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Chowder Cookoff
Sat., 4/16 • 11:30 am • $5
Carolina Beach Lake

SHARK IN THE WATER: Mako has been playing classic rock covers in southeastern North Carolina for more than a decade, and they’re the featured act at this year’s Chowder Cookoff in Carolina Beach. Courtesy photo.

Chowda—it’s not just a delicacy from the north. While our transplant friends may have the enunciation of it down pat, our Southern cooks can put as much a hurtin’ on a pot of seafood stew as any Manhattanite or New Englander. In fact, thanks to the consistent and friendly competition held on Pleasure Island annually, chowder holds much importance for many in town. At the upcoming 15th annual competition, restaurants from Wilmington, Monkey Junction and Pleasure Island will prepare to battle it out for the official title. The affair gets underway at Carolina Beach Lake, and gates open at 11:30 a.m.

The contenders for this year’s cook-off come from eight restaurants, including chefs from O’Charley’s, Treehouse Bistro, 17th Street Deli, Havana’s, Seaside Grille, Tangerine, Surf House and The Lazy Pirate. Each is competing for the coveted Judge’s and People’s Choice awards. From creamy decadence to brothy savor, the stew served here will be nothing less than flavorful.

While the most important component of any Chowder Cookoff is for event-goers to come hungry, it’s also notable that live entertainment will keep them refilling their bowls with some pep in their steps. Mako, a band that hails from Holly Ridge, North Carolina, will be playing music from 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m. They’ll keep the party going all day long with blues, classic rock and funk covers. Their 10-year history keeps Mitch Batchelor, Jim Shields, Arden Medlin and Robbie Spivey playing to singalongs not easily forgotton. Folks can look forward to a pleasing four-part harmony on hits like the Blues Brothers’ “Soul Man” or “Gimme Three Steps” by Lynyrd Skynyrd.

The kids can tag along, too, as the folks at the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce, which host the event annually, make sure the cookoff remains family-friendly. A Kidz Zone will be set up on site, so children can enjoy a host of face painting, balloon art and a three-in-one inflatable house.

Aside from judging the best chowder this side of the Mason Dixon, attendees will also be able to purchase food from local vendors. Country Boy’s Bar-B-Q, Greek Boys (Hot Dogs), Snow’s Cut Cafe, The Island Ice Factory and others will be serving up eats to please any palate. Soft drinks, beer and wine will be for sale, too, so no need to tote the coolers along (plus, they aren’t allowed).

It’s a mere $5 entry fee for adults, and children 12 and under are admitted free. The Pleasure Island Chowder Cookoff will be an inexpensive, entertaining and tasty alternative to any usual Saturday on the beach.

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