Madison heats up
By Kathryn Purcell
Judging strictly by the outpour of participation and attendance Saturday, Morgan County, and the rest of the region, likes their chili. A lot.
The City of Madison's fourth annual Fall Festival and Chili Cook-Off, sponsored by Georgia Power, United Bank and the Morgan County Citizen, saw close to 1,500 attendees, according to Main Street Director Ann Huff, the largest turnout ever for the event.
"A lot of people came to check out the event," Huff said. "And they said they'd definitely have a booth next year."
The competition also heated up, with three winners in the 'Open' category and 10 winners in the 'CASI' (Chili Appreciation Society International, Inc.) category.
In the 'Open' category, the Morgan County Citizen’s "Hot off the Presses" team, headed by Dianne Yost, took first place, followed by "Georgia Peach Chili," headed by Chris Sides, and "Lake Dogs," headed by Hance Patrick. The winner received $400 and a year's worth of bragging rights.
In the 'CASI' category, winners can only receive points towards qualifying for an invitation to the Terlingua International Chili Championship, the mother of all CASI chili cook-offs.
CASI cook Renee Moore, of Gulf Shores, Ala., took first, followed, in order, by Robbie Swart of Kennesaw, Hance Patrick of Milledgeville, Lane Blair of Douglasville, Harford "Trey" Field of Big Canoe, Kenneth Swart of Kennesaw, Pat Krenek of Houston, Texas, Randy Moore of Gulf Shores, Ala., Teddi Patrick of Milledgeville and Jeffery McKenzie of Rutledge.
Rutledge resident Will Mangham won the Krystal's Chili Pup Eating Contest, competing against Alex Sides of Eatonton, Cary Kinley of Athens and Aric Dean of Poulab.
Mangham also won the Sancho's Jalapeno Eating Contest, competing against Susan Fowlkes of Statham and Bruce Blank of Madison.
Next year's Fall Festival and Chili Cook-Off will be held in the new Town Park, which will provide more space for the anticipated increase in number of participating chefs. And, if next year is anything like this year, the popularity of the event is only going to grow. "I'm excited so many people came out to support this community event," Huff said.