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Fire Brigade offers Chowder Challenge.

Byline: Sandy Meindersma

RUTLAND - While five-alarm chowder doesn't have quite the same appeal as five-alarm chili, the Rutland Fire Brigade has been using its annual Chowder Challenge festival to fund renovations on the old fire station.

The 11th annual Chowder Challenge will take place from noon to 4 p.m. Aug. 19 at Memorial Field.

The old fire station is "the oldest town building," Chief Thomas P. Ruchala said. "The Fire Brigade leases it from the town for 25 years. We decided we weren't going to let the building get torn down or sold."

The Fire Department occupied the 1896 building until 1978, when it moved to its current location, also on Main Street. From 1978 until the Fire Brigade took it over, the building was used for cold storage by the Highway and Water departments. Since the early 1990s, the Fire Brigade has completely redone the building, replacing the roof, scraping, sanding and painting the clapboards and shingles, and installing new windows.

"All the work has been done by the Fire Department volunteers with local business assistance," Chief Ruchala said.

The cupola and bell on the roof have been replaced; the heating system has been redone; and the upstairs floor has been sanded and refinished.

Chief Ruchala said this year's Chowder Challenge proceeds will be used to continue the upstairs interior work. The upstairs will house display cases of Fire Department memorabilia and historic artifacts.

"This is the last major piece. There's a little more outside work to do," Chief Ruchala said. "Although it's like owning an old house - it will probably be going on forever."

The Chowder Challenge features chowders from nearly a dozen entrants, including both of last year's winners, as well as hot dogs, hamburgers, peach shortcake and ice cream.

Chief Ruchala said the Fire Brigade makes the event a nice family day. "For a reasonable amount of money, you get a good selection of food and fun."

Helen B. Briand, a Chowder Challenge committee member, said there is still room for more entrants, both restaurants and nonprofit organizations.

"We'll accept entrants as late as Friday," Mrs. Briand said. Entrants should call the Fire Department at (508) 886-4107. "All you need to provide is 25 gallons of chowder, any kind. It doesn't have to be seafood."

Chuck and Mud will be the featured entertainment. There will be animal demonstrations, firetruck rides, door prizes and face painting. Tickets cost $7 at the door.

NAME: RUTLAND FIRE DEPARTMENT
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Title Annotation:LOCAL NEWS
Publication:Telegram & Gazette (Worcester, MA)
Date:Aug 11, 2007
Words:410
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