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Beans and bugs: Flowery Branch draws hungry crowd
Chili, classic cars on the menu at South Hall festival
Joanne Drake stirs her chili at the Flowery Branch Car Show and Chili Cook Off. She competed this year in both the car show and cook off portions of the annual festival. - photo by MEGAN GILL

FLOWERY BRANCH - Crowds hungry for hot rides and hotter chili gathered Saturday on historic Main Street for the fifth annual Car Show and Chili Cook Off.

Contestants could enter their car or chili for a chance to win $100 in best in show or best in taste and visitors could sample the best of both.

Lane Blair from Douglasville was one of the many contestants competing in the chili cook off.

"This is our first year at this cook off, but we've entered several others," Blair said. He said he also has competed this year in the St. George Island Regional Charity Chili Cook Off in Panama City, Fla.

"You don't make much chili during the summer," he said. "It starts in the fall."

For Joann Drake, Saturday was her first chili cook off.

"My husband told me that I should enter my chili in for the cook off this year," Drake said.

Drake says that love is what goes in to making the "perfect chili."

"It's the right balance of meat and spices," Drake explained. "Every cook has their special spices."

It may be their first time in the cook off, but the Drakes are no strangers to the Flowery Branch festival. Drake and her husband also entered a Volkswagen in the car show; it was their second time entering. The Drakes' VW was one of many featured this year in the Classic VW Show as part of the festival's car show.

Judy Mullis of Talking Rock entered her unrestored 1961 Volkswagen Beetle.

"My son restores them. That's what he does for a living," Mullis said. "We go to most of the car shows."
Just recently, her bug won first prize in the "best unrestored" category at Bugapalooza in Chattanooga, Tenn.

"I enjoy just being here with my son," Mullis said.
Though chili and cars were the highlights of Saturday's festival, visitors also enjoyed live music, food and shopping with the local vendors.

West Hall High School had several tables set up selling food and doing hairstyles to support many of their sports teams such as wrestling and volleyball. There was fun in the atmosphere all around.

"I enjoy the people best," Drake said. "You meet all different kinds of people." 

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