Both the Chili Cook-off and Main Street Arts Festival that took place on Saturday were a success.
The Chili Cook-off, organized by the Buckhannon-Upshur Farmers Market Association, reportedly had about 500 visitors, and many competitors ran out of chili before the results were in. This was the first year for the cook-off, and Stephanie Jack, a board member with the Farmers Market, said there are hopes to make it an annual event.
In its third year, the annual Main Street Arts Festival doubled the number of vendors with arts, crafts and other items on display.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Melissa Toothman
Artist Ross Straight chisels an artistic image into a block of sandstone Saturday at his booth on Main Street for the third annual Main Street Arts Festival in downtown Buckhannon.
The Inter-Mountain photo by Melissa Toothman
Channing Gillum, 4, of Buckhannon learns about origami Saturday from Dee Howell of French Creek, a volunteer with the Main Street Arts Festival.
Both events overlapped and were within close proximity. The chili cook-off took place at the new market place in Jawbone Park, and the Main Street Arts Festival took place on Main Street. The overlapping of the two events may have helped, as many guests who came for one event also visited the other. Maria Bray, a volunteer with the festival, said there was a "really nice turnout."
"It gives the artist a chance to show off their work in the community and gives the community a chance to see the artist doing their work," said Tom Lynch, the president of the Main Street Arts Co-operative, the organization which planned the arts festival.
There was a range of different vendors displaying their sculptures, drawings, crafts, paintings, woodwork and more. This year's festival featured 30 vendors and artists, exactly twice as many as the previous year.
Detailed driftwood sculptures by Artist Karen Sparks were on display. Sparks said she started out working with chainsaw sculptures after watching a carver do the same. But "touching is part of the experience," she said, so she started refining her work and later discovered driftwood.
Chili chefs were judged on various aspects. Both the judges awarding the grand prize and many others in attendance, who could vote for a People's Choice Award, agreed that Git-R-Done Chili by Robert Grose of Buckhannon deserved to take home the award prize.
"I do chili all the time. I enjoy doing it," Grose said.
Grose will have the opportunity to compete at the World Chili Competition of Charleston in addition to taking home a trophy that came with a $250 top prize, along with a plaque and another $50 for being named as the People's Choice winner.
Second place went to Team Chidester, who took home a $100 prize with a plaque.
Third place went to Pickin'-n-Grinnin' Chili by Morgan Ware with a $50 prize and a plaque. Ware, a member of The Farmer's Market and owner of Hometown Market in Buckhannon, said he would donate his winnings right back to The Farmer's Market. He ran out of sample cups twice because of the volume of people wishing to the taste his chili.
The "best booth" was awarded to Pink Ladies, a team that participates in Relay 4 Life. Proceeds from its chili sales help support efforts to raise money for the relay. They sold an estimated four or five gallons of chili by the cupful.
The best cornbread winner was the Abundant Natural Gas Cooking Team, although many guests seemed to love the team's chili.
"They're going to run me out before I turn mine in to be judged," said Buck Edwards, the cook and server for the team.
The best hot dog chili honors went to Louise Garrison, a coordinator for the Farmer's Market. She called her booth "Wezzie's Hot Dogs" in honor of Chuck Winslow, a close friend that "was like a son," she said. Winslow passed away last year with cancer, according to Garrison, who said he always called her "Wezzie."
Another crowd favorite was the chili of Bear Holler Cooking Club, grand champions of the 2009 Backyard Chili Cook-off, who ran out of chili just before winners were announced.
"I like this chili the best," Buckhannon resident Linda Wolfe said. "It's not too hot. It's not real mild, and it's not too sweet. It's too bad they don't have some more in the bottom of the pot."
Musical entertainment for the cook-off came from Nesbitt Trio, a local band. The Buckhannon-Upshur Farmer's Market extended its gratitude to the local business sponsors.
"We're really just trying more than anything to pair local food lovers with the local fresh food the Farmer's Market provides," said Bethany Long, a board member and an organizer of the cook-off. "We try to educate consumers that fresh food is better."
Contact Melissa Toothman by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.