We all have our happy places. Mine growing up was the roof of my beach house. My great-grandparents built a house on the ocean on the little Long Beach Island, NJ. It was a great little cottage on stilts overlooking the Atlantic. We’d wake up to the sound of the ocean, walk to Marval’s for doughnuts that came out on a little conveyer belt, and spend the entire day outside-painting shells, building forts, selling lemonade, going way too far out into the ocean for my mom’s liking…
It was also great when we were all a little older because it was such a safe little island that we were allowed to walk anywhere we wanted and had a lot of independence. I can’t even begin to try to explain my love of this island. Unfortunately, life happens and there was a decision made to sell the house. It was getting harder and harder for anyone to get there, and the upkeep was getting more difficult. I was devastated. We sold the house right before Sandy hit, and fortunately for the owners of the property, the house they were building was in a phase of construction that didn’t allow for much damage. It made me sad to go back this weekend for Chowder Fest and see this mansion where our sweet little home once stood- but it made me even sadder to see some of the devastation on the far end of the island. Houses are still destroyed and the beach is all but gone in certain areas. Luckily, Jersey Strong is not just an empty phrase, but a mantra. Seeing the thousands of people coming out to support the island every year for the fest warms my heart.
The weekend itself is so much fun. My mom, my Auntie Steph, my Twinsie Tiff, and I are making it a yearly tradition. All of the stores liquidate their summer inventory and Saturday is a huge shopping day. Despite the insane line and crowd at Island Gypsy, that has become my favorite for stocking up on sweaters, ts, and tanks. (Hopefully I’ll be featuring some of my purchases soon!) Allison’s Wonderland is my favorite for fragrances (I got a candle that literally smells like popsicles and sand) and Tiffany got an amazing tote back with Inka the tattooed mermaid, featured below. There’s also a flea market. I nabbed a $20 Body Glove bathing suite and did some Christmas shopping. Saturday night, we stocked up on Cupcake wine and went to my mom and auntie’s favorite spot- Stefano’s. Not only is the food incredible, their chowder won for the red category at the fest! (See the cute dancing guy pictured below.)
The theme of the fest changes every year. This year, it was Clamicon- so superheros and comics. Some of the tents are a.dor.a.ble. There is a white side and a red side and after you eat all the chowder you want for $20 (a steal) you vote for your favorite. Howard’s, my favorite white, won too. After a quick shopping minute and stopping at Cool Beans for coffee and tea, we had to head home. The weekend always flies. If you ever find yourself heading toward my favorite little paradise, let me know! I’ll give you tips of where and what to eat and do!