Congratulations to our Photo Contest winners!













Grand Prize – Michael Miller (Cover Photo of “Visit Monmouth” 2015

2nd Place – Dan Scaggs

3rd Place – Daniel Stockdale

Grand Prize – Ray Yeager (Cover Photo of “Explore Ocean” 2015)

2nd Place – Jenifer Rutherford

3rd Place – Michele Kiely

Thank you to all that entered!



Patti Baxter Honored With Spirit of Shore Award

Jersey Shore Convention & Visitors Bureau Annual Big Wave Awards to Honor Seven

October 13, 2014 – Red Bank, NJ: The Jersey Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau will honor seven individuals at organization’s annual Big Wave Awards presentation for their contributions to developing a positive quality of life at the Jersey Shore. Patti Baxter of Spark Market Solutions has been tapped to receive the organization’s Spirit of the Shore Award, presented to an “individual whose service and commitment to the Jersey Shore goes above and beyond the call of duty,” according to JSCVB Executive Director Robert Hilton. “The honorees selected by our Board of Directors to receive the Big Wave Awards have achieved a special status for their contributions and commitment to our Jersey Shore region.”

Patti Baxter founded Spark Market Solutions, LLC, a boutique destination marketing firm based in Red Bank, in 2005. Since then, Baxter has strengthened the firm’s reputation promoting tourism in Monmouth and Ocean County and the Jersey Shore. Patti’s efforts have resulted in some of the Shore’s iconic festivals, working with the Belmar Tourism Commission to build and promote events such as the New Jersey Seafood Festival, Belmar Restaurant Tour, Beer on the Pier, San Gennaro Festival and the Belmar Pro Surf Tournament. Spark’s signature food events for Monmouth Park in Oceanport have become popular standouts in the racetrack’s schedule. Each year, the Food Truck Showdowns, Shore Chef Crab Cake Cook-off, the BBQ & Craft Beer Fest and Trucktoberfest are among the track’s busiest weekends. Pete Genovese, noted food writer for and The Star-Ledger, has credited Spark with “igniting the food truck craze in New Jersey,” as Spark has gone on to create successful food truck events at Laurita Winery, Brick Township and Manahawkin, among others. These events have garnered crowds from 8,000 to over 200,000 for the three day extravaganzas and over $1.5 million in sponsorship funds to support the host events and organizations.

Baxter’s efforts in promoting tourism on the Jersey Shore are not limited to producing events. In 2007, Spark worked with the Shore Region Tourism Council to garner $75,000 in matching sponsorship funds to secure the initial Destination Marketing Organization grant offered by the New Jersey Department of State, Division of Travel and Tourism, resulting in the creation of the Jersey Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau. In 2010, Spark was tapped by the Monmouth County Department of Tourism to create Visit Monmouth, the county’s official tourism guide. The iconic annual publication, published in print and online and distributed all year long by tourism partners throughout Monmouth County, was honored with the Governor’s Award for Tourism in its first year. Its success and popularity has spawned a partner publication for the Ocean County Department of Business Development & Tourism, Explore Ocean County, currently in production for 2015 publication.

“Our success is deeply imbedded with our partners: the Belmar Tourism Commission, Monmouth County and Ocean County Tourism departments, the marketing team at Monmouth Park, and so many others,” Baxter said recently. “Promoting the Jersey Shore and developing these events and publications are not a singular effort. We have been extremely fortunate to partner with dedicated individuals and organizations who realize the value in working together to achieve a greater good.”

Others being honored by the Jersey Shore Convention and Visitors Bureau include Robert Provost, formerly of The Star-Ledger, being presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award, for his dedication and support of the JSCVB. The Jersey Shore Partnership, represented by executive director Margot Walsh, will accept the Anchor Award, honoring an organization that has been a force for positive change and an asset to the Jersey Shore community. Reggie Hyde, owner of Bar Anticipation in Lake Como, is the recipient of the Icon Award, honoring an individual or organization that embodies the essence of the Jersey Shore. Laurita Winery’s Ray Shea and Randy Johnson will accept the Rising Tide Award, honoring an organization that, although new to the Jersey Shore, has quickly made an exceptional impact on tourism. The Resilience Award, honoring an organization or individual that continues to grow and become stronger in the wake of continual challenges will be presented to the Borough of Seaside Park. The JSCVB’s first Lifetime Trustee Award will be presented to Gordon Reinauer, who has dedicated his life to tourism in New Jersey for over 30 years.

The JSCVB’s Big Wave awards will be presented on October 15, 2014 at 6:00 p.m. at Branches Catering, West Long Branch, NJ. Tickets are available online or by calling 732-244-9283. Jersey Shore Convention & Visitors Bureau, a destination marketing organization funded through memberships, sponsorships and the State of New Jersey, promotes a positive image of the environmental, cultural, and historic assets of the region through marketing programs that increases leisure and business tourism. The organization is organized and operated exclusively to promote tourism in the Jersey Shore regions of Monmouth and northern Ocean Counties, to stimulate commerce, strengthen the regional tax base and to support educational, cultural, and historic and tourism institutions. Go to for more information or to purchase tickets to the Big Wave Awards.


2014 Shore Chef Crab Cake Cook-Off Winners

Best Crab Cake – Bahr’s Landing
Best of the Rest – Red Hook Lobster Pound for their Maine-style Lobster Roll
People’s Choice, Best Crab Cake: Ike’s Famous Crab Cakes
People’s Choice, Best of the Rest – Bacon on Wheels for their tempura-fried Soft Shell Crab Taco. Bacon on Wheels also won the Fun 107.1 Delicious award, chosen by the team from 107.1
In the Home Cookin’ Amateur Crab Cake Contest, Dan Reilly of River Edge won for a lump crab and claw crab cake, accented with olive oil, garlic powder, sriracha and chipotle mayo. Dan hopes to own a food truck soon!
For more on this, read

Bahrs, Red Hook Lobster Pound win top honors at Shore Chef Crab Cake Cook-Off

By Peter Genovese | The Star-Ledger

Featured News

Photo Contest – Monmouth & Ocean County Photos

Calling all professional, amateur and enthusiastic shutterbugs…Two major Jersey Shore tourism organizations, the Ocean County Department of Business Development and Tourism and Monmouth County Tourism have partnered with Spark Market Solutions, LLC of Red Bank, NJ to produce Explore Ocean ’16, and the 2016 issue of the Visit Monmouth Guide. These two power house high-end travel and tourism guides will highlight both regions as vacation destinations. Spark Market Solutions is looking for diverse, artistic photos of your favorite areas of Ocean & Monmouth Counties. Think beach, surf, family fun or what makes people come to the Jersey Shore. Please remember releases will be needed for children.

Images chosen for these publications will be featured with full photo credit, and the grand prize winner will appear on the cover and receive a $250 cash prize.
Submit all high resolution photos via email to:
Deadline: September 30, 2015

News Uncategorized

A Great Day at the 27th NJ Sandcastle Contest in Belmar


Great weather and amazing sand creations at the 27th NJ Sandcastle Contest in Belmar, NJ. On July 30th many trophies were awarded to talented sand artists of all ages. Three prizes were awarded in six individual categories: 7 and under, 8 to 11, 12 to 15, 16 and up, family and day camps. The “Best on the Beach” award went to “Homer Simpson Trapped by Sandy.” D’Jais kept the party going with music, free giveaways, and a dance and hula hoop contest. It was a great day for all.


2014 Home Cookin’ Amateur Crab Cake Contest

Thanks to popular demand, Monmouth Park is hosting the first annual Home Cookin’ Amateur Crab Cake Contest. The contest will be held on Sunday, August 17th at the Shore Chef Crab Cake Cook‐Off at Monmouth Park, 175 Oceanport Ave., Oceanport. The contest is open to all amateur and home chefs. Professional chefs are not eligible. Recipes will be evaluated by our team of professional chefs. Ten contestants will be chosen from the recipes submitted to cook their crab cakes for our team of judges at Monmouth Park starting at noon on Sunday, August 17th. All information must be included to be qualified to participate. By submitting this recipe, you permit use of its contents or any photos in related promotions for the event.

[button link=”” type=”type-1-3″ size=”small” ] download pdf [/button] Monmouth Park Top Crab Cake Entry Form

Amateur Chefs & Seafood Lovers Wanted!
Amateur Crab Cake Contest Joins Shore Chef Crab Cake Cook-Off at Monmouth Park

Each year, the popular Shore Chef Crab Cake Cook-Off at Monmouth Park spawns countless requests from home cooks, aspiring chefs and wannabes who claim to make New Jersey’s best crab cake, wanting to know how they can get the recognition their masterpiece deserves. This year they’ll have the chance to strut their stuff, as the first annual Home Cookin’ Amateur Crab Cake Contest will be held on Sunday, August 17th as part of the Shore Chef Crab Cake Cook-Off at Monmouth Park Racetrack.

Based on the merit of their recipe submissions, ten contestants will be chosen by a team of chefs to participate in a cook-off at the event that will be judged by a team of chefs and professionals led by Pete Genovese, the Star-Ledger’s food writer and captain of the famed Munchmobile. Entries will be judged on taste, texture and visual appeal.

“There are a lot of very talented chefs and passionate seafood lovers in New Jersey,” said Patti Baxter of Spark Market Solutions, organizers of the event. “We’re expecting a hot and heavy competition.”

The contest is open to amateur cooks and chefs. Contestants must be able to come to Monmouth Park on Sunday, August 17th for the live competition, with a grand prize of $500 to be awarded.

The Shore Chef Crab Cake Cook-Off, presented by Monmouth Park and The Star-Ledger, will feature over a dozen seafood restaurants and eateries from the Jersey Shore on Saturday and Sunday, August 16 and 17. Visitors will have a chance to win prizes including tickets to an upcoming New Jersey Devils game, Broadway tickets, VIP packages to Monmouth Park and more when they vote for their favorite specialties for “People’s Choice” award. Come meet the personalities from 107.1FM as they judge “107.1 Delicious” on Saturday and meet Pete Genovese and the Munchmobile on Sunday. Monmouth Park’s heart-pounding thoroughbred racing guarantees a day of fun for the whole family.

Monmouth Park Racetrack is located in Oceanport, New Jersey, off Garden State Parkway exit 105. Gates open at 11:30 both days, and Sunday is Family Fun Day. Admission is only $3 and children 12 and under are free. Food prices vary by vendor. The Shore Chef Crab Cake Cook-Off is sponsored by the NJ Lottery, World Subaru, the New Jersey Devils, Wild Bill’s Olde Fashioned Soda, Monmouth Health & Life magazine and is supported in part by a grant from the New Jersey Department of State, Division of Travel and Tourism.

For more information on the Home Cookin’ Amateur Crab Cake Contest or the Shore Chef Crab Cake Cook-Off, contact Spark Market Solutions at 732-747-4449 or

Questions? Comments? [button link=”” type=”type-1-3″ size=”small” ] click here [/button]


Belmar Sandcastle Contest

Is there a hidden sculptor inside you just waiting to break free? Do you need an official excuse to spend the day at the beach digging in the sand? Bring your pail and shovel to the 28th annual New Jersey Sandcastle Contest at the 18th Avenue Beach in Belmar on Wednesday, July 30th.

Presented annually by the Belmar Tourism Commission and D’Jais, the competition is free and open to competitors of all ages and abilities. Prizes will be awarded in six different categories: ages 7 & under, ages 8-11, ages 12-15, and 16 and over, along with Best Group and Best Family. Judges will also award a “Best on the Beach” for the top sand creation.

Bring the family for tons of fun along with free giveaways, drinks, games and music. Visitors will have a chance to win great prizes, including tickets to a 2014/15 New Jersey Devils game.

Registration begins at 8 am at the 18th Avenue Beach, where admission to beach is free that day. Judging begins at noon. Rain date is July 30th. The New Jersey Sandcastle Contest is sponsored by World Jeep, GEICO, 95.9 The Rat, Press Communications Radio, NJ 101.5 and Spark Market Solutions.


24th NJ Seafood Festival Set to Lure Seafood Lovers to Belmar

Festival Dates: June 11, 12 &13, 2010
Hours: Friday, 4-7 pm, Saturday & Sunday, 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Location: Silver Lake Park, Belmar (Ocean Avenue between 5th and 6th avenues)
Produced by: The Belmar Tourism Commission, 601 W. Main St., Belmar, NJ 07719
Pricing: Admission to the festival is free. Food, beverages, crafts and other items are for sale
Entertainment Schedule at end of Release
Additional Public Information: 732 681-3700, ext. 214

Belmar, NJ – May 25, 2010: Where can you see lobsters fly and clams roll? The New Jersey Seafood Festival in Belmar, June 11 – 13, 2010 is the place to go. “The amount and variety of seafood that will be dished out at the food extravaganza, now in its 24th year, is truly astonishing,” according to Mary Brabazon, festival coordinator and Belmar Tourism Director. This year the festival expands to Friday evening to attract local area residents, and for 19 memorable hours, chefs from 45 of the area’s finest restaurants and food vendors will serve all manner of seafood from traditional steamed lobster, crab cakes, shrimp and calamari to the more exotic alligator sausage, sushi, conch fritters and fish tacos.

Renowned Jersey Shore caterer Branches Catering, West Long Branch, will host an international wine tent and garden that offers visitors age 21 and over a spot where they can listen to live music, enjoy a glass of wine with the Festival’s tasty offerings, including Branches’ raw bar and delicious lobster rolls, and talk with wine experts about food and wine pairings, vintages and more. New this year, connoisseurs will be able to enjoy specially chosen New Jersey Seafood Festival Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay.

The festival, organized by the Belmar Tourism Commission, also features live entertainment by R&B Express on Friday evening, Red Wagon, HOLME and the Shore Blues Band on Saturday and The Pat Roddy Band, Living Proof and The Blackberry Blues Band on Sunday. Dozens of crafters and commercial vendors, community organizations and a children’s tent with a variety of activities for young visitors provide lots of enjoyment for the whole family. It has twice been named one of the top 100 events in the United States by the American Bus Association and received a New Jersey Governor’s Tourism Award for Excellence.

The festival is held in Silver Lake Park, on the west side of Ocean Avenue between 5th and 6th avenues. Admission is free and food prices vary. For the first time the festival expands to Friday evening. Festival hours are Friday 4-7 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., rain or shine. On Saturday and Sunday, a free festival trolley will loop through Belmar with stops at the festival, Belmar’s Train Station and the Belmar Marina parking lot, located west of Route 35. No pets please.

Hosting the giant festival is a huge undertaking, according to Ms. Brabazon, but one that is well worth the effort as it showcases Belmar as a fabulous vacation destination and enables the Belmar Tourism Commission to assist a variety of local non-profit organizations. A pre-festival VIP cocktail party will be held at Brandl, 703 Belmar Plaza, Belmar, from 6 to 9 p.m., on Tuesday, June 8, with proceeds supporting the FoodBank of Monmouth and Ocean Counties. Cocktail party tickets are $50 and are available through the Food Bank at 732.918.2600 or the Belmar Tourism Commission at 732.681.3700, ext. 214. For additional festival and cocktail party information please

Entertainment Schedule Friday, June 11th 4-7 pm R&B Express
Saturday June 12th 11:30 am-1:30 pm Red Wagon 2-4:30 pm HOLME 5-7 pm The Shore Blues Band
Sunday June 13th 11:30 am-1:30 pm The Pat Roddy Band 2-5 pm Living Proof 5:30-7 pm Blackberry Blues Band