By Megan Hansen
Take a trip to Central Whidbey this weekend and satisfy your chowder-loving taste buds. Penn Cove Mussel Festival starts Friday.
The three-day event stays true to its roots with nearly every Coupeville restaurant offering chowder samplings.
Vickie Chambers, executive director for the Coupeville Historic Waterfront Association, said the event started 27 years ago as a food festival.
Over those years it has grown, with an anticipated 4,000 people attending.
This year event planners even increased the number of chowder tasting tickets, but Chambers still warns attendees to come early.
An estimated 32,000 ounces of chowder will be given out by 16 of the 17 Coupeville restaurants.
“It’s all about showing off Coupeville, showing off what Coupeville has to offer,” said Cindy Olson, event coordinator.
While the event has grown, it’s still all about the chowder.
“It’s an enormous amount of work for them (the restaurants),” Chambers said.
All the chowder tasters get to vote on the best chowder and at the end of the weekend a winner gets a plaque and picture in the paper.
Most of the cost of producing the chowder also falls on participants.
Chambers said each participant gets potatoes, onions and a gallon of cream provided. The rest is up to them.
Tastings will run Saturday and Sunday.
The festival also offers activities, mussel related of course.
There will be tours of the mussel rafts leaving every hour from Coupeville Wharf, a mussel-eating contest, children’s activities, live music, a beer garden and more.
Free shuttles will be offered around to town to help people get around.
Some of the events and activities cost money to attend. Tickets will be sold at the Rec Hall on Alexander Street.
For a full schedule of events see the Whidbey Flavor special section inside this edition.