ChiliFest announces schedule for Saturday's mega fest downtown
HUNTINGTON — Those frisky Ohio University Bobcats are visiting Marshall University’s Thundering Herd at 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 15 and have we got the tailgate party for you.
The annual ChiliFest, the WV State Chili Championship, is set for Saturday, Sept. 15, at Pullman Square and 3rd Avenue. Sponsored in part by WSAZ, ChiliFest is a charity cook-off event benefiting the Ronald McDonald House Charities of the Tri-State. All chili sample tickets are $1 each or six for $5. They will also be raffling off a 2012 Toyota Prius.
Longtime chilihead and ChiliFest founder and organizer, Ron Smith said they’ve got chili cooks coming from all over the Eastern United States as well as Southern Ontario as Rich Chauvin and his “South of the Border” chili is coming down to compete.
Smith said the streets will be packed with some of People’s Choice past favorites including the perennially popular G-Lovers Chili as well as American Health Center and Cabell Huntington Hospital. New booths this year include Friends of Coal and Natural Resource Partners who’ve teamed up for a booth.
Smith said since ChiliFest is one of the last International Chili Society-sanctioned cookoffs that cooks are coming in from all over to try and qualify for the World’s.
Winners at Saturday’s ChiliFest will get to compete in the World’s Championship that will take place from Oct. 5-7 in Charleston
“I’ve been surprised at how many ICS teams we have coming,” Smith said Monday. “We have a team out of Michigan and several teams from Virginia that haven’t been up in a long time and some out of Lexington and some coming in from Indiana too.”
Returning to ChiliFest will be such veteran attendees as Gail and Bill Donovan from Cincinnati, as well as David and Kim Mallory, a local team that’s both competed in the World’s. Kim is a past winner in chili verde.
Smith said he’s expecting an overflow crowd in downtown to enjoy what could be called the largest tailgate party since long-time rivals Ohio University and Marshall take the field at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
“I think it’s going to be huge,” Smith said. “We’ll probably have a good 20,000 people coming to downtown and then moving up to the stadium just a mile away. We’ll have a lot of Marshall fans and a lot of local fans of Ohio University and that makes for a great atmosphere.”
Smith said he and the legions of ChiliFest supporters and volunteers — both past and present — will celebrate quite a milestone on Saturday as ChiliFest will break the $500,000 mark of money raised for the local Ronald McDonald House. ChiliFest has raised more than $488,370 for the house since the fest started.
“I think it is always gratifying when you have a passion for something that can also be a benefit for a great organization,” Smith said. “We could not have done this without all the volunteers from the Ronald McDonald House. It’s a real team effort and yes, it’s a real milestone to go over the half million dollar mark and to keep moving forward.”
Here’s a look at the complete schedule for Saturday. Read more about ChiliFest and other great festivals this weekend in Thursday’s Weekend section in The Herald-Dispatch.
Saturday, Sept. 15
8 to 9:30 a.m. — Registration for ChiliFest at Judges Tent (8th Street & 3rd Avenue)
10 a.m. — Cooks meeting at Judging Tent
10:30 a.m. — Cooks return to start preparation of ingredients and light stoves for Chili Verde
11 a.m. — Coke and beer sales begin
11:30 a.m. — National Anthem at Pullman Square Stage
11 a.m. to 4 p.m. — Kids Korner events begin at 9th Street and Pullman Square
11:15 a.m. — All judges report to Judging Tent area
12:00–12:45 p.m. — Devin Hale performs on Pullman Square Stage
Noon — Salsa turned in at Judging Tent
12:10 p.m. — Salsa judging begins
1 p.m. — Hot Pepper Eating Contest
1:30–2:15 p.m. — Big Rock and the Candy Mountain Boys perform at Pullman Square Stage
1:15 p.m. — Chili Verde judges report to Judging Tent
1:30 p.m. — Chili Verde turned in at Judging Tent
1:35 p.m. — Chili Verde judging begins
2:45–3:30 p.m. — Deni Bonet Band performs at Pullman Stage
2:45 p.m.— ICS Red Chili judges report to Judging Tent
3–3:15 p.m.— ICS Red Chili turned in to Judging Tent
3:15 p.m. — ICS Red Chili judging begins
3:40-4 p.m. — Beer Drinking Contest
4-4:20 p.m. — Shot N' Holler Contest
4 p.m. — ICS Red Finals Judges report to judging area
4:30–5:20 p.m. — Deni Bonet Band performs at Pullman Square Stage
4:30 p.m. — People's Choice tickets turned in at the Ronald McDonald House Tent
5:30 p.m. — Announcement of winners and drawing for 2012 Toyota Prius at Pullman Square Stage
For more information, go online at www.chilifestwv.com.