By Valerie Baldowski
The annual Main Street McDonough Fall Festival and Chili Cook-off attracted more than 2,500 attendees, Saturday, on the McDonough Square.
The "Doc" Driver Band, performed oldies, as the crowd strolled through The Square for chili samples, while others gazed at art, and children enjoyed face-painting.
"This was the best Fall Festival and Chili Cook-off, even though we only had six chili vendors," said Main Street Director Linda Schenk. "Combined with the other food and craft vendors, we had 21 total vendors set up on The Square."
Festival vendors sold jewelry, purses, crocheted items, dolls and cookbooks, said Schenk. An added attraction at this year's event was Ola Elementary School fourth-grader, McGarrah Walker, the daughter of Mark and Amy Walker, who recited a 500-word poem by Eric Ode entitled, "The Great Chili Cook-off," said Schenk, who called the weekend event "a success."
Seven judges tasted a variety of chili. They included, Scott Zebrowski, and Brian Dunn, investigators with the Henry County Solicitor General's office, and Kip Moss, Nick Roberts, Mary Jane Moss, and Randall Patterson, with the Henry County District Attorney's office.
After all the chili entries were tasted, Zebrowski served as the head judge, and announced the winners in each category, said Schenk.
David Cauble, of McDonough, was the first-place winner. Cauble, an employee of A Better Heating and Air Conditioning in Lovejoy, owns Pa Paw's Kitchen, an in-home business. Cauble also won in the Best Theme Presentation category, which was football this year.
Second place, as well as the People's Choice Award, went to Barbara WIllingham, of Willingham's Kitchen in McDonough. The Showmanship Award went to Minister Joel Harris, with Next Level Church.
Cauble, who participated in last year's chili cook-off, said the 2009 winner was Willingham's Kitchen, so he was surprised to hear the judges call his name as this year's top winner.
"It just blew me away," he said. "When they called them [Willingham's Kitchen] out as second, I thought, 'Oh my, I didn't even place this year.'"
Cauble, a widower, has a 16-year-old granddaughter, and a 12-year-old grandson. He said he cooks for enjoyment.
"I'm a single granddad raising two grandchildren by myself. Cooking is my escape," he said.
Cauble said he uses a recipe when baking, but improvises when making chili. He uses the basic ingredients of meat, onions, tomatoes, and four kinds of beans in his chili, but experiments with it. "I love to put cumin in my chili, and I love to put a little dry mustard in there."
He said he tries not to make it too hot or spicy. "For a little heat, I put a can of Rotel tomatoes in it, with a little bit of habanero pepper," he added. "I cook from my heart."