You won’t go stir crazy this weekend. At least not if you attend Olde Mistick Village’s .
From noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 26, visitors to the can enjoy various outside and indoor activities and participate in a taste test of area restaurants’ best chowder.
Many of the activities are free, such as a demonstration by the Connecticut Police Work Dog Association, singers from and Ledyard High School, and presentations by the and the .
The event’s main attraction, the chowder cook-off, is $1 for a 3 oz. taste, $5 for seven tastes, and $10 for 15 tastes. All of the proceeds from the cook-off are donated to the . Over 20 restaurants will participate in the chowder cook-off, including seven restaurants competing for the first time. Shops throughout the Olde Mistick Village sponsor the restaurants where a place will be set up for the restaurant to serve chowder.
Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center Executive Director Vicki Anderson calls the event “a monumental undertaking,” one that is “divinely inspired and helps the center out enormously.”
The rain or shine event began eight years ago when an Olde Mistick Village merchant called Anderson with the idea of a winter festival that would include free activities, and chowder competition and would benefit an emergency food drive.
“We very much appreciate the amazing work the PNC does in our community,” said Lu Lupovich of , and one of the Cabin Fever Festival Committee members.
The Pawcatuck Neighborhood center provides emergency food assistance as well as many other programs and services for people throughout the community, including transportation for seniors.
“They do so much and we were inspired by their continuous commitment to our community,” Lupovich said.
Anderson said it’s been incredible to see the amount of people including those that volunteer come out to event. The center and village start planning the festival each fall. The participating restaurants will send a few staff and volunteers from the neighborhood center, the and the Naval Submarine Base to help coordinate the event and dish out chowder.
The months of January, February, and March are often the hardest for the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center to raise money, Anderson said. With the cost of food rising and companies having to lay off workers and/or cut hours, the center has seen an expanding need for emergency food assistance. Last year the event raised $9,300 for the center.
Throughout the afternoon, visitors can vote on the People’s Choice best chowder. Three celebrity judges Kevin Hogan of Channel 8 News, Elissa Bass of Patch.com and Dave Tranchida of Westerly Sun will choose the Heartiest, Chowder, Best Use of Regional Ingredients and Most Creative Chowder. At 5 p.m. an awards presentation will take place in the Village Meeting House.
“We consider them all winners,” Lupovich said. Each participating restaurant donates at least 20 gallons of chowder for the event, in addition to the chef and server who spend the afternoon at the event.
“This is a tremendously generous donation on the restaurants’ part to make and donate the chowder, and their staff, to be with us for our festival,” Lupovich said.
While Lupovich said the prime mission of the event is to raise money for the Pawcatuck Neighborhood Center, the Olde Mistick Village stores are also hoping to re-introduce people to the local stores and restaurants, many of which have had a hard time with the winter weather and the recession.
“The merchants are helping people who can’t meet basic needs and we’re helping the merchants,” Anderson said.
Here is a schedule of the free events taking place in the Olde Mistick Village during the festival:
Noon to 1 p.m.: Childbloom Guitar All Stars (ages 5 to 12) from Stonington’s Guitar Program will perform live with Program Director Lou Manzi.
Noon to 1 p.m.: Police K-9 Unit Demonstration: members of the Connecticut Police Work Dog Association will demonstrate working exercises with their canines.
Noon to 2 p.m.: Fly by Night Entertainers will entertain throughout the Village.
1:30 to 2:30 p.m.: Stonington Singers from Mystic Middle School will perform live.
2 to 2:30 p.m.: Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center will present a live Outdoor Program with Owls.
2:30 to 3:30 p.m.: Denison Pequotsepos Nature Center will present an Indoor Educational Program.
2:30 to 4:30 p.m.: Mystic Aquarium Touch and Learn Indoor Program.
3 to 4 p.m.: Final Cut, Boys a Capella Group from Ledyard High School, performs live.
3:30 to 4:30 p.m.: Horizon Wings will present a Live Birds of Prey Program.
4 to 5 p.m.: Acabellas, Girls a Capella Group from Ledyard High School, performs live.
Here is a full list of the participating restaurants:
, , Bufords Family Restaurant, Chester’s Barbeque, , , , Flanagan’s, , Hub’s Clam Shack, , Mermaid Café, , , Ocean Blue Catering at Mystic Aquarium, Octagon at Mystic Marriott, Olio Restaurant and Bar, Paperback Café, , , , and .