Historic West Columbus Street will come alive Saturday, Sept. 14, with the sweet and spicy scent of a dozen flavors of homemade chili wafting through the streets of downtown Pickerington.
The second annual Olde Pickerington Village "Beanfest," where amateur chili cooks square off to see who makes the best chili in the area will be held from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
The free event is sponsored by the Olde Pickerington Village Business Association.
Beanfest Coordinator Don Ross said a dozen amateur chili chefs will vie for cash prizes and the honor of creating chili that is named Pickerington's "Best of Show" by a three-judge panel or "People's Choice" by vote of Beanfest attendees.
"Free chili samples will be available for voters starting at 11 a.m. until 1:30 p.m. -- or until the chili pots run dry," Ross said.
The "Chili Tent" will host the competition at the intersection of West Columbus and Center streets.
"The top two winners from last year are back again," said Ross, adding each batch of chili is given an interesting name.
For example, he said, entrants this year include "Havana Moon, Touch of Terror and Full Belly Chili."
Ross said the OPVBA wants to build on the success generated by last November's inaugural BeanFest.
"The whole thing has expanded," he said.
"We've added a history element and there will be crafts and other booths lining the street," Ross said.
"What happened last year was we had a real good crowd, but after the chili event a lot of the crowd disappeared," he said.
The event was also moved up a couple of months to take advantage of better weather, added Ross.
This year a full slate of family-friendly activities have been planned in addition to the chili contest.
"Olde Village Beanfest is designed to be a fun, family-friendly event with lots of free activities," Ross said.
Beanfest will take on an historical theme in recognition of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War.
To that end, local impersonator John Cooper will circulate through the crowd performing as Abraham Lincoln and will entertain questions about Lincoln's presidency, Ross said.
In addition, Civil War-era children's games will be taught and played, a balloon artist will create animal balloons, and a variety of other children's activities will be offered by area non-profit organizations.
Throughout the event "Loosely Strung" will play traditional American bluegrass music in the gazebo located in the small park at the corner of Columbus and Center Streets, said Ross.
Vendors will also be downtown selling a variety of arts and crafts as well as other food items.
Maggie Arendt of the OPVBA said the goal of Beanfest goes beyond sampling delicious chili.
"Our whole purpose is to promote the Olde Village and show what a charming place it is," Arendt said.
She said the Pickerington-Violet Township Historical Society Museum will host a yard sale and an Open House for the duration of the Beanfest.
"Some Olde Village stores will also have sidewalk sales," said Arendt.
"There's a lot of stuff going on, who knows what else we might come up with," she said.
"I don't think anybody will get bored in those three hours."