Celebrate the Season at the 2021 Stonebridge Fall Fest and Chili Cook-off

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By Dominique McIndoe

Fall is just around the corner. Leaves will change colors, the air will get a bit colder and the clothes will become cozier.

What better way to celebrate the change of the season than at the annual Stonebridge Fall Fest and Chili Cook-off? From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 11, Stonebridge will be transformed into a fall-themed marketplace filled with vendors, exhibitors, contests, activities and live entertainment suitable for people and families of all ages.

Fostering Community

The purpose of the fest and cook-off, especially in the year 2021, is to promote “comradery in the community,” says Karen Joyner, President of KOJAM Productions, Inc. Her organization is hosting this event in partnership with Stonebridge. A variety of community businesses — fitness experts, health professionals, home improvement professionals, real estate agents, entrepreneurs of family-owned care companies,  dental professionals, car dealers and the local library, just to name a few — will be set up along the town center to give attendees the opportunity to celebrate community and support their local businesses. The volunteer fire department even gives safety lessons and brings some of their equipment for the kids to learn about.

“Karen does such a good job of finding vendors for the fest,” says Anastasia Podorski, Senior Manager of Real Estate at JBG SMITH. Variety is certainly the spice of the Stonebridge Fall Fest.

Food and Entertainment

Food trucks, local restaurants and ice cream parlors will have their goods for sale, and the ultra-competitive chili cook-off will steal hearts — and enliven the taste buds — of everyone in attendance. Those who sign up for the cook-off get to show off their best chili, while three to four judges decide who has the most unique chili and the best overall chili. There’s a people’s choice category where everyone in attendance can partake in the excitement and vote for their favorite. The winners receive cash prizes.

“People really enjoy the chili cookoff and it’s especially fun for the local fire department,” says Podorski. “Local citizens definitely get in the spirit of competition.” As icing on the cake, vendors vie for the “best decorated booth” prize.

Live entertainment is a large part of the fall festivities. The town center will be hosting two stages for live-band performances, dance teams, cheerleaders, kids’ group bands and a disc jockey.

“This is going to be a nice event to get some new faces out that don’t always come to Stonebridge,” says Podorski. “It’s also a great way to get the community out and about.”

Nearly a Decade and Counting

The Stonebridge Fall Fest has been an annual event in the community since 2013, and the Chili Cook-off made its mark starting in 2016. Thousands of fest-goers have traversed the town center since. The COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns made it impossible for the event to take place in the fall of 2020, though things continue to look up this year. Joyner noted the event is organized this year with everyone’s safety in mind.

“I think it should be a good turnout,” says Joyner. “We’re thrilled and excited to be back at Stonebridge since the pandemic.”

Podorski has similar sentiments: “We love being here for the community and giving them a place to hang out, participate in events and shop. We really enjoy being this place for everyone.”

Attendance at the fest and registration for the chili cook-off competition are free of charge, but there is a fee to be an exhibitor, a food vendor and a sponsor at the event. For specific details about becoming a vendor, contact Karen Joyner at karen@kojamproductions.com or visit kojamproductions.com.

Dominique McIndoe (mcindoe@princewilliamliving.com) is an assistant production editor at Rowman & Littlefield and a longtime writer.

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