Big, fat summer guide: At the Shore

Posted: June 02, 2014

LAST SUMMER downashore, all we did was talk about Sandy. This year, beachgoers are back to talking about sand itself. And surf. And sun. And all those local seaside occasions worth planning your weeklong vacation around: Ocean City's Night in Venice, Cape May's block party Seafood Festival, A.C.'s Airshow.

So. Have at it. Bring the kids. Join the crowds. Get a little sand in your shoes.

Strawberry Festival, West Cape May, June 7. The Shore town is best at feting the fruits (and veggies) of summer. Take its Tomato festival (Aug. 30) and Tuesday farmers markets. But this early celebration of the red, ripe charmers is absolutely irresistible. Vendors sell fresh pints, vintage housewares, crafts. And shortcake!

Wilbraham Park, Broadway and Perry Street, West Cape May, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., free, 609-884-9325,

Skimmer Weekend, Sea Isle City, June 14 & 15. Named for the straw hats Victorian fellas wore, the Father's Day weekend tradition kicks off with a sand-sculpting contest and continues with more than 400 vendors, plus a food court, moon bounce, face painting and obstacle course at Excursion Park. Day 2, there's a parade.

Various locations, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. June 14, 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. June 15, free, 609-263-8687,

Cape May Seafood Festival, June 28. The seafood-iest of Shore towns celebrates its daily catches and notable culinary chops at this double block party. Cooking demos take place until 5 p.m. Eating goes on until 7 p.m. Music and other partying lasts till 9 p.m. Pay as you go.

Beach Avenue between Howard and Gurney streets, 11 a.m.-9 p.m., free,

National Marbles Tournament, Wildwood, June 16-19.

This 91st annual competition pits mibsters (that's marble shooters) ages 8 to 14 against each other in an impressive 1,200 games over four days. Makes our pointer fingers hurt (and faces smile) just to think about it.

Ringer Stadium, Wildwood Avenue and the beach, Wildwood, 8 a.m.-noon June 16-19, free, 304-337-2764,

New Jersey State Barbecue Championship/Angelsea Blues Festival, North Wildwood, July 11-13. Putting the South in South Jersey, this annual combo of cookers and bluesmakers does its thang across North Wildwood, both on a main stage (2nd and Olde New Jersey avenues) and in pubs and clubs across town.

Various locations, North Wildwood, 4-11 p.m. July 11, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. July 12, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. July 13, free, 609-523-6565,

Night in Venice Boat Parade, Ocean City, July 26. Ocean City's known for its quirky competitions. Alas, Martin Z. Mollusk Day has already passed. But still to come is July's yearly flotilla fest - definitely the dry island's wettest, wildest, oddest contest. Boaters decorate their boats in wacky themes. Bayfront dwellers do the same to their houses. Sunday, everyone sleeps in.

Longport Bridge to Tennessee Avenue, along the bay, Ocean City, starts at sunset, 609-525-9300,

"The Brendan" Surf Memorial, Avalon, Aug. 2. This all-day surf-off is the town's biggest tribute (of many) to late surfer Brendan Borek, diagnosed with Ewing's sarcoma at age 16. Go early to watch the surfers paddle out, form a circle and leave flowers in the water, remembering their saltwater brother. Then stay, to see 'em shred.

30th Street and the beach, Avalon, 6:30 a.m.-5 p.m., (additional activities Aug. 1), free to attend, 609-967-0100,

Atlantic City Airshow, Aug. 13. Eyes on the skies and noise-canceling headphones on the ears are mandatory at "Thunder Over the Boardwalk," the biggest-attended of all Shore events. Back this summer: the super-daring Air Force Thunderbirds squadron, along with the ever-impressive Army Golden Knights parachute team.

Boardwalk and beach, Atlantic City, 11 a.m., free, 888-228-4748,

Ocean City Baby Parade, Aug. 14. Every beach town's got one. Ocean City claims its born-in-1901 promenade of the pre-preschool set is the Shore's oldest. (Wildwood's has been around since 1909.) Note the time, which last year switched from morning to evening.

Boardwalk between 6th and 12th streets, 5 p.m., 609-525-9300,

Cirque du Soleil "Varekai," Atlantic City, Aug. 20-24. The Canadian company returns to tell the tale of a man who parachutes into an enchanted forest near a volcano. (Imagine "Avatar," plus a gypsy circus, plus the most flexible humans ever, if you can.) Seven performances.

Boardwalk Hall, 2301 Boardwalk, Atlantic City, 7:30 p.m. Aug. 20-22, 4 and 7:30 p.m. Aug. 23, 1:30 and 5 p.m. Aug. 24, $35-$145, 800-745-3000,


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