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Chowda Heads Ready for Sunday

Last minute preparations were under way today for Chowdafest, the annual chowder competition featuring restaurants throughout New England, which takes place Sunday 11 a.m.to 3 p.m. at Sherwood Island State Park.

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Chowdafest drew thousands to the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport in 2013, so many that it sought a larger venue in 2014.  (CLICK TO ENLARGE) WestportNow.com photo

More than 40 restaurants are participating in eighth annual edition, which marks a homecoming to Westport.

Begun in the Westport Unitarian Church on Thanksgiving weekend in 2008, the event grew over the years, moving to the Bedford Middle School cafeteria, the Webster Bank Arena in Bridgeport, and last year, Calf Pasture Beach in Norwalk

It is the second time the event will be held outdoors and will go ahead rain or shine, said founder Jim Keenan. Chowdafest last year drew about 5,000 persons, he said.

“Calf Pasture was a terrific spot, and it was an unbelievable success,” Keenan said about the event, which is being presented by Stop & Shop and has 25 business sponsors this year.

But Sherwood Island offered more convenience with exit 18 of I-95 and three lanes in and out of the park, he said.

“We needed slightly more space and slightly more traffic control since we have people that come from all over New England and people arriving by buses,” he said.

“And of course, it’s idyllic. We’re going to be pretty much on the entire east side.”

Parking at the state park will be free, he said, and admission for adults is $15, $5 for children ages 6 to 12.

“Kids and adults alike get a spoon, ballot and pencil, then experience unlimited sampling rating each chowder, soup and bisque they try,” he said.

After administrative costs, Chowdafest funds will go to Community Plates, a national nonprofit organization dedicated to alleviating hunger through the “rescue of food,” excess that restaurants, grocery stores and farms discard.

In recognition of what Chowdafest continues to do for its state, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy has officially declared Sunday as Chowdafest Day. 

Chowdafest features four categories of competition with 10 restaurants competing in each:

Classic New England Clam Chowder, Traditional Chowder exclusively for Rhode Island (clear broth) and Manhattan Clam Chowders (red, tomato based), Creative Chowders and Soup & Bisque.

Participants in the creative chowder category include:

• Curried Crab & Lemongrass Chowder – The Chelsea (Fairfield)
• Sweet Potato Clam Chowder – Cask Republic (New Haven, Norwalk, Stamford)
• Surf & Turf Chowder – Octagon Steakhouse (Mystic)
• Creamy Fennel Chowder – ON20 (Hartford)
• Fried Seafood & Sweet Potato Chowder – Our House Bistro (Winooski, Vt.)
• Sweet Corn & Pepper Clam Chowder – Parallel Post (Trumbull)
• Seafood Chowder – Ri Ra Irish Pub (Portsmouth, N.H., Portland, Maine)
• Corn & Mussel Chowder – Southport Brewing Co. (Southport, Milford)
• Seafood Chowder – Smithsonian Chowder House (North Hampton, Mass.)
• Shrimp & Chorizo Chowder – The Spread (South Norwalk)

The soup and bisque category includes:

• Cowboy Brisket Soup – Bobby Q’s (Westport)
• Chicken Tortilla Soup – Geronimo (Fairfield, New Haven)
• Chicken Marsala Soup – Liquid Lunch (Milford, Shelton)
• Thanksgiving Day Bisque – Local Kitchen & Beer Bar (Fairfield, Norwalk)
• Lobster Bisque – Old Post Tavern (Fairfield)
• Minestrone Puree – Osteria Romana (Norwalk)
• Golden Corn Bisque – Post 154 (Westport)
• Roasted Banana Pepper and White Bean Bisque – Sam’s American Bistro (Stamford)
• Creole Clam Bisque – Simply Delicious (Norwalk)
• Seafood Cilantro Bisque – Tikkaway (New Haven)

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