By Valerie Baldowski
Chili lovers will have a chance to experiment with their most-flavorful spices and seasonings, during Main Street McDonough's annual Fall Festival and Chili Cook-Off.
The fund-raiser will take place Saturday, on the McDonough Square, from 11 a.m., to 4 p.m., said Main Street McDonough Director Linda Schenk.
Admission is $5 for adults, and free for children under age 12. The money raised will benefit revitalization efforts and activities in the downtown McDonough area.
In addition to food, there will be a children's area with inflatables, and music will be provided by the "Doc" Driver Band.
The judges for the chili cook-off will be investigators from the Henry County Solicitors General's Office. They will begin tasting at 2 p.m., and the cook-off winners will be announced by 3 p.m., Schenk said.
The chili recipes will be judged on taste, texture, aroma, appearance, and consistency, and the top-three recipes will win, she continued.
A winner from last year's competition was Willingham's Kitchens, at 2016 Ga. Highway 42 North, McDonough. The restaurant's chili recipe took first place in the "People's Choice" and "Judges Selection" categories, said owner Barbara Willingham.
"I guess it was the fact I used Angus beef and ground turkey," she said. "We overwhelmed them [the judges]."
Willingham said she also added special spices and seasoning for added flavor, but declined to name specific ingredients.
"They're all secrets," she continued. "Special spices, and a whole lot of love."
Willingham initially decided to take part last year at the urging of a customer who was fond of her chili.
"One of my customers thought I would win if I participated. They did the research [on the cook-off], provided me with all the information, and the rest is history," she added. The restaurant will compete again in this year's cook-off, said Willingham.
This year, there will be a "Best Football Theme" category for the chili entries, and a "Best Showmanship" category for the individuals, and teams, who will cook the chili, said Schenk.
The "Best Football Theme" category takes into consideration decor, props, visual display, and stand design. The "Best Showmanship" category is judged according to enthusiasm, and how well the cooks work together as a team, she said.
First place will be a $200 gift certificate; second place, a $150 gift certificate, and third place, a $100 gift certificate.
The winners in the "Best Football Theme" and "Best Showmanship" categories will each win a $50 gift certificate. All certificates must be spent in the Main Street downtown district, said Schenk.
For more information on the cook-off, call (770) 898-9868.