Frankfort Chili Cookoff

Today, I walked into town around noon. That is much later in the day than usual. The sky was a weary gray, the temperature in the thirties, and a wind blowing from the North. I was glad to reach town so I could relieve my morning coffee at the Trolley Barn.  Usually, these walks are solitary. I don’t see anyone, and there are only a few cars on the roads. Today, as I entered town there was activity everywhere. One look at the Breidert Green, and I remembered that Winter on the Green was sponsoring a Chili Cook Off today.

The Breidert Green is named for Burton Breidert, a long time resident now deceased, who owned the B & L lumber yard, which became Fox Lumber, and is now My Sisters and Me, a dress shop.  I never met Burton because he was dead before I moved to town twenty years ago. I learned of him during my research for the Lions Club. He was a prominent Lion and generous community  member. He is credited with the town plan and insistence on keeping the business community central rather than spread around. At least a portion of his fortune came from supplying the building material used to construct the Prestwick sub-division. I lived in Prestwick for fifteen years, there is a minimum of four hundred houses there. Not one of them is small. That’s a whole lot of lumber to sell.

The Green is now a community park which is used for many functions. During January, it is Winter on the Green.

The place was jumping today. The focal point is a structure referred to as the Frankfort Station. It is on the spot that a real railroad station existed many years ago when a real train ran through town on what is now the Old Plank Road Trail. The trail borders the Frankfort Station. The Station is a source of electricity and it was supplying the chili cooks. There were a number of amateur and serious cooks vying for bragging rights to their chili.

The public is invited to attend and eat chili on this day, but I was a half hour too early to try any. Based on the crowd that was already there, it promised to be a succesful event.

I took pictures and went about my walk. I did finally stop at the Trolley Barn to relieve myself. The Trolley Barn was jumping too. The guitar shop was loaded with students learning how to play, the Children’s Museum was crawling with kids, the Deli was busy with a lunch crowd, and the upstairs coffee shop and book store was busy too. The Barn got its name from the building itself. It was used for maintaining diesel-electric railroad cars back in the nineteen-twenties and thirties era. During that time a commuter line ran between East Chicago and Joliet, It played a key role in transporting people from town to town in the far south suburbs. The building remained empty for years until an entrepreneur bought it and converted it into a mall for small businesses.   The Trolley Barn replaces the Grainery Building which was a major tourist attraction. The post and beam building burned to the ground in the nineteen seventies.

Frankfort is a great town established in eighteen fifty. It retains the charm of that era while it grows into a major modern suburb with a thriving population of sixteen thousand people.

The Chamber of Commerce does an outstanding job in keeping the character of the business area thriving while maintaining the character and history fo the town.

Next Sunday is Super Bowl Sunday, and most of us will be watching the interview between our president and Bill O’Reilly while the festivities on the Green take place. The following week  a Turkey Bowl  is the final event in the series.

Here are some photos from the Chili Cook Off.

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