It’s summer and the Jersey Shore beckons. As if sun, sand, and surf weren’t enough to entice you, there are additional reasons to celebrate the season along the boardwalks and beaches stretching from Long Branch to Cape May. Check out these eight festivals and fairs that are sure to bring a twinkle to your family’s collective eye.
22nd Annual Oceanfest (shown right)Long Branch, Monmouth County
• Each year hundreds of thousands of beachgoers descend on the oceanfront promenade in Long Branch for this all-day, family-friendly festival. From clowns and jugglers to magicians and musicians, Oceanfest has it all. There are dancers, pirates, carnival acts, sand sculptors, and a spectacular fireworks display.
• Ocean Promenade; 10am-10pm; free; 732-222-0400.
• Get ready for five days of thrills with a bull-riding buck off, rooster-crowing contest, cast-iron skillet toss, and much more. See a Wild West romp and a show of magical illusions. Plus, children can vie for top honors in pie- and pudding-eating contests.
• Robert J. Miller Air Park, Rt. 530; Tues-Wed, 5-11pm; Thur-Sat, 11am-11pm; Sun, 11am-5pm; $6 (children under 10 free); 732-914-9466.
30th Annual Wings ’n Water Festival (shown left)Stone Harbor, Cape May County
• Originally held in September, organizers decided this year to hold this “Celebration of the Coast” in July to better accommodate the multitude of shore visitors. Enjoy guided walks and hands-on activities to learn about the unique wetlands wildlife, while meeting acclaimed artists, carvers, quilters, crafters, and photographers.
• 1075 Stone Harbor Blvd.; Thur, 10am–4pm (a family night special event starts at 6:30 with additional ticket fee); Fri, 10am–4pm; Sat, Benefit Auction Party starts at 6pm. Two-day tickets: $10 adults before July 4 ($12 after), $7 children. One-day tickets: $7 adults, $5 children. Individual venue pricing: $5 adults, $3 children; 609-368-1211.
• Don your lobster bibs for this celebration of seafood and enjoy live music, trolley rides, face painting, crafts, and other family entertainment.
• 5th Ave. Pavilion at Ocean Ave.; 11am-9pm; free; 732-869-1020.
July 31-August 4
• In the months leading up to it, this annual fair builds anticipation with a countdown of days, hours, minutes, and seconds on its website. A parade down Main Street kicks off the first night, followed by four more nights of carnival rides, concessions, and entertainment.
• Mallard Park, corner of Potter and Cedar Aves.; 6-10pm nightly; $25 unlimited rides; 732-223-3501.
• Summer and ice cream go hand-in-hand. So why not stop by to sample and vote on your favorite flavors at this popular event? There’s an ice cream-eating contest for kids and grown-ups alike, as well as inflatable rides, a balloon artist, and plenty of fun.
• Washington St.; 11:30am-5pm; $6 tasting kit until July 15 ($7 on day of event); 732-341-8738.
• The mouthwatering smell of barbecued chicken wafts through the air as you enjoy horse shows, small animal and livestock exhibits, strolling musicians, games, amusement rides, and inflatable attractions.
• 355 Court House/South Dennis Rd.; noon-9pm; free; 609-465-5115.
• For 37 years, the Women’s Community Club of Cape May has hosted this yummy gathering, offering peach cobbler, peach pies, peach ice cream, and other peachy treats. On hand for sale will be crafts, books, toys, jewelry, candles, and more.
• Our Lady Star of the Sea Church, 525 Washington St.; 9am-2pm; free; 609-889-1069.
Don't Miss . . .
See heart-stopping aerial exploits and acrobatics, formation flying, and solo routines by military and civilian pilots. The show can be viewed anywhere on the Atlantic City beach and boardwalk.
You’ll find amazing feats of sand sculpting up and down the shore this summer:
26th Annual New Jersey Sandcastle Contest
Belmar, Monmouth County
Sand Sculpting Contest
Ocean City, Cape May County
July 11 and Aug. 1
Sand Sculpture Contest
Cape May, Cape May County
Wings 'n Water photo by John DiMaio Photography.