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Polar Grill Fest attendees warm up with outdoor grilling, Redhook beer and entertainment for the third year in a row this year. Courtesy photo.




Polar Grill Fest 
When: Saturday, Jan. 25, from noon to 5 p.m.
Where: Redhook Brewery, 1 Redhook Way, Portsmouth
Cost: $5 for admission, $5 for a plate, $5 for beer
Visit: polargrillfest.com




Beer, bison and a friendly polar bear
Polar Grill Fest heats things up in Portsmouth

01/23/14



 New Englanders are known for toughing it in harsh weather conditions, and the same can be said for festival-goers during Polar Grill Fest. The annual festival collaboration with The Meat House and Redhook Brewery returns this year with fingers crossed for a warm front — or at least not a blizzard.

“When you’re from northern New England, you seem to get it,” said Cary Tober, executive director of marketing at The Meat House. “I think our biggest fear is that we’ll have a snowstorm — although we’ll still be grilling.”
Polar Grill Fest celebrates its third year on Saturday, Jan. 25, at Redhook Brewery in Portsmouth. 
During its first year, Tober said, 25,000 guests showed up in unusually warm January weather, and last year over 35,000 braved a very cold afternoon. It’s almost like a tailgating party, but bigger, with live music, beer and a lot of grilling.
“I don’t want to call it a chilly tailgate cook-off. It’s more like a festival atmosphere. I’d bring it to more of a food festival or a barbecue festival atmosphere,” Tober said. “Mostly it’s just a really good time for something to do on a Saturday when it’s cold out.”
No matter the weather, guests have plenty of opportunity to warm up over outdoor fire pits with hot food. The menu this year features bison sausage subs, smoked turkey legs, steak tips, burgers, pulled pork and grilled pizza. Participating restaurants include The Bison Council (which joined as a partner sponsor for this year’s festival, Tober said), Gas Light, MoJo’s BBQ Grill & Tavern, Flatbread, The Meat House and Popovers on the Square.
This year, the festival benefits 3S Artspace, a non-profit regional gathering space for artists in Portsmouth. 
“We’ve been working with them in the community for a while now,” Tober said. “Our mission meets 3S really well.”
Although food is the anchor at Polar Grill Fest, Tober said the entertainment is definitely a growing component. There’s live music and Green Foundry will be creating public art by pouring molten metal onto an ice sculpture at the end of the show.
“By the end of last year’s event we had a dance party going on,” Tober said. “The cool part of this event is it’s all the groups coming together to do something good for the community, showcase the food and having fun.”
There’s also a silent auction, and Tober said the afternoon isn’t complete without a photo with the polar bear.
“Dress warm,” he said. “It’s no joke. Wear your ski gear.” 
 
As seen in the January 23, 2014 issue of the Hippo.





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