A first for WinterFest: Homebrewer beer competition

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NORTH ADAMS — A storm is brewing for this year's annual WinterFest.

Or rather, brewers will storm WinterFest.

This year's downtown event will now include, for the first time in its 22 years, a homebrewing competition hosted by Bright Ideas Brewing.

Sorry, only judges will be allowed to taste the beer.

But in addition to bragging rights, the winning brewer will have the opportunity to brew their beer with Bright Ideas head brewer Danny Sump and have it sold on tap at the brewery. Judges will be tasting beer from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

But the suds-soaked competition is just another evolution in the long-running winter festival that continues to find new ways to warm the souls of city residents during February's darkest doldrums.

Events for WinterFest will be scattered throughout the city beginning at 9 a.m. Saturday.

Artisans and farmers will line the interior of the former Sleepy's mattress store on Main Street for a winter market that will feature more than 30 vendors. Items will range from local eggs to handmade jewelry and baked goods.

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In what has become one of the festival's most iconic components, eights artists have been selected to carve unique — and ephemeral — statues from 300-pound blocks of ice donated by local sponsors.

One competition that festivalgoers can participate in is the annual chowder cook-off, a fierce battle for best chowder among the Berkshire Food Project, Freight Yard Pub, Grazie, The Hub, 180 Polish Roadside Grill, Gala Restaurant at the Orchards, McCann Tech Culinary Program and Ramunto's. It will be held from noon to 2 p.m.

Awards will be given in the categories of People's Choice Awards, Judges' Choice Awards and the "Only in North Adams" Award for most unique chowder. Remember, every vote counts.

And for those who feel guilty about chowder's calories, the city's skating rink will offer free skate rentals from 2 to 4 p.m. Also, J Star Gymnastics has offered its gym at 69 Union St. as a free venue to release some energy from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

The usual slate of outdoor events at Windsor Lake will not be held this year because of the weather.

But, assuming there is enough powder on the hillside, Colegrove Park will be primed and ready for plenty of sledding fun all day.

A full list of the day's events can be found at the event's Facebook page.

Adam Shanks can be reached at ashanks@berkshireeagle.com, at @EagleAdamShanks on Twitter, or 413-629-4517.


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