Havelock’s biggest charity event of the year is a little more than a month away and is seeking volunteers to pull it all off.
The Havelock Chili Festival is scheduled for Oct. 14 and 15 at Walter B. Jones Park. The Havelock Chamber of Commerce puts on the event, which is now in its 35th year, and donates proceeds to area nonprofit organizations.
Kat Cook, a member of a chamber committee that organizes the event, said the festival needs volunteers to be a success.
“We need bodies to do the grunge work,” she said. “I hate to put it that way, but that’s what it comes down to.”
Volunteers will be raising tents, picking up trash, keeping things in order, making sure that the drink booths are supplied with ice, and ensuring the cooks have supplies needed to sell their chili and chicken wings.
Mary Eastman, a long-time committee member and organizer, said volunteers are paramount to making the event a success.
“They have a lot of jobs, little jobs, nothing that’s real intense, from setting up the tents and tearing them down at the end, trying to keep the area clean, cleaning the tables during the festival, checking people in, taking them to their spot in the beginning and then in the end, doing the reverse, helping people out, guiding them if they have any issues, or need information about where something is if they are looking for a certain booth or something, taking sodas to the vendors,” said Eastman.
The festival is a collaborative effort among the chamber, city, the fire department, the police department, and a number of charitable organizations that benefit from the receipts from the festival itself.
“Everybody kicks in. It’s a community wide effort,” said Cook. “Non-profit organizations have always been and continue to be one of the prime reasons for the chili festival.”
Eastman called the festival a fun event for all.
“Everybody just looks forward to the chili festival,” she said. “They get to meet some old friends and talk with them, get to make new friends and see new things that are out there in the community. It’s just a really good event for everybody. We just need more volunteers. That’s all.”
The festival is also in need of cooks for the chicken wings Oct. 14 and the chili on Oct. 15. So far, the festival has only two cooks registered, but organizers said most cooks usually sign up in late September before the Oct. 1 deadline. Cooks are eligible for prizes for the best wings, green chili and red chili.
The festival is also seeking vendors for the event that routinely draws 20,000 people to Havelock during its two-day run. The deadline for vendor registration is Sept. 15.
Along with the chili and chicken wings, the festival offers other food options, entertainment, children’s activities and vendor booths
“We want it to always be a family friendly, easy going event without all the mania that you find at some of the other festivals,” said Cook. “It’s a community event. You see your neighbors. The local businesses come out and put up a display. You can talk to your local politicians when they are campaigning. It’s a local event that nonetheless draws people from out of state as chili competitors.”
Cook said the festival committee consists of 10 volunteers, eight of whom have regular, full-time jobs, who simply can’t do it all.
“The committee can only do so much,” she said. “There’s only 10 of us. We can’t physically go out there and make sure that everyone gets on their spot, and the trash gets picked up, and the chicken wings get delivered, and on and on and on. It’s just, we need some help.”
For more information, to register as a cook or volunteer, visit the Havelock Chamber of Commerce inside the Havelock Tourist and Event Center or call 447-1101.