By JOHN FLOWERS
MIDLEBURY — The Better Middlebury Partnership (BMP) will spice up the downtown scene on Feb. 21 with the “First Annual Middlebury Winter Carnival” that will feature a chili contest and many other fun activities for the entire family.
“There will be a lot going on,” said BMP board member and Winter Carnival co-organizer Megan Brady. “There will be a lot for visitors and locals to do that day.”
Activities will include free public skating, snowshoe races, an open house at the Middlebury Fire Department, dog sled demonstrations, a bonfire and a winter ball for all ages.
But the event that seems to have most people stoked is a chili contest that is open to pros and amateurs alike. Twenty-four entrants have already registered for the tasty tilt, including restaurants from throughout Addison County and Brandon.
“The response has been overwhelming,” said Brady, who is a co-owner of Two Brothers Tavern. “We wanted to come up with something fun for everyone that would bring people from throughout the region.”
Not many amateurs had thrown their spoons into the ring as of last week, but Brady said there is still time for hopefuls to pay the $10 entry fee. She said members of some area fire departments have promised to enter their own culinary concoctions in the amateur category.
The chili contest will be held on the sidewalks of Main Street and Merchants Row and in downtown parks from 3 to 5 p.m. Applicants must bring their own table, trash receptacle, heat source (electricity not available), pot, ladle and at least two gallons of chili. The BMP will provide cups, spoons, napkins and registrant/chili identification. Professionals and amateurs will be judged separately, by the public (free samples), in the following chili categories: Beef, chicken, lamb, pork, game, veggie, “hottest” chili and best presentation. Winners will receive certificates — and “bragging rights.” The “professional” category is now full, but amateur entrants should send their name, email address, the type of chili to be served and $10 to: The Better Middlebury Partnership, c/o 63 Otter Creek Lane, Weybridge, VT 05753. Entrants should also note if they will be using all local products in their chili.
Sticking with the theme, downtown Middlebury merchants will be advertising “chilly sales” in conjunction with the carnival to offer folks some shopping opportunities while they eat and play.
Other featured Winter Carnival events will include:
• Snowshoe races, for all ages, which will take place on the Middlebury Town Green at 3 p.m. Snowshoes will be generously provided by the Alpine Shop. Prizes will be awarded in five age categories, ranging from 3 years to seniors.
• Free public skating at the Middlebury Memorial Sports Center from 12:30 p.m. to 1:45 p.m., sponsored by the Friends of Middlebury Hockey. Skates will not be available for rent.
• Middlebury Fire Department open house, scheduled from 3 to 6 p.m. at the fire station on Seymour Street.
• Dogsled demonstrations, to be held at the Marble Works complex lawn, beginning at 4 p.m. Rides will also be offered. A bonfire will ensue, also on the Marble Works lawn.
• Winter Carnival Ball, to be held at Two Brothers Lounge & Stage on Main Street at 7:30 p.m. The family friendly event will feature the Sandra Wright Band, a blues group out of Burlington. There will be a nominal $3 cover charge for patrons older than 21.
Downtown Middlebury isn’t the only area that will host a Winter Carnival on Feb. 21. Middlebury College’s longstanding Winter Carnival will be in full swing on campus, featuring, among other things, a snow sculpting contest on the McCullough lawn from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
For more information about the First Annual Middlebury Winter Carnival and Chili Contest, contact Gail Freidin at email@example.com, or 338-4126.