Crowds turn out for annual Chilifest

Published 12:00 am Thursday, March 14, 2024

COAL GROVE — Julie Monroe, the superintendent for Lawrence County Developmental Disabilities, said the community came out in force on Saturday.

The agency had 350 tickets for their annual Chilifest, at Open Door School in Coal Grove, but they ran out of those by the halfway point. 

“This is the biggest turnout I think we’ve had,” Monroe said, estimating at least 500 had attended.

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This year’s event was different in that it had a sensitive egg hunt added to lineup of events, which Monroe said took place indoors, due to the rain. The agency has hosted that event in the past as a separate date, but, this year, moved it to coincide with Chilifest.

In addition, Monroe said there were plenty of events for children, such as cake walks, games and face painting.

Chilifest, which serves as a fundraiser for the agency, has been a tradition for decades and always proves a popular draw each year.

Painting by South Point artist Tim Meadows, on display at the Lawrence County Developmental Disabilities Chilifest on Saturday. (The Ironton Tribune | Heath Harrison)

Monroe said there was an art show added this year, in which work by students from Open Door School, which the agency operates, was on display.

Separate from the art show, hanging in the hall was a collection of the works of Tim Meadows, an artist from South Point who takes part in Active Day of Lawrence PCS.

The abstract paintings were a mix of tempera, acrylic and finger paints and were given free to anyone who wanted one.

“He’s getting to be pretty famous,” Sandy Staton, who ran the display with him, said of the reception from the community.

Several nonprofit groups and agencies were also set up, providing information.

One table was run by Karen Reed, representing Appalachian Family & Ch-ildren First Council.

The group, based in Lawrence County, directs those with developmental disabilities to resources in the community that can help them.

Reed said they also serve as parent advocates, provide items for clients they can not afford and host social and emotional events for children.

Those who bought a ticket for the event were able to sample chili from the room, where Monroe said there were 19 vendors this year.

At the end, awards were given out.

In the judges awards, winning Best Business/Organization was Autism Services Center.

The award for Best Individual went to Dwayne Allen, whom Monroe noted was winning for the second year in a row.

Last, the award for People’s Choice, voted on by attendees, was given to Jeremiah 38 Ministries, of Kitts Hill.

Monroe said this was the first time the church has taken part in Chilifest.

“And that chili was awesome,” she said.