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Ripon farmers market features chili cook-off
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Ripon firefighter Josh Bodeson and police officer Paul Staley square off for the best of the best chili in their Thursday Farmers’ Market cook-off that will see a taste test by the community. - photo by GLENN KAHL/The Bulletin
RIPON - A touch of Americana is part of the Ripon Farmers’ Market this Thursday at 4 p.m.  as the police and fire personnel challenge each other in a chili cook-off on Main Street with free samples for everyone.

Organizers Tara Fisher and John Mangelos agreed that the character of the first market of the summer last week exceeded their hopes.  Mangelos said it was great to see the crowds coming into the downtown mingling and purchasing the fresh fruits and vegetables – a touch of earlier years with members of the community renewing old times and old friendships amid the good weather.    

Mangelos said that the demand from the crowd was so great that several vendors sold out of their products and had to truck more into their booths.  The Ripon Road House restaurant was doing so much business that their customers had to sit outside, he said. Fisher added that the Mexican restaurants in addition to other downtown businesses did well during the hours of the market.

“I sold everything in my booth once and had to bring in another truck load and then I ran out again,” Tara Fisher said of the late afternoon event.  “The market really exceeded my highest expectations,” she said.  She added that all the vendors told her they would be back this Thursday in addition to the Oakdale Cheese Company who she hopes will have their paper work completed in time to participate this week.

Fisher said the surrounding communities were abuzz on Monday with the news of the success Ripon had enjoyed Thursday with the number of customers the event drew from the Ripon and surrounding communities.  She noted she has been getting requests for information from vendors from cities outside the Ripon community.

Josh Bodeson will represent the fire department in their challenge against the police for the best chili in Thursday’s cook-off.  Officer Paul Staley was selected by his peers to represent them in Thursday cooking fest.  Staley was among five officers who were asked to go home and cook up their best in their kitchen.   Fire Chief Dennis Bitters’ chili is widely known and is expected to have some influence on the final product that Ripon citizens will sample.

There are plans to add a local egg farm to the list of the vendors and a bounce house for children is to be located at the east end of the block.  The farm products will again include cherries, apples, stone fruit, celery, strawberries and a long list of other row vegetable crops.