The temperature wasn't the only thing scorching in Philippi Saturday on the Barbour County Courthouse lawn. Some were holding their open mouths in front of fans and many were pouring water down their throats to ease the burn of hot seasoning at the third annual Smokin' on the Tygart chili cookoff.
Several area individuals, businesses and organizations had booths set up at the event to show off their cooking skills. Each booth had a unique theme to go along with the food.
Dennis Fisher, Rod Stemple and Jane Johnston went all out with their hippie theme, bringing Grateful Dead posters and a psychedelic bus along with a batch of steaming "Dead Head" chili that Jerry Garcia would surely be proud of. Their booth won Best Decorated Booth at the end of the day.
"We're cookin' chili, hangin' out and havin' fun, man," said Fisher, sticking with his theme's persona.
Joseph Booth, who was with Kentucky Fried Chicken, said that he was having a great time and that he was hoping to receive the honor of having the hottest chilli with their "Colonel's Hooting and Hollerin, Jumping and Squalin" recipe. His group ended up winning the Most Atomic Chilli award and first place in the Best Restaurant category. Lil' Moe's took home second place for Best Restaurant.
Kelli and Matt Snider of Sam Santilli Photography were also busy trying to make their chilli sizzle with hot spices and a special sauce from Kansas. They won first place for Best Business, with All Seasons Realty coming in second and Ancient Wisdom taking third.
Sam Santilli, vice president of Main Street Incorporated, was over at the silent auction with his wife, Annete, and Sandy Wyatt taking bids for more than 100 donated items worth more than $14,000. "We had everything from computers to beanie babies," said Santilli. "It was very successful."
According to Howard Swick, part of the event staff, the cookoff was a fundraiser for Main Street in Philippi to help bring more business to the downtown area. The event was sponsored by WDNE, a West Virginia Radio Corporation station, and Main Street Incorporated.
Smokin' on the Tygart also included live music from John Bolton, Signal Six and Jeshiah and games like the toothpick throw, bean sucking and watermelon seed spitting to help raise money and provide entertainment.
Other winners in the chill cookoff included Alice Bookout of Ancient Wisdom, who won Best Dressed Cook, and Big Willy's Chilli, which won Best Named Chilli. The Barbour County Swim Team took first place for Best Organization, while Broaddus Hospital and Haven of Hope won second and third respectively. Jessica Maunz, Rosemary Wagner and Peggy Poling placed first in the Best Individual category. Paul Bennett and Joe Sauvino were second, while Whitney Blakemore was third.
But the big award was the People's Choice award, which was decided by dollar votes made by the festival goers themselves. Maunz, Wagner and Poling took home this award also for their Three Chili Chili's.
Staff writer Danny Forinash can be reached at 626-1446.