Chowder Challenge Sept. 27
By Stephanie Choate
As summer gives way to fall, residents and visitors can tuck into hearty chowders on the town green.
The annual Williston Chowder Challenge returns on Sunday, Sept. 27 from noon to 3 p.m. on the Williston Historic Village green.ˇ
Eighteen contestants have signed up, including restaurants, businesses, Williston Central School, the Williston and Essex fire departments and the Williston Police Department.
Prizes will be awarded in two categories: people’s choice and best display.
Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for children 6-12. Those who bring a current-date, non-perishable food item receive a dollar off admission. The event raises money for the Williston Community Food Shelf and the Williston Police Officers’ Association.
“It brings the community together to support the less fortunate in town,” said Williston Police Officer Travis Trybulski, who organizes the event.
“The Chowder Challenge is our cornerstone fundraising event of the year,” wrote Jeanne Jensen, Williston Community Food Shelf president, in an email to the Observer. “The success of this event determines what the Food Shelf can afford to do in support of our struggling neighbors.”
Jensen added that the food shelf is run entirely by volunteers, so funds raised are used almost exclusively for rent and food—including milk, eggs and perishables.
“The timing of this fundraiser is critical as the summer is a rough time for us,” she wrote. “During the summer, the need is high and donations are few. We rely heavily on fresh fruits and vegetables donated by generous gardeners to make up the bare spots on the shelves. But even with the recent great weather, the harvest can’t go on forever.”
Last year, the event drew approximately 700 people and raised $4,000 for the food shelf. This year, Trybulski is hoping for 1,000 people.
The Chowder Challenge admission price includes a ticket for door prizes, donated by a variety of local businesses, plus a solid meal of chowder samples.
“Sometimes people don’t even hit them all because they get filled up,” Trybulski said.
Kids can take advantage of free face painting, a “Kids Build It” workshop and a bouncy castle.
Trybulski started the challenge five years ago when he joined the Williston Police Department, bringing the tradition from his former police department in Sunapee, N.H.
He’ll be acting as chef for the Williston Police Department, sticking with his tried and true recipe.
“It’s become a tradition,” he said.
Jensen encouraged residents to come out, taste chowder and support the food shelf.
“There are many great charities out there but the Williston Food Shelf is unique in that it directly serves our neighbors,” she wrote. “Our clients go to our schools, attend our churches, live in our neighborhoods. One of the things that makes Williston a great place to live is our dedication to making sure that in our town, no one has to go to bed hungry. Besides, where else can you stuff yourself with 18 different awesome chowders for only ten dollars!”