chomped and stomped.

This past weekend kicked off November 2011- also known as Fun Times USA in my book.  This month is already filled with invitations to pig roasts, birthday parties, girls’ brunches, grand openings, bon fires, small gatherings, and other opportunities for good old fashioned FUN!  I am stoked!

The first weekend of Fun Times USA set the bar pretty darn high with the ninth annual Chomp & Stomp, which took place in Cabbagetown Park, Atlanta.  The well-attended festival included a 5K run, bluegrass music all day long, and a chili cook-off.  And I must say, there could not have been a bluer sky,

nor a more perfect day for the event.  Somehow, Adam and I missed the first eight Chomp and Stomp partays, and we committed to rectifying that situation this year.

Our friend Robbie needed extra hands to help sling his Kraken Chili,

and we were excited about becoming part of the action.

Miraculously, we found parking fairly close to the event, and walked on into the glory of a fall festival in Atlanta.  We could hear the bluegrass from blocks away, and we knew we were in for some serious fun.

Right off the bat, we spotted folks playing Cornhole, a sure sign of a good time.

A SweetWater Brewing Company truck was the first in a long line of local vendors offering their goods to the crowd.

The festival planners had their priorities straight- ice cold beer is necessary to wash down all that chili!

The grounds were already packed by about 11:30, and the vibe was one of laid back happiness and anticipation.  We navigated our way down the row and noticed the Mercantile was represented.

I love that place- a great little neighborhood market with all kinds of homemade meals, sandwiches, and delicious chicken salad.

Publik,next door neighbor to the Fabulous Fox Theatre

and a relative of Baraonda restaurant, had a table too.  We’ve never eaten there but may need to check it out next time we’re heading to the theatre.

One of my absolute favorite eateries in town, Home Grown,

was kindly offering vegetarian Sloppy Joe’s to the handful of meat-free eaters present at this mostly carnivorous event.

And then I knew it was a bona fide festival when I spotted this sign.

Because, how could anyone throw a festival without funnel cakes and hand dipped corn dogs?!?!?!  Impossible!  The smell was intoxicating, as I’m sure you can imagine.

I turned to my right and realized that I was in THE hip spot, because King of Pops was selling their yumalicious pops

to a long line of people that did not dwindle all day long.

At this point, we crossed over into “The Amateur Zone”, the area where everyday folks were eager to share their chili-tastic concoctions with the community.  I truly appreciated the creativity that dominated this section.  As we walked through, we could really feel the calm before the storm…

They were wearing lab coats!

Very clever.

Korean BBQ Chili and Garam Masala Chili.  Very cool.

Ah, I’ve been wondering who controls the Universe.  Now I know.

Sounds scary.

Yay!  That’s our friend, Robbie, tweaking his Boot Strap Chili!  We had reached our destination.  (And never made it over to the “Restaurant Chili Section”, but I’m not mad about that at all.)

Kraken Chili- home of the Doom Bringer- apparently bringing the doom = bringing the boom.  But that is neither here nor there.  Time to roll up the sleeves and get ready for the judges.

Of course, I started organizing the table right away.  To my surprise, a couple of Robbie’s buddies were also serving chili under the Kraken tent.  Four chilis under one tent!  Woot!  I set out cups, laid out our four pans so we could coordinate spacing for service, and spread out the Kraken Chili buttons that Robbie had pressed by hand for the masses to take away.  I also made sure that the cow bells were strategically placed around our table- to provide easy access to cow bell ringing!

In just a few anxious moments, a couple of fellas arrived to let us know it was time to package up each chili, fasten a ticket to the bottom of each cup, and walk them down to the judges- who were waiting (hopefully with stomachs made of steel) at the community center in Cabbagetown.  I helped Robbie wipe chili off the sides of his cup, trying to make it look as inviting as a styrofoam cup of chili can possibly appear, and he and his cohorts headed to judgement.

While they were gone, the crowds just became thicker,

and lines started forming in front of our table.  And suddenly, it was time!!!  Someone opened the flood gates, and we started serving chili, and ringing cowbells, and hootin’ and hollerin’.  So much fun!!!!!!

There was Holy Mole’ chili.

The Green Pig-

that’s the one I was serving!

The Triple Threat-

which Miles kept asserting was the best of the four.

And the Boot Strap Chili- with bacon!

Honestly, all were delicious pots of goodness.

For the next 40 minutes, we filled tiny little cups with meat, peppers, onions, tomatoes, and love.  40 minutes to pour 40 gallons of chili.  I am not kidding.

Our systems for refilling pans and keeping the excitement going seemed to fall into place very early in our serving game.  There must have been eight or ten folks, plus two children, behind the table making things happen.  And we were loud and rowdy!  Even Brock- who must be about 2 years old, was ringing a cow bell and smiling his little face off.

And when that chili was gone, it was just gone.  There was sort of a lull,

clean up time, and a handful of sad folks carrying spoons who came too late to even taste any chili.  But then I noticed some action going down at the next table.

I suppose that once the chili slinging was over, our friends next door started offering habanero peppers to anyone crazy enough to eat them.  This guy ate two or three of them, and I am certain that he did not feel well by the end of the afternoon.

It was time to move along.  The leader of our pack felt content with our showing, especially considering it was only the second time he had ever entered his chili in any sort of contest.  We said our good-byes to Robbie and friends and headed on down to enjoy some more of the blue grass in the sunshine.  We passed some roof-sitters along the way.

They had a great view of the action!  Wonder if we can work that out for next year.

On our way back to the stage, I stopped to chat with Sarah from The Little Tart, one of our favorite vendors from the Grant Park Market.  She was selling her beautiful pastries

as well as caramel apples!

I’m kicking myself for not grabbing one of those.

As the afternoon wore on, we ran into a great many friends, and met some new ones, saw a little girl walking a tight rope,

and basked in the glory of the High Strung String Band picking away in the sun.

And to cap off this fabulous day of fun, the announcers began to name the winners of the Chili Cook Off.  I could not believe my ears when I heard Kraken Chili Company!!!  We won The Spirit Award!!!

And Robbie gets to keep this great little gnome

as a token of his hard work and a memory of the good times we had at the 2011 Chomp and Stomp.

Adam and I may have been first-timers this year, but you can bet your sweet bippies that we’ll back next year for more Chomp and Stomp fun!



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