With May under way and sunny skies ahead, families can begin enjoying fun in the sun at the Shore now and look ahead to the summer.
The 19th annual New Jersey State Chili and Salsa Cook-Off is scheduled in Toms River from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, rain or shine, featuring music; children's activities, including inflatable rides; vendors; and a surplus of chili and salsa concoctions throughout.
Festivities will begin with a parade down Washington Street by 2007 International Chili Society winners on a fire truck, a tradition symbolical of the lighting of the cooks' stoves, and musical performances from Boccigalupe & the Bad Boys and Debra Dynamite and the Torpedoes.
The competition, sanctioned by the ICS, will be separated into three categories - red chili, chili verde and salsa - and two People's Choice categories, red chili and salsa. Those, unlike the ICS competition, are likely to include beans or pasta. Winners, to be announced at a 4:30 p.m. ceremony, will share $4,500 in prize money. First-place ICS category winners will be eligible to compete in the 2008 ICS World Chili Championship.
Families who are daring can stay in Toms River through Sunday for the 36th Annual Toms River Canoe & Kayak Race held by the Ocean City Department of Parks and Recreation.
The event, running from sunrise to sunset, will begin at the New Toms River Bridge parking lot at Irons Street, where competitors can enter three categories - downriver canoeing and kayaking, open-water solo kayaking, and open-water (canoeing, ski surfing, and novice and experienced skiing).
The top three winners in each category will be awarded paddle plaques. Subcategories for the competition include men's and women's kayak and tandem, along with family, mixed, and youth tandem, where more than one participant can compete in the same boat.
The New Jersey Marine Sciences Consortium will present Ocean Fun Days from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday at Island Beach State Park and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday at the group's headquarters on Sandy Hook. Families can learn about sea creatures and other Jersey Shore critters through teachings and activities.
The Belmar Chamber of Commerce will cohost Spring Fling Weekend, presenting the Annual Kite Festival from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday; the Belmar sidewalk sale from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday; and a townwide garage sale throughout the borough from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday.
The Kite Festival will feature the South Jersey Kite Flyers group, vendors, and sand-art crafts for children. During the sidewalk sale, children can enjoy scavenger hunts and other activities.
Many summer family events will take place at the Algonquin Arts Theatre in Manasquan, which will host theater performances and numerous outdoor movie nights throughout August.
Productions will include
The Pirates of Penzance
from the New York Gilbert and Sullivan Players on July 26 and 27; "An Evening With Lesley Gore," with the "It's My Party" singer on Aug. 9; and a performance by the Shelley Oliver Tap Dancers and David Leonhardt Jazz Group on Aug. 16.