Saratoga County

Weekend fest in Saratoga Springs salutes winter and chowder

Celebrate winter this weekend with a chowder contest, snowshoe race, wine tasting and stories.


Celebrate winter this weekend with a chowder contest, snowshoe race, wine tasting and stories.

It’s the 10th anniversary for Chowderfest, the highlight of the traditional Winterfest that takes place all over Saratoga Springs on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Starting at 11 a.m. Saturday, people will be able to sample the chowder at about three dozen restaurants for $1 a bowl and vote on their favorite in categories like “Best On-Broadway,” “Best Off-Broadway” and “Best Newcomer.” There’s even a category for dogs to vote for their favorite canine chowder.

Last year, over 30,000 bowls of soup were served to thousands of tasters.

Winners last year were Gaffney’s, Greg Gelding Bistro, Tiznow Restaurant, Longfellows Restaurant, The Great American Grill at the Hilton Garden Inn, Sloppy Kisses — Treat Boutique for Dogs and Lillian’s Restaurant.

For a complete listing of participating restaurants and more information on Winterfest, visit Saratoga Convention and Tourism Bureau’s Web site,

Winterfest festivities begin on Friday evening with the Winterfest Weekend Wine Tasting at the Holiday Inn on Broadway, ice skating at the Saratoga Springs Ice Rink, skiing and snowshoeing in Saratoga Spa State Park, and a Casino Night at the historic Canfield Casino in Congress Park.

Saturday kicks off with Chowderfest, a craft fair at Canfield Casino, “Winter Arts” at the Saratoga County Arts Council, a Circus Sideshow with “Saratoga Reads!” at Borders and the 11th annual Bartenders Ball at the Saratoga Springs City Center.

The ball takes place from 6:30 to midnight with music by local group Soul Session. For tickets, call the Saratoga Chamber of Commerce at 584-3255.

The weekend’s activities will be rounded out by horse-drawn sleigh rides, a snow sculpting contest, story time with local authors on Sunday and even a snowshoe race/walk on Sunday morning at the Spa State Park.

Whether winter will come through for the eighth-annual snow shoe race Sunday remains to be seen. Last year, lack of snow cancelled the race.

Jeff Clark said he and his wife, Laura, who organize the race, are prepared to mark off a trail race instead if there’s not enough snow. They’ll make the decision the morning of the race, which starts at 11 a.m.

“We may have to change the route to make it safer, because we don’t want any ice patches,” he said.

The event attracts seasoned mountain runners as well as first-time snowshoers who walk the course, Clark said.

“We get a really eclectic mix of participants.”

Other festival highlights include a free candlelight ski and snowshoe walk at Saratoga Spa State Park from 6 to 8:30 p.m. Friday with demonstrations by the Second Chance sled dogs, ice skating, bonfires, hot food and drinks and winter-related crafts. Snowshoes will be available for rent. Call 584-2000 ext. 119 for more information.

On Saturday, the 11th annual Winterfest Craft Fair to benefit Saratoga Center for the Family takes place from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Canfield Casino in Congress Park. More than 40 crafters will offer up handmade items, including stained glass, hats, bird condos, puzzles, picture frames and soaps. Admission is free.

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