You've got to know where to look.
That's Howard Height's take on where to find the prized pink-orange beach plums at Island Beach State Park. And he knows where to look.
"There's several spots where there are plums," he said, somewhat secretively.
He and his wife have a prized front row seat on Island Beach. They watch over one of the "shacks" that belongs to a friend.
"It's peaceful," he said. "It's like being on a vacation. "This time of the year, you can't buy what we have here."
Height is a longtime member of the Friends of Island Beach. The non profit group is holding its annual Beach Plum Festival at the park from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.
And unlike last year, when beach plums were scarce at the park, this year's harvest has been a bumper crop.
The plums ripened a little earlier this year than most, he said.
"They ripened almost a month with the heat of the summer," Height said. "They get purple, some get red, you can squeeze them. When they aren't ripe, they're hard and green."
The focal point for the festival is the first bathing beach pavilion. But demonstrations and tours are taking place in several park areas. Anyone interested in a tour must register.
The festival features beach plum picking, jelly-making demonstrations, arts and crafts show, food, entertainment, children's games, bird banding demonstrations, environmental and nonprofit exhibits and kayak rides. For more information, call 732-793-5525 or e-mail email@example.com.
Festival events include:
• Native Plant Tour And Beach Plum Picking - 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m, 2 p.m. Meet by the fish tanks in the bathing beach pavilion. Each tour is limited to 15 persons and lasts 40 minutes.
• Beach Plum Jelly Making Demonstration - 10 a.m., 1 p.m., first bathing pavilion. Jelly will also be available for purchase for $4 a jar. Recipe books are $2.
• Bird Walk - discover the native and migratory birds of Island Beach State Park. 10 a.m., 11 a.m. 12 p.m. Meet at the Nature Center 3.5 miles south of the bathing beach. The tour lasts 45 minutes. Limited to 15 persons at a time.
• Seine the Barnegat Bay - 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 12 p.m., 1 p.m., 2 p.m. Limited to 20 persons at a time. Meet at the fish tanks in the bathing pavilion.
• Lifeguard Lifesaving Techniques Demonstration - on the beach, 12 p.m 2 p.m.
• Surf Fishing Demonstration - 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m. Limited to 12 persons per demonstration. Meet at the Two-Bit Road parking area near the park entrance.
The event also features a raffle for a kayak, two paddles and a $50 gift certificate. The winner will be announced at 3 p.m. and does not have to be present.
The Nature Center at the park will also be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The Friends of Island Beach State Park will be hard at work early Sunday morning to prep for the festival, said Pat Vargo, co-chairperson of the festival and FOIBSP vice-president.
"It's a rain or shine event," Vargo said. "We are hoping the rain will be done before early morning. We will all be there at 6:30 a.m.," she said.
The park's beaches will have lifeguards working and open bathrooms on Sunday.