One of the fun things about winter in the Hudson Valley, even in years when there’s not enough snow for winter sports, is the fact that it has become an excuse for a proliferation of public events at which one may eat all the chili that one’s heart desires. In recent weeks we’ve seen the apotheosis of the dried bean served at the Hudson Valley Rail Trail WinterFest in Highland and the competitive Chili Challenge at New Paltz’s Water Street Market. But the crown for the longest-running such event, surely belongs to the Women’s Studio Workshop (WSW) in Binnewater for its Chili Bowl Fiesta, now in its 16th year. It will return to the Rosendale Recreation Center on Saturday, February 23.
What makes the Chili Bowl Fiesta extra-special – aside from the fact that it raises much needed funds for a keystone of the Hudson Valley’s fine arts scene – is that you get to pick out the handmade earthenware vessel from which you will eat your chili, and take it home with you. How much you pay for your meal depends on the bowl, mug or flagon that you choose.
For weeks before the big event, artist/volunteers gather in WSW’s ceramic studio, working furiously to build bowls by hand or throw them on the potter’s wheel and glaze, decorate and fire each unique creation. More than 800 finished vessels will be available at the Fiesta, and shape, size, color, patterns and decorations vary widely. (Paper bowls will also be on hand for those who just can’t decide.)
You also get a choice of what type of chili you prefer: incendiary, mellow or somewhere in between; meaty, vegetarian or vegan. More than 20 local chefs and restaurants contribute gallons of beany ambrosia to the fundraiser every year, so there will be something to suit every taste. There will also be family-friendly live entertainment from Dog on Fleas, as well as raffles for the grownups and face-painting for the littl’uns.
Admission to the Chili Bowl Fiesta is free if you get there between 4 and 7 p.m.; but if you want first pick of the bowl offerings, it’s wise to arrive between 2 and 4 p.m. and plunk down the $5 early admission fee. All proceeds benefit WSW’s Artist-in-Residency and Community Programs.
Women’s Studio Workshop’s 16th annual Chili Bowl Fiesta fundraiser, Saturday, February 23, 2-4 p.m. $5, 4-7 p.m. free, Rosendale Recreation Center, 1055 Route 32, Rosendale; (845) 658-9133, www.wsworkshop.org/studios/wsw-events.