The Middlebury Campus

Addison Central Teens to Host Chili Challenge




This Saturday, April 14, Addison Central Teens (ACT) is holding their annual fundraiser for the teen center. The event will take place from 7-10 pm at Carol’s Hungry Mind Café in Middlebury.

The theme this year is Spring Thaw: Chili Challenge. In the wake of this year’s cancellation of the traditional Chili Fest during the 2018 Winter Carnival, the teen center hopes to revive the tradition for a good cause. The fundraising competition will feature ten competitors, including the Glass Onions culinary program from the Hannaford Career Center, teenagers from the teen center and the unified basketball team from Middlebury Union High School.

Attendees will be able to taste and rate the competitors’ chili, as well as sample beverages provided by local businesses. On the way out, people can vote for the top three chili recipes, and the winner will be announced in the Addison County Independent. In addition, attendees can win a variety of door and raffle prizes, which will include a $50 gift card to Tinker and Smith Game Store, a $25 gift card to Rough Cut, two Marquis Theater tickets and a round of golf for four at Middlebury College.

The chili fundraiser competition aims to raise money for the teen center to fund the various activities it hosts throughout the year. In addition to organizing community service opportunities and hosting special events for teenagers, ACT also provides drop-in hours each week as a safe after-school alternative for students in the area. All proceeds from the chili event will help fund programming expenses such as food, and will aid in bringing additional structure to the center to keep helping local teenagers.

Hoping to make the event more accessible to college students, ACT has provided two ticket options with different prices. The comprehensive $25 ticket option includes chili, drink tickets and raffle tickets, while the cheaper $15 alternative includes chili and an option to choose between drink tickets or raffle tickets.

Of the ten competing teams, two represent student groups from Middlebury College: Hillel and the Weybridge house. Hillel, the social, cultural and religious Jewish organization, and Weybridge, a unique residential option focused on sustainability in food issues, will both be making chili at the fundraiser. Middlebury work-study students Mikayla Hyman and Vir Chachra are also helping to plan and run the event. In addition, two college student music groups, Stuck in the Middle and Nuanced Binary: A Guitar Duo, will provide live entertainment.

The current executive director of the teen center, Zoe Kaslow, graduated from Middlebury College in 2015 and is excited about working closely with the College on ACT projects. “One of the things I really wanted to achieve as a new director was that I really wanted more involvement directly from the college,” Kaslow said. “During college I really stayed in the bubble. Now that I’m living in Addison County, I feel it’s really important to be part of the community.” Before her job at the teen center, Kaslow also worked as a temporary employee for the college’s Center for Community Engagement after moving back to Middlebury.

Despite her optimism, Kaslow noted some obstacles in organizing the event. “I’ve only been at the teen center for ten weeks, so I’ve really had to hit the ground running to start planning this event,” she said. “Luckily, I’ve had a tremendous board, helping facilitate the event and everything, as well as a ton of support from community businesses.” Local organizations providing sponsorships include Mae’s Place, Studio III Architecture, Carol’s Hungry Mind Café, Middlebury Eye Associates and The Little Pressroom, among others.

While the fundraiser is the same night as the annual spring concert at Middlebury College, featuring Joey Badass, Kaslow notes that the fundraiser runs from 7-10pm, which gives college students ample time to attend both events.

Kaslow has more ideas for the future and hopes the chili competition will be the first step towards expanding levels of cooperation between college students and the community of Addison county. Kaslow hopes to hire a college student to be an intern for the summer camp for teens and is looking for new work-study students. She also wants to get more directly involved with the educational studies or psychology events at Middlebury to create a more cohesive community between the college and the town.

“It’s a little different than the chili fest. It’s a fundraiser for students to still enjoy but recognize it as an intimate gathering,” Kaslow explained. “I’m really excited for this and hoping to see more Middlebury college students at the teen center, especially those who want to get more involved and learn more about the center.” Additionally, Kaslow said that if Middlebury college students are interested in volunteering, there will be opportunities to help on the day of the event.

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