• By Vanessa Seitz, Midway, Correspondent


“Take risks and you’ll get the payoffs. Learn from your mistakes until you succeed.” Bobby Flay The chili cook-off was the place to be at 6.30 p.m. on Monday night at Midway Christian Church. Attracting around 13 entries to the eagerly anticipated annual event, the stakes were high between both new and seasoned chili cook-off competitors. And not just competitors, the aroma of chili drifted out of the warm church hall filled with some 150 or more Midway residents, jostling with the icy, crisp January night air, like bourbon and ice. The intoxicating smell of home-cooked chili drawing one of the bigger crowds to the monthly community dinner held at Midway Christian Church.

Eager diners sampled the competitor’s chili recipes and could vote for their favorite. There were all varieties on offer, including Bourbon Breakfast Chili, Hawaiian Chili, Bloody Mary Chili, Old Folks Sausage Chili, Traditional Chili and Vegetarian Chili. Once bellies were full and decisions were made on which chili recipes were the best, the results were tallied.

First place went to Alex Woodruff with her Hawaiian Chili, second was Amanda Glass and third was Bill Burchell. Winners received gift cards and of course gained a certain amount of pride and elevated social standing for their efforts.

Woodruff explained her logic in selecting her recipe. “My grandpa made this Hawaiian chili one night for dinner, and I was like “Hmmm, this would be interesting for the chili cook-off.”

Second-placer Amanda Glass credited a blogger she follows for the inspiration for her chili, so I asked Alex Woodruff whether her grandpa got his inspiration from a blogger.

“No, I’m not even quite sure he knows what a computer is,” laughed Woodruff. “He doesn’t use technology that much.”

I asked Woodruff if she already felt the pressure for next year’s chili cook off, as this is the second time Woodruff has won the chili cook-off at Midway Christian Church. And there were some further intimidation factors at the cook-off too, with chili medal-winning chefs from previous cook-offs proudly wearing their medals to this evening’s event. Creating an atmosphere something like a cross between “The Great British Baking Show” meets “America’s Test Kitchen” meets “Chili: Throwdown with Bobby Flay.” Fierce.

“Yeah, it’s you and me now, sister,” said Glass, still friendly shaking Woodruff’s’s hand, while squaring her shoulders and adding a little comic swagger. “I’m gunning for you. I’ve got to come up with another recipe, a better recipe for next year.”

Taking a photo of the top three finishers, there was some banter between Woodruff and Glass, as Woodruff had even decorated her Hawaiian chili crockpot with two solar-powered tabletop Hawaiian dancers and a pineapple top. Setting the bar for next year, Glass vowed to decorate her chili, too.

As diners enjoyed the chili, Steve Morgan made a special presentation of a gift certificate to Christy Reaves for the train layout she generously shared with Midway at the Thoroughbred Theater during December.

Morgan also announced a new train project for Midway. The Midway Community Model Train Project will be launched at a kick off meeting at Midway Christian Church on Saturday, Feb. 23, at 10.30 a.m. The goal is to have as many people as possible come together to refurbish a train layout originally built by William Grant and donated to the city of Midway by his daughter. He asked for anyone interested in donating their time and talents in areas such as art, carpentry and sewing to help renovate and improve the existing model, which is an exact scale model replica of downtown Midway, complete with stores and a horse farm. The goal is to complete the layout by the end of the summer 2019, and they are looking for donations of scenic railroad material and working model N-scale trains. The model will be displayed at Midway events and become a feature of downtown Midway events organized by the City of Midway. Please feel free to call one of the organizers of the project with any questions: Christy Reaves (606) 831-1714, Steve Morgan (859) 552-1377 or Brian Rosolowski (606) 585-8210.

Midway Renaissance

Following the chili cook-off was a meeting of the Midway Renaissance Committee. Debra Shockley, president of the group, gave a brief history of the Midway Renaissance Inc., introduced the current committee and described the goals and purpose of Midway Renaissance. Deedee Roach spoke first with an update on the Living History Committee. She explained the importance of the role of the Renaissance Committee at Midway events, providing shelter and restrooms at City Hall and giving visitors the opportunity whilst there to look at museum exhibits. She expressed a wish to expand the museum at City Hall and was excited about the train project to be displayed there. She asked anyone who had items they would like to see added to the museum to contact her.

Next to speak was Elisha Holt, event coordinator for the Francisco’s Farm Arts Festival. The key fundraiser for the Midway Renaissance Inc. is the Francisco Farm Art Fair, to be held at Midway University May 18 and 19. She gave an enthusiastic update about artists from all over the country who’ll be attending this year’s event, some from Maryland, Georgia and Florida. Holt said the festival will be adding a “Flavors of Francisco’s Farm” event this year, with local food truck vendors, setting up near the amphitheater to offer festival goers a taste of Kentucky food and wines during the event. There are also plans to have more children’s activities, a youth art event and a guest art show.

There was a request for local residents to sponsor for the event by displaying a sign in their yard that reads “Friends of Francisco’s Farm Art Fair, Midway University, May 18 and 19” for three levels of sponsorship. A Marketing Friend costs $25 and underwrites the sign for your yard. A Friend of the Art Fair costs $100 and underwrites the sign, artist hospitality and helps advertise. And finally, a Patron Sponsor of the event is $500 with many levels of appreciation including the sign, your name or business logo on event signage, the Festival map and on the website. Patrons will also receive five parking passes.

The Francisco’s Farm Festival Committee meet on the first Thursday of each month at the Midway Branch library around 7 p.m. Anyone interested in volunteering on the committee or at the event is encouraged to attend. Peter Fisher also talked about upcoming events and projects, including the Midway Chocolate Stroll on Saturday, Feb. 9, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. organized by the Midway Merchants Association.

There will also be a St. Patrick’s Day Parade in Midway on Saturday, March 16, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. organized by the Midway Merchant’s Association. Renaissance members will staff City Hall and organize green exhibits inside such as electric vehicles, solar energy, recycling, gardening and other initiatives.

Finally, a request was made for new Renaissance members, who’ll serve three-year term terms. The next Renaissance board meeting will be held Thursday, Feb. 7. at 5.30 p.m. in the community room of the Midway Branch library. All are welcome to attend and officers for 2019 will be elected at the meeting. The group will also have a strategic planning session at that meeting from 6 to 8 p.m.

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