Despite the heavy rain and less than perfect weather conditions, dozens of North Riversiders and others turned out for the village’s annual Autumn Fest and Chili Cook-Off on Sept. 18 at the North Riverside Village Commons.

While the event ended an hour earlier than planned because of the weather, visitors enjoyed the many events the fest had to offer, including pumpkin decorating, face painting, a petting zoo and bounce houses for the kids. 

Guests of all ages we able to decorate scarecrows and enjoy live musical entertainment from party rock cover band Dr. Rock.  Those who stuck out the entire event in the wet park were able to end the evening with a village-sponsored fireworks display.

But a highlight of the evening was the Chili Cook-Off pitting various local civic and municipal organizations against one another. Fest-goers got to sample the chili and later were able to vote for the best chili of the evening. 

This year, the North Riverside Library won the People’s Choice trophy, while the Judge’s Choice Award went to HONOR, the village’s new Hispanic organization.

North Riverside resident and HONOR Vice President Fernando Flores said aside from the weather, the group had a great time promoting themselves.

“[We came out] to get the word out and get people involved,” he said. “My favorite part has been making the chili.”

Local mentor Chesleigh Rogers was also serving chili at the event with area students representing Wyldlife, a non-profit Christian organization affiliated with Young Life in the Riverside and North Riverside communities.

“We decided to have a chili table because we wanted to … really work to serve the greater community of North Riverside,” Rogers said.

North Riverside resident and library employee Christine Vassos came out to this year’s fest to root on the library’s chili team and for the neighborly camaraderie.

“I came out to the Autumn Fest because I support the community,” Vassos said. “I really enjoy just listening to the music and so far, all the food has been really good. Getting to see everyone in the community has been really nice.”

Longtime North Riverside resident Rose Santoro agreed with Vassos that the friendliness of the community is what brings her back year after year.

“It’s the neighborhood hospitality that brings me back every time,” she said. “It’s good to see everyone!”