The 25th Annual "ChiliChowda Fest," held at The Commercial Club of East Bridgewater (1 Neilson Ave.) Saturday, drew about 30 contestants vying for the title of best chili or chowder and drew thousands of attendees to judge that competition.
EAST BRIDGEWATER — With hearty appetites, thousands of people descended upon the The Commercial Club of East Bridgewater Saturday for an afternoon of chili and chowder.
The 25th annual "ChiliChowda Fest" drew about 30 contestants vying for the title of best chili or chowder and drew an even larger crowd of people from the community to judge that competition with unlimited samples for a $10 admission fee.
Even before doors opened to the public at noon, parking attendants waved off visitors arriving at the lot adjacent to the club (1 Neilson Ave.) with a "lot full" sign, directing them to overflow parking down the road. School buses serving as shuttles brought busload upon busload of visitors to the gates, with roughly a thousand motorcycles lined up outside of the club.
Dennis Chartin, one of the primary coordinators of the event alongside Donald Ferbert, said the fest is "primarily a bike event," pointing out the "Show and Shine Motorcycle Competition" also taking place that featured unique motorcycles. One of the main draws, he said, is the live music by Southbound and Soul Box.
"(The festival) is something that has seen exponential growth year after year," Chartin said, estimating that they'd see about 4,000 attendees by end of day. "I think now, thanks to social media, people are really catching on."
Under a large yellow and white event tent, the chili and chowder competitors served up sample cups of their best-tasting entries. The majority dished out variations of beef-based chili with several clam chowder offerings, but a few offered something different. Sticks and Stones BBQ in West Springfield brought a corned beef and cabbage chowder, Brack's Grille and Tap Restaurant in Brockton had a barbecue brisket chili, Trina and Al's Chili offered a white bean chicken chili and Sue's Turkey Chili had a Southwestern turkey chili.
Throughout the day, lines were long both for chili and chowder and at the trailer to buy tickets for beer, mixed drinks and food other than chili. Many visitors had a cold beer in one hand as they used the other to snag chili and chowder samples. Many vendors also set out accompaniments, such as shredded cheese, sour cream, chips, cornbread and an array of hot sauces.
About an hour before the 6 p.m. end time, the chili and chowder winners were announced. Lynda Landerville of East Bridgewater and Sausage's Homemade and Natural Restaurant in Hanson received the top honors of the competition, with Landerville's clam chowder winning best overall chowder and Sausage's pork chili winning best overall chili. In the "Individual" category, Landerville also won best chowder and Bo Bo's Chili in Bridgewater won best chili. In the "Restaurant" category, Sausage's also won best chili and Rita's Chowder sponsored by Oakdale Farms in Rehoboth won best chowder.
Runner-ups included Brack's Grille and Tap in Brockton, Jolly Demon in West Bridgewater, The Moon and Back Cafe in Plympton, and Don Bailey with The Commercial Club of East Bridgewater.
Staff writer Corlyn Voorhees can be reached at email@example.com