Editorial: ‘Chililicious’ event touts hot stuff

Saturday’s Chili Festival in Middlebury drew a throng of about 3,500 people who enjoyed socializing on a closed Main Street while tasting more than 80 varieties of chili on a semi-raw, March day. It was, as coordinators of the event said, “an overwhelming success.”
What is particularly notable is that the event truly has made “something out of nothing.” Rated for the past two years as a Vermont Chamber of Commerce Top 10 winter event, Middlebury’s Chili Festival has turned into Vermont’s Chili Festival, drawing 50 vendors from 17 towns in several counties. And with the increased participation of more and more vendors, more and more people are showing up to taste and judge, and just hang out together in a scene that combines music and food — the basic ingredients to good times around the world.
Kudos to the Better Middlebury Partnership for carrying off the event for the third consecutive year; to the town of Middlebury for helping close three blocks of Main Street from the Community House to the new round-about as well as Merchants Row (and divert that traffic over the new Cross Street Bridge); and to all the vendors and entertainers who contributed their talents to make the event so successful. That Gov. Peter Shumlin was in attendance this year, proclaiming it “the best chili festival in the world,” only adds to event’s growing success.
All this, by the way, reflects well on Middlebury’s vitality. The governor and others commented that other towns would be lucky to have similar festivals that spark such an enthusiastic response, and hundreds of Middlebury College students in attendance were hopefully proud of their host town for throwing an event that sparks life in the downtown and brings the community and students together.
What’s equally as exciting is that it’s just one of four or five annual events that the Better Middlebury Partnership and others have coming your way. It’s the fun stuff that makes small towns come to life, spotlights our high quality of living and, in turn, helps the community attract new residents and businesses so that we grow stronger day by day.
But it’s not all fun and games. It is also important to recognize that such events are a lot of hard work by a few volunteers, who do it because it pays economic dividends for the town in the long run. To that community service, we also tip our collective hats.

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