Olde Village Bean Fest
Organizers hope event grows into annual attraction
Tell Don Ross he's full of beans and he'll take that as a compliment.
The chief organizer of the Olde Village Bean Fest needed a viable concept in which to organize a downtown festival around.
A past visit to a huge chili cook-off in Harrisburg, Pa. stirred fond memories and prompted him to visualize duplicating the success of that event in Olde Pickerington Village , albeit on a smaller scale.
"It was kind of fascinating," Ross said.
"There were about 150 competitors and they all decorated their booths," he said of the chili cook-off.
"There is a universal appeal to chili anyways, so that is the concept we started with."
Ross said he also researched other festivals throughout the state and found most of the successful ones celebrate a particular fruit or vegetable.
"We kind of stumbled over the thought of beans because there is so much you can do with that," Ross said.
"When the Olde Pickerington Village Business Association heard about it they said 'let's see what we can do with it' because they needed a November event," he said.
The first Olde Village Bean Fest will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 3 in Olde Pickerington Village at the corner of West Columbus and Center streets.
The event, free and open to the public, will be held regardless of the weather. A large tent will shield the festivities from any possible adverse elements.
The Olde Village Bean Fest features an amateur chili cook-off, bean burrito eating contest, food vendors, music, a corn hole tournament, a scavenger hunt and children's activities, including balloon sculptors and face-painters.
Ross said he expects about a dozen participants in the chili cook-off, with cash prizes awarded to the top three contestants chosen by a popular vote and judges.
"All the people in the contest will offer samples to people for the event," Ross said.
He said the judges for the chili cook-off will be Pickerington Mayor Lee Gray, City Councilwoman Cristi Hammond and Brian Fox, president of the Pickerington Lions Club.
At 1 p.m. the bean burrito-eating contest pits the Violet Township Fire Department against the Fairfield County Sheriff's Office.
"Taco Bell has taken care of all the bean burritos, we're calling that event "The Taco Bell Challenge," Ross said.
Ross said local bluegrass band Loosely Strung agreed to "play for a reduced rate as long as they're guaranteed bean soup and corn bread."
Country-themed musician Eric Solomon will also play. Both acts will perform in the gazebo in the center of town.
Ross said downtown Pickerington's two eateries will be involved in presenting their bean specialties for the public to sample as well.
The Village Crepe will make red beans and rice and The Olde Village Diner will offer its brand of chili.
Ross said the PCMA Food Pantry of Pickerington will have a booth set up on Center Street and those attending the event are encouraged to bring canned beans to donate to the pantry.
He said feedback thus far regarding the Bean Fest bodes well for its future success.
"We decided to do it this year in a much reduced forum to gauge the interest, but we've already decided to have it again next September," said Ross, who added he hopes it will be the start of a Pickerington tradition.
"We want people to say 'Pickerington-that's where the bean fest is,' " Ross said.
"You can really grow exponentially if everything lines up."