The Historic Hillsville Chili Shootout is offering participants a chance to impress a celebrity and a little something for those who like a little fright after their meal. Jarrett Joyce, star of the A&E Channel series “Shipping Wars,” will serve as a celebrity judge for the Oct. 17 event. The second half of the day’s doublebill of activities features the Night Watch Haunt.
According to head judge Greg Talley, the other judges are Mayor Greg Crowder, David Young, Linda Crowder, Wytheville Community College Interim Dean Jamie Edwards and Laura Romanowski of the Twin County Arts Council. Talley said the event organized by The Friends of Hillsville will also feature a beer tent. Breweries offering their creations at the shootout will include Creek Bottom Brewery, Blue Mountain Brewery and Parkway Brewing.
Joyce has taken on the role of the laid back perennial rookie on the television series, which documents the triumphs and tragedy of shippers who transport items too bulky or bizarre to be transported by other firms. The real-life persona of the N.C. State graduate (with an agricultural degree) is as complex as the chili he’ll sample.
Namely, the Piedmont Triad native’s passion for community service found kindred spirits with Night Watch’s performers. According to Night Watch spokesperson Lesley Catron, one member of the group concentrates on the group’s social media presence and routinely contacts celebrities. Joyce was intrigued at the thought of a haunted house…. with a dash of community service.
Catron broached the idea of overlapping some of the haunt season with the shootout to Friends member Laura Beth Parnell, and the two thought it would be a good idea. The hope is Night Watch and the Shootout together will be a stepping stone to even bigger things.
“We wanted to try and bring in people,” said Catron. “We asked him and he said okay, and this filled in his day perfectly until we begin at night. He said he’d like to be a judge.”
She explained Joyce is interested in setting up a similar haunted house group in the Winston-Salem area and was excited to get the chance to get some pointers from them (as well as some good chili.)
She said Night Watch is also collecting items such as canned food and toys to benefit the Carroll County Ministerial Association Food Pantry. Catron said they would like for local non-profit groups to have a chance to set up booths at the haunted house during the Shootout but understands the hesitancy of local churches to join in because of the nature of haunted houses.
“We want to see the local people. I want them to get a chance to make money,” Catron said. “I feel him (Joyce) being with us will draw in more people. The crowds are already getting bigger every night and locals are a big part of that. It’s an opportunity to get together as well as make money for the organizations.”
Catron would like to see the two events grow, and she looks forward to seeing pumpkin carving for kids lighting up the old courthouse in the future. The Night Watch Haunt remains a unique mix of drama and horror where the audience is on both sides of the “stage.” She said the group loves watching participants reactions as much as patrons like to be scared. Catron and her companions take pride in unleashing their horrifying creativity in spite of a limited budget, saying the simplest of elements combined produce a profound effect, much like many of the shootout chili chefs.
“There’s a little part of that Halloween nostalgia within everyone,” said Catron. “It starts out small and now we have the Night Watch and the Shootout and the Safe Halloween Parade. We could light up all of October in a few years. We’re like magicians. Sometimes it’s the rabbit, sometimes it’s the rabbit out of the hat and sometimes it’s the thought of a rabbit.”
Organizers agreed at their Sept. 17 meeting to open up the shootout to local political candidates with the understanding they must compete in the shootout and confine campaigning and campaign materials to their chili booths. The shootout is set to start at noon. Chili sampling wristbands are $5 each with registration set at $25 per category entry. People can obtain more information or sign up by contacting Ammie Shupe at (276) 733-3062 or Beth Deluca at (276) 733-3395 or on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Historic-Hillsvilles-Chili-Shootout/1599001080375261.
The Night Watch Haunt tours begin at the old jail house at 117 Mill Street at 7:30 p.m. Admission is $10 per person. Groups interested in a booth Oct. 17 may contact Lesley Catron at 276-7212 or 276-728-0888 for more information.
David Broyles may be reached at 276-779-4013 or on Twitter@CarrollNewsDave.