Chowdafest visitors chow down for good cause

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By: Jacob Trock

Chowdafest 2017, sponsored by supermarket chain Stop and Shop, took place at Sherwood Island State Park on Oct. 1.  The event, which has been held for ten consecutive years, drew more than 10,000 participants and benefited a variety of charities. The primary beneficiary is a group called Food Rescue US who rescues unused food from restaurants, grocery stores, and farms.  They then distribute this food to shelters and needy families.

There were many different kinds of chowder served, not just the common New England clam chowder.  Attendees also chowed down on spicy corn, mushroom, and gluten-free chowders.

Foodies interested in trying the chowders had to purchase a ticket that granted them access to the 40 booths serving their signature chowders.

After tasting from a sample cup, the attendees rated the chowders on a scale from 7 to 10.5. At the end of the day, a large, blue ribbon was presented to the booth with the highest average score. This year, according to deecuisine.com,  the 2017 Chowda Champion was Pike Place’s chowder from Seattle, winning for the second time in a row.

Attendee Max Boyle ’20 was one of the taste testers. “Pike Place was my favorite so far,” Boyle said. “It’s the perfect New England clam chowder.”

An event of this size required a large team of staff and volunteers to set up the booths, serve the food and direct traffic.  A good portion of these individuals was part of Staples volunteer organization the Service League of Boys, known more commonly as S.L.O.B.S.  Over 30 students from this group helped the contestants operate their booths and clean up after the event.

According to a volunteer event supervisor, who wished only to be referred to by his first name, Michael, the Chowdafest has grown a considerable amount since its conception. At that time, Chowdafest was called the Soup-er Bowl and took place in a local church on Super Bowl Sunday. It’s attendance, which has increased from an initial gathering of under 100 to a crowd of 10,000 people, is a testament that the Chowdafest’s success.

“I get unlimited food and it’s for a good cause,” Boyle said. “Perfect!”

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