As I mentioned earlier this week, there was great excitement in the days leading up to the inaugural ChowderFest. Despite our greatest hopes, I do not think we could have foreseen the response we received yesterday. It was overwhelming.
With Mother Nature helping us out with a tremendous day, we got the feeling shortly after the kickoff that we would be dealing with large crowds. It was almost a perfect storm. Some of the questions people asked when originally hearing about the ChowderFest was why we were holding it in August. Yesterday we got to tell them that we simply knew we would get an October-like day on River Street.
The other aspect that truly helped the event was the Farmer's Market. Already a destination for so many people in the area, it certainly provided an early morning boost to the Fest.
We had great entertainment and fun for the whole family throughout the day, for those who weren't interested in tasting the multitude of chowders available.
Onto the important information. Many thanks go to Chef Larry Schepici from Tosca Grille, and his entire staff that put forth a tremendous amount of effort in putting the festival together.
All of the businesses on River Street should be commended for the cooperative spirit they showed on Saturday. Whether it was providing power, supplies, or a simple helping hand, the camaraderie that these businesses and restaurants showed to one another made me proud to be the Mayor of Troy.
There are so many other people to thank, that I will just dole it out with a heap of praise to all involved. You did a great job.
I can't finish without listing the winners:
Best Original Chowder (Popular Vote)
1) Browns Brewing
2) Rusty Anchor
3) tie Jose Malone's and Tosca Grille
Best Vegetarian Delight (Popular Vote)
1) Troy Food Co-Op
3) Muza Diner
1) Browns Brewing
2) Tosca Grille
3) Henderson's Bar and Grille
Most Original- Arnet's Diner (Newburgh Chowder)
Best Vegetarian Delight- Troy Food Co-Op
Here are two pictures from the judges presentation:
There you have it. Thousands of people came to River Street Saturday and had a great time. Some of them were first time visitors that I am sure we convinced them to come back for a few more visits. And that is what these festivals are all about. More than 1,200 votes were cast for the chowder. When you consider that you could only vote if you tasted a minimum of five chowders, you can imagine how large the crowd was throughout the day.
I am sure that Chef Larry will soon beginning planning for the Second Annual Chowder festival, and we will have a lot to talk about. More chowder for next year is a definite, and we will likely expand the boundaries to the north to provide some more walking (and tasting) space.
To all those that attended, hope you had an enjoyable day!