Chili cook – off coming to West Blount

A chili cook-off and festival day will be held to benefit West Blount Park there on Saturday, Feb. 13, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The day will be jam-packed with activities for the whole family, according to organizers Chip Hunt and Charlie Reeves.

Besides the main attraction – the chilicooking competition – the day will include:

• 10’ x 10’ booths for local farmers, merchants, civic groups, and arts and crafts vendors.

• activities to keep the children busy (“bounce-arounds” and a Moonwalk).

• a homerun contest for little leaguers 5 to 12 and a radar gun setup to clock their fastballs for the same group, as well as anyone else who wants to join in.

• at least two live bands (Embers in Ashes and the Hunter-Lawley Band).

• concessions for food and beverages.

“We’re trying to have something here for everyone and we hope folks spend a part of their day enjoying the fun,” said board member Charlie Reeves.

The idea is to generate money to improve the park. A major immediate project is to renovate the playground. Improved parking lots and another ballfield are also needed, organizers said.

Volunteer Chip Hunt, drafted as a work horse, said the organization can use a lot more volunteers as they prepare for the day-long event. “We’ll have a work day on Saturday, Feb. 7, and we’re putting out a call for volunteers to come to the park and help us get the site ready for the cook-off and festival that next weekend,” he said.

Both Reeves and Hunt said planning for the event is a work in progress, calling for local businesses, civic groups, and individual entrepreneurs to reserve booth space to contribute to the festival atmosphere and help support the park. A 10’ x 10’ booth rents for $50, they said. As an example of a civic group expected to participate, organizers named the Highway 160 Promise organization.

For those who want to put their chili recipes up against West Blount’s best chilicookers, the entry fee is $25, for all comers: professionals, amateurs, first-timers, and old hands. The field is still open for entries. Entries will be judged by a panel of local experts. Prizes will be 1st place, $150 (and a plaque); second place, $100; third place, $75; and fourth place, $50.

Admission for adults is $5; kids 5 to 12, $3; under 5, free. The park is located behind Hayden High School football field, reached by turning off Ala 160 onto Bent Tree Drive, between Hayden Primary and Hayden Elementary schools.