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Fest brings out chili connoiseurs to support DD awareness

COAL GROVE — It was 26 short of Heinz’s famous 57 varieties, but the crowd at 11th Annual Chili Fest and Craft Show couldn’t have cared. They crowded around all of the 31 entries of that tempting combo of meat, beans and tomato sauce whose aroma filled the gym at Dawson-Bryant High School Saturday.

It took Jay Zornes about six months to master his take on the popular dish. Zornes was dishing up chili at the Ironton Rotary Club’s table.

“This is hot,” he candidly told a potential sampler.

That was all right with the taster who dove into the mixture.

“We’re here to celebrate DD awareness,” Zornes said.

About three years ago, Nathan Johnson was surfing the Internet and found what has become the secret ingredient for his dish. Johnson was at the Chili Fest representing Freedom Baptist Church in Kitts Hill.

The secret spice? Blair’s Sudden Death Sauce.

For those not sure they wanted their tongue tempted that much, Johnson offered a plate of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to cool down the mouth.

“This is for a good cause,” he said.

Holly Stetten came down from Chillicothe with her mother’s favorite recipe, some Tex-Mex décor and a desire to let everyone who came in the doors to leave with a little more knowledge about the Easter Seals organization. When Stetten isn’t cooking up her chili, she’s the in-home supervisor for the regional Easter Seals that serves Lawrence, Scioto, Pike and Ross counties.

“We’re here to get to know the community and we have a good chili recipe as well,” Stetten said.

Craft lovers found their Mecca as booths offered samples of cookies, Easter candies, quilts, and crystal jewelry, even fancy dog treats.

But it was the individuals of the DD program who were the reason for the funfest and the man who heads up the school district was enjoying the event.

“The crowd excites me,” Paul Mollett, superintendent of the district, said. “This isn’t about chili. This is about awareness. When the people come, it helps you accomplish that, when you have so-called regular folk see the people we deal with on a daily basis.”