Crawling for Chili: Frostbite Saturday draws record crowd

The Manistee Downtown Development Authority's Frostbite Saturday & Chili Crawl saw a record turnout over the weekend. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

The Manistee Downtown Development Authority’s Frostbite Saturday & Chili Crawl saw a record turnout over the weekend. (Dylan Savela/News Advocate)

MANISTEE — The mission of Manistee Downtown Development Authority’s annual Frostbite Saturday & Chili Crawl is to give River Street a shot in the arm during the dead of winter.

The downtown district was certainly alive and well Saturday as the event was met with sunshine and unseasonable warm temperatures.

“I think the weather definitely helped bring a lot more people out this year,” said event chair Jackie Gielczyk. “So, it was just a phenomenal day for Downtown Manistee.

“The businesses were just swamped all day.”

While the foot traffic was in full swing, the 2017 Chili Crawl were crowned.

Of the 14 entries in the Amateur Division, Reusch Jewelry (Jim Pawlowski) won (via scorecard voting) for its Pabst Blue Ribbon Chili while Ideal Kitchen (Bob Kennedy) placed second with the Bloody Mary Chili and Wahr Hardware (William Wahr) took third with It’s Not the Dog Chili.

This year also featured a Professional Division, in which seven downtown restaurants participated. Manistee’s Blue Fish won the top prize for its Double Trouble Chili while The Fillmore took second for The Great White Chili and TJ’s Pub placed third for Mike’s Birthday Surprise.

The Blue Fish also earned top honors and the Chili Crawl traveling trophy for receiving the most votes with 192.

“We 335 ballots turned in,” said Gielczyk, citing that total is the event’s all-time record high. “People were just pouring in. Some stations went through more than 600 cups (for chili) easily.”

The Chili Crawl wasn’t the only draw Saturday as the Little River Casino Resort once again donated four blocks of ice, which were carved into sculptures in front of the Vogue Theatre. Many businesses also provide music or other entertainment throughout the afternoon.

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Posted by Dylan Savela

Dylan is the county reporter for the News Advocate, he also is in charge of the Small Town Life, religion and senior pages. He can be reached at (231) 398-3111 or dsavela@pioneergroup.com.

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