chilifest 2015 1PHOTO: (credit: Gedney Webb) The new beachfront venue at the Sandy Hook Bay Catamaran Club allowed for great views and plenty of elbow room for the hundreds of guests.

Atlantic Highlands, NJ - The Atlantic Highlands Front Porch Club hosted its 11th Annual Chilifest on Saturday, September 26 at the Sandy Hook Bay Catamaran Club in Atlantic Highlands. With dozens of chili cook-off competitors and hundreds of attendees, the Front Porch Club raised nearly $20,000 to benefit the Henry Hudson Tri-District Education Foundation (HHTEF) and other local causes. The schools intend to use these funds to support innovative curriculum in the sciences, math and the arts.

Sarah Chiles, founding president of the HHTEF, said, “We are so grateful to the Front Porch Club and the community for supporting a new vision for our schools that will prepare our students to be critical thinkers. Tri-District Superintendent of Schools, Dr. Susan Compton, and her talented team are working so diligently to take our schools to the next level of excellence in science, technology, engineering, math, and the arts.”

chilifest 2015 4PHOTO: (credit: Gedney Webb) Donna McGoldrick, with husband John at her side, took home the Best in 'Fest first place prize.

Chili cook-off entrants competed for prizes in four categories, including Best in ’Fest, Most Exotic, Best Vegetarian and People’s Choice. This year’s grand prize went to Donna McGoldrick, who bested second place winner Marie Jackson and third place winner Renae Horan.

Brian Boms took the award for Most Exotic, while Best Vegetarian went to Gail Woods and Melody Brown. Phil Frasciello won the People’s Choice award, determined by Chilifest attendees via text-messaging.

“Last year the Strauss Mansion was a great facility for Chilifest, but we were pressured to grow and we ran out of room there,” said Joe Bowbliss, the Chilifest Planning Chair. “The Catamaran Club worked out wonderfully for the event. We had great weather, a view of the city, elbow room for all ages, local beer and rum, support from the town and club and I can go on and on. Most importantly, everywhere I looked, I saw my friends. It’s great being part of this town.”

chilifest 2015 2PHOTO: (credit: Dawn Greenleaf) Left to right: The Chilifest 2015 judges: Neil Effron, Augie Carton, Mayor Frederick Rast, Dr. Susan Compton,  Andrea 'Andy' Clurfeld and Ross DiMicelli.

This year’s judging panel included Mayor Frederick Rast, Superintendent Compton, Augie Carton of Carton Brewing, Andrea “Andy” Clurfeld, the Holmdel Buy-Rite Wine Director and former food critic for the Asbury Park Press, and 2014 Chilifest champions Neil Effron and Ross DiMiceli.

chilifest 2015 3PHOTO: (credit: Gedney Webb) Vermont-based The Blind Owl Band returned this year, providing lively bluegrass and dance music.

The ever-popular Blind Owl Band headlined this year’s music lineup, which also featured an opening performance by Edison-based duo Jake & Dan. Attendees danced under the stars with the Sandy Hook Bay and New York City skyline as a backdrop.

Chilifest was made possible through the support of many area businesses, including the top-level Title Sponsor, filmmaker Kevin Smith and his Jay and Silent Bob’s Secret Stash comic book store of Red Bank. Smith is a Henry Hudson Regional School alumnus. Premier Sponsors were Carton Brewing, Brinley Gold Shipwreck Rum, Bayshore Recycling, and Howley Financial Group. Platinum Sponsors included LabScientific, Karolyn Wray of Berkshire Hathaway Homes, the Atlantic Highlands Chamber of Commerce, and the Atlantic Highlands Yacht Club.

Gold Sponsors included Atlantic Bagel Company, Archibald, Karras, and Krauss (AHGOP 2015), Beautycounter by Charlotte Magee, B.E.S.T. Business Enhancement Services & Training, Bethany Bearmore Photography, Boraie Development Company, Campi & Morrison Orthodontics, Central Baptist Church, Cloud Kissed Kids, Color Bar 51, Eastpointe Health & Fitness, Fair Mountain Coffee Roasters, The Flaky Tart, Frozen Flavors Yogurt, Gateway Press, Happy Tails Veterinary Hospital (Drs Rovere, Sima and Haupt), Hennessey Towing, Hulafrog, In the Garden Floral and Garden Design, Jaspan Brothers South, Jersey Shore Coffee Roasters, Jay Kennedy Masonry, Jenny Yannarelli Design, JSA Play, Kunya Siam Thai Restaurant, Page Chiropractic Wellness Center, Resources Real Estate, Sandy Hook Bay Catamaran Club, Seastreak, Sea Bright Solar, Soccer Post, The Painted Frame, and Zumu Websites.

Silver Sponsors included Bungalow Road, Eyes On First, Posten's Funeral Home, and Whole Foods Middletown.

Event volunteers included professional face painter Lisa Kmak, and members of the Atlantic Highlands Front Porch Club, the Knights of Columbus Lombardi Council 6552, Henry Hudson Regional School’s Key Club, and the board of the Henry Hudson Tri-District Education Foundation.

The Front Porch Club (FPC) is a forum for Atlantic Highlands’ residents to socialize with neighbors, interact with the community and discuss new ideas and issues. The FPC exists to improve the quality of life in Atlantic Highlands by bringing people together online and in person. For more information on this and other events, visit www.frontporchclub.com.