A record crowd (about 150 paid admissions, plus chili makers, dignitaries, and other guests) enjoyed a large selection of chili and great camaraderie at the 2019 Ridgefield Chili Festival, on Sunday, March 31, 2-4 pm, at the Ridgefield Recreation Center. The family-friendly event is an annual fundraiser for the Ridgefield Democratic Town Committee (“DTC”). Attendees in the packed room were excited to mingle with and be addressed by special guests, US Senator Richard Blumenthal, Lt Governor Susan Bysiewicz, State Senator Will Haskell (26thDistrict), State Representative Ken Gucker (138thDistrict), and Ridgefield First Selectman Rudy Marconi.
Seven local eateries offered tastings of chili from their menus: Early Bird Cafe, Bareburger, Southwest Cafe (longest participating restaurant), Zawack Shack, The Ancient Mariner, Milillo Farms, and 850 Degrees/Baja Cocina, with desserts provided by Deborah Ann’s and The Cake Box. DTC Chair Alex Harris extended very special thanks to the participating restaurants, saying “We encourage all attendees and residents to patronize these and all the other local eateries that provide so much flavor – in every sense of that word – to our town.”
In addition to the restaurant participants, seven amateur chili makers competed in a chili cook-off event. Judges Panel Award Winners were 1stplace Ravi Sankar and 2ndplace Jonathon Steckler (Board of Education member). Peoples’ Choice Award Winners were Joseph Mechanic (1st Place) and Arny DiLaura (2nd place). Sky Cole (Zoning Board of Appeals member) was awarded special recognition for longest participating chili maker. Joe Dowdell (Planning & Zoning Commission member) and Victoria Carlquist also competed in the cookoff. DTC Chair Harris said, “I know I speak for every attendee when I say that all our amazing chili makers were winners, and we are grateful to them for their delicious offerings.
The event was helmed by tireless event leaders, Karen Sulzinsky and Ellen Darvick. Sulzinsy and Darvick were aided by several DTC members and volunteers, especially Angela Liptack, Sylvia Steinert, Betty Kloth, Glori Norwitt, Maureen & Geoff Bartlett, Susan Cocco, Alisa, Eva, and Scot Trachtenberg, and by volunteers from the Ridgefield Young Democrats, Michaela Fitzgerald, Sam Sulzinsky, Sam Sutcliffe, Jack Madore, and Lis Harris. DTC Chair Harris said, “Ridgefield Democrats’ are extremely grateful to Karen, Ellen, our distinguished guests, all the participants, volunteers and attendees who made this event such a great success.”