ADAMS -- Thunderfest round two was bigger and better, organizers said on a chilly Saturday, and with a turnout of an estimated 1,500, it appears the event is becoming a signature attraction.
By noon, the Adams Visitors Center and its outside grounds had filled with visitors and residents, vendors and ski bums and beer and live music.
Before long the smell of chowder filled the air.
"We've got the form down -- we know how to throw a giant party," David Bissaillon, an organizer from the coordinating group Pro Adams, said.
The Rev Tour Band, Northshire Spring Band, a bonfire, and local beer makers and sellers, notably Wandering Star with its Thunderbolt-themed India Pale Ale, contributed to the festivities.
Bounti-Fare Restaurant owner David Nicholas did his part too, helping to run a popular-vote chowder contest for more than 400 participants.
"Last year we had judges, but everybody said they wanted to be part of it," Nicholas said. "So instead of asking [participating restaurants] to bring a quart, we had them bring three gallons. [The restaurants] really all came through for us."
Eleven total participated, submitting to the taste test everything from buffalo chicken to seafood to corn chowders. A line of people began gathering outside the center's door at 1 p.m. in anticipation of a 1:30 start, and the crowd didn't let up for another two hours.
Haflinger Haus took top honors while Cliff's BBQ out of Buckland won the plaque for most creative.
The day marked organizers' second "huge success" running for Thunderfest, Bissaillon said, and now all that remains is the yet-elusive "double-header."
The downtown party is, in theory, meant to follow an exhilarating morning Thunderbolt Ski Race. That's how the event was conceived and pitched last year, but lack of snow has prevented the marriage on both occasions.
"My goal is for the double-header to happen," Bissaillon said. "We will do whatever we can to be ready when these guys ski next year.
To this end, race organizer Blair Mahar suggested a more "streamlined" approach, where the Thunderbolt Ski Runners can make the call -- to race or not to race -- on shorter notice. The group decided to cancel this year's race Wednesday, after a practice run revealed a definite lack of snow.
"We might benefit by reducing the lead time," Mahar said.
And though the day lacked the fanfare of an organized race, the Thunderbolt Ski Runners would not go without. A crew of 40 ascended the mountain and skied the trail Saturday morning before Thunderfest.
"It was beautiful," Mahar said. "A great celebration even without our race."
Mahar said Jonathan Selkowitz, a professional photographer who has photographed the U.S. Alpine Ski Team, joined the runners on the trail Monday.
"His dad raced the Thunderbolt in the ‘50s, and he contacted us to say if we paid for his flight, he'd come photograph [the race.]"
With any luck, Mahar added, Selkowitz will be back next year to photograph the genuine article.
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