Winter McKeen, 12, holds his jack-o’-lantern at Pumpkin Fest in Spirit Square on Saturday. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River Mirror

Chili Fest raises funds for Campbell River community group

Jack-o’-lanterns take over Spirit Square during Halloween event

Local residents got into the Halloween spirit on Saturday by carving jack-o’-lanterns at Spirit Square, while Chili Fest offered hungry festival-goers a chance to sample five types of chili, all for $5.

Proceeds went to the Campbell River and District Association for Community Living (CRADACL). The group, which provides a wide range of social services, was raising funds for a new van that’s meant to help accommodate an aging population.

“This baby holds four wheelchairs,” said Jo-Anne Doknjas, the group’s fundraising coordinator, as she pointed to the vehicle, which was on display in the city square.

The van, a Ram 2500 ProMaster, has an $80,000 price tag, said Doknjas. She later reported that the event raised $1,100.

To support the fundraising effort, chili was donated by local businesses, including MVP Pub and Family Restaurant, Popsey’s, Match Eatery and Public House, and Beach Fire Brewery and Nosh House.

The chef at Ironwood Place, a 54-apartment assisted living residence for seniors – one of three housing facilities provided by CRADACL – also served up chili at the event.

MVP was deemed to have the best spicy stew by a panel of judges in a chili-tasting competition. MVP also won the People’s Choice Award.

For those who prefer less peppery fare, hot dogs were served by participants in the CRADACL’s supported employment program, which helps people with disabilities find jobs.

Alongside Chili Fest was a pumpkin-carving competition, with spooky designs produced by people of all ages. The event also featured music by the band Easy Street, along with Halloween-themed activities for kids, including a pumpkin seed-spitting contest.

Heather Gordon Murphy, one of the organizers of the event, said the free event brought out people of all ages.

“I think the really cool thing about this event is it’s free,” she said. “Anybody can come down and enjoy it. We have great music [and] we have great camaraderie.”

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Autumn Rain Lapensee watches as Leonard Lapensee puts the finishing touches on a jack-o’-lantern at Pumpkin Fest in Spirit Square. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River

The band Easy Street provided entertainment during Pumpkin Fest in Spirit Square on Saturday. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River

Laura Gosnell (left) and Barbara Hoffman of Beach Fire Brewing and Nosh House serve up chili during Chili Fest in Spirit Square on Saturday. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River

Patrick Jules, Tye Cranton and Ashley Adie (left to right) are all involved in the supportive employment program at the Campbell River and District Association for Community Living. Adie is also a board member for the group, which held a chili cook-off on Saturday to raise funds for a new van. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River

Youngsters Hunter Brown, Denzel McCaughran and Kayla Brown (left to right) carve jack-o’-lanterns with grandmother Shirley Brown at Pumpkin Fest in Spirit Square on Saturday. Photo by David Gordon Koch/Campbell River