There’s nothing like spending a fall day at a festival, especially when food, wine and beer are involved.
The next few months are packed with fests of all kinds, featuring everything from food trucks and fire pits to chowder and comfort food. Here are the details on some of the season’s big events, happening at parks, wineries, breweries and downtowns.
Comfort Food Festival, Toms River
Stroll the streets of downtown Toms River and enjoy great food during the Comfort Food Festival, which will include a beer and wine garden, craft vendors, children’s activities and live entertainment.
Mobile food vendors include The German Butcher, El Gaucho BBQ, Spire Coffee House, Chapati Prince and Soulva King Gyros, among nearly a dozen others. Area restaurants and shops, including Capone’s Gourmet Pizza & Pasta, Crave, Tommy Boy’s Cafe, A Thyme for All Seasons and Garden State Distillery, will be open for business.
Go: noon to 6 p.m. Sept. 16 on Washington Street in Toms River; downtowntomsriver.com.
Asburyfest, Asbury Park
This three-day festival, formerly known as Asbury Park Oysterfest, will feature food, beer, music and crafts in the City by the Sea.
Food vendors include Del Toro Tapas, Boho Bites, Ike’s Famous Crab Cakes, Twisted Steaks, Wild At Hearth Roaming Cookery, Naya Sushi on Wheels and Have Bacon Will Travel, among more than two dozen others. Beer from Asbury Park Brewery will be available, and craft vendors include Irish Lass Jewelry, Jersey Plate Art, Jersey Mermaid Co., Shore Cuterie, Outer Limits Hot Sauce, River Fibers and The Fir Farm, among others.
Go: 5 to 10 p.m. Sept. 22, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sept. 23 and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 24 at Bradley Park, Ocean and Fifth avenues in Asbury Park;asburyparkchamber.com. Admission is $5 for those older than 6; there is no charge for children 6 and younger and veterans, first responders and active-duty military members. A portion of the entry fee will benefit Coastal Habitat For Humanity.
Greek Festival, Toms River
Get your Greek food fix at this popular festival, taking place at St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church.
Dishes like gyros, moussaka, souvlaki, pastitsio, spanakopita and Greek salad will be served at the festival’s food court, plus house-baked pastries like baklava. There will also be Greek music, dancing, games and a raffle.
Go: noon to 11 p.m. Sept. 22 and 23 and noon to 8 p.m. Sept. 24 at St. Barbara Greek Orthodox Church, 2200 Church Road in Toms River; 732-255-5525, saintbarbaragreekfestival.com. Shuttle service is available from Ocean County College, 1 College Drive.
Ross Brewing Company will celebrate Oktoberfest with a three-day festival filled with German food and live music, craft and food vendors, and new beers in its tasting room. Homebrewers can compete in a homebrewer’s contest on Sept. 29, a backyard beer festival will take place Sept. 30, and the festivities conclude with Beer Olympics on Oct. 1.
Go: noon to 11 p.m. Sept. 29 and 30 and Oct. 1 at Ross Brewing Company, 909 Main St. in the Belford section of Middletown; rossbrewing.com. Admission costs between $15 and $55; search “Rosstoberfest” on evenbrite.com.
South Toms River Food Truck & Craft Beer Festival
Eat and drink along the Toms River at this fifth annual food and beer festival, featuring food trucks, craft beer and , live music.
Go: Noon to 9 p.m. Sept. 30 at Mathis Plaza Park, 134 Route 166 in South Toms River; facebook.com/foodtruckstrnj.
Chowderfest, Beach Haven
Chowder-tasting returns to the 34th annual Chowderfest, a decades-old celebration created to attract visitors to Long Beach Island after the busy summer season. Sampling was put on pause during the COVID-19 pandemic, but festivalgoers once again will be able to taste and vote for their favorite red and white chowders.
Competitors in the red chowder category include Bistro 14 in Beach Haven, Lefty’s Tavern in Barnegat, Wally’s in Surf City and Panzone’s Pizza in Beach Haven and Surf City, and Buckalew’s Restaurant & Tavern, Country Kettle Chowda and Delaware Avenue Oyster House & Bar, all in Beach Haven, and Stafford’s Mud City Crab House will compete for best white chowder.
Festivalgoers also can shop the wares of more than 60 vendors and listen to live music.
Go: Bayfront Festival and Vendor Village will take place from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 30 at Taylor Avenue Waterfront in Beach Haven. The Chowder Cook-off Classic takes place from 11 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. There is no charge for the festival or Vendor Village; tickets to the Chowder Cook-off Classic cost $30 in advance and $35 at the gate; proceeds will benefit local food pantries. There is no charge for children 12 and younger; chowderfest.com.
JBJ Soul Kitchen Chili Cookoff, Toms River
JBJ Soul Kitchen, a nonprofit community restaurant and extension of the Jon Bon Jovi Soul Foundation, invites chili fans to taste and vote for their favorite chilis at this eighth annual event.
Chili will be prepared by local first responders, and the day’s events include live music, a pig roast, food stands and a raffle.
Go: 1 to 4 p.m. Oct. 7 at JBJ Soul Kitchen, 1769 Hooper Ave. in Toms River. Admission costs $20 in advance or $30 the day of the event; search “JBJ Soul Kitchen” on eventbrite.com.
FallFest Food Truck Festival, Plumsted
Food truck fans, this is the event for you.
Two dozen trucks will fill the Laurita Winery grounds for this fall festival, including L’Acquario Seafood Italiano, Mexiboys, Shore Good Eats n Treats, Empanada Beast, Cousins Maine Lobster, Gimmi Hibachi, Tacoholics, Star of the Seafood, Latin Bites, Twisted Steaks and The Pasta Truck.
The festival also will feature live music, firepits, wine tasting and wagon tours of the vineyard, plus fireworks on Oct. 7.
Go: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 7 and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 8 at Laurita Winery, 85 Archertown Road in the New Egypt section of Plumsted; 609-752-0200, lauritawinery.com. Admission costs $13 per day in advance or $15 at the gate; there is no charge for attendees younger than 21.
Stafford Township Fall Harvest and Wine Festival
Kick off the fall season with some of New Jersey’s favorite wineries at this two-part event, which includes a wine festival on one side of the street and a fall fest on the other.
Sample and shop from Wagonhouse, Valenzano, Four Sisters and Tomasello, plus half a dozen others wineries, at Stafford’s Heritage Park, then enjoy craft and food vendors, live music, pumpkin picking, hayrides, scarecrow making and a costume contest at Manahawkin Lake Park.
Go: noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 7 and 8 at Manahawkin Lake Park, Route 9 and Lakeshore Drive, and Heritage Park, 49 W. Bay Ave., in the Manahawkin section of Stafford. Admission to the wine festival costs $20 in advance and $25 at the gate and includes a wine glass and sampling (no charge for those not planning to drink); newjerseywineevents.com, 609-597-1000, ext. 8573. There is no charge for the fall festival; hayride admission is a donation of a nonperishable food item.
Fall Taste of Highlands
Get to know the borough of Highlands through this fall festival, which invites foodies to visit and sample food and cocktails from local restaurants.
The tour starts at Huddy Park on Bay and Waterwitch avenues, where you’ll pick up a map of participating restaurants. Visit all of the stops, collecting stamps along the way, and return your map to the park by 5 p.m. for a chance to win a $200 gift card.
Go: noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 14. Tickets cost $45; 732-291-4713, highlandsnj.com.
Sip in Autumn Wine Festival, Berkeley Township
Find wineries, food trucks, music and more than a dozen craft and food vendors await at this festival in Veterans Park, which has a playground, ballfields and a skate park for the kids.
Participating wineries include Plagido’s Winery, Villari Vineyards and Cedar Rose Vineyards, among others, with food from Station One Seafood, Wholly Bowls, Moocheeze, Chef Vinnie’s Kitchen and Philly Pretzel.
Go: noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 21 and 22 at Veterans Park, 489 Bill Zimmerman Jr. Way in the Bayville section of Berkeley Township. Admission for those 21 and older costs $20 in advance and $25 at the gate and includes a wine glass and sampling; newjerseywineevents.com. There is no charge for attendees younger than 21 or those who won’t be drinking.
Sarah Griesemer joined the USA TODAY NETWORK New Jersey in 2003 and has been writing all things food since 2014. Send restaurant tips to firstname.lastname@example.org and subscribe to our Jersey Shore Eats newsletter.