A popular seafood festival is set to kick off a month early after last year's event effectively shut down a 1.6-square-mile Jersey shore town.

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Officials moved the 30th annual New Jersey Seafood Festival in Belmar from mid-June to this weekend, well before Memorial Day, and a time when the town doesn't typically get as many visitors, Mayor Matt Doherty said.

Last year's festival brought more than 200,000 visitors into town over three days. The population swell caused Doherty to shut down all traffic into town for about four hours on the festival's final day because the town had reached capacity. The town has a population of 6,000 and that number normally increases to more than 60,000 in the summer.

Last year's festival, coupled with terrific beach weather, created a "perfect storm of good things" that inflated the town's population beyond manageable levels, Doherty said.

"Our small town can only accommodate so many cars on our roads," Doherty told NJ.com last year. "We were at capacity."

The festival runs Friday through Sunday at Silver Lake Park.

(Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)


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