Above, spooning out chowder at the North Adams Commons booth at 85 Main. Left, 'Chowder Girls' Heather Ethier, left, and Laurie Lemarc and Bounti-Fare's winning seafood chowder. More photos here.
NORTH ADAMS, Mass. — Winter, again, refused to cooperate in providing snow but that didn't stop hundreds of people from descending on the downtown for the 16th annual WinterFest.
Chowder was spooned out at 85 Main and on Holden Street, while ice sculpture artists displayed their creations along Main Street. Children and adults carted around by David Larabee and his team of Belgians, and
Music and activities were offered at the library in the morning and David Larabee and his team of Belgians carted adults and children around in the afternoon. There was also face painting at The Local, hot chocolate at Hoosac Bank and sidewalk coloring outside 103 Main.
New this year was a firepit, or campfire, on Holden Street that proved a popular attraction for marshmallow toasters (a few people even brought their own food to spit, like hot dogs.)
Organizers had hoped to shut down the street for snow activities but the recent rain and threat of or more sleety precipitation later Saturday canceled that idea.
The Winterfest Chowder Cook-off, which ran from noon to 2, provided some heat (including the spicy kind) for festgoers.
"I know that the restaurants I talked to, each place went through 600 of the hot cups," said Veronica Bosley, the city's director of tourism and events.
Some booths went through 10 gallons of chowder, she said.
This year's winner was Bounti-Fare of Adams, which is setting a standard for competition. The restaurant's seafood chowder won last year's People's Choice Award as well as the chowder competition at Thunderfest in Adams.
The judges — state Rep. Gailanne Cariddi, WNAW's Michael Garland and iBerkshires community editor John Durkan — gave second place to Desperados (which came in third with festgoers last year) and third to a very spicy concoction from The Hub.
Winners of the People's Choice Award hadn't been announced yet so we'll add those in later.
Those trying out the chowder also got a chance to vote for their favorites. Taking the People's Choice Award was Aramark, the dining service for Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. In second was North Adams Commons and third was The Hub.
Participating restaurants also included Boston Sea Foods, Hops & Vines, Gramercy Bistro, MCLA's Aramark, North Adams Commons and Williams College Dining Services.
WinterFest continues Saturday night with a skate party at Vietnam Veterans Memorial Skating Rink from 7 to 9.
Sponsors for the event were Adams Community Bank, Berkshire Bank and Greylock Federal Credit Union; ice block sponsors were Berkshire Emporium & Antiques, Berkshire Natural Resources Council, Desperados, Eclipse Mill, I Got Goodies, MCLA Gallery 51, North Adams Regional Hospital and Shear Madness.