Fall Fest is Saturday

The annual Holton/Jackson County Chamber of Commerce Fall Fest event on Saturday, Oct. 14, promises something for everyone, including the 24th-annual Chili Cook-Off and scarecrow decorating contest, a hot-pepper eating contest and plenty of arts and crafts vendors and food — and a partial solar eclipse.

Chamber executive director Ashlee York said that once again, the Fall Fest — the 16th-annual event since its inception in 2008 — will offer something for everyone, whether they’re interested in cooking up a batch of their favorite chili, decorating a scarecrow or just shopping for some homegrown bargains from the more than 40 vendors who have so far signed up for the event.

“We’re still accepting vendors, and a lot of them wait until the last minute to sign up,” York said of the area artisans, food makers and organizations who fill the Jackson County Courtyard every year and will be open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. that day.

One of the organizations that will be on hand for this year’s Fall Fest is the Banner Creek Science Center and Observatory, who will provide special glasses for $2 each for people who want to witness the partial annular solar eclipse that will be happening while Fall Fest is going on. The annular eclipse, also known as a “ring of fire,” occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun while it is at its farthest point from Earth.

Visitors to the Courtyard will be able to view about 65 percent of the eclipse, according to the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), which reported that the eclipse will begin at about 10:30 a.m. and continue for about three hours, with totality occurring shortly before noon. But those special glasses will be necessary for viewing it, as it is not safe to view any eclipses — or, generally, to look directly at the sun — without eye protection, it was reported.

During that time, chili fans can also get their fill of several different kinds of “red” available at the Chili Cook-Off, and York said any individuals, groups, organizations or businesses that have a good chili recipe are encouraged to take part.

“I like to think that it’s an excellent networking opportunity because you have a whole bunch of people stopping by your booth. It’s open to everybody,” York said.

Chili fans can purchase a bag of sampler cups for $5 at the “command station” in the Jackson County Courthouse or at competitors’ tables, and each sampler cup bag will include a ticket to be used for voting in the “People’s Choice” contest.

Registration for the event will begin by 10 a.m. that day, with chili booths to be set up by 10:30 a.m., and entries must be received for judging in the Jackson County Courthouse by 10:45 a.m. “People’s Choice” voting will end at 1 p.m., and voting containers must be turned in by 1:05 p.m. for tallying of votes, with winners to be announced at 2 p.m.

Fall Fest also includes the annual scarecrow decorating contest, and again, York encouraged participation.

“We invite your creativity,” she said. “We want to fill the lawn with scarecrows. It’s fun to see how creative people can be. I feel like it gets better each year.”

Scarecrow decorators are encouraged to bring their creations to the northeast side of the Courthouse lawn by 9 a.m. Saturday, and there is a $5 entry fee per scarecrow, it was reported.

A new part of the Fall Fest for this year is a hot-pepper eating contest at 1:30 p.m., sponsored by Third Eye Piper of Holton. There is a $10 entry fee and participants must sign a waiver to participate; water will be provided during the contest. The winner will receive a Third Eye Piper hoodie and a $50 gift basket of Third Eye Piper products.

The event schedule for the day includes:

• 7:30 a.m.: Vendor set-up begins, with booths and tables to be in place by 9 a.m. Vendors are encouraged to arrive early, as space on the Courtyard may be limited.

• 9 a.m.: Scarecrows to be set up on the courthouse lawn. Chili registration will also begin at the Chamber “command station.”

• 10 a.m.: Jackson County Museum opens.

• 10:30 a.m.: Chili Cook-Off entries must be ready to go, with samples turned into the judges’ station by 10:45 a.m.

• 11 a.m.: Chili Cook-Off judging begins and sample bags will be available for sale.

• 1 p.m.: Voting ends for the Chili Cook-Off and the scarecrow contest, and courthouse tours will be available.

• 1:30 p.m.: Pepper-eating contest.

• 2 p.m.: Winners are announced, and the Jackson County Museum will close.

The first Fall Fest was held in 2008, in conjunction with the 10th-annual Chili Cook-Off, and the last year for another long-running event on Holton’s Town Square, the 28th French Market, which was folded into Fall Fest the next year. Fall Fest and the Chili Cook-Off have been held every year since then, except for 2020, when Fall Fest was held but the Chili Cook-Off was not due to COVID-19.

York said that since this year’s Fall Fest falls on the second Saturday of the month, it will be the Chamber’s “Second Saturday” event, and businesses on the Square will not be open later that day unless they choose to do so.

For more information on registration, please contact the Chamber office at (785) 364-3963, email chamber@exploreholton.com or visit www.exploreholton.com

The Holton Recorder

109 W. Fourth St.
Holton, KS 66436
Phone: 785-364-3141

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