(2012 Courier file photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
(2012 Courier file photo by Ken Ritchie/kritchie@madisoncourier.com)
It's that time of year to stir the pot - provided that it's filled with mouth-watering soups, stews, chilis or brews.

The 11th annual Soup, Stew, Chili and Brew is set for Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Main Street. The event will feature extended hours and include a host of booths, activities and family entertainment.

"Last year was our best Soup, Stew, Chili and Brew that we ever had, but still, we wanted to improve and make it better and better," said Trevor Crafton, executive director of the Madison Area Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the event.

For this year's festival, Crafton said the event committee surveyed the public through open meetings and made changes based on constructive feedback.

"There's a direct correlation," Crafton said of the changes and resident's ideas.

Crafton said the public response was to extend the hours of the event and add more entertainment.

In addition to the food competitions and live music, the event will include a kids' play area with inflatables, costume contest, food tasting and a cornhole competition.

The soup, stew, chili and brew judging begins at 4 p.m. Crafton said there will be 40 booths at the event selling food and beverages.

New this year, there will be more container sizes to purchase, which Crafton said was done to encourage patrons to take the soups, stews or chilis home.

A 4-ounce container will be $2; 6 ounces is $3 and 8 ounces is $4.

Musical performers during the event will include Barefoot Best Friends, Keith Swinney, Andra Bladen, Rusty Bladen, Slick River Rockets and Andrea Davidson.

The shows begin at 11:15 a.m. and the stage will be set up at the corner of Mulberry and Main streets.

Davidson, who started as a musician while living in Madison, will close out the music at 4:45 p.m. She lives in Louisville and is currently on an East Coast tour that includes stops in New York City, North Carolina, South Carolina, Virginia, Georgia and Delaware.

During the event, many of the local businesses put together sidewalk shops and hold special events. Crafton hopes the extended hours and activities are enough to keep visitors hanging around for most of the day.

"We simply want to get more people at the event and put more money in the booths and businesses' pockets," he said.