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Downtown Festival Season Kicks Off With Township Foodfest This Weekend

Toms River Food Fest (Credit: Toms River Twp.)

Toms River Food Fest (Credit: Toms River Twp.)

Warm weekends spent enjoying an outdoor festival have returned to Toms River.

The annual Food Fest, as well as the Downtown Toms River District’s events, begin this month — many are held on Washington Street between Hooper and Main.

First up is the township-sponsored Toms River Food Fest, beginning at 11 a.m. this Saturday, May 5.

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Part food truck festival, part community event, the Food Fest will feature varied food vendors with everything from empanadas to ice cream. There’s also live music, a beer and wine garden, and some local business vendors to shop from. Admission is free.

Then on May 19, the Downtown Toms River Business Improvement District will host its

29th Annual NJ State Chili & Salsa Cook-Off.

The spicy event will begin at 11 a.m. and run until 5 p.m. Admission and parking are both free, but for $7 patrons can get a tasting kit and vote for their faves.  

The Chili and Salsa cook-off has more than 30 chili cooks. New this year is a category for commercial restaurants as opposed to individual/family chefs. Much of the fun from previous years is also scheduled, such as live music, kid’s amusements and inflatable rides. The Toms River Volunteer Fire Co. #1 will host a beer and wine garden.  

Another big summer festival is “Summer in the Street” which was formerly the annual ice cream festival, and is now expanded to offer live music and other fun. This year, the downtown Toms River festival will take place noon to 8 p.m. on July 21 along Washington St.

If shopping some interesting deals is your forte, check out the Ocean County Historical Society’s first annual flea market on June 2. It will be held in the same spot as the society’s adjacent parking lot, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. that day, with hundreds of items including locally-authored books on history marked to $1.

In addition to all these special, annual events, there’s also some regular, once-monthly type of events to get you enjoying the outdoors, downtown.

For example: the downtown car shows, or “Cruisin’ Downtown,” which takes place the second Wednesday evening each month. The schedule to check out vintage and unique vehicles is June 13, July 11, August 8 and September 12, and live music is part of each event.

Another one is the Toms River Artist Community’s Art Strolls. Held outside businesses on Main Street and the surrounding area, the first was May 3, and the next ones are July 5 and September 6. Artists are showcasing their original paintings and art, but there are often acoustic performers too.

In additional, the Toms River Shakespeare Festival is returning, this year in both Huddy Park and Ortley Beach, showing A Midsummer Night’s Dream from July 19- Aug. 12.

For more information on other upcoming Downtown Toms River Business Improvement District events, visit

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