MARIETTA - The Marietta Family YMCA's annual chili contest Saturday has a new home this year. Organizers have moved the event to the newly established Harmar Community Center at 307 Lancaster St.
"We are using the entire center and we are excited to partner with them and to help show it off," said Suzy Zumwalde, YMCA executive director.
In the past the event, which sees several hundred attendees typically, was held at the YMCA facilities and at the Marietta Shrine Club. Parking and space issues will be alleviated by the move to Harmar, according to Zumwalde.
"There is ample parking all around and that was one big reason we looked at moving there," she said.
The Harmar Community Center, which is home to the Boys & Girls Club, the Gospel Mission Food Pantry and formerly housed Magnetic Specialty Inc., is open to other organizations who would like to utilize the space.
"We have the front half finished, which is about 8,000 square feet," said Gary Murphy, president of the Harmar Community Center board.
"The Community Center and the YMCA both provide after school programs and we are happy to work with them to make this event a success," he said.
The Community Center had its grand opening in June and Murphy said that their hope is that a small rental fee and donations will help to move the second phase of the project along.
"One of the reasons we are here is to be open to the community," he said. "We would certainly be willing to let other organizations like the YMCA use it."
The popular chili event is the largest fundraiser for the YMCA with an annual goal of $5,000.
"The money goes to help our youth programs and helping with family memberships," Zumwalde said, adding that donations for the silent auction from individuals, merchants and businesses also go a long way toward meeting the goal.
Among the items to be auctioned this year are a bottle of champagne from the Marietta College World Series Championship, gift certificates from area restaurants, tickets to sporting events and Stoked Coffee for a year. Those interested in bidding can do so at the event or before at the YMCA on Seventh Street.
Several different types of chili, soups and desserts will be available for the ticket price of $12 for adults, $10 for seniors and $6 for youth ages 5 to 12.
The Lafayette Hotel has been the winner in the restaurant division for soup and dessert for the past two years, according to executive chef Josh Hall.
"We've got to take chili this year," Hall said, laughing.
The hotel kitchen staff plans to enter an original chili and a white chili but won't divulge what the other two entries might be.
"That's kind of up for grabs still ... I'm not giving anything away," Hall said.
Representatives from the community will begin judging the entries at 3 p.m. Saturday and the winner will be known once the doors open to the public at 6 p.m.
"It gets very competitive between the restaurants and the individuals, too," said Zumwalde. "Everyone wants their chili to be the best."