Chili Night: A family tradition [Beckley Register Herald]
Jordan Nelson, Register Herald reporter
October 7, 2018
If you weren’t in the spirit of Fall before Saturday night, the City of Beckley’s Chili Night surely put you in one.
Men broke out their button-up flannel shirts and ladies broke out their boots as they walked along the cobble stone streets of downtown Beckley with the scents of chili filling the air.
Residents couldn’t help but stop at each booth, trying to determine which chili was their favorite one.
Now in its 28th year, Chili Night has become a family tradition for many of its residents, and even for those who visit from out of town, Jill Moorefield of Beckley Events, the organizing committee, said.
“Last year we sold over 4,500 strips of tickets for chili samples, that added up to over 20,000 samples of chili,” Moorefield said. “It’s looking to be the same for this year so far. We made sure to get 5,000 strips of tickets for this year.”
According to Moorefield, they always estimate anywhere from 5,000 to 10,000 people to attend the event.
“Each year more and more people come, we like that. I think people just really like a Fall festival, and with nearly 50 chili booths and vendors selling other types of food as well, it just really draws people in.
It becomes a family tradition for many, and it’s just something for everyone to enjoy,” she said.
“And this week was also WVU Tech’s Homecoming, so it’s really exciting for all of us to celebrate with them as well.”
WVU Tech’s Director of University Relations, Jen Wood Cunningham, said it’s great for the institution’s Homecoming to align with Chili Night.
“This enables our students, employees and alumni to celebrate and have fun with the community. It’s especially great for alumni from outside the region because it gives them an opportunity to see the great events Beckley has to offer,” Cunningham said.
For Beckley resident Donna Hockett, attending Chili Night with her sons became a family tradition a few years ago.
“We just love coming out and listening to the music, and we always run into people we haven’t seen in awhile while we look to see which booth has the best chili” Hocket said. “The environment is just something we enjoy as a family.”
Hocket is always on the lookout for the specialty chilis, especially the white chicken chili.
“It’s always been a favorite of mine, and my boys always try to find the hot chilis,” she said.
“It has become a family tradition we look forward to each year.”
While dozens of business owners, restaurants and other individuals put their spin on their own concoction of chili, it was up to the judges to decide which one was best.
A panel of “celebrity judges” from several news outlets throughout Beckley were to decide first, second and third place for several categories including restaurant/catering, non-restaurant business, organization and individual.
They also were to decide Most Unique Specialty Chili and Best Spicy Chili.
Those who attended the event were each given a coin to vote for their favorite, or “People’s Choice.”
With nearly 70 different types of chilis offered throughout the night, the decision could get tough.
“It’s always fun to have friendly competition,” Moorefield said. “It’s just a fun night, and a time for people to just get out and enjoy the community.”
First - Cheers
Second - Golden Corral
Third - Texas Steakhouse
First - WV Eye Consultants
Second - Jan-Care Ambulance
Third - Mize Law Office
First - Hospice of Southern West Virginia
Second - Raleigh County Commission on Aging
Third - Beckley Regular Baptist
First - Brandy Toler
Second - Amanda Upton
First - Beckley Raleigh County Convention Center
Second - Jackie Withrow
Third - Lewis Automotive
Best specialty (most unique/creative)
First - Roma’s
Second - Employers Innovative Network
Third - T&T Country Store
Most exciting booth
First - Mad Hatters Club
Second - Raleigh County Community Action Association
Most attractive booth
First - Best Ambulance
Second - Glade Springs