BETHEL — Artists, crafters and farmers will sell their wares Saturday, Sept. 20, at the town’s 17th annual Harvestfest on the town common.

Additionally, the town will also hold its famous Chowdah Cookoff and Apple Pie Contest at the festival. Be forewarned: the line forms early for this noontime sampling.

The chowder, usually prepared by more than a dozen restaurant chefs from around the area, is entered into the Chowdah Cookoff to vie for the Judges’ and People’s Choice awards.

Chowdah Cookoff entrants must bring at least 10 gallons or more of their best chowder, some method to keep it warm, someone to serve the chowder and promote their business and promotional materials or menus to distribute. Table decorations in the allotted 4-foot space are optional.

Chowder chefs must set up their table by 11:30 a.m. The festival organizers will supply the chowder tent, tables and paper goods and spoons for sampling.

The event is sponsored by Sysco Foodservers and Oakhurst Dairy.


“Everyone loves the Chowdah Cookoff,” Jessie Perkins, events and marketing manager for the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce, said Thursday in a news release. “The fast-moving line can get long — but it’s totally worth it to get to sample so many chowders from the area’s best chefs.”

The apple pie contest includes professional, amateur and nontraditional divisions, the latter being defined as something outside the usual double-crust pie made with apple, sugar and spices. Winners in each division will receive a $50 gift certificate from contest sponsor, the Good Food Store. All pastry chefs are welcome to enter.

Pie contest entrants are asked to bring their entries and an extra pie to be sold to the Bethel Area Chamber of Commerce’s tent on the Bethel Common by 11 a.m. on the day of the event. Pie will be sold by the slice.

People can buy bracelets from volunteers for the chowder and/or apple pie slices. For 10 or more chowder samples and a drink, the cost is $10. For chowder, a drink and a slice of apple pie a la mode, it’s $13. The children’s price for chowder and a drink is $5. Individual samples cost $2.

In addition to the chowder and apple pie, Perkins said the event will also have “delicious, locally-grown baked potatoes from Sunday River Farms, served with a wide variety of toppings, locally grown corn on the cob and more to top off the list of foods that will satisfy even the picky eater.”

The chamber also holds a scarecrow-decorating contest around town to help get Bethel into the harvest-time spirit. Local businesses are invited to create a scarecrow display by Monday, Sept. 15.


This year’s scarecrow theme is “Vacationland in the fall.”

Prizes for chamber members include advertising credits in the following amounts:

* First Place: $200.

* Second Place: $100.

* Third Place: $50.

Participants are asked to contact the chamber at 824-2282 or by email at so the judges don’t miss anyone.


For music lovers, the Harvest of Local Talent will feature local musicians performing in the Bethel Common gazebo.

The event is child-friendly and geared to families. Children can hang out with Oakey, the Oakhurst Acorn, and plan to make a wooden craft to take home, compliments of the chamber’s friends at Hancock Lumber.

There will also be free horse-drawn wagon rides that will treat visitors to a slow ride through Bethel village between noon and 3 p.m. and an “amazing” chainsaw-carving demonstration with Steve Stone on the lawn next to the Bethel Historical Society, Perkins said.

The event will be preceded Friday, Sept. 19, with the Northeast Drift Boat Competition at 3 p.m. at Bethel Outdoor Adventure. That tests the skills of drift boat oarsmen at launching, ferrying, navigation and rowing speed across a quarter-mile length of the Androscoggin River. The finish line is Davis Park on Route 26.

The annual New England Two-Fly Contest will be held from 6 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 20, on the upper Androscoggin. Anglers will attempt to catch the most brook, rainbow and brown trout — as well as the largest trout — while only using two fishing flies.

Also available are scenic bike rides, canoe and kayak tours, golf, hikes, walking tours, gift shop specials, apple picking at two local orchards, Chondola ski lift rides and a full range of activities at Sunday River Ski Resort in nearby Newry.

A full schedule of events and information is available at

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