A Not So Chilly Saturday Made for a Great Chili Fest in Downtown Syracuse

SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- It started off as a dry, mild morning for Winterfest's annual Chili Cook-off.

"The warm weather helps the attendance tremendously. [On a] 40 to 50 degree day the attendance is great," said Bill Cooper, Syracuse Winterfest president.

The rain came in the afternoon, but it didn't stop some from heading over to Clinton Square and having some chili.

"Put your raincoat on and you come down," Syracuse resident Nancy Russell said.

The cook-off used to be held at Hanover Square, but was relocated to Clinton Square. The people at Hanover Square however, are also keeping busy. Many decided to take part in their own Chili Walk and Pub Crawl.

"That's cool that they're keeping up the tradition to get people to come onto this end too, especially with this weather, you would think that people would stick to down there," said Russell. "It's kind of neat that they're keeping it going in Hanover."

Many said it's exciting to have so many things to do in Syracuse especially on what would usually be a cold weekend.

"I remember when downtown had nothing going on after five, and nothing going on on weekends," said Ozzie Crisalli, a realtor who doubled Saturday as a chili chef. "With the increase of residential apartments, people living downtown, an urban living environment, the weekend activity, the evening activity. It's been a great thing for downtown Syracuse and Onondaga County as a whole," he said.

"We like to come down here and you know, we'll come down and watch a game at one of the bars or something, and yeah we have a good time," Russell said.

Winterfest activities continue Sunday.

Some include a Mardi Gras Brunch from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. at SKY Armory on South Clinton Street.

A Chowder Cook-off is also taking place from 11:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. at Clinton Square.

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