By Sarah Plummer
Uptown Beckley’s 22nd annual Chili Night could not have asked for better weather Saturday.
The air had just enough nip in it to chill your nose and make you want a bowl of hearty chili to warm up your insides.
As the crowd milled through the streets tasting chili, chili connoisseurs from Beckley and the surrounding area agreed on one thing — the best chili is flavorful but not too spicy.
Linda Tolbert, of Oak Grove, was supporting her Oak Grove Christian Church booth, but also tasting some of the competition.
She said the trick to good chili is to have plenty of spices without a lot of heat.
Nancy Paugh, of Grandview, seconded her sentiments.
For Paugh there is a fine line between too spicy and too bland.
She said her family always attends to taste the chili and see people they don’t normally get the chance to.
Each chili she tasted at the festival had a unique flavor, she added.
Pat Gravely, from Beckley, said she attends Chili Night each year to support the community and to “run into friends and neighbors.”
She said she also prefers her chili “not too spicy.”
Richard and Kim Cox, of Beckley, were in uptown with their children Courtney and Richie.
Kim said Richard is the chili lover, but she and the kids come to the event to see the people.
Husband and wife did agree that Club 3D had the best chili they had tasted.
“But we have more tickets, so we are going to be doing some more tasting,” she said.
Richard says the best chili has to have spice and a lot of meat.
Their son Richie, although not a big chili fan, had found some “awesome” pepperoni rolls.
For Tyson Colvin, of Beckley, sometimes chili toppings can be just as important as the chili recipe.
He likes his chili spicy, a little sweet, and topped off with sour cream and cheese.
The Beckley Fire Department offered extreme chili fans something to light their fire.
Raleigh County Fire Levy Coordinator Kevin Price, who was serving the potent chili option, joked with the crowd, “We are liable to be arrested for contributing to global warming.”
John Hardy, from Spotlight West Virginia, decided he could handle the fireman’s challenge chili.
“I was pleasantly surprised by the burn in my mouth,” he commented.
Hardy typically goes for spicy food but said he would no longer be needing his coat after this chili’s powerful punch.
Jill Moorefield with Beckley Renaissance announced the winners of Chili Night.
In the Restaurant Category, Club 3D came in first followed by McBee’s Irish Pub and Zupa’s. Jackie Withrow Hospital took first place in the Business Category with Jan-Care and Shelton Insurance coming in second and third. In the Organizations Category, Raleigh County Commission on Aging took first place ahead of Maxwell Hill Baptist Church and Alicia Dawn Foundation. Jessie Massey won first place in the Individuals Category.
The best Specialty chili awards went to Hospice, with first place, and Raleigh County Circuit Clerks and Zupa’s.
Club 3D and Hospice had the most exciting booths and Chipley/The Lost Parrot and Tamarack had the most attractive booths.
The most samples were sold by the Beckley Fire Department/Beckley Orthodontics with 1,500 samples followed by Chipley/The Lost Parrot with 1,027.
People’s Choice Awards went to Jan-Care, Maxwell Hill Baptist Church and Beckley Fire Department/Beckley Orthodontics.
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