Soup, Stew, Chili & Brew
vows to retain food titles
to mark 10th year of festival
(October 2012) On a recent afternoon, patrons at
Ponderosa Steakhouse in Madison, Ind., were drawn by a delicious new
aroma filling the restaurant. Waitresses repeatedly declined customers
requests to try the new option.
Sorry, they said. Were testing our recipe for
the brew category of the Soup, Stew, Chili, and Brew. If you want to
try it, youll have to come by our booth. Customers will
likely line up knowing Ponderosas success in prior festivals.
Last year, Ponderosa swept the food categories winning first place for
Soup, Stew and Chili.
Main Street becomes
a busy street fair each year
for the Madison Area Chamber
of Commerce is annual Soup,
Stew, Chili & Brew event.
We were honestly baffled by that success,
says Jami Brewer, manager of Ponderosa and organizer of Ponderosas
entries for the last three years. We were so excited. We decided
to try for the brew category this year. Who knows? Maybe we could take
all four categories. That would be amazing.
On Saturday, Oct. 13, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., locals and visitors alike
flock to Madisons Main Street to enjoy one of the favorite festivals
of the season the 10th annual Soup, Stew, Chili, and Brew.
The festival, organized as a fundraiser by the Madison Area Chamber
of Commerce, pits cooks from across town against each other for the
coveted title of top cook in each of the categories. In addition, local
fire departments compete for the traveling trophy in best fire department
Clifty 6 Fire Co. took top honors last year and members hope to reclaim
that prize. Last year, we had over 30 booths, says the chambers
Lynda Knoebel. We are looking forward to even more this year.
Each booth has at least one offering of soup, stew, chili or brew but
can offer in as many categories as they like. Most booths offer other
foods as well. Attendees purchase tickets at the entrance then trade
tickets at the booths for whatever they would like to eat. The system
makes it easy for people to sample the variety available while freeing
vendors from having to deal with all the cash.
The festival features more than just food. Main Street becomes a street
fair with neighbors visiting neighbors, while bands play in the background
and children visit the game area. Face painting, a bounce house and
a costume contest are just a few of the activities geared toward children.
Adults can catch up with each other while listening to bands such as
Rusty Bladen or Big G Johnson Big Brass Band. Adults can also sign up
to compete in the annual corn hole tournament.
The top moment of the day comes at 4 p.m. when winners of the cooking
categories are announced. Vendors can compete in just one category or
Booths also vie for the prize of Best Decorations, so booth operators
take their fall themes seriously. If booths want to enter the judging,
they must contact the chamber.
They dont have to enter, says Knoebel. But if
they choose to enter, they must have the rules. We have a packet of
information that details everything they must do to comply with Health
Department regulations as well as preparing for the day.
Main Street closes at 6 a.m. with booth operators arriving at 8 a.m.
They have to be ready to go by 11, so it gets very busy that morning,
What does it take to win? Ponderosas Brewer says her team has
been preparing for weeks. Weve been looking at recipes,
bringing in decorations and searching for props. We will start cooking
and baking about 5 a.m. the day of the festival. Its a team effort,
and we love it.
Customers flock to the Ponderosa booth for their award-winning seafood
chowder, banana bread, pumpkin bread and peanut butter fudge. We
sold out of the seafood chowder twice last year, so we will bring even
more this year. Well also bake about 100 loaves of bread,
When asked the secret to her teams success, Brewer says, We
went back to the old recipes. Recipes Ponderosa used 10 years ago. People
Anyone interested in having a booth should
contact Lynda Knoebel at the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce at (812)
Back to October 2012