“Souper” bowl to heat up Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard

Spoons will soon be at the ready as the fifth annual Chowdafest is set to kick off at the Webster Bank Arena at Harbor Yard in less than two weeks. Having outgrown its home at Westport’s Bedford Middle School, the event will likely attract about 10,000 people, all of whom will have a chance to determine just who can lay claim to having the best soup.

This culinary competition, which began in 2008, has consistently attracted competitors from across Fairfield County who vie for the top three spots in three categories: classic New England clam chowder, creative chowder, and soup or bisque. This year, organizers have cast their net a bit farther and are featuring restaurants from Middlesex and Hartford counties. It is organized annually by members of the Unitarian Church of Westport.

Soup fans can look forward to a varied menu of concoctions, including multiple takes on the classic, and creative creations featuring such ingredients as chicken marsala, buffalo chicken and sweet onions. Manhattan clam chowder fans can rejoice, too, since this is the first year it will be in the “souper” bowl lineup. You can check out the full complement of competitors at the event’s website.

Event chairman Jim Keenan said with the event taking place on Sunday, Feb. 3, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., he expects families and foodies to use the soup-fest as a kickoff to the Super Bowl festivities set for later in the evening. At the very least, football fans will be well-fed by the time the game begins. To get into the party spir

it, the Sacred Heart University marching band will be entertaining the crowds and kids will have their own activity area in which they can design chef hats and enjoy other activities.

Youngsters also are encouraged to utilize their taste buds and let their thoughts be known on who should be deemed a winner.

Entry fees are $10 for adults, $5 for children 6 to 12 and free for those 5 and younger. Visitors also are encouraged to bring nonperishable food donations, which will allow one to be entered into a raffle. The event also serves as a fundraiser for the Connecticut Food Bank.

Leading up to the big event will be a number of appearances by Chowdafest’s mascot Chef Quahog. Presenting sponsor Stop & Shop will be hosting Quahog beginning this week at stores throughout the area.

The next appearance is set for Friday, Jan. 25, at the Westport store from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. You can see the rest of the appearances here.

Christina Hennessy