BHC 07182019 CHILI _aaron_barr (3)

Cartoon of Marion, Virginia.

MARION, Va. — Come get a spoon.

It’s time to dig into Marion’s big Chili Cook-off, held this weekend in conjunction with the nearby Hungry Mother Festival at Hungry Mother State Park in Marion.

The event is slated for 1 p.m. Saturday, and the public can start tasting chili at 6 p.m.

“And we’re so proud that our festival was named one of the top food festivals in Virginia this year,” said Marion Director of Community and Economic Development Ken Heath.

So far, Heath said, chili teams include Pakalachian Chili, SWVAMHI “Chili Chili Bang Bang,” “Family Matters,” “Round-Tu-It” chili and Kevin Testerman’s “People’s Chili” for his sheriff campaign.

You’ll also find food trucks in downtown Marion this year, with several to be located in the “Food Truck Corral” on Commerce Street.

Look for traditional hamburgers and hot dogs, plus funnel cakes and fried pickles, plus Krispy Kreme bacon cheeseburgers, Heath said.

Come a night earlier, and you’ll hear Phantom perform rock ’n’ roll during a block party, from 6-10 p.m., on the Smyth County Courthouse Lawn.

Also: Saturday’s “Soon-To-Be World-Famous Hungriest Mother Food Challenge” returns with one of the most unique food challenges in America, according to Heath.

“Instead of having someone gobble as many hot dogs as they can, we went for a different race,” Heath said. “In ours, participants can choose to participate in one, several or all of the heats.”

This year, you can see how many pickled eggs from Hester’s Country Store you can eat.

Try a bucket of chicken fried rice from Yummy Yummy Japanese Restaurant.

Devour red hot wings from Macado’s.

You might also gobble giant chocolate chip cookies from Sister’s Cafe and Eatery.

In all, this is a 10-dish food challenge, Heath said.

“Saturday is the biggest day of the year for our town,” Heath added. “And, best of all, admission to all is free.”

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