Toms River, NJ – Foodies will find lots of reasons to visit Historic Downtown Toms River this year. The Downtown offers visitors to the Jersey Shore a multitude of exciting family festivals, a weekly Jersey Fresh farmers market featuring new monthly special events, and more. The season kicks off mid-May.

There’ll be lots of spicy, zesty, taste-tempting goodness at the 21st Annual New Jersey State Chili and Salsa Cook-off, which takes place on Saturday, May 15th from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. on Washington Street in Toms River. Contestants from all over the East Coast will be cooking up a variety of fresh chili and salsas as they compete for prize money in this International Chili Society state sanctioned event.

The festival kicks off with a fun parade and offers something for the whole family, including crafters, vendors, children’s inflatable rides, games and food. The mouth-watering aroma of freshly prepared chili and salsa fills the air, and attendees can purchase tasting kits to sample and vote on the dozens of delicious varieties of chili and salsa that are entered in the People’s Choice competition.

In addition to awards for best chili and salsa, a certificate is also awarded for best contestant booth. The Pop Hots booth has held the title for three years running, with their festive costumes, elaborately decorated booth and the beads they love to give attendees! For more information on competing, visit www.chili-nj.com.

June welcomes the return of the weekly Downtown Toms River Jersey Fresh Farmers Market. The market is held every Wednesday in Huddy Park from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., rain or shine, beginning June 9 and running through October 27. Farmers from around the state will be selling fresh from the field seasonal vegetables, organic produce, herbs, fruits and flowers.

Downtown Toms River Offers Season Full of Food Events Add One/February 4, 2009

In addition to the luscious produce, a variety of homemade, locally produced foods will also be available including breads and pastries from Lithuanian Bakery, Elizabeth; fresh mozzarella & cheeses, pasta, frozen ravioli, frozen meats, chicken and fish from High Mountain Foods, Landing; pickled products including tomatoes, olives, peppers and mushrooms from Pickle Licious, Teaneck; honey products from Herbertsville Honey, Brick; and peanuts, nuts and candy from Nuts for You, Toms River.

The first Wednesday of each month at the Farmers Market will feature special events to celebrate one particular in-season fruit. Local businesses and restaurants will be at the market distributing samples of menu items that feature the selected fruit, and one lucky shopper will win a basket of the fruit.

There’s no better way to celebrate National Ice Cream month than to visit the 8th Annual New Jersey State Ice Cream Festival in Downtown Toms River. The festival is Saturday, July 17 from 11:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Washington Street. Ice cream parlors from throughout New Jersey are invited to participate and compete for the title of “best”. Attendees can purchase tasting kits for a nominal fee to sample and vote for their favorite entries in the People’s Choice competition. Local favorites such as Applegate Farms, Mrs. Walker’s, and The Sprinkle Shack are expected to be among the list of contestants, plus Gifford’s Ice Cream and national favorite Friendly’s. The festival also offers inflatable rides, street performers, crafters, vendors, and live entertainment.

Wind down the summer season and transition into fall with more food and festivities at the 5th Annual Pizza, Pasta, Pastry festival, held on Saturday, September 25 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Attendees will savor more Jersey favorites made fresh: pizzas, pasta dishes, and Italian pastries created by top local pastry chefs. Festivalgoers with a competitive streak can enter the pizza, cannoli and garlic eating contests. Rounding out the day will be pasta making demonstrations, street performers, crafters, games and inflatable rides.

For further information on all of Downtown Toms River’s events, visit www.downtowntomsriver.com or call 732-341-8738 or 732-946-2711.