The Mandarin Council of the Jacksonville Chamber of Commerce held the Fall Festival and Chili Cookoff on November 19, with visitors coming from near and far.
On a perfect fall day, guests enjoyed music, the opportunity to taste many different kinds of chili, and also do some early Christmas shopping among an eclectic assortment of crafts and other goods for sale by indie artists and vendors.
The Crazy Daysies duo, Rebecca Day and Jennifer Day Thompson, performed country, pop, and Americana tunes as people strolled through the marketplace on San Jose Blvd.
Crafts displayed at Blanche’s Baby Creations included custom bibs, t-shirts, baby onesies, and other attractive items, all made by an experienced grandmother who seemed to know the perfect gift for a child or grandchild. The quality each piece was evident.
Yari’s Jewels offered one-of-a-kind earrings, bracelets, necklaces and other accessories for budget-friendly prices. The jewelry reflected an excellent eye for color and design by the artist.
Individual cooks competed in the chili cookoff, as did cooks representing eateries like Village Bread Café. Matt Tompkins manned the chili pot for the restaurant—he works as a server.
According to the Facebook page maintained by Mandarin Council board member Mark Goldwich who chaired the festival, the annual event is a fundraiser:
“Each year the Mandarin Council of the JAX Chamber helps fund various school and community projects through a program we call ‘Community Support.’ The Mandarin Fall Festival and Chili Cook-Off is our main event for fundraising.This event is a huge success for the community and our sponsors. We have been grateful to award thousands of dollars to charities such as the Mandarin Food Bank, Junior Achievement, Janice Meisel Scholarship Fund, and many more organizations.”
The weather for the festival was beautiful, and people of all ages came out for the fun. Besides that, the chili offerings ran the gamut from sweet to hot and contained just about every ingredient imaginable. Mandarin Council estimates approximately 1,000 people attend the event each year.