Soup, Stew, Chili & Brew

Local businesses, groups
prepare for fall food contest

Madison Chamber’s popular event expands its footprint

(October 2015) – More than 250 gallons of assorted soups, stew, chili and brew flowed from community organization cooks during the annual Soup, Stew, Chili & Brew event on Main Street in downtown Madison last year, and all indications are that the party will be even bigger this year.
“We had 31 food booths last year,” said Madison Area Chamber of Commerce Marketing Manager Lindsay Obendorf. “We estimate that booths sell nine gallons of soup on average. New booths have reported selling approximately four gallons, while veteran booths have reported selling as much as 36 gallons.”
The event has grown so popular that for two years, the Chamber has worked to expand the size of the giant picnic, which this year is scheduled from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 10, on Madison, Ind.’s Main Street.

Photo provided

Madison Area Chamber of Commerce Executive Director  Trevor Crafton (far left) poses with last year’s winning team from the Madison Juvenile Correctional Facility.

“This year, we will extend from Jefferson Street to Broadway,” said Obendorf. “Last year, we tried making the footprint go from Mulberry to Broadway. In previous years, it went from Jefferson to West Street.”
The experimentation with the footprint told the Chamber a lot about enthusiasm from the business owners on Main Street.
“We realized a lot of the businesses from Jefferson to Mulberry street were integral to the event,” Obendorf added. “There wasn’t another really good place to cut it off, so we wondered if we could fill the entire length from Jefferson Street to Broadway.”
Obendorf then took on the task of counting every parking space between Jefferson and Broadway so a plan could be developed for the larger space.
“We also had a goal to have more activities this year for both children and for adults,” she said. “This is fall break, and a lot of families stay in town for a staycation. We wanted to offer affordable family fun.”
A $10 wristband for a special children’s area will offer a variety of fun family activities.

Photo provided

The Soup, Stew, Chili & Brew event continues to grow.

“We will have a minimum of four big inflatable jump-around blow ups, a bungee run, an obstacle course and face painting,” Obendorf said. “All in all, there will be plenty for the kids to do for their wristband fee. We work hard for affordability.”
Also part of that plan is an additional music stage, and more sponsor booths. Each organization will have a game for participants to play. There will also be three beer and wine gardens.
Food still rules, and nearly 40 organizations are expected to have booths selling food and drink.
The food booths will offer soups, stews, chili and brew, which is a non-alcoholic beverage they make themselves. The profits go to help their organizations, but local pride is also at stake.
“We give highly sought after trophies and plaques,” said Obendorf. “There are some serious bragging rights associated with this festival. The committee has been looking at offering additional prizes to sweeten the deal.”
A big winner from last year was a team composed of staff from the Madison Juvenile Correctional Facility. The team placed first in Brew and Soup and Chili.
Team Leader Sgt. Jason Deveary said he is excited about the victory last year and looking forward to the competition this year.
“This is our fifth year we have entered, but last year was time to have a first place,” said Deveary. “All the main players from last year are back, and we have a few new ones.”  
Deveary has always had a love for cooking and saw this festival when he moved to Madison. He immediately put together a team of people who enjoyed cooking as much as he did.
“Our earnings from the event help support our team at work,” Deveary added. “We use it for Employee of the Month, and everyone got a T-shirt to show appreciation for our staff.”
He claims there is no real secret to the winning chili recipe.
“The superintendent’s secretary, Ronnie Reyburn, and I put the deal together one morning and wound up wining the category,” said Deveary. “Everyone talks about my chili at work, so this was vindication. I kinda just throw it together. It is a thick and hardy Lumberjack southwest chili with a lot of fresh ingredients.”
This year, the team will go back at it again with same chili and chicken noodle soup, but they have a couple other things on the horizon. Their sale of baked goods also went well, and their hot cookies were a big seller.
Whenever there is a festival in Madison, there is always beer, wine and especially music.
“There will be three music stages this year, said Obendorf. They will be smaller to accommodate more acoustic acts. Because of how close everything is, people tended to stand back from the larger stages so they could hear each other talk. We hope to create a more intimate feel for the festival.”
Organizers try and support local musicians but also have some people who have not played in Madison. “We have little gems of music from some musicians who people may not have heard,” added Obendorf.
This year, Soup, Stew, Chili and Brew will include three beer and wine gardens, and Red Bicycle Hall will sell craft beer at its 125 E. Main St. location.
We are thankful for our event title sponsor Brookstone Financial,” said Obendorf.  “They love being involved with this community and had a great time here last year.”
n For more information, visit the Internet website: www.MadisonSoupStew.weebly.com.

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