The Atlantic City Seafood Festival returns to Bader Field this weekend and promises to be bigger and better than ever.

Staff photo by Edward Lea

Participating in this year’s Atlantic City Seafood Festival was a no-brainer for Paul Tonacci, who opened his Atlantic City Bottle Company across the street from Bader Field just last month.

The Seafood Festival — estimated to attract up to 20,000 visitors this year — will be the ideal spot to showcase the new business, Tonacci says, which is already getting a reputation for its impressive list of craft beers, wines, whiskeys and food pairings.

“We’re new to the scene, and we’d love to introduce ourselves in that environment,” says Tonacci, who will have a tent with food available for purchase at the festival. “The proximity is great for us since we’re across the street from Bader Field.”

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“At the core of this, we just love good food and good beverage,” Tonacci says. “We love to take an opportunity to share that with a whole new group. And we love the fact that there will be so many eyeballs that are going to be on Atlantic City for that event.”

The popular Atlantic City Seafood Festival will once again return to Bader Field for two full days this weekend, celebrating the best seafood offerings the resort has to offer. Attendees can sample everything from lobster to clam chowder to crab cakes from more than 50 participating restaurants and 120 vendors.

The two-day festival takes place 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14, and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 15.

The festival also will feature a two-day lineup of live entertainment, a chowder cook-off, live cooking demonstrations, a beer and wine tasting event, children’s amusements — even kayak rentals and stand-up paddleboarding lessons.

The City of Atlantic City and Good Time Tricycle Productions — the event company behind the Atlantic City Beer & Music Festival — present the festival, which was brought back last year following a five-year hiatus.

This year, the re-booted festival will not charge an admission fee, thanks to a sizeable grant from the Casino Reinvestment Development Authority (CRDA).

“Last year we had a fantastic festival — more than 10,000 people,” says Henderson, the Seafood Festival’s organizer and producer. “But the one take away we got … was that people are paying for food, paying for drinks, and they had a hard time with the cover charge. So, we got together with the CRDA … and they were able to give us a grant for the festival. They want to do their part, too, to make sure events like this are solid and free.

“If you look at our weekend … again, we’re partnering with the triathlon, you have Miss America in town, and the Seafood Festival — it’s perfect,” Henderson says. “You have all these people in Atlantic City who can hit all these events, and they’re all family-friendly. Our goal is to make it inexpensive for families to come out and have a great time. I think people need to come hungry. It’s a great opportunity to experience Atlantic City’s culinary offerings.”

Here are some events to look forward to this weekend at the festival:

Ed Hitzel’s Chowder Cook-Off: Attendees will have the chance to judge some of the area restaurants’ chowder creations and judge which is the festival fan favorite. The contest takes place 3 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 14. Entrance to the tasting is $5, and all proceeds benefit the Community Food Bank of New Jersey.

Svedka Vodka Presents “The Ultimate Bloody Mary”: A hands-on, how-to demonstration on making a one-of-a-kind Bloody Mary, using a variety of recipe items, including seafood. The seminar takes place noon Saturday and Sunday. Cost is $10 per person and space is limited.

Kids Color tent: Expect to get messy at this location. The Kids Color tent will feature a 40-foot color wall, chalk art, face painting, butterfly education, sand art and characters. Parents may want to have wipes or a change of clothes on hand for children. The Kids Color tent will be open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. Admission is 5 amusement tickets or an all-day ride wristband.

Phillips Seafood crab cake contest: Eat for the chance to claim victory — and prizes — at this inaugural Seafood Festival eating challenge. Stop by the Phillips Seafood tent to sign up during the festival. Contestants must be 18 or older. The contest takes place 4 p.m. Saturday and 3 p.m. Sunday, both on the main stage.

Great Brews of N.J.: The Seafood Festival once again partnered with New Jersey breweries to create a tasting tour at Bader Field. Each participant purchases 10 tasting tickets for $10, with each ticket good for one, 2-ounce taste of a variety of different beers. Participating breweries include Cape May Brewing Company, Flying Fish, New Jersey Beer Company, River Horse, Turtle Stone and Tuckahoe Brewing Company. Participants must be 21 or older.


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