Always wanted to taste a beach plum, or its jelly or ice cream? Here's your chance.
The 21st annual Island Beach Park Beach Plum Festival will be held rain or shine Sept. 9 at Swimming Area 1. The park is one of the few remaining undeveloped barrier beaches on the north Atlantic coast.
Visitors can sample and buy beach plum products, participate in children’s activities, and explore environmental exhibits.
Located on the island across Barnegat Inlet from Barnegat Light State Park, Island Beach's 3,000 acres and 10 miles of coastal dunes "remain almost untouched since Henry Hudson first described New Jersey's coast from the ship, the Half Moon, in 1609," according to its DEP website.
The beach plum is a shrubby tree that likes sandy soil and stabilizes coastal dunes from Maine to North Carolina, according to DEP.
The plants fruit in late summer and early fall, and the fruit usually measures less than two centimeters in circumference. But it has a big taste, which is a mix between a plum, a strawberry and an apricot, according to DEP. They may be eaten raw, but are often used as a jam, jelly, marinade or dessert sauce.
The festival is the main fundraiser for Friends of Island Beach State Park, which will use revenue to plant American beach grass to enhance and stabilize dunes, and for other park needs. An $8 donation is suggested.
A free shuttle will take visitors from an overflow parking lot to the festival area from 10 a.m. until the festival ends.
Recent donations by the friends include a van to shuttle guests at events, a television for educational displays, improvements to interpretive signage, and maintenance for the park's Wi-Fi system and osprey/beach cameras.