BREWER, Maine — City Manager Steve Bost said Wednesday there is one event he looks forward to every year — the annual Brewer Winterfest People’s Choice chili and chowder cook-off.
“I’ve made no secret my favorite event is the chili cook-off,” he said.
He’s not alone. Dozens and dozens of people arrive each year to taste test hot chili and chowders made by area restaurants and students, all vying for the locally coveted cook-off crown.
The city’s 10th annual Winterfest is Friday and Saturday. It will include a number of free events geared toward bringing folks from the region together, event organizer Gibran Graham said Wednesday.
Since 2012 is also the city’s bicentennial, a bit of history has been added to this year’s event, Graham said.
Mayor Jerry Goss and Brewer Historical Society member Dick Ruhlin, a member of the Brewer Bicentennial Committee, will speak about the city’s history during Friday’s welcome reception, and Essex Street Junction, an a cappella group, will perform.
“Brewer is 200 years old as a community,” Graham said. “In 1812 it separated itself from Orrington and became its own.”
Friday’s events also include a skating and sliding party at Doyle Field and fireworks at 7 p.m. that will be shot off over the Penobscot River from Schooners, previously the Muddy Rudder.
A Kiwanis French toast breakfast to raise funds in support of area children kicks off Saturday’s festivities, which also include children’s games, activities and demonstrations at Brewer Auditorium.
The chili and chowder cook-offs start at noon at Schooners and will include eight to 12 competitors.
“The Red Barn are coming back to defend their title” as chili cook-off champs, Graham said.
The recent warm weather has caused organizers to cancel the ice sculptures on the waterfront and the ice sculpting contest, the organizer said.
It was a tough decision, but “last Friday it was in the 50s,” Graham said.
Winterfest kicks off a year’s worth of bicentennial celebration events, which include historical tours and lunches, a July golf tournament, outdoor concerts, events at the Children’s Garden, and performances at the new Brewer Community School’s performing arts center.
“We have a bunch of things in the works,” Graham said.
The following is a schedule for Brewer Winterfest 2012:
Friday, Feb. 17
• 6-8 p.m. skating and sliding party at Doyle Field, behind Brewer Auditorium.
• 6-8 p.m. bicentennial reception with speakers Mayor Jerry Goss and Dick Ruhlin, a member of the bicentennial committee. Free hors d’oeuvres and live entertainment.
• 7 p.m. fireworks display over the Penobscot River outside Schooners.
Saturday, Feb. 18
• 8-10 a.m. Brewer Kiwanis French toast breakfast at Brewer Auditorium.
• 9 a.m.-1 p.m. family fun day at Brewer Auditorium. Games and prizes for everyone, plus demonstrations.
• Noon-2 p.m. chili and chowder cook-off inside Schooners.
• 2:30 p.m. announcement and presentation of awards, Schooners.