Frostbite Saturday & Chili Crawl draws large crowds to downtown

Winners in the seventh annual Manistee Frostbite Saturday & Chili Crawl chili contest were awarded their prizes on Saturday evening. Shown (left to right) are Chelsea Harvey (co-chairperson), Derek Cameron (first place Blue Fish), Don Wahr (third place Wahr Hardware), Jim Pawlowski (second place Reusch's Jewelers), William Wahr (third place Wahr Hardware) and Jackie Gielczyk (co-chairperson).

Winners in the seventh annual Manistee Frostbite Saturday & Chili Crawl chili contest were awarded their prizes on Saturday evening. Shown (left to right) are Chelsea Harvey (co-chairperson), Derek Cameron (first place Blue Fish), Don Wahr (third place Wahr Hardware), Jim Pawlowski (second place Reusch’s Jewelers), William Wahr (third place Wahr Hardware) and Jackie Gielczyk (co-chairperson).

MANISTEE — Manistee is the place to be.

That was more than evident on Saturday when the merchants along River and Division streets were filled with people enjoying the Manistee Mainstreet Downtown Development Authority’s Seventh Annual Frostbite Saturday & Chili Crawl. From Port City Organics to Kellie’s Hallmark people were able to casually stroll under sunny skies and unseasonably warm temperatures to sample all the 18 chili entries.

Co-chair persons Chelsea Harvey and Jackie Gielczyk said the event went above and beyond what they expected. Besides the many varieties of chili to taste there also was ice sculpting, festive music and fun activities for the kids.

“It was phenomenal and blew our expectations out of the water,” said Harvey. “As we were walking around today there was a lot of positive feedback and lots of shoppers, which was the whole goal of this event. Stores reported record sales which is one goal for this event.”

When the hundreds of ballots were tabulated to determine the people’s choice, the top honor was Jeremy Heisey’s Smoked BBQ Brisket Chili entry from the Blue Fish Kitchen and Bar. It was the second straight year that they took top honors in the event and they will retain the traveling trophy and receive $100 of downtown bucks.

Blue Fish General Manager Derek Cameron said he couldn’t believe how much chili they gave out Saturday afternoon. He said they handed out more than 900 cups of chili.

“We went through nine gallons of chili,” he said. “It was steady all afternoon and lots of people came in to try it. We were very pleased, but the weather was really nice and brought out a lot of people. It’s nice when they do things like this because it brings people into the restaurant and that helps a lot.”

Also very popular was the Pabst Bacon Cheese Burger Chili of Jim Pawlowski at Reusch Jewelers that won second prize and $50 in Downtown Dollars. No stranger to the chili contest, Pawlowski and the late Jerry Smith took top honors in 2010, 2011 and 2014 in the Chili Crawl event.

The father-and-son team of Don and William Wahr’s entry of Don’s Famous Chili came in third and received $25 in Downtown Dollars.

Gielczyk and Harvey said that the voting was quite even across the board as it was a real good contest to see who took home top honors.

“It was a pretty good turnout at all of the places,” said Gielczyk.

Harvey added that many people made the effort to try all of the entries and turn in votes.

“We had 458 people who turned in votes and there were many more people who attended and didn’t vote or use a scorecard,” said Harvey.

Harvey said the other events beyond the chili had a great response from the public. Little River Casino and Resort’s Tony McIntosh and Jeremy Makowski made some incredible creations from the four, 300-pound blocks of ice that were donated by the casino and located in front of the Vogue Theatre.

“The ice sculpting did really well,” said Harvey. A lot of people turned out for and it went very well as those guys did some really cool ice sculptures.”

Gielczyk added that both of the ice artists enjoyed doing it.

“They had some fun and have already said that they would like to come back next year,” she said.

The only thing event that needed some adjustments was the kids games that were hosted by the Manistee National Honor Society students and led by Amber Carter. Warmer temperatures limited the ability to build snowmen and do some of the other activities they had planned.

“The turkey bowling went off and even without the snow the kids games were still a hit,” said Harvey. “The National Honor Society kids also ran supplies and picked up ballots for us.”

Kellie Parkes from Kellie’s Hallmark was like many downtown merchants in watching what seemed like an endless line of people waiting in her store to try the Old Fashioned Chili they were serving up.

“There are lots of people, but the weather is perfect,” said Parkes. “Everybody just loves the chili and it has worked out really well.”

Tim and Shelly Doyen from The Ideal Kitchen were one of the sponsors the event and were pleased to see what was transpiring in their store.

“There is a lot of people downtown today,” Tim said. “It is a great day to get them out and get them over that cabin fever. This chili and soup cookoffs and all those festivities really bring the people in from out of town.”

While her husband and son were serving up chili at the family hardware store on division street, Mary Wahr was serving up Chef Paul’s Sating Sunday Chili at the Manistee Art Institute’s building on River Street. She said the turnout was exceptional for the chili crawl.

“It has been pretty busy and people are having a good time and it couldn’t be better,” she said.

Local residents like John and Debbie Kapron took advantage of getting out on a beautiful day to enjoy. John said they were trying and enjoying all the chili.

“They are excellent and I like the different varieties,” he said. “I like to try the different varieties with everyone’s special touch.”

Even little Kaden Worch said he was enjoying walking around with his family trying the different samples and proving that chili lovers come in all age groups.

“I liked them all,” he said. “My favorite was at the Vogue, as I liked the beans and stuff they had in it.”

Gielczyk and Harvey said the event was a joint effort of the DDA and sponsors Morton Salt, The Filer Credit Union, Hybza Chiropractic, Little River Casino and Resort, West Shore Community College and The Ideal Kitchen.

“Without their sponsorship this wouldn’t have been possible,” said Gielczyk.

avatar

Posted by Ken Grabowski

Ken is News Advocate’s education reporter. He coordinates coverage for all Manistee County schools and West Shore Community College. He can be reached by phone at (231) 398-3125 or by email at kgrabowski@pioneergroup.com.

Leave a Reply