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Chili on the Green festival still in limbo

While an official decision is still a couple weeks away, several Fairview City Council members expressed their desire to host National Night Out, while remaining silent about the fate of the Chili on the Green festival.

Discussions centered around the festival and possible alternatives, during a council meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 6. Council members heard from several Fairview citizens, who were largely in support of renewing the chili festival, which was last held in 2011.

But some voiced their desire to see the city hold National Night Out, a competing event, for the second year in a row.

When the city decided last year that the necessary funds weren’t available to hold the chili festival, National Night Out, a drug and crime prevention event, took its place.

And during Wednesday’s meeting, every councilor who spoke about the issue, said they want to see National Night Out held again this year.

“The council is in consensus, if not unanimous, in support of (National Night Out) and has talked about suggestions for it,” Mayor Mike Weatherby said during the meeting. “I certainly support it.”

Weatherby added that a committee assigned to examine the different event options has National Night Out “in the back of their heads, if not moving forward in certain areas.”

In addition to Weatherby, three other members of the council said during the meeting that they support holding National Night Out, including Lisa Barton Mullins, a member of the special committee.

“I think it’s an incredibly important program that our police department has put on,” she said. “I certainly hope we can bring it back.”

After the meeting, Weatherby said he wants to bring back the chili festival and that its fate will be decided when the council votes during a city council meeting on Wednesday, Feb. 20. But he’s unsure that enough councilors want to see the chili festival return.

“I don’t know if there’s enough feeling for (a chili festival),” he said.

Debate about the chili festival arose after the council questioned whether the city had enough money to fund the event. But during the meeting, after a resident brought up the issue, Barton Mullins said the city does, in fact, have enough money to hold Chili on the Green.

“I know this is really not the time to discuss it, but there is money there,” she said. “There is money there for a festival on the green. I’m hoping in the next week or two, we’ll have those discussions and bring it forward to everyone.”

Fairview residents spoke to the council during the meeting, pleading the council to save the chili festival.

Francis Doo, who has twice participated in the event, said the chili festival attracts many people from outside the city.

“This particular festival is unique to the city of Fairview, because there is no chili cook off on this side of the river,” Doo said. “It brings in people from throughout the area, as well as out of state.

“But before you say no to this, put everything out on the table and think long and hard about what is going to be the benefit of continuing this event versus bringing in other events.”

Other residents, though, wanted to see National Night Out return.

“It is a night for communities to stand together to promote awareness, safety and neighborhood unity,” Natalie Voruz said.

Weatherby said the special committee will report its findings to the council during the Feb. 20 meeting, and that will be followed by a vote.

The mayor added that the council will also discuss alternative events, such as “A Bite of Fairview,” which has been proposed by the Fairview Business Association.

But as far as the chili festival, Weatherby wasn’t sure if it has a future.

“I’d like to see a chili festival, but that doesn’t mean it’s going to happen,” he said.

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