AUGUSTA — The Children’s Center held its 18th annual Chili Chowder Challenge March 23 at the Augusta Armory. The event is the biggest, longest lasting, and most often imitated chili and chowder competition in Maine, according to a news release from the center.

The event drew a crowd of more than 850 to vote for their favorite chilis and chowders from 14 local restaurants and caterers. In addition to the culinary competition, which allows local chefs to compete for recognition in several categories, the event included children’s crafts, a silent auction and music by Scolded Dogs.

The winners:

• Best Chili: A Student’s Chili, Capital Area Technical Center, Augusta;
• Hottest Chili: Rudolph’s Revenge, The Liberal Cup, Hallowell;
• Most Original Chili: Leaping Bacon & Beer Frog Leg Chili, Otto’s on the River, Augusta/Aunt Gin’s Restaurant, of Whitefield;
• Best Chowder: From Sea to Shining Sea, Ye Olde English Fish & Chips, food truck, originally of Richmond;
• Best Veggie Chowder: Beet Root Vegetable with Caramelized Garlic, Otto’s on the River, Augusta/Aunt Gin’s Restaurant, of Whitefield;
• Most Original Chowder: Cookies ‘n Cream Chowder, Maple Hill Inn & Conference Center, Hallowell;
• Most Creative Name: Rudolph’s Revenge, The Liberal Cup, Hallowell;
• Most Creative Display: The Liberal Cup, Hallowell; and
• Overall Winner: Ye Olde English Fish & Chips, food truck, originally of Richmond.

With the support of the center’s Super Hero Sponsors, Charlie & Nancy Shuman and Charlie’s Family of Dealerships, the Hero Sponsors, Lajoie Brothers and J.S. McCarthy Printers, and many others, including Advocate Sponsors, Darling’s, Kennebec Savings Bank, NRF Distributors, and MaineGeneral, the event raised more than $33,000.

This event was made possible by all the participating restaurants, and for donating their products and time each year.

All proceeds from the event will help support the Children’s Center Early Intervention & Support, which has provided specialized programs to young children with disabilities for 50 years. The center provides services through its primary facility in Augusta as well as its programs in Gardiner, Farmington and Skowhegan to serve the greater Kennebec, Franklin, and Somerset areas, according to the release.

The agency provides a continuum of care not offered in this format anywhere else in the region. The organization strives to meet the needs of all children by offering quality programs and meet the needs of each child by providing a variety of services in one location.

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