Hill Country Halloween and Chili Cook-off this Thursday

Candy, costumes, chili, and cooler weather meet again this Halloween season in downtown New Albany.

To celebrate Halloween, the Hill Country Halloween and Chili Cook-off will kick off at 6 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 27, downtown by the courthouse. The annual Halloween event, formerly Trick or Treat Downtown, has lots of changes this year, but entertainment and fun for the whole family are still the top priorities.

This is the first time that New Albany has ever had a chili cook-off or a Halloween parade. Halloween staples like the costume contest and games will still be available, but visitors can also check out live entertainment on the courthouse lawn by Jimbo Mathus and The Tri-State Coalition, be a part of the Trick or Treat Second Line Parade, and sample various chili from contenders for the chili cook-off.

New Albany Main Street Association is the sponsor of this event. Vickie Duke, manager of the association, said, “While this event is taking the place of Trick or Treat Downtown, the festival will have all the aspects of Trick or Treat Downtown with added events to the festival.  Trick or Treat Downtown has an attendance of approximately 3,000.  It was voted 'Best Special Event' in 2008 by Mississippi Main Street Association.  Our goal in changing this event is only to improve it for the community.”

She added, “Our goal with this event is to create a fun-filled festival for the whole family centered in the heart of our community. For the attendees they will be able to experience walking with their child in the parade and getting candy, playing games at the Halloween carnival, entering them in the costume contest, and enjoying a variety of chili while listening to music,” said Duke.

On Thursday afternoon, a catered chili lunch will be available from Tallahatchie Gourmet for anyone who wishes to purchase a bowl of chili for $5. The lunch will be held from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. at the Magnolia Civic Center in the Magnolia Room. All the regular trimmings with chili will be available like cheese, crackers, chips, sour cream, and more. Tickets are on sale now at the New Albany Main Street Association office, but tickets will be available at the door. Tea and water will be available at no charge to the customer.

As the cool air creeps in that night, festival attendees can sample a variety of different chili at the chili cook-off. The chili will be served from 6-9:30 p.m. and will be held on Camp Avenue next to the Union County Courthouse. 

The cost for the chili cook-off will be $10 for adults and will be a small sampling of each of the different chilis in the cook-off. For children 10 years of age or younger, the price is $3. Drinks will not be included in the cook-off, but are available for a separate nominal fee as well as hot dogs, chips, and additional options. Extras like chips, cheese, sour cream, crackers, and more will be available as well.

Admission to the site will require a wristband.  

There are various prize categories, which will be “Crowd Favorite” by an overall vote of the attendees, first place, second place, best original recipe, best cook's costume, and best creative tent.

To enter a team in the competition, application forms can be picked up at the New Albany Main Street Association office and they need to be returned to the same office.  

“Don’t miss this opportunity to show off your best chili recipe and to involve your business, club, or organization in this local competition. Individuals can enter as well,” said Duke.

There will be a $15 team registration fee and must be paid with the application. 

The carnival will have plenty of entertainment for children that come to the event. The carnival will start at 6 p.m. and will be located on Court Street. There will be a professional balloon artist, a basketball throw, a dunking booth, face painting, fake calf roping, bean bag toss, inflatables, fishing games, Halloween portraits, and Tallahatchie Arts Council “Gruesome and Glamorous” face painting. Ten tickets cost $1 and each game will take one ticket. The TAC face painting is an additional cost.

In addition, Walgreens will be offering free 4 x 6 Halloween portraits. Interested parties will have until Nov. 4 to pick up the picture. Walgreens will be set up in the Halloween carnival area.

The Second Line Trick or Treat parade wil also begin at 6 p.m. and is free. Jimbo Mathus and The Tri-State Coalition will be leading the parade and there will be floats, people will be throwing candy, and anyone can walk up and can join in and walk in the parade.The parade will begin at New Albany City Hall on Bankhead Street, then will turn left on Main Street, then go up Court Street to end at the festival on Bankhead. 

Mary Jennifer Russell, owner of Sugaree's Bakery, said, “I think the Second Line Trick or Treat Parad will be so much fun for the crowd!  All the costumed families can join in the parade as it passes by, then dance/walk behind it all the way to the courthouse lawn, where Jimbo Mathus will take the stage and continue to play all night while everyone enjoys the carnival game area, the costume contest and the chili cook-off.”

There will be a hayride float from Wise Farms with girl scouts in the float, there will be a Junior Auxiliary float, dancers will be in the parade  from the New Albany School of Ballet and Dance, and there will be characters in the parade from  New Albany Floral and Gifts. Characters will include a witch, Buzz Lightyear, Woody from Toy Story, Dorothy from Wizard of Oz, Cinderella, and Selena Gomez.

Vickie Duke, manager of New Albany Main Street Association, said, “This is a walking parade and parents and children are welcome to walk in the parade and wear a costume. Candy will be thrown during the parade.”

Russell said, “We welcome any groups of costumed kids or adults to sign up to be in the parade and walk with their organization's banner. Then, of course, anyone from the crowd who wishes to do so can just fall in line behind the parade as it passes.”

The characters that are in the parade will be set up later in front of the Magnolia Civic Center so people can take pictures with them.

The costume contest will begin at 6:30 p.m. and will take place on Bankead Street in front of Mimi's Used Books and Other Treasures, right near the Union County Courthouse. 

The entry fee is $3 per person for the costume contest and people can register at the New Albany Main Street Association office. Interested parties can also go online to www.newalbanymainstreet.com, fill out the form, and mail it in or drop it off at the office.

There are different age categories this year. In the age categories of birth to 5 years old and 5-10 years old, the categories will be 'Most Original,' 'Scariest,' and 'Most Adorable.' In the 11-18-year old category and the 19 years of age and older age category, the prizes will be for 'Most Original' and 'Scariest.' There will be a winner for the group and an overall winner. 

Jimbo Mathus and The Tri-State Coalition will lead a crowd to the courthouse lawn for a night of blues music, mixed with a plethora of other music genres. The band will play from 6:20-10 p.m. on the stage on the courthouse lawn.

Delta-based Mathus was the lead singer of the Squirrel Nut Zippers and now tours with his band The Tri-State Coalition. The band are regular performers on the square scene in downtown Oxford.

The band's music is a mix of blues, soul, country, and rock and roll. Mathus has recorded with Buddy Guy, the North Mississippi Allstars, Luther Dickinson and The Sons of Mudboy, Luther and Alvin Youngblood Hart, and more.

The bands most recently released album is named, 'Confederate Buddha,' which is the band's fourth album under the Memphis International label.

“Confederate Buddha is the first album I’ve written and recorded with a band in mind,” said Mathus, having previously based his recordings around songs rather than players and says the result has a “southern rock feel to it.”

For the past two years, Mathus has recorded with the same band mates, who are Justin Showah with bass and vocals, who is also a co-producer and co-engineer, Eric Carlton on keyboards, Matt Pierce  on guitar and drums, and Austin Marshall.

Duke said, “Entertainment with the event increases the involvement in the community and surrounding areas. Main Street strives to improve events in the community. We want to make the community grow and prosper adding entertainment with this event will add to the tourists that attend the event.”

In case of rain, carnival games, entertainment, and the chili cook-off will be moved to the Magnolia Civic Center.

For more information or to find out about sponsorship opportunities, contact Vickie Duke at 662-534-3438 or visit www.newalbanymainstreet.com or stop by the New Albany Main Street Association office at 135 East Bankhead Street in New Albany.