The annual Beach Plum Festival at Island Beach State Park is scheduled to take place this Sunday, organizers said.
The 20th annual festival is the primary fundraiser for the park’s nonprofit partner, Friends of Island Beach State Park. The rain-or-shine event will be held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Swimming Area 1. An $8 donation is suggested to help with festival costs. Visitors may take a free shuttle from an overflow parking lot to the festival area starting at 10 a.m. The shuttle will continue until the festival ends.
“The Beach Plum Festival is one of the annual highlights at Island Beach State Park,” said Mark Texel, Director of the Division of Parks and Forestry. “There will be a variety of activities to appeal to all age groups, along with dozens of vendors and opportunities to sample beach plums. This festival is a great opportunity to come out and support the Friends of Island Beach State Park, whose diligent efforts develop strong, creative programming for park visitors every year.”
The beach plum is a shrubby tree typically found in coastal environments stretching from Maine to North Carolina. Beach plums thrive in sandy soil, and offers dune stabilization for sensitive coastal ecosystems such as those found at Island Beach State Park.
Beach plum plants produce beautiful blossoms every spring and fruit in late summer and early fall. The fruit usually measures less than two centimeters in circumference, and its taste is a mix between a plum, strawberry and apricot. Although beach plums may be eaten raw, it often is used as a jam, jelly, marinade or dessert sauce.
“The Beach Plum Festival is a tradition that celebrates the bounty of Island Beach,” said Bill Gwyer, president of the Friends of Island Beach State Park. “With the participation and support of visitors who attend the festival, we can continue our mission of improving and adding additional programs and events at this park.”