PHOTO:  Guests enjoy a variety of chilis.  Credit Bethany Bearmore

Atlantic Highlands, N.J.―Clouds held back rain Saturday, October 1, allowing Chilifest “Aged 12 Years” to put another one in the books at the Sandy Hook Bay Catamaran Club. The event raised more than 11 thousand dollars for the Henry Hudson Tri-District Education Foundation, with children’s admission fees going toward the Backpack Crew. This year’s chili judges included: Mayor Rhonda LeGrice of Atlantic Highlands, Donna McGoldrick, last year’s winner, Augie Carton of Carton Brewing, and Andy Clurfield, local food critic and practice manager of HerSpace Eatontown.

 

Winner of Best in Fest (overall) was Janet Longo from Lebanon Boro, with first runnerup going to Brian Boms for his Rustic Bison Chili, and second runner-up to Joseph Graiff, who grew his hot peppers from seed to create a spicy and sweet chili. Bridget Wolansky won Most Exotic for Fruit and Nut Chili, Theresa Gjertsen’s Butternut Squash Black Bean chili earned Best Vegetarian, and her husband Chris Gjertsen’s Smoked Brisket Pulled Pork chili won People’s Choice. The husband and wife team said they are still reeling from the excitement of Chilifest, and are restarting their catering company this year.

“As Atlantic Highlands grows, Chilifest grows with it. It was great to see such a mix of familiar and new faces with tons of new families moving out from the city in recent months. When people find the Front Porch Club they find instant community,” said Charlotte Magee, committee co-chair and charter member of FPC. Committee co-chair Benson Chiles said, "The town came together under a tent to enjoy the best our community has to offer: phenomenal music from the Cranston Dean Band, beverages from Carton and Brinley's, and chili made with tons of TLC. It was a magical night."

Attendees danced to the Elastic Waist Band and Cranston Dean Band under a huge tent that held back misty bay winds. Zach Brinley offered samples of Brinley’s Gold Shipwreck Rum’s new Coconut Cream and Janine Cappadona of Hudson Cafe poured fresh-roasted cold-brewed coffee. T-shirts (produced by JSA Play) sold out at the event but are available for purchase at the following link: http://tinyurl.com/jt34lgv

Chilifest XII ran nonstop activities for children of all ages, including: fall crafts, temporary tattoos, face painting, and field games. Girl Scout Troop 1659 entertained children by crafting with pine cones and sea shells, Tony Sherlock facilitated a soccer tournament, and members of the American Littoral Society were seining in the bay and showing off their finds. Kids also packed into the clubhouse to see live reptiles and mammals in an “Eyes of the Wild” animal show.

The Front Porch Club was formed 14 years ago in Atlantic Highlands and offers a host of opportunities for new and existing families in the area: playgroups, book clubs, holiday cocktail hours, as well as matching needs for community members. Visit the newly redesigned website for more information: www.frontporchclub.com. The Henry Hudson Tri-District Education Foundation’s mission is to support innovations in science, technology, engineering, arts, and math programs in addition to supporting athletics at the Highlands and Atlantic Highlands schools. Hannah Moses, a senior at Henry Hudson Regional School said, “At Henry Hudson, I have had the opportunity to take every science class offered. Having one or more lab days each week, my fellow students and I have gotten the chance to experiment and thoroughly understand each aspect of our scientific education. This, along with close relationships with our teachers, has lead to success in STEM related classes.” The Backpack Crew provides children with food on the weekends when they do not have their school lunch on which to rely.

Sponsors of this year’s Chilifest are: Montecalvo and Bayshore Recycling, Howley Financial Group, Thomas Paine House, Brinley Gold Shipwreck Rum, Carton Brewing Company, Atlantic Highlands Republicans, A. Kupper, PE, Coldwell Banker Karen Moses, Highlands Business Partnership, LabScientific, Atlantic Bagel Company, Atlantic Highlands Chamber of Commerce, Atlantic Highlands Democrats, Bethany Bearmore Photography, Beautycounter by Charlotte Magee, Brent4Congress, Brightwork Events, Bungalow Road, Campi & Morrison Orthodontists, Sandy Hook Bay Catamaran Club, Doug Card for Mayor, Eastpointe Health & Fitness, Eyes on First, Fair Mountain Coffee, Gateway Press, Happy Tails Veterinary, Hudson Coffee Co, Hulafrog, In the Garden, JCY Design, Jersey Mike’s Subs, Jersey Shore Coffee Roasters, JSA Play, KC Design, Kunya Siam Thai Restaurant, Page Wellness Center, Postens Funeral Home, Resources Real Estate, Rick Hennessey Towing, ReUnion RX, Scenic Liquors, The Outsourced Office, Timbur LLC, and Two River Community Bank.