Farm, and Dewolf's U-Pick Farm, there is also Silverton Farms located in Toms River, and Argos Farm Market located in Forked River.
The Ocean County Parks and Recreation Department also hosts a number of events during the fall months as well.
"Our Parks Department continuously hosts fantastic events throughout the year for our residents and visitors," said Ocean County Freeholder Director Virginia E. Haines, who serves as liaison to the department. "Whether it is the weekly events held at many of the parks, or bigger events such as the Pine Barrens Jamboree, there is always something going on for the whole family to enjoy."
The 25th annual Pine Barrens Jamboree is scheduled for Oct. 12 from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., rain or shine. This free event will include music of the Pines, cultural demonstrations and lectures, traditional crafts and crafters, kids' crafts and games, nature and history programs, food and more. The event is hosted at Wells Mills County Park, 905 Wells Mills Road, Waretown.
The Ocean County Parks' Trunk or Treat event is scheduled for Oct. 26 at Ocean County Park in Lakewood. Businesses, non-profit groups and the public are welcome to set up a trunk. For more information, call 732-506-5122.
Finally, Jakes Branch County Park in Beachwood is hosting Awesome Autumn Fun on Nov. 2 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., rain or shine. The free event is first come, first serve basis, and will include hayrides, candy in the hay, apple cider, a food truck, little tots hay maze, petting zoo, games and more. For more information, call 732-281-2750.
"Even though the summer fun is over, residents and visitors alike can enjoy the many things to do in Ocean County during the fall season," said Haines. "Whether you attend a festival, visit a farm, or one of our county parks, you will always find something festive to do."
To find other events hosted by the Ocean County Parks Department, visit oceancountyparks.org or check out the Facebook page @OceanCountyParks.
In addition, for other events happening around Ocean County, visit the Ocean County Tourism website oceancountytourism.com, or follow the Facebook page @tourismOceanCounty.
"Ocean County has a lot to offer," Vicari said. "We hope you enjoy the fall in Ocean County."