No race, but party's on at Thunderfest
ADAMS -- Nobody raced the Thunderbolt Trail on Mount Greylock Saturday.
The race was called due to lack of snow.
But that didn't wilt the spirits of organizers, racers and their supporters, who gathered along with friends and neighbors at the Adams Visitor Center for the second annual Thunderfest.
Thunderfest was originally conceived as a celebration party following the race. But last year, the innaugural event turned into a party for disappointed racers and spectators when the race was cancelled for lack of snow.
The party this year was bigger, the weather was chillier, and it once again became a party of people trying to recover their optimism for a possible race next winter.
Officials estimated a crowd of more than 1,500 made it to Thunderfest, where they could choose from six food vendors and several purveyors of locally brewed ales.
"If they had been able to ski, we'd have 300 to 500 more people here," said Dave Bissaillon. "And this event wouldn't happen without the Thunderbolt Ski race, because of everything they've done. So today we're celebrating all their hard work."
The turnout, considered significantly larger than last year, was also a reason for good cheer.
"It's definitely a better turnout than last year," said Michele Butler, co-chair of the Thunderfest committee. "So with two years under our belt, we know what works."
The crowd was treated to a couple of well-known bands: The Rev Tor Band and the Northshire String Band. Space heaters, a bon fire and chowder inside helped keep the crowd warm, and there were plenty of pooches to help clean up the dropped food.
Jonah Marshall of Williamstown and his family were among those in the crowd.
"We've been awaiting the Thunderbolt Race with some excitement," he said. "When we heard the race was off, we were disappointed but we decided to come out and celebrate for the community and for all the hard work they put into the race."
According to Andrea Stump, also a co-chair of the Thunderfest committee, more than 75 volunteers were on hand to help out, many of whom were involved in organizing the event since last fall.
For the chowder cook off, there were 11 competitors who cooked up three gallons of chowder each. For those keeping score at home, that comes to 33 gallons.
Needless to say, it was a popular event and there was nothing left over.
After more than 300 chowder testers cast their votes, Haflinger Haus won for best chowder, and Cliff's BBQ -- coming all the way from Buckland to operate a food booth at the event -- won for most creative chowder.
Stump said organizers are quite happy with the turnout and are already looking forward to next year.
"Even without the race, this was a great accomplishment on a cold day," she said. "So for next year's race, we're going to cross our fingers and do a little more snow dancing."
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