Before the rain started to fall Sunday, the Montauk Chamber of Commerce’s fall festival drew some 10,000 people, said East Hampton Town Police Lt. Chris Hatch, who is also the Montauk Precinct commander. He added, however, that some of those visitors were fishermen in the hamlet for a tournament.
The highlight of the two-day festival is always the chowder-tasting contest, which started at 11 a.m. on Saturday and ended at about 1:15 p.m., with Jim Harrington, a volunteer, scraping the bottom of the last vat of 30 chowders donated by local restaurants. The lines for the tasting were almost a block long, and the chamber sold 1,800 commemorative mugs, at two tastings a mug.
For the Manhattan blend, the judges, who included Laura Donnelly, The Star’s food columnist, chose Manucci’s for first place, with West Lake Clam and Chowder House in second and Pizza Village in third.
Solé East took the top honors for its New England chowder, with O’Murphy’s and Duryea’s Deck in second and third place. Tre Bella, a restaurant at the Montauk Manor, won the People’s Choice award for its New England entry.
Children formed their own lines to jump in a bouncy castle, ride a carousel, and fly down a long inflatable slide. Nancy Atlas and the Uncle Susie Band had the crowd rocking in the afternoon on Saturday. Cotton candy, popcorn, bratwurst, and hot dogs were munched as people walked through the all-ages throng, which had plenty of well-behaved dogs in it, too.
There were beer and wine tastings and a full farmers market under a tent that had been set up to house the Montauk Playhouse Community Center’s auction and raffle on Sunday. When the rain came that day and a chill set in, many hustled under the tent, which could only have improved ticket sales for the silent auction. Whenever a Montauk name was read aloud by Jennie Balcuns, a Playhouse board member, the crowd cheered loudly.