Aspen to host Mac & Cheese Festival
ASPEN – Many local mouths were watering for the Big Aspen Barbecue Block Party, an event originally scheduled for last weekend but canceled because of a scheduling conflict with a film festival at the Wheeler Opera House.A common barbecue side dish will try to fill some of the void from noon to 5 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 10, when the inaugural Aspen Mac & Cheese Festival gets under way on restaurant row between Mill and Monarch streets on East Hopkins Avenue. Local restaurants will offer free samples of their macaroni-and-cheese concoctions in a manner similar to winter’s Soupskl competition.Keith Bulicz, a city parks and recreation supervisor, is organizing the event with help from other city employees, the Aspen Chamber Resort Association and local restaurants. He’s seeking sponsors to help finance the production and volunteers to assist with operations.As of Thursday afternoon, Bulicz had lined up nine entrants: Cache Cache, Jimmy’s, Brunelleschi’s, Pitkin County Steakhouse, Ute City Bar & Grill, the Red Onion and Rustique, as well as the restaurant operations of the St. Regis Aspen Resort and Craig Cordts-Pearce. There’s room for 11 more contestants.The street will be blocked off for the event, which also will feature one or more live bands playing from the balcony of the Aspen Brewing Co. Bulicz also is looking to line up a DJ. Susie Jimenez, a Carbondale caterer who recently had a strong showing in a Food Network competition, has committed to fill the role of celebrity judge. The public also will be asked to participate in judging the myriad mac-and-cheese dishes. The winner will receive a wood-and-steel trophy that Bulicz is building himself.”I’ve been thinking about doing this for six months to a year,” Bulicz said. “For the last two months I’ve been really working hard to make it happen.”The city is providing $1,500 toward the event, and will provide sporks and serving cups, a public-address system and portable toilets. Restaurants are donating their food and services.Why macaroni-and-cheese?”I don’t know,” Bulicz replied. “For me, I just like mac-and-cheese. I even Googled, and I couldn’t find anywhere in the country that has a mac-and-cheese festival. It’s a pretty unique idea.”He said he’d like to grow the event each year and possibly try to attract national TV network coverage. He also wants people to have fun during the block party, wearing “cheesehead” hats and other novelty clothing items, the likes of which are available on the website http://www.wisconsingoods.com.To assist with the new event or for more information, call Bulicz at (970) 920-5140 or email Keith.Bulicz@firstname.lastname@example.org
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