Making chili is a relatively new endeavor for Jim McSkimin – he only began making it a year ago – but he seems to be a natural.
At the first Olde Pickerington Village BeanFest last November, the 35-year Pickerington resident took home the top prize in the cook-off for judges’ choice, with a nod as a runner-up in people’s choice. This year, he is returning to defend his title.
“I was pretty much floored,” McSkimin says of winning last year. “It’s always nice to win the big one.”
Returning for its second year, BeanFest is coming back with a new date, more events and more vendors.
Organized and sponsored by the Olde Pickerington Village Business Association, this year’s BeanFest will take place 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Sept. 14, between Columbus and Center streets in Olde Pickerington Village.
Though there are multiple attractions on the festival schedule, the cook-off is unquestionably the main event.
Approximately 12 amateur chili cooks will compete for people’s choice and judges’ choice.
“They bring their own creations,” says Peggy Portier, a director-at-large of OPVBA. “Some of them are pretty creative.”
McSkimin makes a sweeter chili called Havana Moon Chili, a Cuban-influenced recipe with turkey, pork, beef and hints of cinnamon. Without divulging too many secrets, he says he may return with the same recipe this year, but there are likely to be some updates.
“I may doctor it up a little,” he says, “make it a little spicier.”
A panel of three judges – last year’s were Mayor Lee Gray, Councilwoman Cristie Hammond and Pickerington Lions Club President Brian Fox, but this year’s will be all new – gives out the prestigious judges’ award. Anyone can participate in voting for the people’s choice winner for free by signing in before the cook-off and getting a ballot.
“Anybody who likes chili is welcome to vote,” Portier says.
Aspects of the Pickerington Violet Township Historical Society’s discontinued History Hop will factor into the event as well – an Abraham Lincoln impersonator, Civil War re-enactors and kids’ games from the 1800s are all on the agenda.
Returning to the BeanFest will be sidewalk and yard sales and a performance by folk band Loosely Strung. The bean burrito eating contest from last year will not return.
Eric Lagatta is a contributing writer. Feedback welcome at email@example.com.