The 28th year of Winterfest is around the corner and to help Syracuse through the snowy days, the party has a number of new events including a Soup Cook-Off. That new slurp-fest joins the perennial chowder and chili cook-offs this year on Sunday, Feb. 17, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., with public soup sampling starting at 2:30 p.m. in Hanover Square.
The event was added to give chefs a little more freedom to experiment; chili and chowder, after all, have set ingredients that define them as such. Soup is more open to interpretation. “A hearty soup could be anything,” said Winterfest organizer Bill Cooper. “It could be corn soup, chicken noodle, tomato base, it could any of the other flavors of soup.”
Restaurants that have already expressed interest in the soup cook-off include Syracuse Suds Factory and JJ’s Miss Syracuse Diner. “Some of the places are intrigued by a wider variety of ingredients that they can make to show off their culinary skills,” said Cooper.
A judge’s panel will decide the first-, second- and third-place winners, while the crowd will be able to vote for a people’s choice winner. The winning soup will be featured on the newly designed Winterfest website, as will the recipe—as long as the chef is willing to part with it.
The cook-off isn’t the only new addition to the festivities. This year’s Winterfest will be kicked off by a Valentine’s Day fireworks display at Destiny USA. The pyrotechnics should be visible from any of the five outdoor parking lots, and start at 8 p.m. on Thursday, Feb. 14, giving couples enough time for a romantic dinner beforehand.
For those who are more interested in an athletic challenge, this year will also be the first to include human foosball. For the uninitiated, the game involves teams of six where teammates, save for the goalie, have to hold on to PVC pipes to imitate the movement of plastic foosball players.
Teams will go up against each other on Saturday, Feb. 16, and Sunday, Feb. 17, noon to 2 p.m., with the finals being held on Feb. 24. All of the games will take place at West Water Street, just west of Clinton Square. Day-of-registration will be at the Winterfest tent in Hanover Square and costs $120 per team.
For more information about these or other Winterfest events, visit syracusewinterfest.com.