R.I.P. New England Chili Festival
What happened was, the definitely-prizeworthy cornbread, still in the spider I had baked it in, was residing in state on a chair in the tent next to my chili setup. I had gotten to the simmer point with my chili, and decided to use the chair for what I had lugged it up to Maine for: to sit on. I set the spider momentarily on the ground, moved the chair out of the tent--and when I turned around, a big black lab was scarfing down my entry.
Although the dog did belong to one of the rival cooks, I'm not laying any blame. My rival didn't win anything, and even his dog didn't give him a vote of confidence. I'm just a little sad, because there'll never be another chance to win anything again.
Last year's event, the Twentieth Annual New England Chili Festival, was the last. Organizer Eric Cunningham was getting tired of doing the considerable amount of work required to put it together every year. He had threatened before, but 20 years must have seemed like a nice round number to him.
Others who were involved since the early days have charted the festival's course from Bridgewater to Cape Elizabeth to Kennebunkport to New Sharon and finally to Limington, Maine. I was never on board for the boat rides, the fire engine, the trolley, the horses, or the dog sleds. I can't be too nostalgic for a past I never shared. I'm just sorry I'll never have a shot at the golden pan or the coveted golden pot. I've got nothing but a single golden spoon...and a picture to remind me that, if fat old black Labs could vote, I'd have won the golden bone.