Ocean County Press Release
TOMS RIVER – From business leaders to decoy carvers, and from social media history pages to students participating in the arts, the 2021 Salute to Ocean County recognizes all those who play a significant role in the arts and culture of the County.

This year's Salute to Ocean County can be seen virtually beginning at 7 p.m. on June 29. It will be available on the Ocean County College television channel 20, or Verizon Fios channel 24. A livestream will also be available online at https://vimeo.com/564304159.

"This event honors Ocean County's outstanding cultural organizations, exceptional local artists, historians, preservationists, educators and government leaders and along with students from across the County involved in the arts," said Ocean County Commissioner Virginia E. Haines, liaison to the Ocean County Cultural and Heritage Commission, an event sponsor.

The virtual event also includes performances by students who were critiqued for excellence as part of the 2021 Teen Arts Festival of Ocean County. The Teen Arts Festival honored students throughout Ocean County with awards in documentary, dance, vocal, instrumental, theater/musical theater, creative writing/poetry, film and visual arts.

"In addition to the students, every year this event provides us an opportunity to salute men and women who have contributed greatly to the arts and whose work keeps alive the rich heritage of this great County," Haines said. "We are hosting this year's event virtually and look forward to next year when it will return to in-person."

Awards that will be distributed during the program are the Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award, the Special Award of Merit, the Ocean County Cultural Response Award and the Joseph H. Vicari Ocean County Tourism Achievement Award.

"Award recipients embody the arts, our culture and the heritage that makes Ocean County a premier County in the State," Haines said.

The recipient of the 2021 Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award is Art Birdsall, a fourth generation decoy carver who has been the owner of the Birdsall Decoy Shop in Lovelandtown of Point Pleasant since 1984 and has sold over 3,000 decoys. A founding member of the New Jersey Decoy Collectors Association, Birdsall was also the recipient of the 2018 Hurley Conklin Award, which was presented at the Ocean County Decoy and Gunning Show. He is the first decoy carver to win the Lifetime Achievement in the Arts Award.

Awarded the 2021 Special Award of Merit, Andrew Anderson and Patrick Asay will receive recognition for their Facebook group, "Ocean County Memories: Established in 1850." The group was created by Asay in January 2017 and quickly grew to over 22,000 followers. With so much popularity, Asay enlisted Anderson, who is also a historian and author to help run the page. Both Anderson and Asay are honored with this award for their efforts in enriching the cultural fabric of Ocean County.

In addition, three groups will receive the 2021 Ocean County Cultural Response Award: Brick Children Community Theatre; Surflight Theatre, and the Lighthouse International Film Festival. These groups responded to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and adapted with socially distanced outdoor performances to comply with CDC guidelines and state safety mandates to continue with their 2020 seasons.

The annual Joseph H. Vicari Ocean County Tourism Achievement Award will be awarded to John Crisafulli for his 26-year career serving businesses and residents throughout many counties in New Jersey.

Crisafulli started his community banking career as a bank teller in Orange, New Jersey and now serves as the Vice President/Retail Regional Manager for First Commerce Bank headquartered in Lakewood. He also founded and served as Past President of the Central Ocean Business Association, which serves business owners and professionals in six municipalities and has over 150 members. Through his position, he communicates with mayors, town officials and community leaders to help serve economic growth and serves as a liaison and tireless advocate for the business community.

"On behalf of the Board of Commissioners, I congratulate all of the honorees and extend our appreciation for helping make Ocean County the great place it is," said the Director of the Ocean County Board of Commissioners Gary Quinn. "We are proud to see that even during the pandemic, our community continues to step up and promote the arts and tourism in the County."

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