ELLSWORTH — For the first time in a quarter century, there will be no Autumn Gold Chowderfest during the city’s annual fall festival. But that does not mean there won’t be good eats for the hundreds of people who flock to Harbor Park during September’s Autumn Gold Days.
Instead, the Autumn Gold Food Fest Fair will be held under the tent on Saturday, Sept. 25, Ellsworth Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Gretchen Wilson said. And while a host of local gourmands have signed on, she said there is still room for more.
Precipice Coffee, Bar Harbor’s Acadia Perk, Bootleg Jerky, Momo’s, culinary students from Hancock County Technical Center and the pie ladies of P.E.O. (Philanthropic Educational Organization) have all signed on for tables under the tent.
“We are still looking for a few more food vendors,” Wilson said. “With the cancellation of the Common Ground Fair, we’re hoping we can maybe pick up people who normally have a booth or table [there].”
With Autumn Gold boat rides starting at 10 a.m., the Food Fest will run from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. There will also be a Boy Scouts barbecue and live music, and shuttles will ferry people from all Autumn Gold venues and City Hall to the park.
“The harbor will be a busy location, but it just won’t have that chowder competition, which has been so popular for 25 years,” Wilson said. “It’s kind of disappointing, but what can you do? Try to make lemonade.”
She said the local employment situation translated into a shortage of chefs able to commit to the several gallons of chowder and hours needed to contribute to the chowderfest. Usually seven to nine restaurants and organizations sign up, Wilson noted, but this year even perennial mainstays such as Governor’s and Union River Lobster Pot told Wilson there was no way they could handle it this year.
“We looked a little further, but nobody has the ability to do something extra like this,” she said. “And when you have 300 to 400 people in line, you need to have the capacity to serve them.”
To join the Autumn Gold Food Fest Fair, call the chamber at 667-5584 or email [email protected]. Wilson noted that food trucks, unfortunately, cannot be accommodated.