They are calling October 13 Miracle Sunday and Super Sunday. Could it be because the Red Sox and Patriots staged last minute miracle comebacks from what looked like near certain defeats? Maybe. Or it could be the success of the 8th annual Downtown New Bedford, Inc. Chowder Festival held under clear skies on Pier 3 of New Bedford’s Waterfront.
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The 19 vendors, including restaurants, caterers and long term care facilities, each reported distributing at least 1,000 portions of their signature soups, kale soups, fish chowders and stuffed quahogs. Some gave out many more. The Cedar Assisted Living in Dartmouth handed out 1,500 small breads. Cotali Mar had a non-stop line for their chowder and kale soup. Emeritus Senior Living in Dartmouth, serving both clam chowder and kale soup, said it was “crazy busy” but it was “good crazy.” They had 1,800 labeled containers and ran out. At the Fish House in Fairhaven, Seth Goulart said, “It never stopped.” In fact, he kidded that he had “chowder wrist” from serving for so long. There was a temporary tent wide spoon shortage. To the credit of the vendors, new and experienced, no one ran out of food.
Mike’s Restaurant in Fairhaven was a true People’s Choice champion, distributing 1,600 servings of their first prize winning clam chowder. And it wasn’t just single servings. People came back for seconds, thirds and more. Seaport Inn reported one young customer who came back for their clam chowder eight or nine times. They didn’t know how he could hold so much chowder, especially considering that it probably wasn’t his only stop. Urban Grille said the line was “endless.”
The Chowder Festival is a Festival first and a competition second. As DNB, Inc. President often says, “Everyone is a winner.” Still, people like to match their skills to those of their peers, and the Chowder Festival has two categories of awards. People’s Choice awards are chosen by people who attend. Judges’ awards are the results of blind taste tests. Chopped winner Joe Rego, a recent returnee to the city, was a first time judge. Michael Rock, DJ and co-host of FUN 107's morning show, Henry Bousquet, culinary arts instructor at Greater New Bedford Regional Vocational-Technical High School, and Devin Byrnes, owner of Destination Soups were returning judges. Devin Byrnes and Henry Bousquet both have first hand experience in the competition end of DNB, Inc. food festivals. No matter who does it, chef or customer, voting is a very serious job, sparking many discussions.
Tasting has become more sophisticated since DNB, Inc. started doing Chowder Festivals. This year there were several ways to cleanse the palate between samples. BayCoast Bank, the lead sponsor, had small packages of peppermint gum for that purpose. Cedars Assisted Living had mint infused water. Some discovered that apples from Ashley Orchards did the job well too.
There was a lot to do outside the food tent. For the 5th time the New Bedford YMCA held lobster races. Lobsters with names like Wilbur, Poppy, Fast Eddie, Sea Biscuit and Chip turned on the speed to compete against each other. They didn’t always do it moving forward though. Some lobsters backed their way to victory.
Students and volunteers from the Global Charter School did face painting for children and some a bit past childhood.
The Ocean Explorium brought their WOW Mobile so kids could touch live crabs, mussels and other sea life, often with completely absorbed expressions. Buttonwood Park Zoo educated people about harbor seals and volunteers assisted kids in constructing a clever seal craft.
The Cocktail Guru, Massachusetts Brewers and Travessia Urban Winery were busy providing exceptional accompaniments to the seafood menu.
It might be hard to believe, but there are some folks who attend a chowder festival without really having a taste for seafood. Those people could purchase tickets for desserts, ice cream, coffee and sandwiches from Café Arpeggio.
All the while the Craig DeMelo Band entertained an appreciative crowd. http://thewhiskeypoet.com/
For those who needed a break from food, the New Bedford Fire Museum’s antique fire truck was available for rides around downtown.
While we can summarize the Chowder Festival in less than 1,000 words, it takes months and months to prepare for it. Although it has become a fall institution, it’s an institution that couldn’t go on without the time donations of many, many volunteers and the financial contributions of many sponsors. Thanks and thanks again to all the participants, volunteers and sponsors who make this festival possible.
PARTICIPATING RESTAURANTS – SENIOR LIVING – CATERERS
Autumn Glen at Dartmouth-239 Cross Rd., Dart. 508-992-8880
Brandon Woods – 397 County St. NB 508-997-9396 www.elderservices.com
Cedars Assisted Living – 628 Old Westport Rd. Dart. 508-636-0590 www.unidine.com
Cotali Mar Restaurante– 1178 Acushnet Ave. N B 508-821-2627 www.cotalimarrestaurante.com
Cork Wine & Tapas – 90 Front St. NB 508-994-9463 www.corkwineandtapas.com
Emeritus Senior Living – 274 Slocum Rd. Dart. 508-999-0404 www.emeritus.com
Fish House, 15 Sarah's Way-Rte 6,-CVS Plaza Fairhaven 508-999-7777
Freestone's City Grill – 41 William St. NB. 508-993-7477 www.freestonescitygrill.com
Maderia Cafe - 76 Church St. NB 508-996-6200 www.madeiracafe.com
Mike's Restaurant – 390 Huttleston Ave. Fairhaven 508-996-9810 www.mikesfairhaven.com
Olive Garden Restaurant– 80 Mall Rd., Dart. 508-994-3289 www.olivegarden.com
Pa Raffa's Italian Restaurant – 2857 Acushnet Ave. NB 508-995-7711 www.paraffas.com
Pub 6 -736 Ashley Blvd. NB 508-998-3755 www.pub6.net
Rose Alley Ale House - 94 Front St. NB 508-858-5123 www.drinkrosealley.com
Russell Morin Fine Catering - 95 Frank Mossberg Dr. Attleboro 508-226-6600 www.morins.com
Seaport Inn Grill – 110 Middle St, Fairhaven, 508-999-1112 www.seaportinnandmarina.com
Ten Cousins Brick Oven – 977 Main Rd., Westport 774-264-9700 www.tencousinsbrickoven.com
Tia Maria's European Cafe – 42 North Water St. NB 508-9938900 www.facebook.com/TiaMariasEuropeanCafe
Urban Grille – 774 Purchase St., NB 508-990-9900 www.urbangrillenb.com
VOLUNTEERS and SPONSORS:
Thank you to the Chowder Festival Planning Committee
Richard Poyant, Chairman of the Event, Poyant Signs, Inc.
Kevin T. Pelland, Co-Chairman - BayCoast Bank
Daniel J. Berry, YMCA SouthCoast
Dawn Ferreira, First Citizens' Federal Credit Union
Modesta Levesque, The Standard-Times
David Medeiros, Bristol County Savings Bank
Jill White, Sylvia & Gompany Insurance Agency
Diane Arsenault, DNB, Inc. Executive Director
Marianne Conley Hodgson, DNB, Inc. Administrative Assistant
THANK you to dozens of volunteers who did everything from selling tickets to emptying trash barrells. Many individuals made it happen along with teams from Bay Coast Bank; Bristol County Savings Bank; First Citizens' Federal Credit Union and students from GNBRVT High School Culinary Dept.
Thank you to the following sponsors who have made this event possible:
ORGANIZERS - Downtown New Bedford, Inc.
TITLE SPONSOR -BayCoast Bank
PLATINUM SPONSOR – The Black Whale
GOLD SPONSORS -
Aarsheim Fishing Corp / CliftonLarsonAllen CPA's /
SouthCoast Media Group
SILVER SPONSORS: Dias, Lapalme & Martin LLP / Eastern Fisheries / Greater New Bedford Community Health Center / Hunter and Kathryn Marie Scalloping Co. / NSTAR / Partridge Snow & Hahn, PC / Sylvia & Company Insurance Agency / Rockland Trust / Roland's Tire Service, Inc.
ASSOCIATE SPONSOR: Debross Hathaway Marvel, Inc. / Sea Fuels Marine Services / Saint Anne Credit Union
SERVICE SPONSORS: Buttonwood Park Zoo / City of New Bedford/Harbor Development Commission / Global Charter School / New Bedford Fire Museum / New Bedford Whaling National Historical Park / Ocean Explorium / Poyant Signs, Inc. / Reynolds DeWalt / Sheriff Thomas Hodgson / STAT Ambulance
Thank you to first time participant as we try to build a FARMER'S MARKET: ASHLEY ORCHARD