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Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Five Tips for Next Year's Troy Chowderfest

This past weekend's Troy Chowderfest was a huge success, perhaps too huge. (which, as we know from the Billy Fuccillo commercials, is entirely possible)

Hundreds gathered along the riverfront for the fifth annual festival which featured over a dozen vendors' chowders - some had lobster, crab, their own bread bowl, southwest flavor, cajun zest, corn, or traditional clams.

The organizers did a good job with the festival and I think more than expected showed up - as demonstrated by the $1 chowder tickets selling out.

While I had a lot of fun walking around, seeing friends and running into a lot of people - all the while eating several cups of $1 chowder - I do have a few suggestions that I'm surprised have not yet been addressed.

1) At popular vending stations, I think it should be essential to dish out the chowder in the cups prior to the orders so the patron gets the chowder in a timely manner and then the next person can be served. There were a few lines that I think could have gone a little faster than "glacial" speed (as one person described it to me) if this happened.

2) If a vendor is about to run out of chowder, there should be a signal - like a flag. My thought is maybe a green flag can be flown if all of the chowders are still stocked, a yellow flag if one of the selections is about to run out, and a red flag if the vendor sold out of all of their chowder. And the flag colors could be written on the leaflet given out. I waited in at least two lines this past Saturday that were futile uses of time since by time we got to the end, they were out of chowder.

3) Locations of the chowder vendors should be designated on the leaflet that is handed out with the tickets for chowder. I can't tell you how many times I heard people ask about where certain businesses were located. I do enjoy reading the descriptions of the chowders on the hand out but it'd be even better to know how to get to them.

4) All vendors should be asked to bring enough chowder for at least 500 people. The event this year was advertised as running from 11am to 4pm but by 1:30pm several of the places had already sold out. I expected this the first year, which did happen within the first hour of the festival, but I think five years is enough time for trial and error and figure out how much chowder to make. For newbies, maybe they could get advice from seasoned veteran businesses - Dinosaur and Albany Pump Station lasted a while this year but even Yanni's sold out by 2:30pm.

5) While it sounds like a good idea to have two big Troy events on the same weekend (Chowderfest and Brown's Oktoberfest) - don't. Part of the fun of the Oktoberfest is the biergarten tent which couldn't be assembled this year due to the chowder tents in the same area that would be used for Brown's. On top of this, people get tired after waiting in long lines and, yes, I remedied that with Brown's Pumpkin Ale, not everyone might want to wait in more lines or be around more crowds.

I'm sure there were other things that I didn't address that stuck out in people's minds (maybe bringing back the reusable bowls or having volunteers help with regulating lines) and I'm positive there were good things I didn't mention (all the business/positive advertising this brings to Troy).

You can't please everyone, but...we can try by putting on the best chowderfest we can, next year.


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