The Hippo


Jul 4, 2020








Lining up for tasty chowder at last year’s annual Chowder Festival in Portsmouth. Courtesy photo.

WOKQ’s 31st Annual Blue Point Brewing Company Chowder Festival

When: Saturday, June 6, at 11:30 a.m. until the chowder runs out
Where: Strawbery Banke Museum’s Puddle Dock, Portsmouth
Tickets: $14 for adults, $7 for ages 12 and under. Only available the day of. 

Chow down
Celebrate 31 years of chowder on the coast

By Allie Ginwala

Chowder lovers will come by the thousands to taste their way through the 31st annual chowder festival on Saturday, June 6, beginning at 11:30 a.m. and continuing until the chowder runs out (usually around 3 p.m.).

Seven restaurants from Portsmouth, Dover and Kittery, Maine, will present their chowder recipes to guests and a panel of judges during this first event of the Prescott Park Arts Festival season.
“We want to involve families and people of all ages, and the chowder seemed like a good fit for that because who doesn’t want to enjoy that?” said Meghan Toner, Prescott Park Arts Festival project manager. 
After a long winter, she said, the chance to get out and eat makes for the perfect start to the summer season.
This year the festival will be at Strawbery Banke Museum’s Puddle Dock, right across from its previous location in Prescott Park. While both venues offer a spacious area for the festival, Toner said, the museum’s grounds have more open space with freedom to set things up in different ways. 
“It is nice and spacious and [you] can look across the street and see the park,” she said.
Chowder vendors at this year’s festival are British Beer Company, 7th Settlement Brewery, Bob’s Clam Hut, Two-Fifty Market, Portsmouth Brewery, Portsmouth Gas Light and Ri Ra Irish Pub — last year’s people’s choice winner and reigning golden ladle award recipient.
Justin Slipp, chef for Ri Ra Irish Pub, hopes to hold on to the title for another year with a traditional seafood chowder similar to the one served last year. It’s one that can be found on the pub’s regular menu.
“I think it’s good to be serving something that they know, ‘Hey, I can go back and try this again,’” Slipp said in a phone interview. “I think that really works well with the patrons of the event knowing they can visit our establishment and have a few pints and try the chowder again.” 
While he does put a twist in the recipe each year, he mainly follows the mantra of “if it’s not broken, why fix it?”
Slipp and a few of his staff will arrive at the festival around 10 a.m. to set up with the 30 gallons or so of chowder already made and ready to serve. He anticipates that it will all be gone by the end of the day; last year, patrons were coming back for thirds.
Each incoming festival guest will receive a “best bowl” voucher to take to the voting booth and place in a basket representing their choice for the day’s best chowder. At the end of the festival, the people’s and judge’s choices will be announced. The judges panel is made up of local chefs, restaurateurs, food writers and general foodies.
All of the participating restaurants bring in one recipe to taste. Some bring a beloved or staple menu item, while others take the opportunity to try out unique chowders. 
“We say dream up the most imaginative [recipe] you can dream of,” Toner said. “It is fun to have different variety and taste and that’s what we normally end up with.”
Guests will find everything from vegetable chowders and seafood chowders to specialty ones, like last year’s “three little pigs” chowder that had pork in three ways served with cornbread.
New to the festival this year is the title sponsor Blue Point Brewing Company, which will bring six brews for guests to taste, as well as a demonstration and sampling of ahi tuna ceviche from Chef Paula DaSilva.
WOKQ will provide music, including a live performance from Brianna Grace. 
Other activities include a marine-themed photo booth, face painting and a decorate-your-own-chef’s-hat station for the kids, an empanada food truck Buen Sabor and a raw oyster bar and live oyster shucking demonstration from Goat Island Oyster.
“I think that’ll be a good complement if they need something a little more solid to munch on after the chowder,” Toner said. 
As seen in the June 4, 2015 issue of the Hippo.

®2020 Hippo Press. site by wedu