ATLANTIC CITY — The Atlantic City Seafood Festival lived up to its name Saturday, with more clams, oysters, shrimp, scallops and other fishy stuff than even the hungriest customer could shake a shell at.
But this born-again festival, now in its fifth year at Bader Field after a five-year absence, is put on by the same people who do the popular Atlantic City Beer Festival every spring. And that company, Good Time Tricycle, may explain why beer is always a popular side dish at a fish fest that continues from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
The people at Pinelands Brewing, of Little Egg Harbor Township, may have found the perfect way to combine those food and beverage treats. That was an oyster stout called Zero Shucks Given, a dark beer with oysters brewed right in it, as Pinelands’ Fred Harkey explained from behind the two taps that Pinelands sent to a festival tent that also drew 16 other New Jersey breweries for the weekend.
While some customers turned up their nose at the thought of oysters in their dark beer, more were choosing it over the more familiar Evergreen IPA in his other tap — because of the seafood-loving crowd, Harkey suggested.
And there’s no doubt these dishes can draw a crowd. Saturday’s weather was warm and mild, with a fresh breeze off the bay. Good Time Tricycle’s Stacy McCarron said the weather hasn’t always cooperated. Cars kept filling up the lots Saturday at the city’s long-closed airport.
“Last year, when it rained sideways both days, we still had 20,000 people,” McCarron said as she took care of last-minute logistics in another festival favorite: the chowder-tasting tent.
Twelve restaurants from in and around Atlantic City contributed vats of clam chowder. The Community FoodBank of New Jersey’s Southern Branch sold $5 tickets that allowed guests to taste 2 ounces of each. The visitors voted on their three favorites.
Rich Uniacke, vice president of the food bank’s Egg Harbor Township branch, said he hoped to raise at least $10,000 with that donated soup. He said the food bank can turn every dollar it collects into about $10 worth of food for consumers, so the Seafood Festival could generate more than $100,000 worth of food for hungry local people.