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Chili Fest, fair supports disabilities awareness

Mar. 16, 2013 @ 10:55 PM

COAL GROVE, Ohio -- Eleven-year-old Jordon Melvin knew just where he wanted to go when he made his way to the 14th annual Chili Fest and Craft Show for Developmental Disabilities Awareness.

"He came out for the National Wild Turkey Federation chili," said Melvin's mom, Bambi Carpenter of Ironton. "He remembered it from last year. This is our second year here. We really enjoyed it last year. We thought we would come back and try it again."

Carpenter and her son, a Dawson-Bryant Elementary School student, were among hundreds of people attending the Chili Fest on Saturday at the Dawson-Bryant gymnasium.

"It's become a community event," said Paul Mollet, superintendent of the county department of developmental disabilities. "The idea of the chili fest is to support developmental disabilities awareness in a good way. We get a massive amount of support for this program. It shows we're alive and active.

"We're growing every year," Mollet said. "We've had to limit the amount of entrants. We're running out of space."

More than two dozen organizations were dishing up chili, and there were about 20 crafters at this year's event. March is Developmental Disabilities Month, Mollet said.

"We expect 700 to 800 people here today," Tim Nunnery, a spokesman for the developmental disabilities program, said. "We have a core group that continues to support us, and we want to thank them."

One of those groups, the Ironton Lions Club, has participated in the Chili Fest for four years.

"It's for a good cause," said Brent Pyles, a Lions Club member. "It gets us out in the community. And we have a good time."

The Southern Hills Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation was participating for the second year in a row. Another group, the Southern Ohio Special Needs Youth Sportsmen Network, was making its initial trip to the Chili Fest, said Angel Adkins, a volunteer for the group.

"It's a group for special-needs kids," Adkins said. "I have a special-needs son. It's a great opportunity to get kids outside."

The new group will participate with the Southern Hills Chapter April 18 with the Wheelin' Sportsmen Day event at Lake Vesuvius.

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