Under darkened and damp skies, the 1st Annual Freddie Fest burst forth with plenty of family fun Saturday, and even ended with sunshine streaming through the racing clouds.
Hosted by the Frederickson-Clover Creek Community Council, Freddie Fest was a replacement festival for the popular Freddie Fun Run that had to be suspended this year due to ubiquitous road construction.
Nevertheless, the fete had a strong boost from area businesses, especially LeMay Refuse, who donated their spacious headquarters’ parking lot as the site of the festivities.
Several dozens companies, governmental agencies and local entrepreneurs set-up shop on two sides of the festival’s huge perimeter, with a mobile stage on a third side and the food court on the fourth.
Gracing the stage first were the Pioneer Valley Elementary Singers and the Paula Battle 911 dancers.
After their performances, the festivities were further enhanced by a lengthy and very catchy musical set by the Jonathan Harris Band. Jonathan, once a bulldozer operator for LeMay and now a Nashville recording artist, entertained the crowd with a crisp set of honky-tonk standards and country ballads that had people sash-shaying across the macadam.
“There’s been an outbreak of distemper going back and forth between the local raccoon population and many dogs,” said Nancy Murikami, an employee of the Mountain Mist water company and one of the many Freddie Fest volunteers helping throughout the festival.
However, the clear crowd favorite of Freddie Fest was the Corporate Chili Cook-Off that was replete with celebrity judges and a hugely successful People Choice Award.
Eight chili-cooking teams – two from culinary programs in Bethel schools and the remainder drawing from local business – completed in two categories: traditional and alternative, with “traditional” being all-beef chili without beans, and “alternative” being basically anything goes as long as it has some form of animal protein and tongue-searing spices.
Casting judgment was a celebrity panel composed of Tom Seigel, Superintendent of the Bethel School District; Kathleen Merryman, noted columnist from the Tacoma News Tribune; Mark Lindquist, the Pierce County Prosecutor; Ed Troyer, renown spokesperson for the Sheriff’s Department; and local grilling aficionado Art Davila, who is reportedly a certified BBQ and chili judge from the Northwest BBQ Association and the Kansas City BBQ Association.
“All the samples we’ve tasted are very good,” said Detective Troyer, while Mr. Davila simply said, “I’m enjoying every bite.”
Overall, the judges found the variety and quality of chili to be superb, and their judgments were largely confirmed up by the hundreds of folks who ponied-up five bucks to sample cupfuls of chili from each of the eight contestants and thereby participate in the People Choice selection.
As for winning chilies, the judges awarded ties in both the tradition and alternative categories. The team from Bethel’s Challenger High School captured top honors in both categories, and shared the laurels in the traditional spot with the team from Carlson Paving Equipment, while in the alternative category, Ricky J’s Tavern was co-winner for their fabulous chicken chili concoction .
In a bit of an award mix-up, it was unclear who won the People Choice award and perhaps festival goers simply voted with their spoons and bowls as the Ricky J’s traditional chili was gone within minutes, along with similar circumstances at the Carlson booth and Award Wood Working of Frederickson.
Nevertheless, the People’s Choice Award for worst chili was given – for the second year in a row – to Mike Goodell and his combined team drawn from his high-end Goodell Wood Furnishings shop and the next-door Bikini Bottom Baristas drive-through coffee hut. Nevertheless, Mike and his carpenters – and the lassies from the 3 B’s – looked pretty sharp in their pirate outfits and certainly added lots of color to the proceedings.
Bracketing the award ceremony was the ever-entertaining drum line from Graham-Kapowsin High School under the tutelage of Drum Master Randy Harris.
Finally, as festivarians digested their chilies, the extraction team from the Central Pierce Fire Department used their reciprocating saws, hydraulic jacks, and the famously powerful Jaws of Life to remove doors and the roof assembly from a totaled Dodge sedan in a demonstration of the expertise, training and equipment that a modern fire and rescue department maintains.
Throughout the day festival goers voiced how much fun they were having.
“This is a lot of fun,” said Graham chiropractor Doug Berry in the chili line at Carlson’s. “I’m having a great time.”
“What a great way to spend a Saturday,” celebrity judge Mark Lindquist echoed.
“I think every thing is going really well,” F-CCCC president Amy Pivetta Hoffman said glowingly. “Jonathan Harris was great, and the crowd has been fantastic – did you see that people had to park on both sides of the street! And the weather looked so iffy this morning, too – it’s all turned out great.”
© 2011 The Mountain News – WA
Freddie Fest Photo Gallery:
Below, scenes of Freddie Fest, including Heidi Smith and her collection of restored Christmas decorations that she and her husband find at grage sales and bring back to life in their wood-working shop. Also, other views of the day, courtesy of photographer Karelina Resnick.
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