Councilors talk about replacing chili with National Night Out

While no decisions were made, Fairview councilors on Wednesday discussed the fate of the town's Chili on the Green Festival.

The discussion came during a council work session prior to the council meeting.

Members of the council expressed concern about stretching the city's thin budget to accommodate the festival and even suggested the idea of replacing it with National Night Out, a cheaper event last held in 2011.

“We're going to see what would work best for us in our financial climate,” Councilor Tamie Arnold said.

Fairview Mayor Mike Weatherby appointed Arnold and council president Lisa Barton Mullins to examine the options and report their findings during the next city council meeting on Feb. 6.

The festival, sanctioned by the International Chili Society as a district-level cook-off, has been held by the city in September for six years and offers family friendly entertainment, musical guests, arts and crafts vendors and more.

Weatherby, however, was not optimistic that the event would continue this year.

He said it would likely take a person, group or organization to provide the funds needed to allow the city to continue holding the festival.

He added that the last time that was attempted, it was a “disaster.”

The festival was canceled in 2011 when the city was faced with similar financial limits. And this year, councilors opposed to the festival cite 2010 — when the festival cost $20,000 — as a reason to cancel it again.

“When the budget is so tight, I don't know why we would budget $20,000 for a party,” councilor Steve Prom said during the work session.

But other councilors believe events like the chili festival are important for Fairview.

“Community events are pivotal and vital for community members," Arnold said. “We need community events.”

One councilor also added that the chili festival was the only community event where local businesses could advertise.

The most foreseeable alternative discussed during Wednesday's work session was bringing back National Night Out, a neighborhood crime and drug prevention event.

The council was concerned that National Night Out, a two-hour event, didn't offer the same amount of family friendly entertainment as the all-day chili festival.

But they talked about taking some of the features from the chili festival, such as an inflatable bouncing house and rock climbing wall, and incorporating those into Nation Night Out.

“Even if we couldn't put on the chili festival, it would be a great addition to National Night Out,” Barton Mullins said.

During the meeting, Weatherby stressed the importance of making a decision quickly since the chili festival is held in September while Nation Night Out takes place in August.

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