The seasons can show a dramatic turn in New Jersey, but despite the drastic weather changes from summer to winter, there is always one constant in the Garden State: good food. New Jersey has some of the best cuisine in the United States, and there is never a bad time to celebrate that. In fact, hungry residents can find a food festival at any time of the year to appreciate the full palate of food offerings in this New England state.
1. Winter Wine Festival. Raise a glass to the new year with the Winter Wine Festival. This event, held in January, offers a warm refuge from the New Jersey cold. The festival is held in Egg Harbor City and features the best wineries in the state. Guests can mingle with the winemakers, making this a unique opportunity to make connections and satiate those taste buds. In addition to the fine selection of wines, the event also features winter crafts and food, making this a comprehensive winter getaway.
2. The Big Brew Beer Festival. Those who love a good brew can get a hearty pint full in Morristown’s popular festival, where there are more than 200 tastings available. In addition to sampling brew from the area’s many local microbreweries, visitors can venture out and taste what some of the larger, regional breweries have to offer. Some people find February to be a difficult month, but this festival is sure to be a winter hit no matter what the weather may be outside.
3. Celebrity Food and Wine Show. This show appeals to all the senses with rich wines, delicious food and enlivening music. This two-day event features three distinct sessions, each lasting four hours. During this time, guests can appreciate a variety of experiences, ranging from a stage show to a cooking competition. The highlight of the event is the Grand Tasting, which has samples from numerous local wineries and restaurants. Guests can attend at the Clinton Inn in Tenafly.
4. Jersey Shore Restaurant Week. There is always good food to eat in New Jersey, and there is no better way to celebrate the restaurants that help make the state famous than Jersey Shore Restaurant Week in April. The week features a fantastic selection of well-priced meals, which can be catered to individual preference and budget. Participating restaurants will offer specials throughout the week, making this a great time to get out and enjoy the best eateries along the Jersey Shore.
5. Annual New Jersey State Chili & Salsa Cook Off. Add some spice to your May by attending this annual contest. Although the focus is the cooking, there is something for everyone at this extravaganza. Participants from around the country are invited to come and share their best chili and salsa. For those who do not want to get their hands dirty, there are other opportunities to get involved. There is family fun, live music and lots of good food to taste. This spicy spectacular takes place in Toms River.
6. West Cape May Strawberry Festival. Be sure to visit the Strawberry Festival in West Cape May. This annual June event celebrates local fresh strawberries. At this sweet celebration, strawberries come in all forms, and guests are encouraged to try everything from strawberry shortcake to chocolate-covered treats. In addition to the berries, visitors can indulge in seafood, barbecue and kettle corn. As if that is not enough, the event features live entertainment and vendors, making this an event perfect for the whole family.
7. Annual New Jersey State Ice Cream Festival. July is a hot month, but the Annual Ice Cream Festival is a great way to stay cool even when temperatures are high. Everyone is invited to enter, putting forth their best ice cream for the masses to taste. Guests in attendance are invited to try as many flavors as possible to determine the best ice cream in New Jersey. In addition to the tasting, guests can enjoy rides and other entertainment in Toms River.
8. West Cape May Tomato Festival. As the fall approaches, the harvest is ready to come in. Tomatoes are perfectly ripe for the picking, which is why Toms River hosts the Tomato Festival in late August. While in attendance, guests can enjoy the best of New Jersey’s produce. There are other food options available, plus vendors from around the state selling everything from handmade jewelry to stained glass.
9. Jersey Skyline Wine Festival. With summer coming to a close, it is time to settle back down at the Jersey Skyline Wine Festival in Ridgefield Park. This festival takes full advantage of a magnificent view of the New York City skyline as a backdrop to an upscale wine tasting event. Many notable wineries from across the state are represented since the festival is promoted by the Garden State Wine Growers Association. Guests will enjoy the best wines with the best view in September.
10. South Jersey Pumpkin Show. Get festive in the fall with the South Jersey Pumpkin Show. Local farmers can enter the Big Pumpkin Weigh Off. Guests will appreciate fun attractions like the Largest Baked Pumpkin Pie and the Little Miss Pumpkin Show. Live music and local artisans make this fall festival a must for the whole family. Admission is free in Woodstown.
11. Home for the holidays. While it is great to get out and about with so much fine dining, November and December are well suited for a relaxing time at home. From Thanksgiving to Christmas, there are family traditions aplenty. If cooking is a bit more than you want to deal with, many restaurants run catering specials throughout these months, making it easy to create a tasty festival of your own.