By MAGGIE M, Editor, Wedgee-in-Chief, theWedge.LIVE 💙 SHARE by clicking icons at story’s end
“That’s all?,” I asked Grace Thrasher, President, Manotick Village and Community Association, after she spooned a little of her delicious chili into my bowl. My neurons had not yet fired that I was attending a tasting event; hence, the small portions.
I felt like Oliver Twist begging, “please sir, I want some more,” but not so humble.
I promised Thrasher I would begin my story with how obnoxious I was upon arrival. I accepted her guffaw as forgiveness. Then, the real work started.
I traveled from cooker to cooker, contestant to contestant getting to know people in under ten seconds. It was a bit like speed-dating, but this was speed-tasting, stewed with note-taking , name spelling (some names were all consonants with token syllables) and photographing.
I almost ended up with a pen in my chili and a spoon in my notebook.
At one point I wasn’t sure I was eating from my own bowl. It was positively Vaudevillian.
Shiverfest has been a signature festival in Manotick since 2002. Each year the two-day affair featuring fifteen events raises money for a community cause. In 2019, the profits went to Maintaining Memories Garden Maintenance Fund for Remembrance Park. One year, profits went to fixing the roof of renown, Watson’s Mill.
The festival’s name is telling about the heart and humour in this village.
“It’s my favorite event of the whole year,” perennial visitor Tony Reid stated effusively. I could not get her to stop devouring her chili at Shiverfest’s Chili Cook Off for a still shot. Time was running out to vote for her favorites.
This event was host to some of the best chili makers anywhere. It’s a perfect dish for cold days. The spiciest among them kept everyone warm to the marrow.
I tasted many chilies, but did not make it in time to the ballot box.
The idea for a chili cook-off sprung from the mind of Jane Dormon eight years ago. This year three professionals and thirteen amateurs challenged one another for the wooden spoon trophy at The Legion.
Dormon ran against her husband, Grant Goodes, with an exceptional vegan chili. He served a lamb chili for the discerning palate–worthy of a good Bordeaux.
Goodes wins the wedge’s award for “wardrobe.” The shirt and cap were outdone by red-alligator-lace-up-derby #Fluevog shoes–proudly Canadian.
It did not escape me that he clearly made an attempt to hypnotize guests for votes. I focused on his hat lest I succumb to his device.
In the professional category a spicy, young couple, Lee Anne Elliott and Kasey Krzyzanowski showed off their chili, and their pearly whites. They work at The Mill Tavern, a beautiful, historic venue that hosted the trivia contest the same evening.
Breakfast runs until two o’clock–perfect for those who sleep-in. (There is money to be made by catering to those who sleep through the mornings. Sleeping is making a comeback.) On my return I will try one of their Eggs Benedict–or all of them. Is a review afoot?
This couple wins the wedge’s “most euphoric” award. It was a slam-dunk.
Jerry Mack and Kerry Crosbie, custodians of Miller’s Oven, were the big winners with the highest number of votes in the professional category. Their chili was made with chicken–this fact had the room buzzing.
They win the wedge’s “best t-shirt” award.
The Miller’s Oven is famous for “mile high lemon pie.” Who doesn’t like a towering tart that rhymes? Next year’s t-shirt?
These three youths are members of a group titled, “YOMA” (Youth of Manotick Association.) They meet above the arena every two weeks. They worked the previous evening baking up a storm for their bake sale to be held in the midst of the chili cook-off.
“They are Oreo cookies dipped in chocolate and dressed with fondant,” the young chef patissiers informed me about a tray filled with eye-catching goodies. I had eyes for the fishy one.
OFF TO THE CURLING CLUB
The Manotick Curling Club opened its doors to the public for Shiverfest offering private lessons in groups of four. When I arrived people who had never curled before where on the ice, geared up and braving the balancing act.
My camera was acting up from the cold. I had pushed it to its limits shooting outside; yet, I squeezed a glimpse of this wonderful place situated on “the island.” Manotick is compared to Long Island in conversation, a long skinny piece of land, annex to the heart of town housing approximately five-hundred residences.
I watched a beautiful young woman cross the length of the rink erect on her feet, clearly a seasoned curler. This would draw a yawn from the league; but to a neophyte, it seemed like a special effect–that scene where talent glides forward supernaturally without moving their members. The secret is grippers under their curling shoes and copious balance.
Balance is not my friend.
“So it’s soft ice?,” I responded to Don Coulterman, ice coordinator teaching adults to curl. He was attempting to persuade me to give curling a whirl–that this ice, “was not so hard,” should I fall during training.
I opted to experience with my lens.
WHERE : Manotick is three minutes east from the 416 Highway which runs North/South between Ottawa and the St. Lawrence. It is thirty minutes south of Ottawa and thirty from the St. Lawrence corridor.