Banking on the notion that it takes between three and five years for an event to establish itself, Orange County Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Tammy Collins has high hopes for this year’s Best of Virginia in Orange Chili and Brewfest.
“This is our fourth year,” she noted of the annual October event that brings regional breweries to the Orange County Fairgrounds. “We’ve been listening to our participants and their feedback and making adjustments to try to make it more appealing. We’re hoping this is the year it really makes its mark.”
The fourth version, scheduled Saturday, Oct. 12, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., will feature 17 breweries—including three from Orange County. One of the county’s newest enterprises—Unionville Brewing Co.—is celebrating its “grand opening” at the event. Other local breweries include Willow Spring Brewery and Iron Pipe Alewerks.
Each of the breweries represented will be offering at least two craft beers, Collins noted.
Popular mid-Atlantic band The Worx returns to the fairgrounds to provide music throughout the afternoon, with local radio station Sam FM airing live from the fairgrounds until the band takes the stage.
Thus far, she said, six amateur teams have signed up to test their chili recipes against one another in the event’s annual chili contest. Prizes have been doubled this year, with the winner receiving $200 (in addition to the “chili bowl on fire” trophy). First, second and third-place winners are determined by popular vote of those who attend the event.
Collins encouraged groups of friends, co-workers, civic clubs or church members to team up in the chili challenge—and to be prepared to make at least five gallons of chili to provide sufficient samples. Teams can consist of up to four people and each team is encouraged to decorate its booth thematically. The entry fee is $20.
For those interested in competing—non-culinary division—the Chamber has teamed with the East Orange Ruritan Club to host a cornhole tournament (also with cash prizes).
Last year, the Ruritans held the event opposite the chili and brewfest.
“We both felt that having the events on the same day in different locations took folks away from each other,” Collins said. “This year, we decided we should do them together.”
The entry fee for two-person teams is $20 in addition to admission to the event. The more teams who participate, the greater the payout, Collins said.
Collins said one of the biggest improvements to this year’s event is an upgrading of the VIP ticket level. For $65 (advance) or $75 (on-site) participants will receive unlimited brew tastings, a $10 food truck voucher, a meet-and-greet with members of The Worx, concierge service in the VIP tent and four exclusive brews reserved for VIP ticket
“We really wanted to improve and enhance that experience,” Collins said.
Registration for the chili and cornhole competitions, as well as tickets, can be purchased through the Chamber website at www.orangevachamber.com/chili-brewfest. Tickets also are available for children ($5) and those not sampling the various brews ($10).
“We really hope this becomes a fall tradition for friends and family,” Collins concluded. “It’s a great opportunity to enjoy good music, good beer, good food and good times.”