Chili contest gives festival zest
Some of the booths ran out of chili during Fairview event
FAIRVIEW - If the amount of chili consumed is any indication, the city's first Chili on the Green event, held Saturday, Sept. 16, was a success.
One of the teams in the People's Choice contest actually ran out of chili within three hours during the festival at Fairview Community Park.
'It has gone so much better than I thought it would,' said Barb Jones, event organizer. She added that she thought attendance was up from the previous year's summer festival.
Much of the event's success was dependent on those who helped make it happen, people like Volunteer Coordinator Rosie Tuttle, Jones said.
'We have had phenomenal volunteers,' she said.
The primary focus of the event was the chili cookoff, where a number of teams competed for cash prizes in three different categories.
Participants began cooking at 8 a.m., and presented their wares throughout the day in the green and red chili categories. Others hoped to win the favor of those attending the event with entries in the People's Choice category.
A prize was also awarded for the best booth presentation.
For many teams participating in one of the International Chili Society's cookoffs is a big deal.
Portland resident Steven Price, one of the masterminds behind Dragon's Breath Chili, has been competing at local chili cookoffs for 22 years, and met his wife at one of the events.
Now, the cookoffs have become a whole family affair as Price's son and daughter have at times participated with teams of their own.
Over the years, Price's recipe and his booth decorations have evolved. When he first started with his Dragon Breath Chili, his booth had a medieval feel and even came with a castle. He has now reinterpreted the dragon element with an Asian theme.
For Cherie Wallace of A Taste Above Catering, a western theme seemed to be an obvious choice.
'A chili is a chili,' she said.
She and her husband selected some of the props they use for their catering business, like the large blow-up cactus that adorned their booth, as part of their decorations.
Even the city's employees got into the competition, with teams from the finance and public works departments vying for the top honors in the people's choice and best booth categories.
Tammy Shannon, the primary cook for Team Finance, said she tried three or four different chili recipes at home in preparation for the contest, but ended up working from scratch with her own chili powder spice mix on Saturday.
'It's a lot of fun, but it's a lot of work,' Shannon said.
Shannon made a total of 3 gallons of the Spice Girls Chili, and continued to supplement her supply throughout the day to make it stretch further, but they still ran out within three hours.
'We think we're going to win,' Finance Director Laura Zentner said of her team's Spice Girl's Chili Saturday afternoon.
She was right.
The People's Choice category is determined by the number of samples handed out, and as Team Finance was out of its Spice Girls Chili by 2 p.m., the choice seemed obvious.
In addition the chili cookoffs, the event included the Afterburner Classic Car Cruise-in, the Chili Pepper Kids Park and Carnival and live performances by the New Iberians, Zydeco Jonez and Prairie Flyer Bluegrass Band. Other activities, such as a balloon toss, also proved to be popular, as was Bumper's beer garden.
The rules for judging the chili cookoff, which was sanctioned by the International Chili Society, are quite strict.
Entries are numbered, not named, to prevent any bias, and the judges are forbidden to talk to each other about the entries or in any way confer with one another.
In the green and red categories, the judges have to evaluate each entry on meat texture, spices, pepper taste, overall flavor, consistency, aroma and color, said judge Ken Quinby, a member of the Fairview City Council.
The final results were as follows:
First: High Country Chili
Second: Buzzard Breath
Third: Oregon Trail Chili Brigade
First: Captain's Rib Stickin' Chili
Second: A Taste Above
Third: Steve and the Chili-ettes
A Taste Above
Spice Girls Chili