For the past 32 years, The Great Chowder Cook-Off helps kick off summer in the beginning of June. This year, the 33rd Annual Polar Seltzer Great Chowder Cook-Off will take place on Saturday, June 7th, from noon to 6pm, at the Newport Yachting Center. As an added bonus, the Newport Oyster Festival will coincide with the Chowder Cook-Off and your ticket to the cook-off will get you in the festival as well. The Oyster Festival will last until 8pm.
The Polar Seltzer Great Chowder Cook-off has been featured on both the Food Network and the Travel Channel and is the longest running chowder championship. It draws its competitors from across the country such as California, Washington, New Jersey, North Carolina, Florida, as well as New England favorites. Those in attendance get to taste endless samples of traditional chowders as well as “exotic” variations. Voting will take place for three categories: clam, seafood and creative. The great restaurants who win end up with prizes and bragging rights for the next year. Among the chowder tastings, many other things will be happening. There will be a “Clamcake Chow Down” where participants race to consume a half-dozen clam cakes. Live music will be performing on various stages, and Stop & Shop will be sponsoring culinary demonstrations throughout the day.
When you’re all chowdered out, or the cook-off is over, your ticket gets you into the Newport Oyster Festival. Local shellfish and seafood will be available, farmers market style. Some highlights of the Festival include: raw bars and other seafood favorites, full bar, live acoustic music, bistro-style seating, educational presentations and contests. You can compete in oyster and beer shucking or oyster slurping competitions.
For more information or to see who will be competing this year, check out the Polar Seltzer Great Chowder Cook-Off website here.
Ann Hutchinson and her followers left Boston and settled on Aquidneck Island in order to gain religious freedom. After a few years, in 1639, the settlement divided, and a group led by William Codington and Nicholas Easton moved south and formed Newport. The founders were dedicated to religious freedom, and Newport became one of the first secular democracies in the Atlantic. Many Quakers and Jews were attracted to this religious freedom and settled on the island. The town transformed from a small agricultural outpost to one of the five leading seaports in colonial America.
Although there were a variety of religions practiced in Newport, the Quakers became the most influential, dominating political, social and economical life. Their plain lifestyle was reflected in architecture, landscape and decorative arts. They were some of the finest craftsman, who made extraordinary furniture. Newport’s architectural heritage can be traced back to the 17th century, when building such as the Old Stone Mill and the White Horse Tavern were built. Newport’s economics were based on exporting rum, candles, fish, silver and furniture, which fueled their economic growth. The water front was very busy during this time, and over 150 separate wharves and shops crowded the harbor. Trade grew, and Newport became an epicenter of modern American capitalism, becoming one of the five leading ports in North America by 1760. This growth led to a “building boom,” including hundreds of houses and important structures such as the Trinity Church, Colony House, Redwood Library and Brick Market.
The British held Newport from 1776-1779 and hundreds fled. The British remained until they were driven out by the French, who then stayed until 1783. Due to the damage the British had done to Newport’s economy, Newport had to re-invent itself in the 1900’s. It transformed into a summer resort area. Newport became a center for influential writers, artists, educators, scientists, architects and landscape designers during the antebellum period. Wealthy families such as the Griswolds, Kings and Vanderbilts built mansions in Newport to use as their summer cottages.
Newport maintained its ties to the seas and trading ships filled the water. Newport started becoming a yachting capital and in the 1930’s, America’s Cup was brought to Newport until 1983. The Navy also became an important part of Newport and have been based here since the 1860’s. The Naval War College and Torpedo Station were built after the Civil War and the Navy presence grew. Today, the Navy is still the largest employer in the area.
After World War II, a preservation movement saved hundreds of structures throughout Newport County. The Newport Historical Society, Preservation Society of Newport County and the Newport Restoration Foundation were formed, and “Heritage Tourism” became a popular pull for tourists, and helped boost the economy. Now there are a variety of reasons to visit Newport, whether you’re interested in history, beautiful scenery or an active boating life.
This year, Newport is celebrating its 375th Anniversary. It will be a year long celebration featuring family activities, lectures, educational programs and public celebrations. Some activities include: a scavenger hunt, community cookout, community parade, musical tributes, public clambake and a gala at the end of the year.
There is always so much happening in Newport, and from July 9 through 15th, the Campbell’s Hall of Fame Championship will be in town at the Tennis Hall of Fame. The Hall of Fame is located just a few minutes away from the Marshall Slocum Inn, on Bellevue Avenue. This tournament is the only professional tennis tournament in the United States that is played on grass courts. Olympic tennis team members will be competing in this tournament and it is even possible to get one on one hitting sessions with some of these “Hall of Famers.” Tickets for the matches range from $15 – $75 dollars depending on the match and type of seat.
Qualifying rounds will be played on the 7th & 8th followed by the main matches the 9th-11th. Matches will begin at 11am. The quarter finals start on the 12th, after the Angela Moore Fashion Show and Champagne Breakfast, and continue until the 13th. Semifinals start at 2pm on Saturday, July 14th, after the Class of 2012 induction ceremony. This year 5 new tennis players will be joining the Hall of Fame, including: Jennifer Capriati, Guga Kuerten, Manuel Orantes, Randy Snow and Mike Davies. The event wraps up on Sunday, July 15th, starting at 10am with the Hall of Fame Classic Exhibition match, followed by a 12pm Brooks Brothers Lunch with Legends. After lunch, the tournament finals will take place, starting at 2pm, and the new Champions will take their place in history!