Downtown Gadsden to host sweet and spicy weekend

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By Sarrah Peters

News Editor

On Friday, February 6, the merchants of Downtown Gadsden will be hosting a Chocolate Stroll.  Since it’s the week before Valentine’s Day, stores are going to stay open until 7 p.m. and will be offering special sales and serving chocolate delights. 

The merchants have also put together the “Ultimate Valentine’s Day Basket.”  To register, go to participating stores Friday, February 6. A winner will be drawn Saturday, February 7 at the Chili Cook-Off.  The basket is valued at over $300 and full of goodies. 

After you’ve had all your sweets Friday, come down Saturday for the 8th Annual Chili Cook-Off.  Around 30 teams from several states have registered so far this year, making this cook-off the biggest one yet. The deadline to enter is Monday, February 2.  Teams can begin cooking as early as 7 a.m. The public is invited to join in at noon. Tickets are $1 each or six for $5, and allow the ticket holder to taste all the different recipes.  

Local chefs have been chosen as judges this year and will be on site to do a blind sampling of all the chili recipes and choose a winner for first, second and third places.  A crowd favorite will also be chosen by those who come to taste. 

The cooks will be on Broad Street between 4th and 6th Streets and “headquarters” will be the corner of 5th and Broad. Broad Street will be closed from 4th – 6th Streets starting at 7 a.m. and will reopen between 2 and 3 p.m. 

Classic car owners are also invited to join in the festivities and park on Broad between 4th and 6th Streets.

One Chili Cook-Off entry will be Blind Bears Brunswick Stew, an entry by children’s author Beautiful Philips. 

Philips wrote and did illustrations for her book I.C. Little’s Alphabet Adventure.

“My alphabet book is a lullaby that I sang to my babies,” said Philips. 

The story’s main character, I.C. Little is a blind bear with a cane. I.C. Little is based off Philips herself, who recently moved from Atlanta to attend the Alabama Institute for the Deaf and Blind. 

“I.C. Little can do anything,” said Philips, with a bright smile.

So can Philips. She suffers from arthritis of the optic nerve, which limits her eyesight. During her pregnancy, one eye ruptured and had to be removed, although it could not be done until after her c-section. Despite that, Philips did the rough illustrations in her book before Brandy MacGuire made the final versions. She loves performing stories in schools and churches. She also models how to use a prosthetic eye, like her own, for the people receiving them.

Philips has only published one book, but she is hoping to publish another called Luke the Lion has Something to Say. The main character is based off of her grandson, Luke, who was born deaf.

Philips plans to have a book signing at the Chili Cook-off from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. Her book is available on Amazon.

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