Ahh Chowderfest, one of my favorite local events! Unfortunately this year I'll be missing it, standing in line outside in winter weather won't work with a newborn. BUT, it did make me think of the best way to do Chowderfest with the kids. It will be cold, the lines might be long, so it would be a good idea to plan ahead and have some alternative options for warming up and letting little ones have some fun in between your chowder sampling. Here in my Mamatoga Chowderfest Map I'm going to give you the best route to take with little ones in tow, the activities you can drop in on and places to get warm! First let's go over the details. It goes from 11am to 4pm on Saturday, February 4th and here is how it works: Pick up a ballot form at any participating establishment, go around and taste different soups and chowders for $1 a cup (3oz. serving) and vote for your favorite! Complete your ballot form and pick up your official Chowderfest long-sleeve T-shirt for just $7! Ballot drop-offs and T-shirt locations will be at the Saratoga County Arts Center, the Saratoga Springs Visitor Center and Saratoga Springs City Center. The Winner Awards Ceremony will be in front of the Saratoga Springs City Center at 6:00 p.m. For a FULL LIST of Chowderfest Participants click here. And don't forget you can buy a handy dandy Chowderfest Chug too! The chugs are re-usable, environmentally friendly mug/lid/spoon combinations. They are available to purchase at Crafters Gallery, Impressions of Saratoga, The Local Pub & Teahouse and Just Plain Good for only $5 each!
Let's start off at last year's winner, The Parting Glass. It is best to hit up this favorite early because it does tend to get MOBBED, and they'll be having Irish Celtic Session and Irish Stepdancers from 12-3 pm. But this one is a good starting point, you can pick up your ballot, try your chowder (they are serving Shrimp & crab chowder with Bailey's Irish Cream crouton topped with Jameson candied lobster) and then head across the street and try Scallions. Hit up Tiznow next and then you can walk down the block for the first kids break at the Saratoga Springs Public Library where they will be having Saturday Family Story Time from 11:30-12 for children ages 2 to 5 years, with a parent or caregiver. No registration is necessary for Story Time, you can drop in, warm up and get in a good kids book, all for free! Even if you don't make it to the Library in time for Story Time it will still be a great warm up spot, head down to the children's room and let them play and explore while you all get nice and toasty warm again.
Walk up Caroline Street and you can try Dango's (Buffalo chicken chowder), Sperry's and Gaffney's (getting full yet?) as you head up to Broadway. You can warm up at Piper where the Police Benevolent Association will be serving FREE hot chocolate and coffee in front of from 11 am-4 pm. While you're there, try the Farm to Table chowder they are serving up.
Now might be a good time to head over to Flores Fine Art Gallery for some Kids Dessert Chowder served up by the Children's Museum at Saratoga! From there head over to the City Center, EQX will be at there from 1-3 pm and Capital Disc Jockeys will be there from 3:30-6:30 pm spinning tunes and taking photos in their photobooth. Plus, more chowder (of course!). Saratoga Hospital will be serving from the City Center and their hearty vegetable clam chowder will be gluten and dairy free (Four Seasons will also have a vegan and gluten free chowder as well)!
This year, Radio Disney will be at Chowderfest! Head over to the Saratogian's parking lot to rock out to the sounds of Disney from 2-3:30 pm. From there you can head to the Children's Museum at Saratoga to let the kids run around and expend some of those chowder calories and warm up cold little hands. From there drop your ballot off to cast your votes and pick up your t-shirts at the Saratoga County Arts Center, the Saratoga Springs Visitor Center or Saratoga Springs City Center. You can try the chowder at Hattie's and Irish Times (always favorites of mine) and the dessert "Phish Chowder" at Ben & Jerry's as one last hurrah before you head home. And don't forget about all of the other fantastic local spots to try chowders in between as well if you're still hungry! Also, stop by Impressions on Broadway any time between 12 pm to 5 pm to get your FREE printed Official Chowderfest PhotoCard!
If you're going to be bringing your four legged family member downtown for Chowderfest there are some fun activities for them as well (or if you just have some dog loving little ones)! Coming back for the fourth year in a row will be the "Dog Chow Down"! Starting at 1pm at the Saratoga Downtowner Motel, a contest between the stores participating in making dog chowder will compete! The Chow Down will feature Mayor Scott Johnson, his wife Julie and their dog Biff. Sloppy Kisses, Dawgdom and Impressions of Saratoga will battle head to head in the chow down! Plus, kids are welcome at the DOGGIEBOOTH set up at Dawgdom from Heather Bohm-Tallman Photography. Get a great picture of your pooch from 11 am-4 pm with no sitting fee! Print proceeds will go to benefit a local not-for-profit animal organization.
A great family activity going on that day will be the WinterFest Cardboard & Duct Tape Sled Races At Prestwick Chase, 100 Saratoga Blvd, Saratoga Springs from noon-3pm. The races will be held on the front lawns of Prestwick Chase and there is no charge for admission and no entry fees for sled contestants, so you can take a break from the chowder tasting to check this out too!
On Sunday if you need to work off some of that chowder before watching the Super Bowl you can take part in the 13th Annual Saratoga SPA Winterfest 5KM Snowshoe Race at Saratoga Spa State Park! That’s right, a snowshoe RACE! Click here for details and the application. There will be a limited supply of Dion snowshoes available for $5 rental fee. Email email@example.com to reserve a pair or phone Jeff Clark at 518-581-7550.