The Annual Hampton Beach Seafood Festival

Seafood vendors at the Hampton Beach Seafood Festival

Above, four pseudo-seafood shacks operated by New Jersey-based PC Event Services at the 2022 Hampton Beach Seafood Festival

Visit New Hampshire’s editors are big fans of Hampton Beach, and virtually everything that happens there, except the Seafood Festival, which has greatly disappointed us for the second consecutive year. 

Hampton Seafood Festival patrons should expect to enjoy a wide variety of the best, freshest, expertly and locally prepared seafood that the New Hampshire Seacoast has to offer, but of perhaps 75 vendors who rented booths at the festivals in 2021 and 2022, no more than twenty-five were sellers of food, and the vast majority of vendors were peddling everything from craft items (including CBD products) to automobiles and cell phone services to home-grown sauces and spices, to tackey souvenirs and T-shirts.  

Of the twenty-five food vendors, only six were purveyors of seafood, and most were selling other carnival-type, fast food items including ice cream, barbeque, cannoli, gyros, roast beef, tacos, hot dogs and hamburgers.  

That would be fine, because not every member of the family likes seafood, but in 2022 only four or five of the seafood vendors were actually local companies specializing in chowders and lobster rolls, and the largest of the “seafood” vendors, PC Event Services, a New Jersey convention food services operator (masquerading as four local seafood shacks), pictured above, served stringy lobster scooped out of a steam table pan, hot water and all, onto soggy, disintegrating hot dog buns, and any visitor who had his or her first lobster roll there would never have another.  Our editors ordered lobster rolls and other items like jambalaya from this major vendor, and found them astonishingly, if not to say embarrassingly substandard.

Seafood Festival Bottom Line:

Our editors are sorry to recommend that beachgoers come to Hampton on any other weekend of the summer, and then come again, and again, when they can stroll down Ocean Boulevard and order a real lobster roll at Bernie’s or the Sea Ketch or the Boardwalk, and buy all the T-shirts they need without having to fight the crowds and pay a $10 admission fee for the privilege.