Chili Cook-Off offers food, fun Sat.

Published 12:01 am Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Bring a big appetite to the bluff on Saturday for the annual Broadway Bash Chili Cook-Off.

Starting at 11 a.m., you can buy a tasting kit for just $5 and sample as many different chilis as you can hold. Included in the tasting kit is a ballot to vote for your favorite chili.

But if you really, really have a favorite, buy a bunch of people’s choice ballots for $1 each and vote more than once for your favorite chili or chilis.

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Since the Chili Cook-Off is the Saturday before Halloween, kids and adults are invited to wear their costumes and enter the Halloween costume contest. Having ghosts and goblins walking around the bluff on a sunny day won’t be scary but will be lots of fun.

Besides eating chili to your heart’s — or stomach’s — content, there will be music to enjoy and fun activities for children such as space jumps and a dunking booth.

And for the deer hunters in the crowd, there will be a raffle for a Skeeter Wilson Double Prop-Up Deer Stand.

Organized this year by the Rotary Club of Natchez, the Broadway Bash Chili Cook-Off once again benefits Natchez Children’s Home Services. Although no longer a residential home, the Natchez Children’s Home provides many crucial services for children and their families. In fact, the Children’s Home actually serves more children now than it did as a residential home.

Included among the Children’s Home services are:

– Foster families for children who previously may have been in a residential group home

– Individual, group and family counseling

– ABCs Pre-school Learning Center (academics, behavior and counseling services for toddlers at risk of poor school performance)

– International mission trip opportunities to Cuba and Peru

– Thrift shop

– Advocacy and education for at-risk children of all ages and their families

– Children’s Advocacy Center

The newest of these services and the beneficiary of the proceeds from the Chili Cook-Off is the Children’s Advocacy Center, a partnership with the Adams County Youth Court that fills a gap in services for children in Adams County, surrounding Southwest Mississippi counties and adjacent Louisiana parishes.

The Children’s Advocacy Center is located at Natchez Children’s Home Services, 806 North Union St. The center provides safe, friendly environment in which children who have been victims of crime can tell their story — and tell it just one time, instead of having to relive their experience multiple times for all of the agencies that need to know what happened to them.

The Children’s Advocacy Center works like this:

First of all, there is a multi-disciplinary team with representatives from area law enforcement, a prosecutor from youth court, a court-appointed special advocate, the Department of Human Services and Natchez Children’s Home Services. A trained member of the MDT interviews the child one on one, and the other members of the team can observe the interview without being in the room. The interview is also taped and can be used as evidence in court, thus allowing the child victim to answer questions only one time.

There are eight other Children’s Advocacy Centers in Mississippi, the closest of which is in McComb. Access to a local Children’s Advocacy Center could save the county about $10,000 a year. Having a Children’s Advocacy Center in Adams County not only allows the child to be interviewed locally but also gives the child access to follow-up therapy services at Natchez Children’s Home Services.

Start-up costs for the Children’s Advocacy Center at NCHS are approximately $75,000, an amount that would include a full-time staff member, necessary electronic equipment, training, space renovation, maintenance and office supplies.

There are two ways to look at the Broadway Bash Chili Cook-Off. You can come to the bluff and make an important contribution to the welfare of children and, by the way, have a great time and eat fun food.

Or you can come enjoy the efforts of our local chili cooks, the music and festivities and, at the same time, make an important contribution. Either way it’s a real win-win opportunity.

Davilynn Furlow is a member of the Rotary Club of Natchez.