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Arts & Entertainment
Chowdafest, Garlic in its Glory and Craft Beer Festivals planned in October
Janet L. Serra , Community Contributor
The aroma of steaming chowder, the tantalizing scent of garlic, and the chance to sample the some of Connecticut’s best craft beer await autumn visitors to Western Connecticut, home to three of the season’s top food festivals.
The 12th annual Chowdafest, New England’s largest cooking competition, will be held at Westport’s Sherwood Island State Park on Sunday, October 6, 2019 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., while another popular event, the 15th annual Connecticut Garlic & Harvest Festival takes place October 12-13, 2019 at the Bethlehem Fairgrounds. The 10th annual Smoke in the Valley Fest is Connecticut’s largest craft beer festival that will take place on October 5, 2019, at Bad Sons Beer Company in Derby.
GOLDEN CRAFT BEER AND MORE
If you love craft beer and good food, head to the 10th annual Smoke in the Valley Craft Beer festival that is taking place at Bad Sons Beer Company in Derby on October 5 from 1 pm to 4:30 pm. with VIP gates opening at 12 noon. Billed as Connecticut’s largest craft beer festival visitors can explore acres of craft beer and home brew from more than 30 local, national, and regional breweries. VIP tickets allow participants to taste craft beer from 60 breweries in the VIP Tent! A highlight of this event is the Homebrew Competition.
If you need something to wash down all that beer with, not to worry, this festival offers a wide selection of food from BBQ and Spanish American goodies to Southern wings and more. Artisan vendors and continuous live music adds to the fun of this event that raises money that gives back to local non-profit groups.
Tickets will be available onsite and online prior to the event, organizers advise to buy your tickets in advance to this sell out event. General admission is $30, VIP tickets with entry at noon rather than 1 pm is $45 and, the designated driver ticket is $15. For more information https://www.smokeinthevalley.com
YOU ARE THE JUDGE AT CHOWDAFEST
At this SOUPerbowl of festivals to benefit Food Rescue US, attendees are the judges as more than two dozen of the regions best restaurants compete in four categories: classic New England Clam Chowder, “creative” chowders that might be anything from drunken pumpkin seafood chowder to Bermuda fish and crab, and bisque soups such as lobster Asiago bisque and shrimp posole soup. This year’s vegetarian category is bigger than ever and includes soups like maitake mushroom chowder, a cauliflower, apple, a Gorgonzola bisque, and a golden gazpacho. Everyone receives a spoon, pencil, and ballot and can sample unlimited chowder and soups, grading entries on a scale from 7 to 10. Winners are announced at the end of the event.
About half of this years’ restaurants are new to Chowdafest and eager to pit their best against some of the most-decorated chowders in the region and nation. Each of the four categories is hotly contested and popular with both restaurants and taster-voters. In addition to unlimited sampling of chowdas don’t miss samples in the Italian and Mexican themed sections and the Beverage Bog that serves a number of sparkling beverages as well as coffee and tea. For the perfect finale to your tasting adventure, head to the sweet section that is serving up hot chocolate, cookies, and award winning cakes and pies.
New to the New England clam chowder category is 21 Lake Restaurant of Danbury, Cove Deli & Cafe of Norwalk, Hub & Spoke of Black Rock Bridgeport, Redding Roadhouse of Redding and Smithsonian Chowder House of Massachusetts. They will compete alongside last year’s category runner-up Our House Bistro (VT) in an all-out effort to unseat four-time defending champion, Pike Place Chowder (WA).
General Admission is $20 and children 6-12 are $5. Hours are 12 noon to 3 p.m. For information, see www.chowdafest.org
GARLIC IN ITS GLORY
Foodies flock each year to the Connecticut Garlic & Harvest Festival where they enjoy cooking demonstrations, informative food talks, lessons in growing garlic, plus free samplings of garlic dips, spreads, cheeses and oils from specialty food vendors. Visitors can buy farm-fresh garlic as well as other bounty from the fall harvest. All of that is the warm-up for some serious eating that includes treats like homemade roasted garlic sausage with peppers and onions, garlic marinated steak sandwiches, garlic roast pork sandwiches, garlic lobster rolls, deep fried garlic, and even garlic ice cream.
Live bands add to the festive feel, fine artisans are on hand offering hand made crafts and young visitors will find rides, games, arts, and crafts to keep them entertained.
Lectures on the history, anatomy, cultivation, and medicinal value of garlic are an unexpected highlight of this event. The presentation on how to raise garlic from Professor Dorthea Di Cecco and garlic farmers Richard and Penny Sandora will answer any questions that you have about how to raise this pungent herb.
The Garlic Festival will be held from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday October 12 and 13 at the Bethlehem Fairgrounds, Route 61 just north of town. Adult admission is $9, $8 for seniors and $1 for kids under the age 12. Find more details at www.garlicfestct.com
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