Chili Fest set for Saturday

Published 12:00 am Friday, March 14, 2008

The 9th Annual Chili Fest and Craft Show for MRDD is scheduled Saturday from 11 a.m.-3 p.m. at Dawson-Bryant High School in Coal Grove.

The event will raise public awareness about developmental disabilities and mental retardation.

Last year, thousands of people attended the event, according to Sarah Burroway, chair of the MRDD awareness committee for Lawrence County.

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“It has really turned into a rite of passage into spring here,” Burroway said.

“When you bring people together with food and a festival atmosphere then the negative stigma and fear about people with disabilities goes on even ground.

It helps people understand more about people who have disabilities.”

Twenty chili chefs will compete in two different categories, one for businesses and organizations, and another for “in house” contestants.

Burroway says some of the contestants are enrolled in MRDD services or staff members.

A panel of judges will choose the winner of each category.

Burroway said local public officials and celebrities will serve on the judging panel.

People who attend the event will also get the opportunity to vote for the people’s choice award.

The winners will receive plaques sponsored by Southern Ohio Behavioral Health of Ironton.

Some changes to this year’s event will include activities for children like an old fashioned cakewalk, inflatable’s, games, and face painting.

An infant and toddler area is sponsored by the Lawrence County “Help Me Grow” program.

Fourteen local artisans will have booths at the event.

“That’s been a big component that has grown throughout the years,” Burroway said.

“The arts and craft here could rival any other spring craft show in the area.”

The MRDD board will also hold a canned food drive during the chili fest.

Last year they collected more than 3,400 items to give to the four local food pantries.

“Sometimes pantries have to shut down for weeks at a time because they don’t have any donations and with the way prices keep going up people keep having a harder time,” Burroway said.

“It’s one thing that people with disabilities can do to give back to the community.”

Admission to the 9th Annual MRDD is just $1.

“It’s not a fundraiser,” Burroway said.

“We just want to raise public awareness of people in programs with the Lawrence County Board of MRDD.

We currently server 530 people of all ages from all over Lawrence County.”