AUBURN — A chili and chowder challenge this month will benefit repairs to the old Marshall's Popcorn truck.
The United New Auburn Association is sponsoring the challenge from 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 13, at the Boys and Girls Club, 43 Second St.
The group is asking a $10 donation, with proceeds going toward repairs to the modified 1930 Ford Model A Roadster. Once a regular sight in downtown Auburn, the truck dispensed fresh, hot popcorn and nuts until 1975.
"It's still in reasonable shape, but it needs painting and the motor needs a mechanic to look at it," city Councilor Leroy Walker, one of the organizers of the challenge, said. "Plus, the springs in the back need to be replaced, and there are a few other oddball things that need to be repaired."
Walker said the wagon will be taken by trailer to New Auburn and will be on display at Rolly's Diner during the event.
Marshall's popcorn stand dates back to 1906, when Arthur F. Marshall started it as a hobby. Starting with pushcart wagon, Marshall upgraded to a motorized truck, adding a handmade wooden stand in the back.
Marshall and his truck were fixtures downtown — first in front of Auburn Hall and later in front of the Androscoggin County Courthouse. Arthur continued selling popcorn from the truck until he died in 1971 and his nephew kept it up until 1975.
The cart was donated to the city in the early 1980s and Walker — then a recreation department employee — was among the group that fixed it up and got it back on the road. It became a part of area parades and was used as a fundraiser until the mid-1990s.
Walker said he estimates the truck needs up to $10,000 in repairs, all paid through fundraising.
People interested in entering their chili or chowder into the challenge should contact Walker at 577-2694, Joe Gray at 615-6957 or stop talking to Ken Blais at Rolly's Diner.
Walker said there would be multiple categories: Judge's choice, people's choice, professional and amateur categories for both chili and chowder. There will also be a prize for the best overall dish.
The event will also feature music by Westbrook based folk singers Pretty Girls Sing Soprano.