TROY -- The organizers of the 9th annual Troy Chowderfest decentralized today's event rather than having the events concentrated in one area as in the past.
The idea was to have out-of-town food purveyors serving up all sorts of chowders and other food and drink items around Monument Square this afternoon, with out-of-town restaurants and several from Troy on the Square, and other locals serving on their own premises, some with tables set up outside for the day.
The Chowderfest has grown at such a rate in its first eight years that 15,000 to 18,000 people have lined up to buy tasting tickets, then been jammed into Riverfront Park or, prior to that, in a nearby blocked-off section of River Street. This year, the sponsoring Troy Downtown Business Improvement District (BID) opted to promote the city's "walkabiity" by having entertainment venues, kids' activities, and tasting stations set up throughout downtown, with shuttle service for people who didn't want to walk to all of the participating venues.
In addition to the crowd voting on people's choice awards for the various chowders being offered, a panel of food experts (including yours truly and Steve Barnes of the Times Union, the only people who have judged every Chowderfest held) sampled 25 different chowders from 19 purveyors as part of a blind tasting to selecting the top three finishers. Complete official results will be released on Monday. Jack's Oyster House of Albany, the defending champion, did not enter this year.
So, how did it work? Thanks to spectacular weather, and a very busy BID staff and volunteers, it seems to be an improvement, although ticket lines began forming early and still were quite long mid-way through the event. Here are some scenes from the festival:
|Chowders awaiting their unveiling.|
|Visitors line up for tasting tickets at one sales point a half-hour before Chowderfest.|
|Photo shot from Monument Square, looking east 30 minutes before the event began ...|
|... and, a photo shot from about the same spot halfway through the event.|
|Setting up to handle the crowd.|
|One of 19 tasting stations throughout the Chowderfest.|
|There's more than chowder at the Chowderfest.|
• Bountiful Bread, 1475 Western Avenue, Albany
• City Line Bar & Grill, 1200 Western Avenue, Albany
• Kingsway Community, 323 Kings Road, Schenectady
• McGreivey’s Restaurant, 91 Broad Street, Waterford
• Otis and Oliver’s, 30 Mill Road, Latham
• Public House 42, 42 Eagle Street, Albany
• Russo’s, 365 West Main Street, Amsterdam
• Capital District EOC, 431 River Street, Troy
• Bootlegger’s Bar & Grill, 200 Broadway, Troy
• B-Rad's Bistro and Catering, 1809 5th Avenue, Troy
• Brown’s Brewing Company, 417 River Street, Troy
• Infinity Café, 172 River Street, Troy
• Muddaddy Flats, 43 3rd Street, Troy
• O’Brien’s Public House, 43 3rd Street, Troy
• River Street Pub, 194 River Street, Troy
• Ryan’s Wake, 403 River Street, Troy
• The Flying Chicken, 122 4th Street, Troy
• The Illium Café, 9 Broadway, Troy
• The Ruck, 104 3rd Street, Troy