It almost seems hard to believe that this Saturday will mark the fourteenth time that Main Street in New Martinsville will be filled with the aroma of chili at the annual Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce Chili-Fest.
The newfound fall chill in the air will be kept at bay when attendees sample the myriad of concoctions offered by the various vendors from noon to 4 p.m. It is always fun to give your best effort at trying every one in order to offer an informed vote for the People's Choice award, $50.
Of course the chilis are also judged by a panel of volunteers and awards are given at the end of the day in three chili categories: business/non-profit, individual, and cook-off. Cash prizes in each category are $150, first place; $75, second place; and $50, third place. Chili is judged on flavor, texture, consistency, blend, aroma, and color.
The cook-off category is a new one this year. It is a bit different as contestants, all in one category, must cook their chili on-site the day of the event. There are also certain ingredient restrictions, such as an absence of beans. The cook-off will begin at 9 a.m. to allow for cook time. For more information contact the Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce at 304-455-3825.
There are also taste-off categories for any items that include a hot and spicy base. These can be anything from salsas to Mexican corn breads and pepper spreads to relishes. The winner will receive $25.
The chili booth will also be judged with awards of $50 each going to the best table (decorations) and costumes.
But there is more to Chili-Fest than just chili. It is an afternoon of fun for everyone. Children will enjoy a jump castle and balloon art, while they'll want to be sure to stop by the Kid's Corner where there will be trick or treat bag decorating, games, and face painting.
But all of this will have to come after participating in the Halloween Costume Parade that begins in front of WesBanco at noon. The children will parade down Main Street, be judged in front of the American Legion with ribbons awarded to the best costumes, and then they can trick-or-treat their way back down the street to the Kid's Corner in front of the municipal building.
Musical entertainment will come, this year, in the form of a Battle of the Bands. All non-professional bands of all genres are invited to take the stage on the courthouse steps for 15 to 20 to compete for prize money of $200, first place; $100, second place; and $100, third place. Rain venue will be the Lincoln Theater. Sound will be provided by Pat Henderson. Call 304-771-1661 if interested in performing. Only eight spots are available.
Some additional events that are really services to the community will also take place. There will be a prescription take back program at the Ohio Street Station of the New Martinsville Volunteer Fire Department from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The American Legion will hold a flag retirement ceremony at 3 p.m. Attendees are encouraged to make use of these events to properly dispose of the items.
The Wetzel County Farm Bureau will be conducting another sort of service, raising money for the Morgantown Ronald McDonald House through their annual auction that begins at 1 p.m. in the city council chambers. See more information about this on the related story on page 5A.
Actually the first event of the festival will take place on Friday night in the Lincoln Theater-the Chili Pepper Royalty Contest. Royalty will be crowned in five categories: ages four to six, Lil Miss Chili Fest; seven to nine, Junior Miss Chili Fest; 10-12, Miss Chili Fest; 13-15, Miss Teen Chili Pepper; 16-21, Miss Chili Pepper. The royalty will preside at the festival and ride in the chamber's Christmas Parade to be held Dec. 7.
Saturday morning will begin with a 5K run and walk, beginning at 10 a.m. in Christy's parking lot. Registration is $11 in advance or $13 the day of the race. Fun run entry is $5. This is conducted by Phi Theta Kappa at West Virginia Northern Community College. For more information contact WVNCC at 304-455-4686.
For more information or to register for any of the events, contact the Wetzel County Chamber of Commerce at their office on Main Street or by calling 304-455-3825 or visit www.wetzelcountychamber.com. Chili entrants must be registered by Thursday.