LAKE CITY -Perfect weather aided in bringing large crowds out for Lake City's traditional Fall Fest.
The square was full of people Sunday afternoon who came out for the vendors, kids' games and activities, live music, scarecrow contest and the Dell Blair Memorial Chili Cookoff.
The cookoff seems to fulfill its original purpose of bringing families together.
Jaydin Olberding, 7, of Lake City, stuggles to run in giant scarecrow pants during the Scarecrow Relay at Sunday’s Fall Fest.
The Blair brothers Tristan, 6, left, Noah, 2, and Caleb, 8, play on their scarecrow after it won first prize at the Lake City Fall Fest. The scarecrow shows the three boys playing on a Yogi Bear seesaw like the one in the park, and selling pumpkins.
"(Dell Blair) was someone who loved the community, and he loved preparing food for people," said Alissa Blair, of the Lake City Betterment Association. "You know how at family get-togethers, you make a lot of food and everyone has a good time. This is how his family chose to remember him."
The event is now hosted by the Betterment Association, so that Blair's family members can participate.
Making up goofy team names is part of the tradition, Alissa Blair said. This year, first place went to "Big Daddy Addy," and second place to "The One-Man Wolf Pack," as determined by the judges.
The people's choice award went to Mark Wilkins, who manned the fire department's chili stand.
"I've been doing this, I think I was in one of the first ones," Wilkins said. "It's a fun get-together."
Wilkins, like most of the chili cooks, had to arrive at the square around 6 a.m. to get everything ready. He said they didn't work off a recipe.
"You just throw things together in the pot," he said. "We use a lot of meat. When you're cooking for a lot of people, you don't want to make it too hot. You have to go for mass appeal. A little sweet seems to help, but not too much of anything."
Big Daddy Addy, or Brad Addison, climbed into the gazebo upon winning and played a few songs with Slow Jam, the band providing live music for the day.
Austin Olberding, 10, was a big fan.
"I'm enjoying the music and all the fun games," he said.
Kids games included pumpkin painting, a football toss and a bouncy house. Alissa Blair said many of these were new this year.
"All the kids' stuff is free this year. We got $800 in sponsors, and they've provided enough funding that we're not going to charge for any activities," she said.
There was also a pedal tractor pull for the kids, and a scarecrow relay. Kids had to put on giant pants, shirts and a hat, run down the street in the scarecrow clothes, and take them off so the next kid could run back in them.
Caleb Blair, 8, and his brother Tristan, 6, also ran the race and pedaled the tractor. Noah Blair, 2, was too young for those events but enjoyed the other activities.
"The scarecrows are cool, and the bouncy house is pretty sweet," Caleb Blair said.
The three Blair boys built one of the 15 scarecrows that stood guard around the perimeter of the square. Local groups or individuals decorate them and the people vote by donating money to the Lake City Betterment Association. There were witches, pumpkinheads of all colors, life-sized ragdolls in chairs, and the Blair boys' depiction of three boys playing on a wooden Yogi Bear seesaw and selling pumpkins.
Caleb Blair explained that the scarecrow was inspired by the Yogi equipment that they liked playing on at the park.
"We carved the Yogi, and we grew the pumpkins," said their father Noel Blair, of Lake City. "It took three of us to get it into town; it's pretty heavy."
This was the third year the Blair Family has won the contest.
As Alissa Blair handed out the traveling trophy, she said, "Now I will give you back the trophy you gave me this morning for winning last year."