In the most genuine and honorably way possible, do I believe that New Jersey is a rare place. We are surely rough around the edges—sometimes ridiculing each other on the terminology of specialty sandwiches (it’s a sub, not a hoagie). There may have been a few reality shows aired in our surrounding neighborhoods and sure, sometimes the weather can be bipolar. But despite our somewhat grungy, fearful, and uncommon persona, we have a goddamn unbelievable appreciation of community. It has been almost three years since Hurricane Sandy devastated our glorious shores, bruised our businesses, and left families aching. And although there will always be work to be done, the journey to rebuilding is a little easier with the people who live in this state. I didn’t know one person who didn’t at least donate goods, clothing, or money to help; when New Jersey cried for help, everyone answered.
Today, the Jersey Shore has radiated brighter than ever. Summer is approaching steadily, but definitely not undesirably so. Along with the already established spots for day drinking and raw clam bars, Seaside Heights is hosting Jersey Shore Festival, with rising musical artists. Notice there is no emphasis on the event being strictly a music festival. This is more of a celebration of New Jersey’s culture. Running May 14-17, there will not only be over 300 artists performing along the coastline, but also awesome food, a variety of vendors, and new activities for all ages to participate in.
To start off the four-day event, Spicy’s Cantina is hosting the welcoming party on Thursday. There’s nothing like a fresh-squeezed fruit margarita or their famous hand-cut fries to begin the weekend in the Jersey Shore. Friday and Saturday will be the most live music performances, artists playing from noon until 1 a.m. The Jersey Shore Vendor Village and Pro’s vs. Heroes Charity Flag Football Game will be running Saturday and Sunday. More live music showcases will go until 7 p.m. on Sunday, before the closing party.
The JSF Vendor Village are showing the finest of the locals. There will be businesses selling their products and talented artists displaying their work—what a tremendous way to support your community. The touring Pro’s vs. Heroes charity flag football event will be doing what they do best, raise awareness and money for organizations in an entertaining and lively way. On Saturday, there will be the NFL Play 60 Training Camp where you can test your speed in a 40-yard dash. If football isn’t your strong point, JSF will have surf and stand-up paddle lessons, yoga sessions, and Tai Chi.
The highlight of Jersey Shore Festival is the music. It’s going to be strenuous deciding which out of the nearly 300 bands you’ll see, but at least you won’t run short of some creative vibes. New Jersey is known for germinating colossal artists and keeping the underground music scene alive. Some local names to look out for include Ronin, performing midnight on Friday. Inspired by Japanese culture but true to New Jersey’s anthem of pushing forward with pride, the sextet is sure to provide an intense experience. Pop punkers and Toms River natives, Paris Under Fire, are a fairly new band with an already positive following in our community. Ideosphere, from Asbury Park, will be at Captain Hook’s bar, ready to transport you through a psychedelic journey. Philly’s A Crucifying Feeling will be there to rock out with “Strapped” and possibly lower the tempo with their melodic, “Mature Sunflower.” You can catch all three bands Friday.
It wouldn’t be complete without having bands from all the area’s underground music breeding grounds. Brooklyn duo’s Stereo Intercourse will be there Saturday afternoon, with their rhythmic synths and harmonious electronic sounds. Then you can head to Jimbo’s that evening to watch the dreamy and sometimes nostalgic The Hunting Party, also from NYC.
While Sunday’s schedule is the shortest of the weekend, there’s an impressive amount of unannounced bands at Kearny Busking Stage. Coming all the way from Ohio, I Fight Fail will be at Fremont Busking Stage that afternoon, sharing with us their alternative and electronic styles. Let’s give this band, along with all the out-of-state artists, a hospitable welcome.
The Jersey Shore Festival will not fall short of providing a celebrated weekend. Why not give back to this prodigious community with Northern Ocean Habitat For Humanity? During the festival, continuously from May 14-17 at 5 p.m., you can assist building homes in the neighborhood. Coastline Adventures will be taking volunteers to help clean the shore and bay area. There are different ways you can volunteer with the festival itself, from promotions to helping with the live music events. If you want a sub or a hoagie, stuffed with Taylor ham (or is it pork roll?), alongside funnel cake and a sweating draught, just remember what we are lauding—the triumphant, diverse, and sometimes overwhelming culture that is New Jersey.
Jersey Shore Festival will be from May 14-17 in Seaside Heights. For complete details on all the events listed, you can visit the main website at jerseyshorefestival.com.