Mark your calendars as the Thornden Park Association's (TPA) annual Chili Bowl Festival will be held on Saturday, Feb. 28, from noon to 4 p.m. The event takes place in the Thornden Park Field House adjacent to the amphitheater and athletic field. Visitors should enter the park from Ostrom Avenue next to the Rose Garden and bear left. The Field House is a showpiece for the work done by the TPA. The group has outfitted the 1933 building with a commercial kitchen and is in the process of installing historically accurate windows.
The Thornden Park Chili Bowl Festival was listed as one of the reasons that the Greater University Hill Neighborhood was named one of the 10 Great Places in America by the American Planning Association in 2008. This year's Chili Bowl will celebrate this national recognition. Visitors to the event will be able to write their favorite things about the University neighborhood on a large poster designed for that purpose.
The Festival began more than 10 years ago to encourage winter use of the park. Known for its variety of original chilies, home brewed root beer and more, the Chili Bowl Festival has encouraged the celebration of the diverse university neighborhood while fostering a deep appreciation for the park as a unique urban resource. The event is a modest fundraiser for the TPA. Admission is free, but bowls and sample plates of the four different Chilies can be purchased for $3 and $5 respectively.
Sample plates are served with a freshly baked cornbread muffin. The menu also includes nacho chips with cheese sauce, or "supreme" with a generous helping of your choice of chili over top. Among the 4 chili distinct varieties is a vegetarian selection.
Each year members of the TPA, University businesses, individuals and other local businesses contribute money and supplies to help underwrite the cost of the event. For more than years Gianelli Sausage has been a faithful supporter. Their Italian sweet sausage is the main ingredient in the original recipe Syracuse Chili, which is always the first to sell out. That recipe uses as many local ingredients as possible including donations by other sponsors Middle Ages Brewing Company and New York Bold Onions. Other returning sponsors this year include Byrne Dairy, Syracuse Stage, Geddes Federal Savings and Loan, The Daily Orange, and the city of Syracuse Department of Parks, Recreation and Youth Programs.